US dean offers advice to Saudi professionals

Leadership and problem solving are the keys to success, says business school head.
Research shows that companies with more than one key decision maker tend to perform better.
Research shows that companies with more than one key decision maker tend to perform better.


The dean of a leading US business school has informed a group of leading Saudi logistics executives that experience alone will not prove much of a guide through the current economic conditions.

James B. Thomas, dean of the Smeal College of Business at Pennsylvania State University, was speaking at a three-day symposium in Alkhobar, organised by the Arabian Supply Chain Society under the sponsorship of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and Saudi Aramco.

“We teach efficiencies; we teach technology innovations, recycling and global linkages in the supply chain, but we also need to teach future leaders to confront and question the rules that guide their perspectives,” said Thomas, according to the Arab News daily.

Thomas remarked that the problems and solutions to the current problems were more complex than previously thought possible, and that leaders of supply chains these days must be able to anticipate, recognise and manage ever-changing conditions across multiple levels and multiple organisations.

Perhaps a big issue for regional firms is the need for more than one key decision-maker in the company, according to Thomas, who related that market research showed that more participation in decision-marking led to more successful business prospects.

“We know the following through extensive research: managers in organisations whose general strategy is to develop defensive positions tend to see markets and competitors as threats,” continued Thomas.

“They will tend to see situations as negative and always as uncontrollable. The thing that’s really interesting, however, is that managers in firms that could be described as prospectors — looking out for new markets, engaging in new ways of thinking — see the exact same situation, either as an opportunity or something that’s positive and something that they can control,” he concluded.


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