Described as one of the most diversified CEOs, James Michael Lafferty is not just an influential leader. He is also an Olympic Coach, an award-winning journalist, a college professor, a competitive athlete, a philanthropist, a husband, and a father of 5.
Currently, James is steering the ship of Fine Hygienic Holding FHH as its CEO. An embodiment of influential leadership, James leads by example, integrity, positive energy, and a clear sense of direction.
At CIO Look, we caught up with James to know more about his inspiring leadership journey and how he has taken Fine Hygienic Holding to new heights.
Diverse and Wide-Ranging Life
Growing up, James dreamt of being a track and field coach, which led him being hired as a fitness instructor by Procter & Gamble in 1984. This is where his course changed – a client who was a brand manager pushed him to apply for a job in marketing. He was turned down at first but refused to take no for an answer – and that is how his international corporate career began.
Since then, James has worked for a number of multinational corporations, including Cola-Cola and British American Tobacco across Europe, Africa, and Asia, and now his home is in the Middle East.
He joined the FHH board in 2015, and impressed with the ambition and potential of the company, he eagerly agreed to become CEO in 2018.
Driven by Mission and Vision
FHH is, first and foremost, a wellness company. Building on the legacy as a leading manufacturer of sterilized paper products and its consistent dedication to quality has earned FHH the title #1 Sterilized Tissues in the World. The company also produces market-leading antiviral protection solutions, an area where the pandemic crisis opened the door for exponential growth.
More recently it has focused on innovation in the wellness industry. As a wellness company, its mission is to improve the lives of consumers, and it is taking the opportunity to do more than ever before to help the people it serves. The company motto is: “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything”. This commitment extends into absolutely everything it does.
Its vision is to become and remain the shining star of the Arab FMCG business world. It focuses on out innovating its competition. FHH is on a journey to become a publicly listed company on the London Stock Exchange. James believes that it will become truly a “big-time” company—uttered in the same breath alongside the world’s finest corporations and organizations.
A Principle-based Team.
James never fully let go of his beginnings as a sports coach and incorporating wellbeing in the Fine Hygienic Holding ethos was his personal priority. This is not limited to the products the company sells, although they are developed to promote greater wellness for all the customers; it relates to how it values the employees – the most important asset and it goes above and beyond to make sure they are in an environment where they can thrive.
James states that FHH is committed to their health and well-being, and believes that “if we take care of the people, the business will take care of itself.” An example of this in practice is the new corporate wellness facilities at its offices in Dubai – offering the employees free access to exercise equipment and classes. It has also launched a number of programs to look after the mental health of the employees ever since coronavirus hit.
When the Going Got Tough
Every sportsman knows that you can never rest on your laurels – and in 60 years Fine has accumulated more than a few (40 prestigious awards and counting), but it continues to evolve. Anticipating the COVID-19 crisis, Fine Hygienic Holding saw that it could make a real difference. The company pivoted towards safeguarding the health of consumers by developing the Fine Guard line, which uses the most advanced long-term antiviral protection in the market. Its reusable masks, hand sanitizer, and specialized disinfectants have been thoroughly tested in global labs and proven to eliminate 99.9% of germs, offering comprehensive and effective protection.
Bringing Best Technology for the People
When it comes to leveraging technological advancements, FHH has invested heavily in a complete digital transformation, allowing it to conduct the business despite lockdowns and across its various locations. The company also launched its e-commerce platform, The Fine Shop, to allow the customers safe and easy access to all its products.
The organization utilizes a range of patented technologies in the manufacturing processes: SteriPro, which is used to sanitize its paper products, and Fine Guard line incorporates two different non-toxic cutting-edge technologies, reflecting its commitment to innovation based on the changing needs of consumers everywhere.
The company has adopted technology to drastically reduce the use of freshwater in its production processes, support only sustainable forestry practices, have a zero policy for landfill waste across all the operations, and use natural gas instead of heavy fuel where possible.
Shaping a Better Tomorrow
Talking about the future plans, James mentions that since its establishment, FHH has championed progress, innovation, and diversity. As it looks to the future, it will continue to lead by moving to the forefront of holistic wellness. The company’s consistent focus is developing products centred on its customers’ needs and health.
Through life-saving products like Fine Guard and health-boosting products like Motiva supplements, it genuinely wishes to help in small yet meaningful ways to make the world a better place. FHH is also looking to expand into new markets, ensuring that its wellness solutions benefit more people on the planet.