Research reveals what Saudi leaders of the future need for Vision 2030

24 January 2017 By Northern Lights

Research reveals what Saudi leaders of the future need for Vision 2030 image

What makes an outstanding Saudi Chief Executive

What skills will Saudi chief executives need over the next 15 years?  And what skills will ensure the Kingdom achieves its Vision 2030?  A leading international executive research firm has interviewed chairmen and chief executives of prestigious Saudi businesses to share their views of leadership skills for the future.

Metin Mitchell & Company has this week published its report, What Makes an Outstanding Saudi Chief Executive, which identifies the key ingredients business leaders will need as they help guide the nation through a pivotal moment in its history.

Specialists in sourcing chief executives and board members, founder Metin Mitchell says that future leaders must be inspirational and able to clearly communicate their vision through a period of great change, and able to make tough decisions as they drive through new efficient operating models and make the necessary cuts.  They also need to be able to spot opportunities.

Mr Mitchell adds: “Saudi Arabia has some of the finest business talent in the world, but as the nation faces unprecedented challenges, many businesses will have to transform the way they operate.

“Those changes will need truly great leadership and this report reveals the qualities, skills and attributes our chief executives will need to play their part in achieving Saudi Arabia’s vision for the future.”

What Makes an Outstanding Saudi Chief Executive also looks at the role of women for future success.  Mr Mitchell said: “There was unanimous enthusiasm, among those interviewed, to see more women in senior positions – they are recognised as hard-working and talented and the Kingdom needs their skills. This is certainly reflected in our experience of recruiting – female candidates are generally outstanding.

“There are still cultural challenges to achieving more women in leadership positions, but chief executives want to see women promoted within organisations and also welcome the number of women who have studied abroad, who bring wider experiences to the workforce.”

The research found that while much can be learned from Western CEOs, it is important that key elements of the Saudi culture are not lost – particularly the genuine care for employees and the long term generational view of business.

Corporate governance is becoming increasingly important.  Mr Mitchell says: “We interviewed a number of chairmen who discussed whether a chairman could be “hands off” in the Saudi culture.  There is no doubt corporate governance will be the big challenge for chief executives of the future. They will have to understand the regulatory and compliance issues, but also learn skills in how to challenge board members – especially when these are more senior family members.”

Interviewees had mixed views about how to train chief executives of the future. While international business schools have their place, the general view was that the new generation of Saudi chief executives must work their way across and up a business, so they understand how different disciplines work.

Mr Mitchell summed up the key findings of the report: “The skills for future chief executives will require a different mindset from that of the boom years. They need to be cost conscious, look for hidden opportunities and inspire their workforces. Get the leadership skills right and this is a country full of opportunities.”

To download a copy of What Makes an Outstanding Saudi Chief Executive learn more about the work of Metin Mitchell & Company, visit

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Written by Northern Lights