Kutayba Alghanim
Kuwait
Kutayba Alghanim
  • Chairman, Alghanim Industries (Diversified)
BA, University of California at Berkeley (1970).
“Being able to be flexible is good, because conditions in the marketplace change—continuously. You have to keep up with those conditions.”

Summary

Kutayba Alghanim is Chairman of Alghanim Industries, a Kuwait-based multinational conglomerate with more than 30 diversified businesses in over 40 countries in areas including advertising, automotive sales, engineering, finance, industrial manufacturing, retail, food, and transport. The company was established by his grandfather, Ahmed M. Alghanim in 1932 and was subsequently run by his father, Sir Yusuf A. Alghanim. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1970, instead of joining the family business right away, Kutayba went on to open a furniture store, Al-Dar. In 1971, after Alghanim Industries began facing a series of challenges, Kutayba agreed to step in and attempt a turnaround, where his first task was to secure financing from suppliers to fund a large purchase of GM trucks. Shortly thereafter, Sir Yusuf A. Alghanim decided to divest ownership of the business, and distribute it amongst all of his inheritors, but gave Kutayba the majority share. As a result, Kutayba handed his furniture store to his partner and became CEO of Alghanim Industries. In the late 1980s, Kutayba stepped down as CEO and moved to the United States for many years. He returned to Kuwait in 2002 as Chairman of Alghanim Industries, and his son Omar became CEO in 2005.

In this interview, Kutayba describes the challenges he faced when he first stepped into his position at Alghanim Industries, which included a large-scale reorganization of the company through an overhaul of management and a new series of systems, processes, and operations. Kutayba discusses his purchase of the first IBM mainframe computer in the Middle East to increase performance transparency, the challenges that culture presents, the difficulties of trying to move into new countries, and the corresponding importance of adapting to the different cultures in all of the countries you operate in. Kutayba explains that one of the keys to success is to constantly evolve along with the markets. Kutayba further explains the importance of attracting local talent in Kuwait, the importance of hiring more women, the geopolitical risks faced by Kuwait, and raises the issues of family succession in the Middle East.

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Kutayba Alghanim is Chairman of Alghanim Industries, a Kuwait-based multinational conglomerate with more than 30 diversified businesses in over 40 countries in areas including advertising, automotive sales, engineering, finance, industrial manufacturing, retail, food, and transport. The company was established by his grandfather, Ahmed M. Alghanim in 1932 and was subsequently run by his father, Sir Yusuf A. Alghanim. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1970, instead of joining the family business right away, Kutayba went on to open a furniture store, Al-Dar. In 1971, after Alghanim Industries began facing a series of challenges, Kutayba agreed to step in and attempt a turnaround, where his first task was to secure financing from suppliers to fund a large purchase of GM trucks. Shortly thereafter, Sir Yusuf A. Alghanim decided to divest ownership of the business, and distribute it amongst all of his inheritors, but gave Kutayba the majority share. As a result, Kutayba handed his furniture store to his partner and became CEO of Alghanim Industries. In the late 1980s, Kutayba stepped down as CEO and moved to the United States for many years. He returned to Kuwait in 2002 as Chairman of Alghanim Industries, and his son Omar became CEO in 2005.

In this interview, Kutayba describes the challenges he faced when he first stepped into his position at Alghanim Industries, which included a large-scale reorganization of the company through an overhaul of management and a new series of systems, processes, and operations. Kutayba discusses his purchase of the first IBM mainframe computer in the Middle East to increase performance transparency, the challenges that culture presents, the difficulties of trying to move into new countries, and the corresponding importance of adapting to the different cultures in all of the countries you operate in. Kutayba explains that one of the keys to success is to constantly evolve along with the markets. Kutayba further explains the importance of attracting local talent in Kuwait, the importance of hiring more women, the geopolitical risks faced by Kuwait, and raises the issues of family succession in the Middle East.

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Video Clips by Topic

Corporate Culture

Kutayba Alghanim, Chairman of Kuwait-based Alghanim Industries, a highly diversified business group, discusses how to create a corporate culture which motivates employees of many different nationalities to be innovative and also attracts talented people.



Education

Kutayba Alghanim, Chairman of Kuwait-based Alghanim Industries, a highly diversified business group, talks of his activities facilitating education, including his involvement with the US non-profit organization AMIDEAST and the provision of scholarships for Palestinean students to attend Birzeit University in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Keywords: Kuwait, Education


Human Resources

Kutayba Alghanim, Chairman of Kuwait-based Alghanim Industries, a highly diversified business group, discusses the strategies of his son Omar (the group’s current CEO) to recruit more Kuwaitis and more women into management.



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Additional Resources

Additional Resources

Interview Citation Format

Interview with Kutayba Alghanim, interviewed by Paul Healy, New York, NY, March 29, 2018, Creating Emerging Markets Project, Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School, http://www.hbs.edu/creating-emerging-markets/.