Mirvett Al Hussaini
by Abdulaziz Mohammed Yunus, Cairo
Creating success when working within a supportive environment is to be admired; sustaining this success in an environment that seems to offer nothing but obstacles, is trailblazing - something that needs to be shared and applauded! So, meet Dr. Mervitt Al Hussaini, the first Egyptian businesswoman to win the Global Award of Excellence in Management and Technological Quality Systems.
Emerging from a post economic crash environment, that left not just the global economy, but many of its most senior business leaders reeling, Dr. Mervitt Al Hussaini has blazed a path as a business leader for the new order. She has defined a place for women who are willing to rise to the challenge of global opportunity by delivering innovation and excellence.
Your career path is ‘littered ‘with the prizes you have won. The one you are most proud of though, is the global award for excellence in management and technological quality systems. What did this reward and why was winning it such an achievement?
Although things are slowly getting better, we are working in an environment defined by the financial crisis a few years ago. Quality and cost have become defining factors in a global market that suffers from a glut of products that do not necessarily meet quality standards. Therefore, in order to remain competitive, it is essential that standards of quality are not just maintained, but driven by innovative practices. So, our award recognises the creation of modern management and technological systems that help to meet and indeed exceed these quality standards needs.
My company, Mass Egypt, is extremely competitive because we have taken a ‘long-termist’ approach to activities around quantification, specifications, testing, analysis and quality. We have done so by applying modern quality management control and technological systems that support our overall aims. My work within the petrochemical industry, led international management experts to judge it as worthy of the first prize. The awarding body was the prestigious BID Group, Business Initiative Directions.
Can you describe how you came to win this award?
Well, one thing is for sure, roads are not paved with gold and nothing is freely given! Indeed, I personally believe that transcending hardship is a key factor in terms of achieving significant business (and personal) goals.
In terms of procedures that led to me winning this award, the screening process was quite rigorous. I was nominated with 20 other representatives from 100 different countries. We were selected by the Trade Trends Organization. Each company needed to provide evidence of research and implementation around new technological quality standard and management systems. Fortunately, the research I submitted was selected. You may also be interested to know that we won two other awards for technological and management quality standards. This was another first, as no other Arab company has ever won this level of global recognition within this field before.
The research you have developed – how can this now be put into practice?
First and foremost, companies must move away from outdated standards that are simply no longer commensurate with the needs of our modern age. Reduced manpower and increased cost effectiveness are immediate wins. Using technology to streamline processes also leads to an enhanced strategic control over the company, by linking the production process to the stock/supply picture. For example, it is much easier to create new products and services if you are able to more clearly define client need. Proper processes can help do this. In order to reduce costs and monitor and control production I have also advocated the need for a first-class auditing system. In short, transparency of processes, communication and information leads to strong management – and to my mind strong management is what catalyzes business success.
Would you say you created opportunity in adversity?
I have often shared that if you have the stomach for it, investing wisely in times of crisis can offer significant returns. Indeed, far more so than investing when there is a more stable backdrop! My caveat would be that there must, of course, be is a gap between supply and demand within the sector you are serving. It is also important to adhere to international quality standards.
The reason for this is, that even while selling goods at very reasonable prices, margins are so much better in difficult times. In essence, a difficult global economy means a lower cost of raw materials, also of course it is cheaper to buy equipment and there is more of it available. I would also like to emphasise here that, other than being able to create products that have been certified to international quality standards, there are no real barriers for Arab goods in terms of accessing foreign markets.
In view of the Arab Spring Revolutions, how do you see the future of the Arab economy set within a global perspective?
I believe anything can be overcome if the right environment is created. However, in order to achieve an environment able to support economic growth, Arab governments must rise to the challenge of driving forward plans for significant economic reform. I also think that we should focus on manufacturing and production as a way of combatting the daily reality of challenges created by civil unrest and a shrinking GDP. Finally, we must move away from our reliance on a paper-based economy. In order to take our rightful place within a competitive global market , we need to ensure we can deliver credibility, client satisfaction, continuous improvement of products, and long-term market presence. These are measures that require a strategic vision, coupled with a determination to move beyond mere business transactions to relationships that last.
Dr Al Hussein is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of MASS Egypt. Founded in 1994, MASS Egypt is a leading industrial corporation in the Middle East. MASS also incorporates an international trading arm, which produces a highly efficient and specialized industrial protection greases and oils for companies such as Shell. Dr Al Husseini holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and a PhD in Project Management. Areas of expertise include, export and feasibility and international trade studies.