GCC Reunion Discusses Diversification, Innovation
DP World, a Dubai-based company led by UA alumnus Mohammed Sharaf, has entered into an agreement with Eller Executive Education for a leadership program.
The recent plummet in the price of oil, to below $30 a barrel, did little to alter the perspective of a panel at the Gulf Cooperation Council alumni reunion on the University of Arizona campus last week.
A discussion on trade and business quickly zeroed in on the need for a "post-petroleum" economy in the Persian Gulf — and the implications of such an economy for the rest of the world.
"Diversification is vital," said David Gantz, a professor in the UA’s James E. Rogers College of Law. "There is cause for optimism if governments continue what they’ve been doing over the last few years."
UA alumnus Mohammed Sharaf, CEO of Dubai-based DP World, provided a succinct history lesson while looking to the future.
"In the early days," Sharaf said of the gulf's oil-producing nations, "we were told, 'The good news is that you have oil, but the bad news is that it won’t stay forever.'… In 2050, we want to celebrate the last barrel of oil."
Also on the trade and business panel were Kimberly Andrews Espy, senior vice president of the UA Office for Research & Discovery; Paul Melendez, assistant dean of executive education, UA Eller College of Management; and professor Larry Head of the UA College of Engineering. David Allen, vice president of Tech Launch Arizona, served as moderator.
The marriage of technology and renewable energy is of critical importance to what's next, Sharaf said, and so is interdependence among nations.
"The world is becoming a small village where you know every minute, every second, what’s happening and what the opportunities are," Sharaf said. "In this world, you can’t do things on your own."
He said information technology is playing an increasingly significant role in the transportation industry. DP World, which owns port terminals around the globe, has entered into an agreement with the UA’s Eller Executive Education for a leadership development program for 17 of the company’s senior executives.
"I want them to network with other industries," Sharaf said. "This industry has been very closed for 50-60 years. I want them to think out of the box.
"If you don’t change, you will be changed," he said. "There are successful players (in the industry) who aren’t around anymore. Leaders must accept change — and change with it. The status quo is not an option."
The Advanced Leadership Development Program in which DP World will participate is an 18-month program. It has been designed for the company’s leaders to join the ranks of executives at Fortune 50 Most Admired companies.
The program helps executives develop global leadership skills as well as an ability to master innovation and market volatility. As part of the program, participants will learn alongside their Fortune 50 peers through lectures, business gaming, executive coaching and in-market visits to global innovation hubs.
"DP World sees the value of innovation," Melendez said. "Innovative organizations are unique and distinct. Innovation is a skill that can be taught."
The UA has a particularly strong alumni presence in the Middle East. For the past three years, the University has sent representatives to the region for the GCC alumni reunion. GCC member nations include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
This year, the reunion group came to Tucson, and the UA Office of Global Initiatives scheduled events and lectures designed to strengthen the academic, business and research ties between the UA and its alumni.
A second agreement, between the UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and Emirates Group Security, will develop security training and education for Emirate Airlines. UA alumnus Abdullah Al Hashimi is a divisional senior vice president for Emirates Group Security.
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