A lot of new developers recently entered the real estate market in Egypt. In your opinion, what does it take for developers to ensure they last in the industry?
It’s true that there are a lot of new developers. Many of them are very impressive but there are also some newcomers who don’t have much experience or understanding of the nature of the industry.
When I first started out in the industry, I tried to learn a lot from the previous generation. I was lucky to have a mentor, Eng. Fathallah Fawzi, who was a big name in the conference space. Every weekend I would meet with him to learn from his experience, then apply my own touches to this learning.
The younger generation have a good grasp of technology which is important and is something my generation often lack. This gives them an opportunity to add a lot of value to a business. The older generation also have a very important role in supporting and mentoring young people, while accepting that sometimes they will make mistakes.
You mentioned the importance of technology for young people. What are the core skills and principles transferrable between generations, regardless of whatever age one lives in?
Number one is discipline. There are endless examples of this: you must arrive at the office on time, deliver projects on time, pay employees on time.
Second is honesty. You must be honest with yourself as to your successes and failures and be honest with your clients and stakeholders, internal and external.
Thirdly, you should do whatever it takes to be considered credible by your partners and clients.
And finally, you must really pay attention to ensuring your clients are satisfied.
Today, compound living seems to be the norm. Do you think that this trend will continue, or will there be a need for traditional neighbourhoods again in future?
It is really a question of culture. Do you want to raise your kids in a compound or neighbourhood culture? There are pros and cons to both.
Different compounds also have different cultures depending on who is living there. Egypt’s population is large now at 104 million and is increasing by 2.7 million each year. It’s big enough that over the next 10 years, you will really be able to find anything.
What should someone who wants to one day become a CEO prioritise and never compromise on?
It is very important to be continually learning and gaining experience: go to conferences, sit down with senior mentors and managers, attend training courses. Don’t waste any time or pass any days by without building your experience, even if it doesn’t seem to be related to what you are doing.
For example, when I started my first real estate company, I found that I had a lot of free time. I used this time to read books about the industry and got a part-time job at an engineering firm so that I could experience another side of the industry. Another time, I attended a conference about the entertainment industry and although this was a completely unrelated space, I learnt many methods which had lasting effects on my own business.
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