Interview with Amir Hasan: A Versatile & Experienced Management Executive

Amir Hasan

Amir Hasan is a versatile management executive with almost 25 years of experience. In this article, Amir Hasan shares his knowledge and experience and what makes him successful today.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Amir Hasan. I’m a management executive, with around 25 years of experience in the field of engineering and construction out of which I spent 10 years in regional responsibility. In the last 16 years, I’ve worked in multiple industries including infrastructure, industrial buildings, water and power sector, and all other utilities in the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the MENA region. Outside of work, I enjoy golfing and spending as much quality time as possible with my family.

What made you choose this career path?

I’ve always had an inclination towards general management roles as I enjoy putting things together from a “method expert” perspective and working on unlocking people’s maximum potential. Even in the early stages of my career, I found nothing more satisfying than helping people grow in their jobs.

When I started my career back in the early 90s, things were very different from today – relationships between senior management and employees were traditionally hierarchical and communication was rather top-down. As a result, I found it very difficult to navigate career-wise as there was no one – as such a mentor – who could guide me, help me identify my strengths, and support me in achieving my ambitions. Thus, I wanted to change this dynamic, and this has been a cornerstone of my career choices as well as leadership style since then. I don’t believe in “working a job” just for the sake of the job; people should love their jobs and it is possible only when you provide them a positive and constructive atmosphere.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected the industry you operate in? In your opinion, how can companies bounce back?

COVID-19 has of course had global implications on all sectors, including infrastructure. Projects are either shelved or delayed. The progress of under-construction projects is slow because of an intense focus on healthcare and to avoid the spread of this virus. Strict SOPs are in place in most projects and this has lowered productivity.

At the same time, infrastructure projects – in particular those connected with transportation, water, power, and other utilities – are absolutely essential for development. Projects like clean water, hygiene, sanitation, and sustainability are ranked on the United Nations sustainable development goals. Obviously, these projects cannot be stopped. Governments will continue to subsidize and fund these essential projects. However, this would still leave us with increased competition in the contracting and consulting space resulting from overcapacities, and the challenges of delivering projects on time under COVID-19 regulations – all challenges we must face head-on if we want to sustain business success over the longer run.

In the end, the sector is definitely facing strong headwinds from COVID-19, but with positive thinking, recovery is inevitable. Infrastructure projects may be delayed but they won’t fall off the table. Indeed, we have to navigate these tough waters – and act responsibly in the meantime – but the storm will pass, and how we use our resources in the meanwhile will determine how we come out of it.

Perhaps the most important thing is that the COVID-19 has exposed our hidden fears, talents, and strengths and weaknesses as both individuals and leaders. Even in traditional businesses, new ways of working are taking hold.

I have noticed two types of leaders emerging – the ones who have taken sensible business decisions by keeping all stakeholders in the loop. Take the example of Swiss Airways, which took its employees on board in the decision-making process for cutting costs, and offered either headcount reductions, or pay reductions. The second type of leadership focused solely on bottom-line results, which may be ultimately unrealistic, but have inspired drastic decisions that aren’t good for long-term business results. I am afraid that we will not be able to see such leadership in a year or 2 years’ time.

Companies that have compromised their short-term margin and revised their financial targets with sensible business decisions will bounce back sooner than those that have panicked and stuck to orthodox business strategies. COVID-19 situation demands sympathy and empathy. The economic value does not lie on the black line, but in the circulation of money. For that, we need to make sure that people get back to work as early as possible

What keeps you motivated?

One word: deadlines. I like deadlines, especially when they are challenging. I like the way people come up with innovative solutions to meet those deadlines. I feel it creates an appetite to go for the next challenge with new ideas and philosophies. You will always be alert and on your toes, and this improves your ability to think fast and take decisions on the spot.

“The best executive is the one who isn’t just focused on getting work done, but also nurtures his team’s potential to help them reach new heights of success” – Amir Hasan