7 Questions with Mohammed Salha
Name: Mohammed Salha
Current title: CEO & Head of Sales and Marketing
Current organisation: Infiniton
I gained my experience in retail at a very early age and at the age of 18, I had the pleasure of going to trade shows for a luxury boutique, taking care of buying, calculation and selling of the merchandise.
I realized early how important the sales experience is, in order to retain the customer in the long term.
At the same time, I completed my two and a half year apprenticeship as an automotive salesman at a Mercedes Benz dealership in Germany.
After that I worked as an area manager for a car tuner and was responsible for Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
I then started as a junior manager at Vodafone and quickly progressed to area manager.
After almost 20 years of retail experience, I gathered the courage and moved to Dubai due to a job offer as Managing Director. Shortly after, I founded my own company in electrical wholesale and am now in Germany to tackle a new project.
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
Definitely aligned with the team!
Especially when you spend your life learning and gaining experience in germany, you expect a certain basic knowledge and a different professional way of working from your employees and colleagues.
But in the UAE I quickly realized that you should never expect what you are usually used to.
That's why I had to invest a lot more time on 1:1 Coaching then I was used to. But it worked out well.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
A longtime friend recommended me to his investor who wanted to expand into a new line of business.
Fortunately, I fit the profile perfectly and my German, English and Arabic knowledge came in handy. Then it went pretty fast after I sent my documents.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wake up around 5.30 am for a small breakfast and then go for a run or to the gym, depending on the lockdown situation.
I arrive around 7 in the Company to start early calls with my suppliers in Asia, because due to the time difference it is already 2 o'clock in the afternoon in HongKong for example.
My next steps are, while drinking a Tea:
Checking KPIs, answering emails, organizing, planning, delegating and above all Meetings.
Around 2PM I meet mostly friends for Brunch/Lunch, to have some networking. But with one rule: NO PHONE, we call it work detox.
It's hard but the distance from work gives you the time you need to fill up your batteries and helps your brain to recover from all the information. Work-Life Balance is very important, you should not underestimate it, if you want to remain efficient in the long term.
After the break, back to business.
I got an "open door" for 120min. Anyone, who got something urgent can come without appointment. Even when it is something private and they just need someone to listen to, or to get friendly advice.
7-8pm The day ends like it starts, from making calls, to replying mails and having meetings and planning the to do for the next day.
On the way home I am thinking about my plans with my wife, if we go to the cinema or just staying home after dinner, to watch TV.
After that hygiene procedure, reading and sleeping
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Be prepared, ANYTHING can happen! I think a lot of us were not prepared for 2020 and learned it the hard way.
In situations like this, making decisions are hard but necessary, to keep the business running.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
If i´m totally honest, it was more life that impacted me so hard, that I didn't have a chance to go the easy way. This is the reason why i got a solution for every problem today and always put my energy in solving the problem, not in the problem. To have success and be able to help people around you, that are not so privileged like you, is something that gives me energy every day.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
This is a very important topic because I had to learn the hard way how fundamental building leadership capacity is. In my first area manager position, I wanted to do everything myself because my processes were faster, more efficient and more successful than those of my employees. So I spent a lot of time in sales and control.
After a few months, it got to me so much that I had an unhealthy stress level and could not function like I used to.
I contacted my mentor regularly, who quickly noticed that I had changed. In an intensive conversation we got to the bottom of this issue.
I learned how important it is to build leadership capacity.
I had to and have to recognize the individual value of each employee to be able to delegate the right task and to see potential in order to promote them. I started to work with requests to get input from my employees, to empower them and that they create their solutions. Like this I have a better chance to identify the skills and entrepreneurial thinking.
Like this I am able to delegate tasks and concentrate on my core tasks.
Important is to create an achievable schedule WITH the employee, keep an eye on who, what, when i delegate tasks, to be able to track successes and failures.
In a combination with a healthy feedback culture and celebrating achievements in the team, you are set to be the captain of your team.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
There is a story that taught me the importance of recognizing potential and how unimportant an academic degree can be.
I had a Sales Director with an MBA (Master of Business Administration) who had to leave the company due to lack of results. Therefore, I was in need to fill the position.
I had an employee whom I had hired without any training or experience in the segment who, through his hunger and gratitude, delivered the best results.
I gave him another chance to prove himself temporarily as Sales Director until I found another candidate.
Long story short, I didn't have to hire anyone else because he proved himself so well, that with the right coaching he was able to keep the position.