x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Thorny issues solved with persuasion and passion by Sheikh Maktoum

Corporate restructuring has become one of the hot management disciplines around the world since the crash of 2009, but Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum's business role models are much nearer home.

Corporate restructuring has become one of the hot management disciplines around the world since the crash of 2009, but Sheikh Maktoum bin Hasher Al Maktoum's business role models are much nearer home.

"The people who founded the UAE and made it what it is today, they've done a phenomenal thing to manage a country in such a way in such a short space of time," he says, paying tribute to the founding fathers and current leaders of the Emirates.

But he also has other business heroes. "I also admire Warren Buffett, the persona, the modesty, the delivery, as much as the track record."

He also admits to a sneaking admiration for Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of the car maker Renault Nissan. "He had the vision to say: 'this is where I want to be in five years' time,' and then went on to achieve that goal. I want to do the same at Shuaa," he says.

It is harder to pin down what he thinks is his own management style. "I think it's fair to say it's unorthodox. It means different things to different people. I don't run Shuaa as a democracy, that's certain, but it relies on consensus, and I like to think I admit it if I get things wrong," says Sheikh Maktoum.

A member of Dubai's ruling family might expect that his orders are obeyed instantly and without question. But he believes a major part of the craft of management relies on persuasion. On the new Shuaa strategy, he says: "We had to be able to convince stakeholders we had the right approach, and then to get 'buy-in'. I have a track record in 'buy-in' through consensus, and that's why I'm here."

He cites another management influence, the Chinese military theorist Sun Tzu, to illustrate the point. "He said that the greatest victory is that which required no battle, and that he who knew when he could fight, and when he could not, would be victorious."

fkane@thenational.ae