Saudi Arabia 2017 | AVIATION | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Wajdy M. Al-Ghabban, CEO of Saudi Airlines Catering, on the Vision 2030, diversification into other business lines, and fostering human resources in Saudi Arabia.

How is Saudi Airlines Catering in line with the government's Vision 2030? And how is the company proceeding in light of these reforms?

Our business is built on 10 strategic foundations that we have identified as providing a multi-faceted and sustainable platform for our development, growth, and contributions to society. These include our longstanding core business divisions of In-Flight, Hajj and Umrah, Catering & Facilities, Lounges, Security, and Retail, which are important emerging areas of opportunity; and the vital principles and support functions that underpin our operations—Human Resources, Procurement, Saudization, and Technology. There are direct links between these pillars and the KSA Vision 2030 program. Our Hajj and Umrah services will help the country welcome more Hajj and Umrah visitors; human resources through our various divisions will provide new opportunities for women, youth and the disabled; adopting technology will contribute to the growth of e-commerce and e-services; and procurement and Saudization will support national companies and the development of local talent.

How will Saudi Airlines Catering continue with its business diversification plans and what will be its focus for the years ahead?

Saudi Airlines Catering has over the last 35 years blossomed into a broad and diversified enterprise, offering a wide suite of food and beverage, retail, hospitality and support services to local and international clients. Our response is a heightened focus on selective diversification, which will position the company in areas aligned with emerging demographic and economic trends, as well as the KSA Vision 2030 development platform. These areas will ensure we continue to deliver value to our employees, customers and shareholders. The country's youthful population, the government's commitment to spending and indicators such as consumer sentiment, all point to a positive long-term economic outlook. Our strategy is based on the conditions and opportunities emerging in each of our business sectors; in-flight catering and retail in addition to catering and facilities.
Many leading companies in Saudi Arabia has been focusing on appointing more Saudi females to lead important positions.

What is Saudi Airlines Catering's plan when it comes to develop Saudi talent, particularly Saudi females? Any future plans that you can share with us?

Along with talent acquisition, retention and development, Saudization is a core responsibility of the HR department. Pursuing a policy of Saudization ensures SACC plays a part in the development of the national economy, contributes to the well-being of Saudi women and youth, and maintains alignment with the KSA Vision 2030. In 2016 we maintained a Saudization rate of approximately 29.5%, significantly higher than the preceding year and our own targets, putting us in the upper bands of the Government's rating system. To further advance this cause, we have developed a special committee that will specifically address issues related to female employees. The committee is comprised of representatives from all key functions—such as training, recruiting and marketing—and female staff members from each department. We are also forging partnerships with local institutes and civic groups involved in women's causes to solicit their views and expertise. This Committee will ensure women have a voice within Saudi Airlines Catering and will also act to improve conditions for female workers, for instance by providing training for managers on creating a female-friendly environment and fostering new development opportunities. Our approach in developing opportunities for female colleagues exists across many seniority levels and business units to provide multiple options for work and career progression.