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Samih Sawiris speaks out on personal & business habits during RiseUp

Samih Sawiris speaks out on personal & business habits during RiseUp
Samih Sawiris as a speaker at RiseUp Summit 2019

By: Ingy ElSafy

Cairo – Mubasher: A lot of people lack the presence of a role model or mentor in their lives to take after and aspire when it comes to both personal and business matters.

The Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris has opened up before the crowd by answering several questions at RiseUp Summit 2019 that took place at the American University in Cairo (AUC) – New Cairo from 5 to 7 December.

The importance of both personal and professional growth to be parallel

“This is a very important point; I feel bad for businessmen, at my age, who are still proud to be in office at 7 am and leave at 8 pm while their conversations are based on just money. People might get bored of sitting with such businessmen who are not popular and have no friends.

Such type of businessmen would, for sure, die once they stop working, as they are not aware of developing their personality and exploring what is out there in the world far from his business.”

What is your advice to startups that have been in business for two or three years so they do not become like the businessmen you just mentioned?

“Reading; Books have so many ideas, of course, I do not mean books or reviews on business. Read about history, travel, literature and other topics would give the person a chance to think outside the box.”

Where do you find your inspiration?

Under the shower, a 10-15 minute of hot water would open up your mind to new ideas. About 90% of the ideas I thought about was during my time “under the shower”, it is like daydreaming.

I have never got inspired at office, nor in car, nor at a party, nor while reading a book, nor at lunch. “You should try it.”

Did you have mentors while growing up?

Yes, the three of us [Sawiris brothers] were lucky enough as my father was already a successful businessman who developed more than one business.

My father had studied in the faculty of agriculture and was planning to take care of our land -as my grandfather was a lawyer yet my father did not want to work as a lawyer, then the law of land reform was issued so his ambitions in agriculture had vanished.

After that, he started a contracting company and developed on a large scale, but in 1961, it was nationalised. In 1967, he was allowed to travel for the first time after the war, so he went to Libya where he started a new company, a few years later, Al Gaddafi was in power and my father had to leave Libya and come back to Egypt.

“My father was the biggest mentor for all of us.”

On the personal level, “my mentor (my godfather) was Dr. Fathy Iskandar who was exactly as my father,” but I was consulting him in personal and religious matters.

When hiring the top management in a growing company & when you are asked to interview the final three candidates, What do you look for in their characters after the filtering process in interviews?

“If they can bear the whole responsibility or not”

“Confident or not”

“A team player or not”; I don’t want to hire a strong, well-informed manager yet get the feeling that he can push people to resign or cannot deal with the employees.

“When you hire a senior; you are getting a leader; a real leader is a person who can convince people to work with him and for him, not just giving orders.”

Based on my experience with people who are strong and studying well, yet not having that sense of leadership, those who are in lower ranks than them will lead them to failure “as a piece of cake” as they do not like them nor having trust in them as a person.

Being in power can be overcome by an abundance of people/employees. We see that in professional life as well, like a newly appointed governor that make troubles with people in the governorate, he will -sooner or later- be drifted down no matter how strong or good he is.

It is worth noting that during this session, on the last day of the event, Samih Sawiris gave a comment on the Thomas Cook Germany's news, in addition to his personal advise to startups' owners.