Azza Al Ismaili, the CEO and Founder of Azza Al Ismaili Group, is an experienced leader with a strong background in education management. She has expertise in various fields, including management, executive management, leadership development, entrepreneurship, and business process improvement. Azza is a graduate of Grand Canyon University and Sultan Qaboos University.
With her background as a former minister of technology and communications, Azza has a wealth of experience in leveraging technological advancements to create more efficient solutions. During her tenure, she oversaw numerous initiatives aimed at advancing technology and digital communications in Oman.
She focused on enhancing e-government services to make them more user-friendly and accessible to the public. Additionally, she implemented measures to encourage the adoption of new technologies, such as cloud computing and mobile applications, in both the public and private sectors.
As the CEO of Azza Al Ismaili Group (AIG), Azza continues to utilize technology to improve the company’s operations and enhance the customer experience. By employing digital solutions, data analysis, and emerging technologies, AIG remains innovative and competitive, providing effective solutions to its clients. In conclusion, Azza’s experience as a former minister of technology and communications has given her a comprehensive understanding of how technology can be utilized to create more efficient and effective solutions.
Here are some key highlights from the interview where Azza Al Ismaili discusses her leadership style and the journey that brought her to her current position:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Azza Al Ismaili Group. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
My journey as a business leader began in January 2005 when I founded MyEduZone Group, which started as a small chain of schools and educational centers for students. Over the years, we expanded and became one of the top educational institutions in Oman.
From a young age, I had a wide range of interests, and I always wanted to find a way to pursue as many of these interests as possible through business. This belief ultimately led me to establish MyEduZone Group, which not only allowed me to make a positive impact in the education sector but also served as a platform to establish other successful businesses.
These include Rikaz Global, which offers training and consultancy services to the private and government sectors, United National Oilfield Services, which provides a wide range of API inspection, pressure testing, and related services; Zomorda Chemicals, which manufactures household detergents and clinical sanitizers, and Al Maisa WorkWear Company, which offers a range of FR uniforms to the different industries.
Every business I’ve started has been a new challenge for me, as I’ve often had little prior knowledge of the industry. However, I’ve always made sure to thoroughly educate myself on the various aspects of the field before diving in to ensure that I have the necessary skills and knowledge to run day-to-day operations. Throughout my career, I’ve encountered various challenges in establishing and growing my businesses, such as developing competitive strategies, building strong teams, securing funds to meet expansion plans, and adapting to changing market conditions. But my passion for entrepreneurship and my unwavering commitment to providing high-quality products and services to our clients have enabled me to overcome these obstacles and achieve success.
Tell us something more about your company and its mission and vision.
As a leader in the community, my focus is on creating a positive impact and driving growth from within. I take pride in investing in the future of our local economy by supporting local businesses, including those I have established myself, as well as start-ups and SMEs, which are the backbone of our community. By providing them with the necessary resources and support, we not only contribute to their success but also help build a strong and vibrant local economy that benefits future generations.
At the heart of this vision is my dedication to investing in local talent by providing training and development opportunities. This investment in talent is critical to building a strong and sustainable economy that will continue to grow and thrive in the years ahead. By helping local individuals and businesses reach their full potential, we can make a real difference in our community and create a positive ripple effect that extends beyond just the local economy.
Enlighten us on how you have impacted your niche through your expertise in the market.
Based on my caring nature towards others, my 10 years of working experience with a leading company, my love for learning and passion for exploring new technologies, and my patience, I have developed a strong foundation to make a positive impact in my niche and local community.
My caring nature allows me to build strong relationships with my clients or customers by understanding their needs and concerns, which helps me provide tailored solutions that meet their expectations. With my 10 years of experience, I have gained valuable insights into market trends and the changing needs of my customers, allowing me to make informed decisions and stay ahead of the competition.
My love for learning and passion for exploring new technologies also help me stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in my niche, which in turn allows me to develop new skills and techniques that enhance my expertise and provide better solutions to my clients or customers.
My patience is an important quality that enables me to build stronger relationships with my clients or customers by taking the time to understand their needs and concerns and providing them with solutions that meet their expectations, which ultimately leads to positive feedback, referrals, and a better reputation in my local community.
Overall, my combination of personal qualities, expertise, and passion allows me to make a positive impact in my niche and local community. By using my strengths to create a better version of myself, I can help others achieve their goals and improve their lives.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drive your organization.
Our work culture is driven by core values of transparency, accountability, diversity, excellence, and community. We believe in open and honest communication, taking responsibility for our actions, valuing diversity, striving for excellence, and fostering a sense of community and teamwork. Our employees are encouraged to develop their skills and knowledge through ongoing training and development opportunities. This work culture creates an environment where employees can thrive and contribute to our organization’s success.
What change would you like to bring to your industry if given a chance?
if given a chance, one change I would like to bring to the education industry is to adapt to the increasing changes in technology. Traditional schooling methods are no longer sufficient to meet students’ capabilities, and the emergence of AI platforms such as ChatGPT highlights the need for a significant shift in how we educate our students. Specifically, I believe we should focus more on analytical skills, data mining, and project management. These skills are becoming increasingly important in today’s digital age and will be critical for students to succeed in their future careers.
Furthermore, we could encourage more collaboration and project-based learning in our schools to help students develop their teamwork, communication, and leadership skills. This would better prepare them for the complex, fast-paced environments of today’s workplaces. In summary, I believe the education industry needs to adapt to the changing technological landscape and focus more on analytical skills, data mining, and project management. By doing so, we can better prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities of the future.
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in your sector? How is your company preparing to be a part of that change?
I believe the next significant change for AIG could be the adoption of digital transformation across all its operations. This includes integrating advanced technologies such as AI, blockchain, and cloud computing to improve operational efficiency, enhance the customer experience, and increase profitability.
To prepare for this change, AIG may need to invest in new technology and talent to support the transition. This could include upgrading its IT infrastructure and software systems to ensure compatibility with new technologies. It may also need to focus on obtaining accurate data to drive informed decision-making in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.
AIG can further prepare for this change by embracing agile and flexible approaches to adapt to new technologies and meet changing customer needs. This could include creating a culture of innovation and experimentation, as well as developing partnerships with technology companies and startups to leverage their expertise.
In summary, the adoption of digital transformation is the next significant change that AIG can embrace to stay competitive and meet evolving customer needs. By investing in new technology, talent, and partnerships, and focusing on data-driven decision-making, AIG can become a leader in the digital landscape and continue to provide value to its customers.
Where do you envision yourself in the long run, and what are your future goals for Azza Al Ismaili Group?
Reflecting on my achievements so far, I am proud of the journey that I have undertaken. I started my career as an employee, with a focus on developing myself and supporting my family. However, I soon realized that I had a passion for entrepreneurship and creating opportunities for others. This led me to establish the Azza Al Ismaili Group, which has become a leading business conglomerate in Oman.
As I continued to grow and expand my business, I was honored to serve as the Minister of Technology and Communications in Oman. In this role, my focus shifted to the development of the country and its people, as I worked to improve the technological infrastructure and promote digital innovation. Looking ahead, I envision my next role to be focused on serving the international community.
I believe that it is important to expand the reach of the Azza Al Ismaili Group outside the local market, and to bring our unique brand of innovation and expertise to a global audience. To achieve this goal, AIG aims to connect with technical partners who can invest as equity partners and bring the latest know-how and technology to the table. This strategy will enable us to create more jobs and boost the Omani economy by investing in local products, projects, and companies, promoting local opportunities, and investing in local talent.
In the long run, my vision for the Azza Al Ismaili Group is to become a global leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. We aim to create a lasting legacy that will benefit not only our shareholders, but also the communities that we serve. Overall, the Azza Al Ismaili Group is an excellent example of a company that aims to drive positive change through business. Its focus on innovation, investment in local talent, and promotion of local opportunities have made it an important player in the Omani economy.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into your sector?
My advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture would be to take some time to introspect before jumping into any business venture. Firstly, ask yourself some basic questions like: Who am I? What do I know? What is my passion? Do I have the discipline and commitment needed to succeed in this sector? The journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur will be long and full of challenges.
Therefore, it is essential to understand the whys and hows of your venture. Be prepared to face obstacles, and be willing to learn from them. It is also crucial to accept that you might lose at some point in the journey. You need to figure out how much you are willing to lose and be prepared for it. Be open-minded and look for opportunities in every challenging situation.
If possible, try to obtain pre-commitments from key stakeholders in your product or service. This will help you understand market demand and validate your business idea. Lastly, clarity, smart goals, and a detailed plan are essential to achieving your target. It would be best to break down your business goals into smaller, achievable targets and track your progress regularly. This will help you stay motivated and make the necessary adjustments to your plan. In conclusion, being an entrepreneur is not easy, but with the right mindset, preparation, and execution, you can turn your dreams into reality.