Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Founding Chairman, Al Habtoor Group, delivered the keynote speech at The PMI UAE Khaleeji Chapter in an event at The Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah on Tuesday 24 January, 2017.
In his keynote address, Al Habtoor told the group of 300 delegates his personal experience in Project Management, and offered leadership advice on how to mitigate risks when dealing with large-scale projects.
The Al Habtoor Group, the sole sponsor of the event, has a diverse portfolio which incorporates 14 hotels; seven abroad and seven in Dubai; Al Habtoor Motors, which consists of well-known marques including Bentley, McLaren and Mitsubishi; Diamondlease, a car leasing company; and two international schools.
The Chairman said that the United Arab Emirates is like a school for project management. “Our country is young in age, but old in experience. We are just 45 years old, yet we have managed to build a country that is today the envy of the world. The innovative projects that are carried out here are genius. Take the RTA, for example. What it has done with the Dubai Water Canal is phenomenal. I have to commend the RTA for managing the project with minimal impact to the residents of Dubai, and for creating something truly spectacular.”
Al Habtoor said, “There are three very important things to consider when managing a project: Discipline, quality, and hiring the right people. If you have that combination, then success typically follows.”
He gave real examples of his failures and successes, saying that emotion should not get in the way of any project. “In the past I have done deals with people because they are my friends. But friendship is secondary to the idea. You should go into a project with your eyes wide open and conduct proper feasibility studies before embarking on an idea. This is a priority. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way.”
Al Habtoor said, “Working as part of a team is crucial to the success of any project. If you work in silo, then you compromise the project. One person cannot succeed on their own. You need collaboration and compromise from all parties involved.” He added, “This is the successful model of the United Arab Emirates. The private sector works in conjunction with the public sector. We need the government just as much as the government needs us.”
He said the most challenging projects he has dealt with are two construction projects: building The Officers’ Club in Abu Dhabi, a complex building structure, and building the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. “These designs are engineering masterpieces,” he said. “It required a lot of expertise and knowledge-sharing from people from all over the world to make them into the iconic structures they are today.”