x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Road to executive success began at a humble petrol station

After Affan al Khoori finished his business administration and marketing degree at the University of Denver in Colorado, he started his first job: pumping petrol.

Purchasing chief says experience at ground level was invaluable After Affan al Khoori finished his business administration and marketing degree at the University of Denver in Colorado, he started his first job: pumping petrol. The Dubai-born Emirati was hired to work for the Enoc and Eppco group of fuel stations, and a key part of his new role was to spend two weeks at ground level before taking over as the head of operations.

"You get to know the employees, you get to know the job," Mr al Khoori said. "You get to know the environment, and you get to know the customer ... you get the full understanding before you actually take control." Learning from the ground up is a philosophy that his new employer, Aswaaq, also subscribes to and is important in nurturing budding careers, he said. "If you want to bring someone up within retail, they have to start somewhere," he said.

"The best platform is to be at that level. "So we have opened the doors for people who are willing to come and actually learn what a baker does - learn to actually prepare the products." In 2006, after eight years with Enoc and Eppco, Mr al Khoori joined the Aswaaq founding team when the concept was still being developed. Being able to create a new grocery brand from scratch is what attracted him to the job.

"I've never been part of a start-up," he said. "It was a new experience that I wanted to get into." Now, as head of merchandising and buying, Mr al Khoori is in charge of selecting the right products for each store using Aswaaq's roster of suppliers, ensuring their quality and tailoring the inventory to the outlet's location. And with at least six new Aswaaq outlets and community centres to be launched by the end of the year, he has his work cut out.

The speed of development is high, he said, but seeing how far Aswaaq has come in a short time has been rewarding. "I have been here from the beginning, and to see the name, the actual logo being made and going up on top of a building, it has been an amazing journey." * Armina Ligaya