Saturday, July 20, 2024

Our objective extends beyond financial gain, and we are not here solely to make money: Yousuf Al Yahmadi, Founder & CEO, Expert Software – Middle East


Our objective extends beyond financial gain, and we are not here solely to make money: Yousuf Al Yahmadi, Founder & CEO, Expert Software – Middle East

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Yousuf Al Yahmadi, Founder & CEO, Expert Software- Middle East

Yousuf Al Yahmadi is the Founder and CEO of Expert Software – Middle East, established in March 2003.

With over 20 years of experience in business and information technology, he is a successful entrepreneur known for his achievements in revenue, profit, and business growth.

Yousuf holds a Higher Diploma in Software Engineering (HDSE) and is renowned for his global presence at major technology exhibitions.

He is a pioneer in building strategic business partnerships worldwide.

You have over 20 years of experience with Expert Software – Middle East being the founder and the company has taken shape immensely since its launch in 2003. Could you review the journey of the company over the years and how the company manages to maintain its image in terms of quality of services in the highly competitive industry?

Yousuf Al Yahmadi: If I look back to 2003 when we first started, one thing was abundantly clear to us: we were embarking on a completely new venture, entering uncharted territory in terms of our operations and activities. While we could not predict the future with certainty, we were resolute in our determination to establish something with long-lasting potential. So, in the early stages, we laid a robust foundation and structure to ensure the sustainability of this organization, regardless of what challenges lay ahead.

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So, during the early stages, we were extremely deliberate in our decision-making. We took great care in defining our objectives and charting our course. What is worth noting is that we were not driven by haste. We allowed our journey to unfold at its own pace. We were patient in shaping and reshaping our path gradually. Whether it took 20, 30, or even 40 years, we were never in a rush. Our commitment was to establish something with enduring longevity.

In the early stages, we laid a robust foundation and structure to ensure the sustainability of this organization

Yousuf Al Yahmadi
Expert Software – Middle East was built on the idea that the tech industry needs more risk-takers who can embrace uncertainty and pave the way for innovation and creativity. Could you review how your company promotes risk-taking and innovation within the tech industry?

Yousuf Al Yahmadi: I lacked any prior work experience when I completed my education in 2002. In 2003, I embarked on a business venture to demonstrate just how much risk a founder could assume during the initial stages, despite having no understanding of economics, business, or management. My educational background included a high diploma in software engineering, but suddenly, I found myself responsible for overseeing people, products, and the entire business landscape within the realm of information technology.

I swiftly learned that the IT industry was rife with risk compared to most other businesses. Much of what we dealt with was intangible, involving virtual elements and soft activities. Convincing a customer to invest in something they could not see or physically interact with was a daunting challenge. I would venture to say that this industry carries a risk factor exceeding 100%.

We see ourselves as risk-takers in all our activities

Yousuf Al Yahmadi

However, it is important to note that the profit potential on the flip side was equally substantial, exceeding 100% as well. So, while it was undeniably risky, it also presented the opportunity for significant returns if approached skillfully. Our firm belief is that aspiring to elevate your endeavours or achieve success, particularly in our industry, demands a willingness to assume as much risk as necessary. We see ourselves as risk-takers in all our activities, without hesitation, provided that we thoroughly evaluate, analyze, scrutinize, and calculate the potential pitfalls associated with any opportunity. Always keeping an exit strategy in mind in case things do not go as planned, we wholeheartedly embrace risk, and I can confidently say that it brings us satisfaction.

Expert Software – Middle East offers services across various sectors including banking, communication, transportation, oil & gas, retail, government, health, insurance, and manufacturing. Technology is constantly evolving in these industries, so could you review how your company stays updated with the latest advancements in these industries to provide cutting-edge solutions to clients?

Yousuf Al Yahmadi: With the extensive array of areas we cover, it is essential to note that we consider the sky as our limit. We have always relished working in new domains. In essence, we cannot definitively list all the areas where we can operate because we position ourselves as technology solution providers. To draw a parallel, we liken ourselves to general practitioners in the medical field. When a customer approaches us with a problem, we initially analyze the situation. Then, we determine whether we already have a suitable solution, if we can source one from our partners, or if we need to innovate something entirely new.

Different industries present distinct challenges, and we consider ourselves the ideal choice for complex requirements. In our line of work, we have specific criteria to qualify for opportunities. Firstly, they must fall within the medium to large size category for us to consider them. Secondly, they should be intricate because we believe that as experts, we can find simple solutions for many issues, but highly complex problems require specialized technical expertise. This is where we position ourselves — as experts in solving intricate challenges. Additionally, opportunities should involve an element of innovation, as we strive to add value to every customer.

In this fast-moving landscape, we make it a point to stay ahead by fostering healthy competition within our team

Yousuf Al Yahmadi

When any opportunity comes our way, we evaluate it to determine if it adds value to us and the client. If it meets these criteria and aligns with long-term goals, we find it interesting. We constantly keep pace with ongoing technology trends because our industry is characterized by rapid change. In this fast-moving landscape, we make it a point to stay ahead by fostering healthy competition within our team. We challenge each other to ensure that we are not lagging in terms of innovation or technology.

Furthermore, we continuously seek ways to innovate internally, maintaining a high level of competitiveness within the team even before the market demands it.

In this rapidly evolving technological and digital landscape, how do you envision the evolution of your flagship solutions, particularly in sectors like oil and gas? Can you share your strategy or any upcoming products in the pipeline for the next few years?

Yousuf Al Yahmadi: In terms of our activities and market positioning, our message to the market has always been straightforward: If you have a complex requirement, please reach out to us. We are consistently eager to engage with such challenges. But we do not stop there and we take it a step further by proactively seeking innovative solutions. We understand and firmly believe that within any operation, numerous challenges and problems may arise. As technology solution providers, our role is to anticipate and address these issues before they manifest.

Sometimes, we approach our customers with proactive solutions. We might say, “You know what? If you implement this technology or utilize this tool, it can help you overcome certain challenges and significantly enhance your productivity”. This approach applies across various industries, including highly demanding sectors like oil and gas. In the oil and gas industry, productivity is paramount, and organizations are willing to invest significantly to boost their efficiency. We work closely with domains such as oil and gas to provide tools and solutions that elevate their productivity and enhance operational efficiency on multiple levels.

Being in the industry for over two decades, you must have developed several major partnerships. Could you please review some of your most successful partnerships in Oman and the wider GCC region? How does your company leverage its network of professional solution providers to connect clients with reliable partners that align with their needs?

Yousuf Al Yahmadi: Two critical elements that I would like to emphasize are business partnerships and investments. In the realm of partnership activities and alliances, we hold a firm belief that cooperation and collaboration not only strengthen us but also empower others in the market. This perspective is especially pertinent in a highly competitive domain, where it is simply not feasible to be experts in every area.

When we delve into technology solutions, we recognize that a plethora of fundamental components are required to create a comprehensive solution. While an entity may excel in one area, it is unlikely to excel in all. From our inception, we have been proactive about forming partnerships and maintaining positive relationships with all solution providers and companies. We strive to ensure that we foster positive relationships throughout the industry, avoiding animosity wherever possible. Our ethos is that the table is large enough for many to partake from, and this is where we find our strength. Presently, we have robust partnerships with major companies, either through direct collaboration or indirect cooperation. A notable strategy we have employed is to partner with larger firms, essentially becoming their technology solution arm or collaborating closely with them.

Our ethos is that the table is large enough for many to partake from, and this is where we find our strength

Yousuf Al Yahmadi

In the region, we have cultivated successful partnerships with prominent organizations. This approach has fortified our position in alliances and partnerships, and it’s a direction we will continue to pursue. Over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to travel extensively, participating in major technology exhibitions worldwide.

Before the pandemic, I had the opportunity to attend major technology exhibitions worldwide. I participated in events in prominent locations such as Las Vegas, Hanover, and Taiwan. In fact, I have ventured to numerous destinations whenever a technology exhibition presented itself. My primary objective in attending these exhibitions has always been to seek out potential partners, establish new associations, and foster collaborations. Given the success and importance of these interactions, we are committed to continuing this strategy moving forward.

Regarding investments, we firmly believe that to ascend to the next level, a substantial and sound level of investment is essential. We have initiated several investment opportunities, and although we have entertained acquisition offers for Expert Software – Middle East, we chose not to proceed in that direction. Our primary goal has never been to sell the company, as we embarked on this journey with a long-term vision. Our objective extends beyond financial gain, and we are not here solely to make money. If that were our primary aim, we could have sold the company at an earlier juncture.

Concerning investment discussions, we have engaged with interested parties to explore investment possibilities, and we continually evaluate these opportunities. From a financial standpoint, I can confidently state that we are in a robust position. We are a stable company with a 20-year presence in the market, having weathered numerous challenges. Our foundation is exceptionally strong, ensuring our longevity in the industry.

Could you please elaborate on the main obstacles your company has faced in the past and how you have managed to overcome them?

Yousuf Al Yahmadi: When reflecting on our 20 years of experience today, I can say that we have successfully navigated most of the challenges we encountered. The key to overcoming these challenges, in our view, has been our unwavering self-belief and our ability to focus on our goals while disregarding the obstacles in our path. We have always recognized that challenges are an inherent part of the game, and they can affect anyone, including our competitors. We consider it a fair and equal playing field where everyone faces different challenges.

We have consistently maintained a Plan B approach, and this proved invaluable during the pandemic

Yousuf Al Yahmadi

In our journey, we strategically entered niche markets with minimal competition, fully aware that this presented its own set of difficulties. We have always had contingency plans in place, allowing us to adapt when unexpected challenges arise. For instance, when the pandemic struck, we were among the companies least impacted because we had proactively taken numerous initiatives early on. We have consistently maintained a Plan B approach, and this proved invaluable during the pandemic. I would venture to say that we were among the few companies that experienced zero impact during this challenging period. I do not claim that we predicted the pandemic; it took us by surprise like everyone else. However, our readiness stemmed from the proactive initiatives we had undertaken from an early stage.

We view the pandemic as a testament to our preparedness, and we recognize that more challenges, including future pandemics, may lie ahead. However, we are well-equipped to handle worst-case scenarios, thanks to our flexible operational structure. Our experienced team knows when to pivot and change directions. We understand that business is a marathon, not a sprint, so we remain patient.

No one can guarantee that everything will always go smoothly, and at times, things may not go as planned. During such times, leaders must demonstrate their expertise in managing crises and steering the team from a risky situation to a place of comfort. We always have contingency plans in place, including Plan B, Plan C, and beyond, to address any deviations from our original plans. Over our 20-year journey, we can confidently say that it has never been dull because we constantly have new challenges to tackle. We are always proactive and in control, just like driving a car. We steer our business, ensuring that we are the ones in control, rather than allowing external economic factors to dictate our course.

What advice would you offer to young Omani entrepreneurs as they venture into today’s ever-changing business landscape?

Yousuf Al Yahmadi: I would advise Omani companies planning to establish a strong position in the market in the future: Enjoy the journey and stay committed to your mission. Understand that it will not be easy, as nothing worthwhile ever is. If you have a clear vision and a mission in life, and you’re driven to deliver something of value, then perseverance is key. I have seen friends and colleagues who started alongside me but did not continue for various reasons, while I have witnessed new Omani entrepreneurs taking the lead.

Oman is a promising country with several blessings for the future. From a global and GCC perspective, our geographical location is a significant advantage. We are situated at the center of the world, making it crucial to leverage this positioning. Additionally, within the GCC, Oman is the second-largest country in terms of size and population, which provides ample space and resources for mega projects. Many ambitious ventures require space and a skilled workforce, both of which we possess.

Furthermore, Oman’s political stability is a noteworthy asset. Any investor looking to make substantial investments seeks a peaceful, stable environment. In this regard, Oman is an attractive destination. The government also provides substantial support to businesses.

In essence, I always encourage young entrepreneurs to start their journey and seize the abundant opportunities that Oman offers.

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