Hi Andrea, let's start from the weather, how many degrees are there today in Ras Al Khaimah?
Well, it's nice, warm, not too hot, but the real heat is yet to come! I joined RAK Ceramics in July when there were 45 degrees, now only 27° so rather chilly!
So you can't go without air conditioning in the office...
Definitely not! It's Friday today (Friday and Saturday are weekend here) and off to Oman with my family who have just relocated here. Oman is a beautiful country and just on our 'door step!'
The decision of moving to a foreign country with your family cannot have been easy. How did you persuade your 'team' to come with you?
We did talk it through and came a couple of times all together to see what it was like out here. A big leap, but also great opportunities in a fast developing and multicultural country. My wife and I wanted to give our kids the opportunity of attending an international school. We also wanted to be together as a family and at the end of the day that's what makes us happy.
Did you have any doubts? A part from the salary, which of course is important, what was the greatest motivation to go abroad?
I love the challenge to be working in an international environment, where I can build up my management skills working with so many different multicultural backgrounds.
RAK Ceramics is one of the world's leading companies in tiles and sanitary ware. This is where I have the opportunity to consolidate my knowledge on mature markets but also achieve a higher expertise of Middle Eastern markets.
Last but not least I'm working on the entire rebranding of RAK Ceramics, a huge project which will take some time to complete, but will strategically boost our communication globally.
It's a whole new fascinating and learning experience for me.
Tell us about your working team: what are their nationalities and what is it like to manage people so culturally different?
The people in my team are around 60 and most of them are Asian, either Indians, Filipinos, as well as Arabs and Westerners from Europe mainly. It's a vast melting pot of ideas, passion and team work, which is proving very successful for the company.
Was it difficult to integrate your 'working method' with the company's organisational methods and approach?
I have prioritised the various tasks I was called for, delegating and setting measured goals for every department with specific guidelines on how to achieve good results. I do have high working standards and expect a lot so, above all, I have been working on motivating the team, creating small teams and sharing with them our challenging goals.
What are you learning from this international experience? Is it breaking new grounds both professionally and personally?
Professionally it is undoubtedly a huge step forward. RAK Ceramics is an impressive company in size, structure and performance. Being part of it is a life opportunity, its world leadership calls for top performance and recognized success. We have to provide innovative products to compete with the other leading players and not only for our growing local market, but for international customers too. We have taken on board some very skilled and talented managers from Italy who will undoubtedly provide for cutting edge innovations to RAK Ceramics. This is what our shareholders expect of us, but most of all our partners and customers. Personally I am learning so much from this part of the world, values and an attitude towards work, a deeply rooted respect of each other in a most enriching way.
What strengths do you think a manager should have to undertake an international challenge? Is it more important to be brave and take a chance or to have skills and effective working expertise?
Skills and working expertise are the basics, the “conditio sine qua non”, what really makes the difference is the will to challenge yourself, push yourself out of your boundaries, have an interest in learning more about different worlds and cultures which make life more fascinating!