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Mahmoud Fouda: Adaptability to change and automation will be key in achieving our aspired business growth

Mahmoud Fouda has taken on the role of Head of Product Supply for Global Food Industries (GFI) and International Beverage and Filling Industries (IBFI) since July 2020.

Within such role, Mahmoud is responsible for overseeing the manufacturing and operation processes across three factories – for the frozen, snacking and beverages business units. In addition, he is also in-charge of end-to-end supply chain value stream covering supply & demand planning, warehousing management, logistics and all sourcing activities. Subsequently, Mahmoud also supervises almost 80% of GFI and IBFI’s combined workforce, particularly those who are part of the manufacturing, production, warehousing and logistics teams.

In spite of such a seemingly daunting task, Mahmoud beams with confidence that he can successfully deliver on the job from his educational background as a mechanical engineer and a professional career that spans 25 years’ managing various aspects of Supply Chain Management, including sourcing, planning, logistics and manufacturing for some of the world’s top brands such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever, PepsiCo, and Savola.

After having carefully studied and analyzed GFI and IBFI strengths and weaknesses within the areas that he is responsible for, Mahmoud has laid down his recommendations and thoroughly discussed with the company’s top management the next steps that must be focused on. Among them include building further capabilities across teams and introducing the right transformation and change that will make people work within a standard systematic approach.

“Whenever new leaders and managers come in into an organization where its people have an average seniority level of 10 to 15 years and have been used to doing things for so many years, there is always the challenge of resistance to change,” Mahmoud says. “But having been there myself and having personally experienced such process, I fully understand people’s initial reactions. Thus, effective communication in different ways to different people from different cultures and backgrounds is vital to ensure that the message is clear and that these changes are all meant for everyone to focus on a common end goal. So, you must ensure that your team understands the change, are ready to change and are willing to accept this change.

“As any organization’s most valuable asset, you need to invest on the people and in their training and development,” Mahmoud explains. “You need to have a team already having the culture and understanding of the business, the organization background and behavior, and then start building and developing their capabilities. By doing so, you provide them with a deep sense of ownership that will further build loyalty and trust.

“Most of the people at GFI and IBFI have already spent a long time working in the company and would even want to continue working here much longer. And, once they see that the new management and its leaders are passionate about supporting them and their career development, they will be ready to do whatever you want them to do and they are ready to go the extra mile because they see that this business organization cares a lot for them,” Mahmoud explains further. “So, our success will depend a lot on the level of maturity and transformation that we will be able to implement across the organization.”

The other step that Mahmoud has recommended covers further investments in state-of- the-art technology that will facilitate automation and digitalization across the company’s manufacturing processes.

“Investments in cutting-edge technology is also key in enhancing production efficiencies that would result in savings in energy and utilities, facilitate higher utilization, increase production capacity, speed up production processes and drastically reduce manual activities throughout operations. While updating and upgrading the skills and capabilities of existing teams, investments in new technology and digitalization platforms will also enable us to focus more on investing with the right team and the right capabilities that will gradually result in increased capacity and output in the factories,” Mahmoud adds. “This will impact
on reduced cost and risk from casual labor, especially in situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, while boosting the skills and capabilities of permanent staff.”

With all these in place Mahmoud is confident that with the full support of Albatha Group and the leadership team of GFI and IBFI, as well as the entire GFI and IBFI teams working together on the same page towards a common business growth objective, the growth target to double the business is definitely doable and achievable and can even be realized at a much faster pace than the five-year timeframe that has been set.