EMPOWERING THE YOUTH
BY ANAAM IKRAM
“We are the current challenge and future success”, the words behind Khalid Al Qoud’s motivation and passion towards fostering the young talent in Bahrain. The multi-award winning businessman has dedicated himself to finding various media that help enrich the knowledge and skills of the youth to guide them towards a successful future. Al Qoud spoke with Perle Magazine about his journey that lead him to becoming a renowned entrepreneur, consultant and international motivational speaker.
Starting his journey on a different path, Al Qoud had initially planned on becoming an Air Force Pilot but unbeknownst to him, his grandfather, someone he credits as the key mentor in his life, the late Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Qoud had other plans for him. Upon the request of his grandfather, Al Qoud left the army soon after he enlisted because his grandfather told him, “I am still alive to tell you in which direction you are heading”. At the time Al Qoud recalls, he felt his grandfather was too controlling but listened to him nonetheless. Shortly after that incident, Al Qoud’s life came to a standstill as his grandfather passed away and he no longer knew what path to take to start his career. Al Qoud decided to take the opportunity and discover himself from the start. Taking a job working at ALBA as an operator in 1995, his role involved cleaning the smelter basement. However, in 1998 a major accident severely injured his back and hand and rendered him incapable of work for 6 months. “I was a bit disappointed with myself in that period as I only had secondary school education. I wanted to discover myself and I did not”, he says looking back. A wave of emotion surged over him as he tried to figure out what to do next, he says. He remembers finding a piece of paper and drawing boxes at the bottom in which he wrote all the hardships he was facing at the time. “I looked at the boxes and I thought they are all so negative. And I said to myself, I am alive but with all this negativity in my life and that’s when a single line on a piece of paper changed my life.” Opposing the negative boxes on the page, Al Qoud drew a similar number of boxes on top the page and wrote positive goals in them. He then connected the negative boxes with their positive counterparts with a line between them and wrote along the length of that line how he was going to change his life from the negative to positive. “I connected the ‘bank loans’ box with ‘investments’, the ‘works in a smelter’ box with ‘own a business’, and so on. The line between each of these boxes had my journey written out on it. I am proud to say that today I have achieved 89% of the page.” Holding that piece of paper close to his heart, Al Qoud says he has kept the paper with him to this day as a reminder of the commitment he made to himself. In his 17-year journey, he says, he tells himself everyday “we are the current challenge and the future success”, a mantra he has built his empire on.
While working for ALBA, Al Qoud decided to look at other business opportunities. Setting up his first business in the clothing industry, Al Qoud was trying his hand at various business ideas to see which fit his skill set best. After running it successfully for a few years, Al Qoud decided once again to embark on a new business journey and set up a real estate company, Florida Property Centre. The purpose of this centre, he explains was to generate funds with which he could receive a college education. Upon establishing this sustainable business, Al Qoud was able to receive his graduate degree from Arab University in Egypt.
During this time he also found a certain liking towards doing charity and social events that have a positive message for the public and started the “Bahrain Day” event. The major event annually attracted around 10,000 people and lead him to launching his own events management company, Expert Events Management in 2005.
After his 13 years of experience at ALBA, Al Qoud moved onto a new field of work as the Public Relations and Government Affairs Manager for YBA Kanoo, in 2007, where he learnt the art of doing business. “I learnt from great leaders like the late Abdulla Kanoo; the visionary leader, Fawzy Kanoo; and the creative thinker, Khalid Kanoo. Those three played a great role in teaching me how to run businesses”, he says. Using his expertise and his enthusiasm towards helping the youth in the Kingdom, Al Qoud launched an organisation called Bahrain Corporate Social Responsibility Society in 2011. Focusing on the youth, this initiative was aimed to give the fresh graduates or the unemployed looking for experience a means of getting a start in their careers.
Along with the launch of the CSR society, in 2010 the financial crises also lead to Expert Events Management rebranding itself into Prince Events Management. Rather than looking at the crises as a halt in their business, the event company rebranded itself in order to educate other businesses about the benefits of rebranding before entering the market once again. The events company aimed to create unique corporate events, which could help different sectors in Bahrain. An example is the birth of the LeaderShift conference, which looks at the strategies of decision makers to overcome financial crises, economic crises, and natural crises. The success of these events further intensified Al Qoud’s belief that their strength lies with creating their own events to fulfil their aim.
With two businesses successfully set up, in 2012 Al Qoud excused himself from his employment at YBA Kanoo and set up Al Qoud Consultancy. The consultancy firm was set up to give consultations in Human Resources, Public Relations, Concept Developments, Business Planning, how to generate revenue, and in addition to these services, Al Qoud also introduced a division for corporate gifts. Some of their major clients include ARAMCO and General Electrics, to whom they provide corporate gifts. The idea was heavily praised and resulted in Al Qoud Consultancy being offered a shop in the BDF Museum, located in Riffa next to Al Fateh Fort.
Al Qoud adds the main lessons he learnt in his experience so far is the importance to discover oneself, to know the goal structures and to the support the surrounding environment. As his business expanded, he says his social responsibilities towards the community also grew. Within the CSR Society, Al Qoud started a new initiative called “Youth Plus”. Initially consisted of four youths ages 12-18 doing voluntary charity work, the number has increased to 130 volunteers. “What we are trying to do is to build a generation which believes in the importance of contributing to their community because those jobs can be created and managed by the youth. The job of the big companies is to support the youth and create sustainable projects in the country.” Al Qoud recalls some of the commendable charity work done by YBA Kanoo such as building 5 hospitals, more than 13 mosques and 2 event halls with a fee of only BD20 to rent.
The reputed businessman has students from Ahlia University, Bahrain Polytechnic and Royal University for Woman interning at his various organisations to get a well-rounded experience.
Through his organisations he aims to break the vicious cycle of students not being hired, because they have no experience and vice versa. “The students are trained in the different fields of marketing, PR, Social Media, and even as Junior Consultants. There are also departments for branding and creativity”, he says. During the three-month internship, the students get to experience work in Al Qoud Consultancy, Prince Events Management and from CSR Society to ensure they have a firm understanding of the business-world. Al Qoud says his team also helps prepare CVs for the students and those with outstanding performances throughout their internships are asked to join full-time. In February, Al Qoud also launched a leadership program that targets youth confidence building.
He notes that though they may be knowledgeable, many students are unable to deliver their message across as they are too shy or lack confidence. The classes take place every Saturday 10am-12pm at the Domain Hotel. So far with 173 graduates from this program, Al Qoud says by the end of the year they hope to reach 200 students.
Al Qoud’s achievements have earned him countless accolades, some of the most prestigious ones being from the international organisation, Toastmasters Club. The non-profit organisation was set up over 90 years ago, with its first Middle Eastern branch being launched in Bahrain in 1959.
The talented speaker received the Distinguished Toastmaster award three times – the highest distinction award is presented to those with over 60 speeches. Al Qoud was also the first Arab to be a district governor for District 20 with countries Oman, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait under his charge. Toastmaster also awarded Al Qoud with the International Award for Marketing and the Distinguished Award for running the district in the most professional manner and meeting the set standards.
Showing no signs of slowing down, Khalid Al Qoud has been selected amongst 20 leaders, as part of the ChangeMakers group, from around the world to visit the United States for the International Visitors Leadership Program. The group, which was sponsored by the State Department of USA in 2013, was studying the social impact and social entrepreneurship in the United States, and lead AlQoud Consultancy to plan the start of AlQoud Social Entrepreneurship program.
Al Qoud stresses in the upcoming five years, his focus is on the youth and he wishes to see huge contributions made to help them, as they are the future of Bahrain.
For more information on Al Qoud Consultancy, Prince Events Management, CSR Society:
(00973) 1731 1630
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