Alex Bombeck, CEO of North Highland

By Alex Bombeck, CEO of North Highland
How Saudi businesses can set themselves up for success in a sea of change

Is there a marketplace in the world today that’s more dynamic or changing than Saudi Arabia? If there is, I’d like to see it. After my first visit to the Kingdom this week, I’m energized by the possibilities of this country. 

The leadership and business sector is aligned around Vision 2023, which shows the way to an impressive vision for the future of the people and economy of the Kingdom. By being agile in their approach, there’s no doubt Saudi Arabia will surpass its ambitions.

Here’s why KSA’s transformation is particularly exciting. Often, we see transformations coming from a place of trying to improve, or fix problems.  Here, it’s all about transforming in an environment of growth, driven by a bold new vision, and with the opportunity to build something entirely new. All around us, there are increases in innovation and new ways of thinking being brought into the economy every day.

What does this mean for business leaders? The fact is, today flexibility is not just a buzzword, but a business strategy. Forrester suggests that adaptive organizations grow three times faster than their more rigid counterparts.  I call this transition ‘made for change’.

Being ‘made for change’ doesn’t mean writing out a long-term strategy and leaving it on the shelf. Saudi businesses have an exciting opportunity to truly move from Vision definition to Value by being clear on the exciting destination, as defined by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 initiatives, and continuing a ‘little and often’ mindset. Everyone across the country, at all levels, can make small changes regularly, gathering feedback, and making course corrections when needed.

I see three key areas where Saudi business leaders can set their organizations up for lasting success in a booming market.

Prioritise progress over perfection 

Transformation isn’t a once-off project that’s run by a group of external consultants and forgotten. It’s an always-on way of operating, and a driver of progress for tomorrow. Whatever change you make doesn’t have to be perfect – it’s more important to simply make progress. Having this clear view of the outcomes and ways of measuring success is critical when driving to value realization.

Be the best at getting better

None of us can escape the rapid change of the past few years, and in the coming decade we’re left with no choice but to get good at it. My key takeaway from my time in Riyadh? To succeed in this bold new world, get comfortable with change, and become the best at getting better.

Empower your people by building their skills

To enhance growth in Saudi Arabia and position its workforce as a pivotal force in realizing Vision 2030 and beyond, it's essential to develop the Saudi workforce with new skills that align with the kingdom's exciting goals. 

This involves reimagining the potential of the workforce, treating them not just as employees but as vital ingredients capable of creating innovative and sustainable solutions. By empowering the workforce with the leadership, technology, and strategic problem-solving skills, we enable them to drive transformational changes.

I look forward to leaders continuing to focus on fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability to ensure everyone is equipped to contribute to national transformation objectives. This strategic empowerment will not only support current growth but also set a foundation for future generations to build upon, ensuring long-term sustainability and progress in alignment with Saudi Arabia's broader economic and social goals.

Get used to agility in ways of working. The bottom line is that successful businesses set themselves up for flexibility in changing times. I believe we’ll see even more robust evidence of this in the coming years. I often tell leaders that their workforce is both their greatest opportunity and greatest inhibitor. Hire people who are curious, flexible and open to change. Encourage your people to improve their competencies regularly. Right now, nobody’s an expert – but those who are the most open to change are those who will win in our shiny new future.

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