SABIC: Firms must innovate to compete, stay ahead of change

SABIC Vice Chairman and CEO Mohamed Al-Mady says: ‘Success is expected to come to only those companies that generate innovative products’

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In the current economic environment, success is expected to come to only those companies that generate innovative products, services, processes and business models to gain competitive advantage, Mohamed Al-Mady, SABIC Vice Chairman and CEO, said while speaking at the annual forum of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) in Dubai on Monday under the theme “The Strategic Direction of the Chemical Industry – What’s Next.” Al-Mady is the Chairman of the GPCA.

Addressing global thought leaders and industry stalwarts, Al-Mady said that those companies which adopt an innovation strategy will stay ahead of change. “Abundant feedstock is indeed a source of competitive advantage for us. Yet we cannot rely solely on natural resources for our future growth,” he said referring to the significance of innovation to the chemical industry.


Speaking about the concept of strategy, he said it is about which assets and capabilities should be leveraged, acquired or discarded. “For our industry, the chemical industry, transforming natural resources into solutions for our customers has been, is, and will always be the core capability – of course, within a framework of sustainable development. When we look at global financial indicators, we often see natural resources as a key contributor to the growth of, both, the GDP as well as the chemical industry. The capability to link natural resources to solutions is innovation. And innovation is indeed linked to growth metrics.”

Referring to the best practices adopted by Saudi Arabia, Al-Mady cited examples of the energy efficiency initiatives taken by the Kingdom, the investment in supercomputing, its strong resolve to boost educational opportunities, and its efforts at creating a favorable business climate. Al-Mady made these observations in the context of emerging global trends, which he said, the industry and its stakeholders need to take note of.

He specifically pointed out two trends:

“Firstly, the time to either reap benefits from established competitive advantages, or react to unforeseen events has tightened. Whether on the feedstock or value chain front, developments are taking place faster. Clear examples are coal to chemicals in China or product cycles in the electronic industry. Secondly, there is the ever-growing availability of information, as well as the growth of a new generation which has adopted novel ways of learning to become successful. Shorter timeframes, new capabilities and the coming of a new generation certainly need deeper insights and vision.”

He was of the view that companies which are able to attract and develop talent have been proven to be faster in growth and more resilient in downturns. “The same can be said for nations. Countries such as China, India and South Korea, have achieved remarkable growth as a result of their strong educational systems capable of producing an economic advantage to their countries.”

Al-Mady has been the Chairman of GPCA since it was founded in 2006 to provide a platform for the region’s petrochemical and chemical industry to voice their common interests.

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