Persistence and hard work are the key to surmount challenges, says Ahmed Mohammed Al Ardhi, Area Manager – Muscat and Sharqiya, Sadara Wealth Management, National Bank of Oman. Mayank Singh reports
Can you give us a brief background of your education and profession?
I graduated from The Sultan’s School and continued my education from the University of Toronto. I specialised in political science and graduated in August 2011 and by late October-early November joined the National Bank of Oman in corporate banking. A year later I moved to project finance, stayed there for four years as a relationship manager and just over a year and a month ago in July 2016, I was asked to move to retail banking as an area manager.
Currently, I am the area manager within Sadara – National Bank of Oman’s private banking and wealth management division and I handle the Muscat and Sharqiya region. I have a team of 17 people working with me and we take care of the banking needs of ultra-high networth individuals. This is my first job and it has been a fantastic experience. I owe a lot of what I am today to National Bank of Oman, the bank has been generous in providing me with all the requisite tools and resources for self-development. This is one of the reasons why I have moved to the private sector and banking in particular. The people that I work with are of a high caliber and this year’s NTI BizPro Awards selection process reflects the same as a majority of the semifinal nominees and from National Bank of Oman.
Have you had mentors or someone who has been a major influence in your life?
My father Mohammed Mahfoodh al Ardhi has been the biggest influence on me and I have looked up to him since my childhood. He is not just a role model, but more than that – he is a teacher, a mentor and a friend as well. My father taught me many things, he has himself pursued a quest for knowledge throughout his life. He demonstrated that age is just a number though example, while most people would be content to retire and run their small family business, he went back to pursue his education from Harvard after retiring from the Royal Air Force of Oman. Whenever I go through a challenge in life, I ask myself as to how my father would react if he was in my position and that helps me recompass my roadmap. I also owe a lot to all the people that I have interacted with especially my family – my mother, siblings, my wife, funnily enough even my new born child has shaped me become a better person. I am a great believer in the fact that everybody has a positive influence on others. One either learns or gets experience through one’s interactions with others.
What are your strengths as a person that have enabled you to do well at an early age?
I always like to be good to people, there is a saying in Arabic which means ‘Half the brain is managing people’ and I would like to really strengthen myself there. In the position that I am in, nothing sleeps overnight, if a job has to be done, it needs to be done, so you have to a doer. One needs to be goal oriented in life, but not in a narrow sense.
Your family owns a business. Why did you choose not to join it and become a professional manager?
Given the size of the family business, it would not have given me the equivalent experience, moreover being in banking exposes you to all types of people which is enriching. I know that the family business would have added value but not as much as my present job.
What are your future plans and ambitions?
I don’t want to narrow it down, but I would like to be in a position where I can influence, not in terms of a specific position on the corporate ladder. I am more interested in enhancing my capabilities and characteristics in terms of achieving a specific goal, not necessarily a name goal that can influence me in much better way along with the people around me.
What is your advice to young Omani executives, who are embarking on a career?
I would tell them first to never give up. It never harms to have sleepless nights, it does not harm be challenged. As a child my father used to advice me to read a newspaper, and this habit has enriched me. One should read and be on top of things, as knowledge is power. Always take on challenges as there is nothing like a brick wall challenge. If you think that there is a brick wall challenge, then it means that you are not strong enough to break it down. Young Omanis have to be more reliant on themselves rather than being dependant on others. You need to be capable in terms of knowledge and self-reliance. Always dream big and work towards your dreams, there is nothing called luck, it is hard work, persistence and endurance that will take you to your goals.
Does Oman offer enough opportunities for youngsters?
Yes very much. Oman has been very kind and generous. We have numerous examples of this, almost every second person here is a success story. The environment that we are in gives everyone an equal chance and it is full of opportunities. But as anywhere, life is not fair and you have to work and fight your way towards success. It is the survival of the fittest but Oman does offer numerous avenues. Being in a managerial role, I get a chance to oversee many of these opportunities and I think it is there for grabs.
You were one of the finalists of NTI BizPro Awards. Can you share a few highlights of your experience in going through assessment and being a semi-finalist?
It was flattering to know that we were one of the chosen talents and it is now like a responsibility for us to give back to society and that’s where the responsible side comes in. It has really got us closer to a number of talented people within the market and connecting with people is everything, so NTI BizPro and KPMG did a fantastic job. It also showed where our personal challenges were, because only while facing challenges does one discover as to where we stand. The process puts you on your toes or on the edge and as they say ‘You have to live by the edge to see the view.’ It means a lot to us, because irrespective of what age you are or in what position you are, success is never really final and one should constantly develop oneself, and NTI BizPro provided us with that opportunity. NTI BizPro is a platform to publicise young Omanis and showing their talents. It also helps Omanis in redeveloping their talents to
shine in the market. There needs to be more such initiatives as there are a number of talented Omanis, who need to be rediscovered.