“Even though it is always difficult to judge yourself, if I look back I have realised the importance of taking risks and implementing what I felt were the best strategies according to our environment. I have been exposed to great ideas that I have had to turn down simply knowing that they wouldn’t work for the region. As a CEO, you realise that making mistakes is inevitable”
“Companies across the GCC have grown enormously over the years. Each company has to go through the process of fixing the inevitable inefficiencies built up during their time of growth and focus on building an efficient corporation. It is important to maintain this focus, and always be on the lookout for areas a company can enhance. We are facing different market conditions today and it is vital to make sure we become more efficient in order to make it work,” says Cesare Cardone, CEO at Gulf Business Machines (GBM).
He continues, “When GBM was first formed, it functioned in a very different environment to what we experience today. The differences do not begin or end with the sophistication of technology at the time. We now work in an industry, which caters to increasingly granular needs, be it technology or skills. We also contend with a fast evolving environment where companies like ours need to adapt quickly. “
Whether the challenge was economic, technological or just plain simple business, Cardone says the company overcame them all by following a customer centric approach.
“We focused on delivering the right products and services at the right time. That, in essence, is the bottom line. On the other hand, the value of a systems integrator is to become the right medium between business needs and the use of IT. Skills are very different now as customer needs have changed and it’s important to keep ourselves constantly updated in order to face today’s challenges,” Cardone adds.
Cardone who prior to joining GBM, spent close to 25 years at IBM across various roles including VP of HR for South Europe, IBM VP of EMEA operations and IBM GM for the MEA region, believes that the role of a group executive changes as the culture of the company changes. In addition, the responsibilities evolve in accordance with changes in the market and customer environment. “The economic recession has reminded us that as company leaders, we must keep our feet on the ground and maintain our growth strategies in line with how we predict the economic landscape to be,” he says.
Cardone believes that without passion one cannot be successful. Even after 37 years in the business, he says he enjoys every minute of what he does. He adds that the ability to look ahead and make decisions based on long term strategies is equally important. These strategies, he feels must work with a company’s strengths while addressing its’ weaknesses. The tricky part is balancing your focus on with the need to remain flexible in order to adapt market dynamics, he adds.
Cardone adds that the ability to understand the market, the industry and its various components and stakeholders is fundamental to success. “The IT industry moves very fast and we are always trying to foresee the challenges and opportunities that the next six months to a year will bring. The complexities of the market can be overcome by being prepared for future requirements as the market changes. A huge part of success lies in increasing the skills of individuals you employ and then the number of people you can afford to employ. Finally, I believe a little bit of luck goes a long way,” Cardone says.
“Making the right decisions is not always difficult,” he says. There is a great chance of risk involved, which according to him is both, the most challenging and the most enjoyable part of being a CEO Perhaps the most challenging part is when you need to make crucial decisions. “It is very dangerous to build prejudice or have sympathy based on affinity or any other personal emotions. It is always important to remind yourself that your customer’s benefit as a priority,” he says.