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Thank you to the 1,400 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 questions!
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Jonno White

7 Questions with Ash T Arshad
7 Questions with Ash T Arshad

Name: Ash T. Arshad

Current title: Managing Director

Current organisation: Resa-gulf Scaffolding

Currently working for Resa Gulf Scaffolding in Saudi Arabia which is a member of the Tamimi group of companies. Starting out as a civil engineer, and then successfully completing an MSc in Construction Management (prize winner) which led to a career shift from engineering into senior management. Over the years I have developed a basket of skills working with both SMEs and large corporations listed on the S&P500 and the London Stock exchange. I have served as a strategic business development director serving the UK and the Middle East and held a board position for specialist vehicles within Nationwide Platforms. Working with a variety of specialist access, scaffolding and formwork companies, I have acquired skills in financial modelling, sales & marketing and project management. I have been published in a management journal and I am currently working on developing a media presence in collaboration with esteemed organizations' in the Middle East.

7 Questions with Ash T Arshad

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?

Moving forward at the correct pace. After developing a 3 year strategy I quickly discovered that many of the employees could not deliver their respective targets within the original time-frame. Most people understood and adapted to the changes required but could not manage the pace of change. I had to re-organize certain priorities and focused heavily on the most critical ones to accomplish the required results.

2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?

After completing my MSc in Construction Management, I was determined to become a senior manager then ultimately run my own division or the entire business. I always had a natural ability to work with people no matter their position. I could transition from explaining something to a receptionist or labourer on site to speaking directly to the COO of the company. I found that getting people on-side was relatively simple if you gave them respect, encouragement and an understanding of what the business was trying to achieve.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I wake up reasonably early around 5.30am - 6am. I fix important tasks for the morning and organize site visits and customer meetings before midday. In the afternoon I like to sit in my office and catch up with paperwork and emails. I regularly have senior managers who require some of my time. I usually leave the office around 6pm. After dinner, I like to read a book or news article before going to bed around 11pm

4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Never assume other people can see what you see. Recently, In a meeting with shareholders, I put forward a proposal to substantially increase revenues. Whilst the idea was generally accepted there was huge reluctance. Not because the proposition was poor, but because this would entail a shakeup of group activities. Change management needs to be carefully handled both directions (upwards and downwards).

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?

The book that has had the most impact on my leadership is "Good to Great" by Jim Collins. This book introduced a variety of new concepts and also reinforced some existing ones. The book forced me to re-think what makes a level 5 leader. It encouraged me to remain wildly ambitious but controlled enough to retain humility. It was also refreshing to note that level 5 leaders attain that status by not thinking about themselves but others. It's a move towards disciplined thought and disciplined action.

6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?

I learned a long time ago that "leadership is not a title" it has to be earned. Additionally, no matter what position you occupy within an organization if you work with others someone will always take up a leadership role. This is how we build capacity as leaders

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?

I think it is absolutely critical to stick to your promise. In other words "deliver what you say". This holds true internally within an organization as employees take individual and collective responsibility seriously, as much as it does eternally with customers. On one occasion we were failing on our promise to build a temporary structure within a specified period for a new client. The timeline for the client was critical, and we could not afford to lose the trust of this client as they had several new projects in the pipeline which we were seriously interested in. I personally called the teams involved on this project together and set out the consequences of not delivering. I asked them to think about our commitment and offer solutions to overcome this challenge. After a little internal complaining, they all set about how to solve the problem. The different teams worked together over the weekend, contacted at short notice suppliers who could assist and within the allotted time-frame we managed to turn a failing project around to be completed on time and budget. We managed to retain the customer and they awarded several new projects to us as a result of our commitment to the customer. Additional financial costs sustained by ourselves became irrelevant as we managed to keep our promise

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