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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Sadek El Assaad, Seeking Out Challenges and Helping Businesses with Zeder Group

Sadek El Assaad is the CEO of Zeder Group & OSM UAE. He started his career by working with multinational companies and corporates for the first 20 years of his career. Every such role became easier and more repetitive for him. He wanted challenges and something interesting to do. To get out of the repetitive roles and seek out different and new challenges, Sadek founded Zeder Group 12 years ago. At that time, they were only a Human Resources and Consulting firm. However, 8 years ago, Sadek and his dedicated team expanded their offerings, including a full Business Consulting spectrum.

The journey of the Zeder group to this position wasn’t a piece of cake. However, Sadek and his team worked hard and efficiently to achieve all the goals of helping businesses stop their failures and struggles.

Let’s get more information on Sadek and his company’s journey in his words below.


Explain the background of you and the company in detail.

As was the norm back in the early 90s, after completing my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut in 1991, I came to UAE. I spent the first 20 years of my career with Multinational and Corporates.

I climbed the corporate ladder to various positions such as Head of HR for Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC), VP-HR (GCC) for Carrefour, and Global CHRO for Aramex (PSJ). During these 20 years, the average time I had spent in every role was approximately 2 years before jumping into a higher and more challenging one.

Looking for a different challenge, 12 years ago, I founded my own company Zeder Group. We started as a Human Resources and Consulting firm and 8 years ago, we expanded our services to cover the full Business Consulting spectrum.

Sadek El Assaad, What are your goals?

Start-ups’ failure rate is more than 90%. 50% of them are between the 5th and 10th year. The main reasons for failure include growing too quickly, lack of a business plan, cash mismanagement, hiring the wrong people, not listening to their customers, etc.

All these reasons are self-inflicting and are avoidable if the business has the right partner on the ground to intervenes when necessary. I aim to reduce the number of struggling or failing businesses as their In-House Business Partner, providing them the know-how, and tools for success.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of yourself/company right now?

Currently, more than 90% of our current clients have been with us for more than 5 years. This is mainly due to our strength in delivering our services by understanding the clients and going the extra mile to deliver results as quickly as possible. This is also manifested by the number of client referrals we receive constantly by recommendations and word of mouth. I wouldn’t be able to achieve this success without a capable, dedicated, and committed team.

Sadek El Assaad, What was the path you/your company took to get to where you are today?

I won’t say that the path was always easy; Like any other business, we had our ups and downs. However, through perseverance and honest self-assessment, we were able to reach where we are today. We did more of what worked, and we dropped, changed, tweaked, or fine-tuned what didn’t.

Why did you start (or want to be the head of) this company?

In the beginning, I started it because I had reached my ceiling with corporate companies, and any other role would be similar or repetition of something I had already achieved. I wanted a bigger challenge.

After seeing so many businesses struggling and compromising their potential, I feel it is our duty to be there for them.

Sadek El Assaad, What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?

Like many who started their own business (especially people who experienced success in the corporate world), I thought I knew it all !!! It was difficult for me to admit otherwise until I realized that I could save time, energy, and money by fast-tracking and multiplying our growth only if I stopped trying to figure everything out by myself. I sought assistance from business advisors who had hands-on experience going through the same challenges that I had and acquired the hacks and know-how that actually work. Once I had the right advisors, I stopped wasting time figuring out the “How” and started implementing the “What.” And almost instantly, we started seeing amazing results.

Sadek El Assaad, Give us one word that describes you the best.

I would have to say Honest, which is, by the way, the translation of my name Sadek in Arabic. I admit that being honest and straightforward is not always easy, but it has its perks. People know and value your recommendation and opinion. On the downside: Some people get offended when you tell them something they don’t want to hear or are trying to ignore!!!

What makes you excited about Mondays?

Mondays are like any other day for me. I wake up around 5 am every day of the week with the same excitement of a new day: To do more, learn more, and achieve one or more goals that will benefit my company in the future. By 8 am, I am usually prepared and ready to start working on our clients’ goals.

What do you value most about your culture?

I am extremely proud of the current overall culture we have at Zeder Group. The one that I value the most is Responsibility. From the individual responsibility where everyone in the team feels responsible not only for his role but also for the overall growth of the company, to client responsibility, where everyone takes ownership of our client’s objectives like their own, making sure they achieve the desired results.

Tell us about a project that forced you to be innovative and creative.

Our approach to every assignment is creative and innovative. We believe that the concept of one size fits all is a myth when it comes to implementation. Every company has its own DNA derived from individuals, internal dynamics of the Board and Management team, strategy and many more variables. Consequently, once we define the requirements of the client, we spend time, effort, and energy to understand the company’s specificities before developing and implementing a tailored solution that fits them. Mreover, the teamwork culture of our diverse and dynamic people coupled with the obsession to achieve our client’s goals, encourages individual innovative and “out of the box” solutions.

What are the strategies of your company, and how do they stand unique from your competitors?

To maintain a closer relationship with our clients, our offices are based in Dubai and Beirut. This makes us a few hours away from our clients based in the Middle East, GCC and Africa and within similar or very reasonable time zones. Our hands-on approach is one of our biggest differentiations. We always start by the discovery phase, where we understand the business situation, the client’s aspiration, and at a high level, the company dynamics.

We then develop a tailor-made strategy and start implementation. For example, a company in distress will need a swift turnaround in a couple of months, while a growing start-up will need a longer-term strategy to structure the organization for growth.

In both examples, we don’t just advise them on what to do. We actually assume an executive role and start implementing the actions needed to achieve the goals. By doing so, we will be implementing the strategy and transferring the knowledge and know-how to their team simultaneously.

At times, we just develop a high-level direction, and we start implementation while we develop a full strategy as we move along. This agile approach, coupled with literarily getting on the ground and implementing the changes needed, is what makes us unique.

What key values helped you overcome the roadblocks/challenges in your career? Tell us something about your memorable incident in your leadership?

I think many values have contributed at different times to my growth. Dedication and hard work have contributed a lot from the start of my career till now. However, I think adaptability and agility are the ones that kept me growing and will continue to help me grow. The ability to analyse objectively and develop solutions with laser-focused intention and attention, helps me find solutions for every problem.

How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?

I am unsure how the business model will evolve in years to come. I know and am certain that we will keep evolving and changing based on our customers’ needs and to areas where we complement our offering and add value. Keeping our eye on our clients’ needs while adding value to grow their business will unquestionably result in our evolution in the right direction.  As for our expansion, we will be expanding in either Asia (South or Southeast) or Africa… We will decide when at the right time

Where is your leadership going? What benefits do your clients get from your company in this competitive world?

Leadership is like a tree, it can grow as much as it wants, it has no end goal and is an endless journey for a company and for individuals alike. The importance is to keep progressing. Therefore, we will keep growing, offering our clients the services that they want and need. By not trying to figure everything out by themselves, our clients will be able to fast-track towards their goals; gaining time and energy to focus on what they do best. With our constant and consistent quest to enrich our practice, knowledge, and learning, our clients will also grow their awareness and their leadership through the transfer of know-how and benefit from focused, proven, and tested strategies tailored specifically to fit their culture.

What are the services/solutions or products offered by your company at par with the current industry standards? Tell us something about your upcoming products or services?

Other than the regular HR services of Executive Search, Recruitment, Training, Assessment, and HR Consulting. We offer services to companies in various stages in their lifecycle and help businesses who are:

  1. Performing with ambitious growth plans: These would be profitable businesses that want to capture their full potential
  2. Underperforming: These would be businesses that have had previous success and a good business model; however, their profits are sliding and want to go back to profitability
  3. Stressed: These businesses would be experiencing significant low or no profits, their cash is declining and want to alter their situation before it’s too late
  4. Distressed: These businesses would be under great difficulties. They have cash flow issues, are delaying payments and want to salvage the company.

Our service will depend on the need of every client and is tailor-made using one or more of the following:

  1. Operational Restructuring: Rapid Cost reduction, Resource optimization, Procurement improvements, short term Cash Management and improvements, Management Capability assessment and replacement if needed
  2. Turnaround and Transformation: Development and implementation of the transformation strategy, team assessment, appointment of Interim C-level team, Change Management, Situational and Crisis management, Financial visibility Structure, and Recruitment of right calibres
  3. Strengthening for Growth: Identification of Barriers, Capabilities Assessment, Growth Strategy Formulation and Implementation, Headhunting, and Recruitment for new positions.
Name :- Sadek El-Assaad

Next Article: Smartbox Media Web Design and App Development Company in UAE

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