Global meets local
Top 50 regional executives leading international companies
Today’s world is becoming increasingly global with the power of technology enhancing the scalability of international businesses. Today, for the first time in history, multiple “non-state-mandated” global monopolies control key sectors. The market values of the five largest companies in the world exceed the GDP of most countries.
However, running a successful global business is much more complex than having the right technology and huge amounts of capital. The success of companies on a global scale generally depends on their ability to understand specific regions. Being the regional leader of a global company is a very complex role. Regional managers must keep in mind local culture, social norms, and other factors such as demographics and infrastructure, while maintaining and following brand ethics.
For example, Ronaldo Mouchawar, vice president of Amazon in the MENA region, created the White Friday sale, knowing that Amazon’s traditional Black Friday would not sit well with Arab culture. Under the direction of regional chef, Mwaffak Kanjee, McDonald’s in the Middle East serves a McArabia wrap. And Luay Al Shurafa, president and general manager of General Motors in the Middle East and Africa, played a role in the development of the Middle Eastern versions of the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.
Global companies play an important role in nation building in the Middle East. Many regional leaders of multinational corporations have partnered with governments to bring advanced technologies to the region. Several companies have partnered with government agencies to build innovation centers and incubators to encourage entrepreneurship. Many CEOs are advisers to governments or members of industry organizations in their personal capacity. Global multinationals are also among the best corporate citizens in the region and are responsible for leading awareness campaigns, whether to save the environment (Schneider), promote diversity (3M), enable financial inclusion (Mastercard) or support health care (Johnson and Johnson). Often they raise awareness of new issues in the Middle East as part of global campaigns.
This is the eighth year in a row that we have ranked the regional leaders of global companies, keeping in mind their achievements, the role they play within our economies and societies, and the inspiration they provide to their employees and consumers.
This year, there are three women on the list, more than there have ever been in previous lists. In the Global Meets Local 2019 ranking, Melda Yasar Cebe, General Manager for the Middle East and Africa at Kraft Heinz, made her first appearance and was the only woman on the list. This year, she is joined by Reem Asaad, vice president for the Middle East and Africa at Cisco, and Marzena Kulis, general manager for the Middle East at Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices. Hopefully, the number of female leaders in these roles will continue to grow as more international companies choose women to lead their operations in the Middle East.