The workforce of any organization perceives the mission and vision set by the corporation through the eyes of the leader directing and guiding them. Because it is the leader who decides the factor that contributes to the success and development of the company and the values the organization would be heading forward with.
A leader carves the path for their subordinates to ensure that they do not find themselves being lost while utilizing their strengths and strategies. This ensures that the organization meets growth while also incorporating employee satisfaction.
Emad AlHumam is one such visionary executive with extensive experience that stems from his multi-faceted exposure that spans multiple disciplines. Disciplines in project management, IT, oil & gas, strategic planning, and recently, the Maritime industry. His current senior executive role as Senior VP of Corporate Services at International Maritime Industries allows him to utilize his strategic thinking and expansive skills and strengths gained from his past CIO leadership roles or his impressive knowledge in Cybersecurity or his past CFO role.
In an interview with CIOLook, Emad highlighted the leadership qualities that set him apart from others while also disclosing the story of his journey in the industry of Technology.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at International Maritime Industries. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
My journey began at Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1990, after graduating from King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals with a B.S. degree in Systems Engineering. I later obtained an MBA from the University of Phoenix School of Management in 2009 and completed the CIO MBA Executive Program at Boston University.
From 2007 to 2009, I was the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Aramco Services Company (Aramco Americas) in Houston, Texas.
My current role as Senior VP of Corporate Services at International Maritime Industries (IMI) has served as an ideal opportunity for me to utilize my strategic thinking and expertise in Project Management, Information Technology, and Cybersecurity within the oil and gas and maritime industries.
Before my current role, I served as Senior Vice President of Operation Services and completed an assignment as Vice President of Procurement & Supply Chain Management in August 2020. I have also held similar leadership positions as Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Information Technology.
Before joining IMI in December 2017 as Vice President of Information Technology, I held several leadership roles throughout the last 20 years that span multiple disciplines, including Project Management, Information Technology, Cybersecurity, and Strategic & Business Planning in the Oil & Gas industry.
Throughout my 32-year-long career, I have faced many challenges, which I later realized were important experiences that allowed me to develop both personally and professionally. For example, I was in charge of leading a team to urgently embed traffic light systems during the global Y2K challenge and was able to successfully implement all the required changes in a short amount of time, saving the company’s digital infrastructure. Another example is when I successfully led a capital technology project worth around USD 135 million with an approved budget of only USD 82 million, delivering the full scope of the project despite the budget constraint.
Tell us more about International Maritime Industries; what are its mission and vision?
IMI is the largest maritime yard in the MENA region with global ambitions and reaches, offering innovative solutions that will contribute to the development of the Saudi maritime industry.
Our Vision is to be a leading provider of maritime products and services to the world. As an integrated maritime products and services hub, we are building strategic relationships with industry-leading companies to deliver a range of innovative services to our customers.
Our efforts are helping to develop the nascent maritime industry in Saudi Arabia and establish the Kingdom as an advanced regional logistics hub that promotes economic diversification in line with the goals of Vision 2030. IMI will support Saudi Arabia’s economic growth through job creation and talent localization.
Enlighten us on how you have impacted the tech industry through your expertise in the market.
IMI was well-placed to respond to the challenges of COVID-19 due to our strong business fundamentals and digital infrastructure. These factors provided a solid foundation for the growth and continuity of our business and enabled us to effectively weather the impacts of the pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, IMI’s business activity saw minimal disruption, and we continued to provide high-quality products and services to our customers. In a way, the pandemic has contributed to being a critical enabler of IMI’s development and expansion strategy, especially as the company is progressing along its rapid growth trajectory.
We have maintained our operations and enabled as many people as possible to work remotely and in safe environments. Through our innovative solutions and state-of-the-art technologies, IMI was able to drive forward the establishment of IT and Cybersecurity platforms to ensure minimal disruption to our business. It has become clear that the impact of the pandemic has helped speed up the implementation of our digital systems and communication platforms.
During the pandemic, I led the IT and Cybersecurity teams. Within 72 hours of the Saudi government’s announcement of lockdown rules and restrictions, my team and I had made remote operations a reality for the entire company by enabling all IMI users to work from home, distributing laptops, providing remote access, deploying Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams for virtual meetings, activating platforms for online tasks and to-do list tracking, installing video conferencing tools for all meeting rooms in IMI offices, and activating our 24/7 IT support team.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives IMI.
IMI engages with its internal stakeholders in cultivating its corporate culture, which is guided by our five core values of Safety, Customer Focus, Integrity, Innovation, and Accountability – all of which underpin our business decisions, actions, and behaviors.
We aim to build a skilled workforce that will contribute to long-term business success while supporting the Kingdom’s economic development. The company actively supports the growth and knowledge of its employees through training programs that help to propel their development at IMI and throughout their careers.
Furthermore, empowering Saudi youth and employing women are among our key priorities. The company is expected to contribute to creating around 80,000 direct and indirect jobs with a Saudization rate of more than 50% and currently employs several women in areas such as engineering, safety, business development, finance, and information technology.
Our core company values have been and will continue to keep us anchored as we grow and progress as a business.
Technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
Advanced technology is the main driver in IMI’s development as a maritime leader and disruptor. We provide quality, reliable, and efficient solutions powered by the latest technologies at competitive prices to attract customers to IMI and Saudi Arabia. Our unique offerings are enabled by our Digitalization Strategy, which has become a distinguishing factor in the maritime industry, supporting our profitability and sustainability as a business.
The strategy consists of several different elements. Firstly, establishing a new business model that revolves around cost competitiveness, innovation, and long-term partnerships. Secondly, investing in big data analytics and digital twin automation to support the development of our yard and products and provide product lifecycle management services.
To ensure that our information technology infrastructure is robust and resilient, we are aiming to build on our cybersecurity framework to meet national and international standards and align with global industry best practices.
We continuously invest in digitalization and currently have more than initiatives across our business that will further establish IMI as one of the most advanced maritime facilities in the world. An example of this is our utilization of software-based labor to optimize operational efficiency by eliminating repetitive tasks that consume our employees’ time.
We also use augmented, virtual, and mixed-reality applications for workforce enablement and training, as well as mobile applications that provide yard workers with access to the information, they need to perform their daily tasks efficiently.
RFID and biometrics are used for workforce tracking and safety monitoring within our yard, while big data analytics optimize our processes and contribute to cost-effectiveness. We also have ongoing projects with tech leaders like AVEVA to develop an integrated data management platform and Nutanix, a leader in a private cloud, hybrid, and multi-cloud computing.
What change would you like to bring to the tech industry if given a chance?
I see a clear opportunity for IMI to lead the industry forward to new heights. By embedding advanced technologies, including AI, biometrics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), digital twin automation, digital workers, and product remote monitoring, IMI will offer a cutting-edge advantage in this era of digitalization.
IMI is a pillar of KSA’s vision to build a thriving economy with a technologically advanced and sustainable maritime sector, setting new technological standards in the regional maritime industry.
What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the tech sector? How is IMI preparing to be a part of that change?
Today, the global maritime industry is exploring and implementing new technologies that aim to optimize operations and make them more efficient. Technologies like robotics, AR, machine learning, and drones are being harnessed to create safer and more productive environments; and improve operations, supply chains, and life cycle partnerships.
With a new and modern shipyard that is built on a foundation of the latest smart technologies and infrastructure, like robotics for automatic plate cutting, nesting, pipe spool fabrication, welding, inspections, and more, IMI is already part of that change.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for IMI?
Saudi Arabia is playing a prominent role in shaping the future of the global maritime industry, and I am proud to be contributing to this. The local maritime industry is working to establish the Kingdom as a regional logistics hub and promote economic diversification and job opportunities. IMI intends to build more than just the biggest shipyard in the MENA region but also the most innovative and digitalized.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the tech sector?
I would advise entrepreneurs entering the tech industry to prioritize networking with potential clients, industry experts, investors, and suppliers, even in the initial stage of ideation, as that would help to identify and define their business objectives early on. Entrepreneurs need to seek as much information as possible and determine what opportunities will serve the growth and development of their businesses.
They must also identify means to generate valuable feedback and build a team of unique, educated professionals with a diversity of interpersonal skills and expertise. Lastly, setting both short- and long-term achievable goals will help to maintain growth momentum and keep their teams motivated.
What is IMI’s long-term objective one it comes to building a smart ship or smart product in general?
IMI aims to maximize its customers’ investment in new-build vessels by delivering smart ships. At a fundamental level, this involves monitoring and controlling key equipment on the ship and subsequently using the power of the cloud and Artificial Intelligence to provide operational insights in a digital twin visualization of the vessel. For example, using the huge volumes of operational data that IMI can collect to build better system-wide predictive maintenance for standard ship designs.