Jul. 7, 2015

David J. Greer OBE,

UAE, Dubai

David J. Greer OBE,

CEO, Serco Middle East

TBY talks to David J. Greer OBE, CEO of Serco Middle East, on the company's operations in the Middle East, low oil prices, and the outlook for the future.


David Greer OBE is an accomplished professional chartered engineer with over 35 years of experience in a wide range of engineering, commercial, and management positions in a variety of environments around the world. Prior to his assignment to Serco, he held the position of CEO of Al-Suwaidi Industrial Services Company in Saudi Arabia from October 2010 to November 2013. Earlier, he worked for Shell International Exploration and Production for 28 years in a number of senior positions in the Netherlands, the UK, Norway, Canada, Oman, Argentina, The Philippines, and Russia, and for Regal Petroleum plc in exploration and production activities in Ukraine, Romania, and Egypt.

How would you describe the significance of the Middle East to Serco's global operations?

Serco is a global public service provider, and we focus on five key pillars across the world; justice and immigration, defense, transport, citizen services, and health. These services are across four key regions: North America, the UK and Europe, the Middle East, and Australia and New Zealand. We are well established in the region, and are present in five countries here in the Middle East, namely the UAE, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar. We have about 4,000 employees working for us at the moment with a diverse workforce of some 54 different nationalities. Within the global strategy of Serco, the Middle East remains a key pillar for the company's global growth. Here in the Middle East, we are focused on rail transport and aviation, which makes up about 80% of our business. We are the leading rail operator here in the Middle East, and we operate and maintain the iconic Dubai Metro, the Al Sufouh Tram System, and Palm Jumeirah Monorail. Only recently, we signed an additional contract for the operation and maintenance of Emaar's downtown trolley. Beyond these borders, we signed a new contract with Saudi Arabian Rail for the operation of the huge railroad that runs from Ras Al Khaimah in the northeast of Saudi all the way to Dammam. That rail network there is, of course, tying into a much broader network in Qatar, and eventually all the way down to Oman. Basically, if it runs on rails in this part of the world, Serco either operates and maintains it on behalf of distinguished clients or is keen to do so.

What impact will the drop in oil prices have on Serco's operations in the Middle East?

I do feel that we are somewhat isolated from them. We are not involved in any capital development projects; we are operating and maintaining previously constructed facilities. Having said that, if the government's budget is cut, it still has to service the public in terms of transportation and healthcare. Those are unlikely to be cut because of low oil prices. The work we have to do is unaffected because the nature of our work is service orientation, not capital development. If our contracts or services were dependent on new facilities being built, then it would impact us directly, but the nature of our contracts at the moment are not going that way. For that reason, we are not particularly concerned about the impact of oil prices on our portfolio or our growth prospects.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

We are continuing to pursue opportunities in all of our five key sectors, and we are continuing to be a superb provider of customer service to our customers around the region. We will continue to demonstrate that we are the best for business in our sector by doing four specific things: competing and winning good business, focusing on the markets that we know, differentiating customer value propositions, and by carefully managing risk. We will execute what we do brilliantly by being prepared, focused on safety, on operational excellence, and delivering as advertised with a lean and simple organizational structure and efficient, high-quality services. We also have to be a place that people are proud to work, not just our international staff but also our Emiratis. We want to be seen as an organization chosen by talented people. Finally, we also must look to continue our success in profitability and sustainability. We have to be financially robust long term, delivering value to our shareholders with growing revenues and margins, but with appropriate risk-adjusted returns on capital. That is the strategy that we are setting up to deliver, and I think it is a bright future for Serco in this part of the world.