Spring / Summer 2021

Our Knights & Distinguished Personalities
A CEO is an Opportunity Maker

Mutlaq Al-Morished admits he is addicted to work and has been struggling with efforts to achieve a life-work balance throughout his life. We ask him about Al-Morished the person, his style of functioning, family, etc. to understand what makes a great leader:


What is your workday like? 

I’m a workaholic, I am not really proud of it. But I am not perfect. My family suffers because of my commitment to work, I know that, but I have been struggling my whole life with achieving a life-work balance and unfortunately, I have not been successful. I think one must have that balance.

On my style of work, I delegate a lot of work to other people and I don’t look over their shoulders. I trust them, empower them and enforce the accountability needed. I don’t like doing my employees’ work myself.


What’s the role of a CEO in your opinion?

As the CEO, my work is actually to be kind of a “dreamer” and an opportunity maker.  I open doors for the company, for its businesses; deal with governments and other companies. My job is not to run the company’s day-to-day work, we have people to do that. I talk to people across sectors, understand what the trends of the future are and help the company respond to them.

The CEO’s role is to look to the near future, the next three to five years to come, in addition to a comprehensive outlook for the long term. He does not look only at the present day because, as the saying goes, ‘You cannot solve tomorrow’s problems by today’s solutions’. You must anticipate future problems and put appropriate solutions for them, and your success will be evaluated based on this.

The CEO’s job is to protect the future, guide the employees, but never to micromanage.

At Tasnee, we have many businesses but we are slowly heading towards petrochemical as our core, because that’s where the margins are. 


What are the guiding principles for you in life or in doing business?

Ethics and honesty – these are the two most important principles in my book. Anything that is not ethical must go. If someone steals, they must be fired, it doesn’t matter if it’s one riyal or one million. And then, of course, there is a commitment to professionalism and hard work. 


Tell us about your family...

I must say I’m not the perfect husband, having been married thrice and divorced twice. My wife, Lama Al Saleh, is a banker and is great support for me. I didn’t have any children with my American ex-wife and my German ex-wife is the mother of my son Hamad and we remain friends. Hamad, who graduated in business and finance from the University of Westminster in the UK, is running a business in Bahrain. Lama and I live in Riyadh with our 10-year-old daughter Alia, who is excellent in school, particularly in my favourite subjects of Maths and Science.


What advice do you have for youngsters seeking to become entrepreneurs or take up a career in business management? Do you mentor/ provide guidance?

My advice is, do your homework and understand the subject you are getting into, for nothing comes out of  thin air. If you are going to start a business, I would suggest you work for a company first and learn how things are done. However, one has to be careful not to get too deep into the corporate world and get caught there, like me, and the entrepreneur in you is gone forever. My son always says to me: “Dad, you make money for other people running their companies. I will never be like that; I want to make money for myself”. All my life, I have been in the corporate world. You can’t say because I’m good at running a big corporate, I could run my own business well. That’s hypothetical hypocrisy and it’s not going to work, you’re probably going to damage yourself significantly and lose all your money. You have to be realistic and honest with yourself.

So, my message to young people is – you want to start your own business, learn and understand the business you’re going to be in, be committed; it’s not going to happen easily and the people who succeed in life are the people who fail initially. One must know that everybody is not a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates.

It is said that travel broadens the mind and I encourage young Saudis to firstly explore their own country and then look beyond the borders. Saudi Arabia is opening up and has vast cultural and tourist offerings that will astound most people, including Saudis.  If one can live and work a few years outside, do it!


Career-wise, what is the best compliment you have ever received, the best advice you’ve ever received, and your one regret in life?

After my speech at a large conference, a delegate came and said, “You’ve done a great job. That was the best speech I have ever heard”. That to me was the best compliment.

The best advice I received was from one of my managers at Shell in the US, Mike Dossey from Houston, who told me: “Mutlaq, you have to work harder than others in order to progress – things will not come to you on a silver plate.”

My only regret is that my mother died in 2006 before I could see her for the last time. I was in Riyadh and she passed away in Anak near Qatif area and with the Islamic tradition of burying the dead quickly, I never made it to see her. That is a regret I will carry all my life.


Your philanthropic activities. Please tell us about these so it will inspire others.

The country has given me a lot by paying for me and sending me to the US. So, I need to return it in some form. I teach some courses at universities in their MBA programs; I talk to students locally about careers, what they should be concentrating on, what the future jobs are going to be, etc. So, I try to practise what I preach – education, education, education. I take some of the training courses within the company too. Within the company and the larger family also, I mentor a few people and guide them whenever asked to, I am always more than happy to help. I believe time is more valuable than money, so I give my time.  

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