For this month’s “In Focus” interview, we spoke to our very own CEO and Managing Partner of Gulf Reps, Sammy Musa. Sammy has a diverse background in management and leadership in both Europe and the Middle East. He was fundamental in the construction and delivery of one of Africa’s most innovative dairy collection systems creating an entire value chain that was mutually beneficial for all partners, as well as building several businesses in the UK. In 2015 he took over as managing partner for Gulf Reps and the company has seen unprecedented growth ever since. We asked Sammy to outline the 5 business rules he lives by, and we believe there’s something for everyone to learn here:
1. Honesty and Integrity
I grew up in a small village in the north of England. There was no hiding from the truth there, your every move was captured by the 1980’s equivalent of the CCTV camera: The nosey neighbour. To be ‘absolutely, brutally honest’ was something that was instilled in us as children. We are all human, we make mistakes, but in business, I’ve found that anything other than total honesty has far too many negative impacts. To the same extent, I always work with integrity. I believe that people are inherently good, and I work with everyone I meet on face value. Of course, at times you get burned by people who don’t live by the same values, but nonetheless, I won’t ever stop living by these two values. They are part of my makeup and I strongly believe that failure to work honestly and with integrity with my clients, partners and team will result in failure in the long term.
Many years ago I worked on a huge project in Africa. Now, whilst not all of Africa has issues with timekeeping, this particular enclave did. It drove me crazy. In the UK if you arrive at a 3 pm meeting at 3:02 you’re late! This is how I’ve always operated. If I make a promise I always keep it barring force majeure. Equally, I’m comfortable saying “no” to people. It’s not because I don’t want to help, it’s because I don’t believe I can achieve what is required in the timescale needed. I’d rather be honest and reliable than overly optimistic and flakey.
3. Be Inspiring
Every business book in the world will talk about inspiring leadership and every leader has his own style. I personally try to lead by example. Whilst I work extremely hard to achieve success, I am fortunate enough to have an amazing team around me. You have to trust your team to deliver to the level and standard that you set. I ensure that my teams are clear in their direction, where we are heading, what we are trying to achieve and I try to make sure they believe that it is only possible if we all do it together. This culture of togetherness allows me to be with the team even when I am not physically there. They know what it means to be part of Gulf Reps, they know what standards we set for our client’s and for our partners, they know what is an acceptable level of delivery and what is not.
4. Keep Innovating
Like it or not our industry is going through a radical change. All change represents opportunity, and it is in innovations, particularly innovations from other industries that we can exploit those changes. I encourage everyone around me to keep up to date with the latest in our industry, but also from around other industries, it’s surprising how many innovations can be gleaned from what is happening in totally different industries. I remember at the heart of the pandemic and lockdowns reading an article in New Scientist magazine about advances in remote surgery through virtual reality. This led to a proposal of VR familiarization trips for one of our clients that could allow for prospective travellers to experience destinations before they travel.
5. Know Your Strengths, Know Your Weaknesses, Fill the Gaps
I have fastidious attention to detail. I know it and I allow my teams to use it regularly. Whenever there’s a new press release, or a white paper, or even this blog post, I run my eye through it as I have an innate ability to spot errors. However, whilst I’m a competent presenter and public speaker, I hate it. That’s why I ensure that the people around me fill the gaps that I leave behind. In the end, the art of building a company is building teams that are greater than the sum of their parts. And that starts with me.
Gulf Reps is the leading travel and tourism representation company in the Middle East. With over 60 years of regional and industry experience. Gulf Reps has served clients on six continents delivering transformative results to everyone from hoteliers to tourism boards. Our mix of world-class marketing expertise, PR specialists, unparalleled connections and relationships and eclectic mix of marketing channels makes working with Gulf Reps the only sure way to drive Middle Eastern tourists to your destination.