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Kuwait 2018 | CONSTRUCTION & REAL ESTATE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ghosson Ghassan Al-Khaled, Deputy CEO of ACICO, on the corporate culture at ACICO, female empowerment, and the private-public dynamic.

Ghosson Ghassan Al-Khaled
BIOGRAPHY
Ghosson Ghassan Al-Khaled currently holds the position of a Deputy CEO of ACICO. She holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and construction management from Kuwait University and a master’s degree in building science from the University of Southern California. Moreover, she holds an executive MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona. In 2017, the World Economic Forum selected Ghosson to join its Young Global Leaders during a five-year leadership journey aimed at finding solutions for the world’s economic challenges. At a state level, also in 2017, Ghosson was appointed a member to Kuwait’s Supreme Council for Planning and Development, contributing to the shaping of policies toward achieving Kuwait’s 2035 Vision. She has been repeatedly selected among the most powerful Arab women, by Arabian Business Magazine and Forbes Magazine.

How would you define the corporate culture at ACICO?

The corporate culture at ACICO is defined by transparency and open communication. These values are deep rooted, as they were developed when we started off as a small family business. Over time ACICO grew to become a medium-sized, publicly listed company with 4,200 employees, but we made sure to stay true to the values on which we were founded and applied them from top to bottom. Diversity is another important element of our corporate culture. I believe that diversity in a company proves that employees are treated equally, which is an important value that I inherited from my father. At ACICO continually look to diversify our workforce in order to further strengthen our corporate culture. We look into how our employees can add value to the company. Leadership is crucial in this regard; if the decision makers in a company believe in diversity and empowering women, it will be achieved—and it is crucial that leaders lead by example.

How is ACICO contributing to female empowerment?

I started as a civil engineer and gradually moved up the career ladder to obtain a management position. Last year, I was promoted to Deputy CEO. One of the first things I did when I got promoted was hire a female director for ACICO's HR Group. This is a direct approach to empowering more women in the workplace and promoting gender diversity. The results to this approach are immediate. In the past year we have hired more women in different positions and departments and we are looking to increasing the numbers across the group.

Does the strong government investment in housing create opportunities for ACICO?

The private sector is always eager to support state projects, and we have always been ready to assist governments in its housing development strategies. Currently, we provide support to construction and housing development projects through our operations in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Dubai. In Kuwait, ACICO's strategy is to support the state's vision and plans. In terms of housing projects, so far we have built more than 7,000 homes and we have the capacity to increase that number. Our building system allows us to build house frames in in our factory in just three days. An entire villa takes an average of seven months as a turnkey project. In terms of infrastructure, we have the capacity to support the government's plans to expand in roads and bridges to link the new cities of Kuwait.

What are your expectations for the year ahead?

We are proud to have maintained sustained growth for our shareholders. I am optimistic about the coming year as we aim to continue to support the development projects of the countries we operate in.