The Saudi Arabian business leader discusses corporate governance amid disruptive tech forces
In this month’s exclusive interview, we speak to GCC BDI member Mohammed Moumena, CEO of Saudi Arabia-based Moumena Investment Group.
A highly experienced management executive, Moumena is also a managing partner at boutique executive search firm, Edward W Kelley & Partners.
Moumena sits on the board at Fransa Invest Bank SAL, Alkhabeer Capital, Middle East Healthcare Company, Initial Saudi Arabia and Al-Wedad Charity Foundation.
Q1. Mohammed, what do you think are the key issues facing boards in the future?
Risk is so under discussed but it’s such a major issue.
In the future, boards will come to a point where they need to focus on risk much more. Very few regional companies have properly studied risk and learned to understand how to deal with it.
Management teams will also have to ensure that they are properly aligned on actions and strategy for the future. Quarterly reviews should be taken to implement benchmarks.
As Saudi Arabia moves forward into a major developmental phase, board transparency is another area that needs to be addressed.
Q2. How can technology help prepare boards for the future?
The introduction of technology into business means that boards now have access to better information.
More advanced technology also means boards can work more efficiently.
For example, companies with ERP (enterprise resource planning systems) will now have more information at their fingertips – that’s assuming that the information is properly inserted into these systems.
Used correctly, technology could help boards better prepare for the speed of change by allowing for up-to-date reports and precise management actions.
Technology could also pave the way for corporate efficiency, transparency, and better protection for shareholder value.
Q3. What do you see as the disruptive forces impacting your organisation, and how do you stay relevant as a leader?
I see that in every change, there is an opportunity. I believe you have to go back to basics: to cashflow and the basic elements of business – your employees, financials and clients.
There are a lot of companies who are trying to be everything at once just to survive, but they are losing out on a lot of good opportunity.
Market share is more important than profitability – by this, I mean holding on to your current clients. It’s about reaching your clients and working out how to keep them – whether it’s through e-commerce or other channels.
You need to work out what your customers want. It’s not about a price war. You also need to invest in your staff as they will help you ride the wave of change.
A lot of people only see the downside of disruption, but I see a lot of upside. We are going though an era of massive economic and technological change but this can be leveraged to bring about better company efficiencies, customised marketing and personalised customer relationships.
Q4. In an ever-changing GCC business environment, what are the top ways to sustain sound corporate governance?
It’s important to stay up-to-date – corporate governance policies can’t be ten years old as things are moving so quickly.
Companies also need to develop human capital and talent that can cope with technology.
In Saudi Arabia there is a lot of development going on but we are behind on nation-wide corporate governance implementation. The Kingdom should focus on providing training or learning for board members and committee members, through the GCC BDI and other institutions. I think this is crucial.
It’s also important to conduct regular evaluation of board member capabilities and run internal management audits.