34625 29 Mar 2020

Leading by Example

Sultan Al Otaibi, CEO, Dur Hospitality

"Today’s hard-working and knowledge-hungry hospitality professionals are tomorrow’s successful industry leaders", says Sultan Al Otaibi, CEO, Dur Hospitality

I recently stumbled across a quote by leadership expert John C. Maxwell that perfectly encapsulates my thoughts on effective leadership.

“A leader is the one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”

As a proud and passionate hospitality professional who studied the discipline and then worked my way to the top, getting to know the business at a grass-roots level before recently taking the helm as CEO of Dur Hospitality, I could not agree more with this sentiment.

A great leader only ‘knows the way’ through practical, hands-on experience, which leads to in-depth knowledge and understanding of the business.

To lead others, you need to ‘go the way’ so you can then show your team the way, sharing your experiences and expertise for their benefit – and that of the business you manage.

If you lead by a good example, others will follow, and you pave the way for future generations of leaders.

But this is by no means an ethos unique to Dur Hospitality and the hotel industry; it is the very foundation of Vision 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s visionary leaders are prioritising investment in education and training so that our young men and women are equipped for the jobs of the future, giving them the skills and knowledge required by each economic sector, with tourism and hospitality earmarked as a priority.

Vocational training is also essential to driving forward economic development, offering Saudi Nationals the opportunity to gain on-the-job experience that will not only motivate them and give them an appetite for the industry but fast-track their careers.

At Dur Hospitality, our approach to talent acquisition, training and career development are aligned to the ambitious but highly achievable goals of Vision 2030, and it is my privilege as CEO to help make this vision a reality.

The company, which is the kingdom’s most established hospitality specialist with more than 44 years of experience, has already made strong headway with many targets.

It is well on track to reaching its Saudization goal of 40% by 2020, has increased women’s participation in the workforce and continues to work in partnership with a long-term partner, Marriott International, to develop the Tahseen leadership programme for Saudi Nationals.

Dur Hospitality takes pride in inspiring young Saudi men and women, having worked on student training initiatives in collaboration with the Ministry of labour and Social Development and the Human Resources Development Fund, invested in the latest staff satisfaction survey and measurement software as part of its ongoing commitment to colleague development and provided training opportunities for more than 956 employees in 2019.

But this is just the start. The next step is to create Saudi Arabia’s next generation of hospitality leaders and it is my responsibility to nurture, empower and inspire the dedicated team at Dur Hospitality and its family of brands.

As a Saudi National who studied various disciplines within the hotel industry, including business management, leadership, finance, accountancy, risk management and asset management at several well-known tertiary institutions, I am an advocate of education and the strong foundations for knowledge it cements.

However, in my experience, the true gateway to career development and leadership opportunities is by working through the ranks and embracing all the challenges and opportunities along the way.

Over the past two decades, I have climbed the career ladder, starting my journey as an accountant, progressing to financial controller, getting to know the hotel business inside out as a general manager and then asset manager and culminating my journey with a promotion to CEO.

I have learned there is no fast track to success. It is only by gaining a true understanding of a business, an industry and its many facets that you can become a successful leader.

There are many definitions of success, but at Dur Hospitality, we focus on quality and high standards, innovation and giving Saudi men and women the chance to shape their future, which is what Vision 2030 sets out to achieve.

My dream is not to create a team of followers, but to inspire a workforce of leaders, encouraging them to embrace every opportunity the company and the kingdom present as Saudi Arabia continues on its path of remarkable socio-economic transformation.