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Walaa Maher

Meet Walaa Maher, regional Supply Chain Director at a Kimberly Clark - Olayan joint venture based in Bahrain. Founded in 1947, The Olayan Group is a private, multinational enterprise with diverse commercial and industrial operations in the Middle East and an actively managed portfolio of international investments. The commercial side of the Group comprises more than 40 companies and is centered in Saudi Arabia, where the Group originated. They are engaged in distribution, manufacturing, and services. Many of these companies operate in partnership with leading multinational or regional firms. 

Kimberly-Clark products first appeared in the Gulf region in 1955, when the General Trading Company – a subsidiary of The Olayan Group, began importing Kleenex® brand facial tissues to Saudi Arabia.

K-C’s presence grew as individual manufacturing agreements were made to produce Kleenex® tissues, then Kotex® feminine napkins and, in 1989, Huggies® diapers. Olayan Kimberly-Clark Arabia Company and the National Child Care Products Company were established in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia, to locally manufacture these products for both the Saudi market and to export.  In 1994, the partnership between Olayan and Kimberly-Clark strengthened when the joint-venture partners opened a tissue mill in Bahrain – joining the first ever tissue conversion plant in Saudi Arabia that was established in 1969. The plant, located in Askar, supplies feedstock to the tissue-converting operation in Saudi Arabia and exports tissue hard rolls elsewhere in the Gulf region.

Walaa (who also happens to be the first person to subscribe to the Straight Talk podcast app on Spreaker) is tackling some interesting challenges in the Middle East, and we think it's important we're aware of how the region is evolving.  We asked him to tell us about himself, his career, and how he spends his free time.  Feel free to connect with Walaa both here in Beet Fusion and at the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit in September. 

Remember! Engaging with members will make your global network a little more connected.

Tell us about yourself. What do you do in supply chain?

I’m currently the regional Supply Chain Director for a joint Kimberly Clark – Olayan venture.  I live I in Bahrain and am looking after the regions end-to-end Supply chain including Arabian Gulf, Levant, and North Africa. I have 130 team members reporting to me including Procurement, Planning, Customer Service, Warehouses, Physical Distribution, and Logistics.

What cool things you are working on?

I have a “Free”” Consultation Company for supply chain solutions to help small firms in Egypt where we help develop the SC concept and improve logistics knowledge under the new Egyptian structure.  Part of this initiative is to help new graduates and seniors prepare for their business life.  I normally spend 2 days a month touring different universities to give coaching and public events talking about general management topics.  I am also active in the Public Service in the Field of Supply chain.  I am on the advisory board of couple of supply chain organizations for MEA region (ISC UK) and ISCEA Bahrain Advisory Board

How did you get interested in supply chain as a career?

The simulator game Transport Tycoon made me an addict for the job.  The later my work at P&G in Quality made see the supply chain from the master level and I joined their league.

What is your best piece of career advice?

“Seven Success Secrets to Go Up : Show up, Speak up, Look up, Team up,  Lift others up, Never give up....Finally Cheer Up”

What hobbies do you pursue in your leisure time?

Simple ones I made a commitment to teaching in weekend and since I have no interest in sport or outdoor activity the rest will be reading and studying.  However I have a goal to visit as many countries as I can.  As of now I have been to 24 and am looking forward to reaching 50 before I turn 45

What topics are you most excited about discussing with other members?

“No Solution Fits All”.  Right now the Middle East is re-shaping and an effective SC will be the only way that this region can survive.  Additionally I think that learning mechanisms for non-supply chain graduates so they can move into our field will be important to discuss.

What supply chain trend or evolution are you anticipating will change your business?

I would say teleportation, but this still a far off solution.  For now, the simplification of software for ERP and “Less Data / More Analysis for trends” for the data we are drowning in everyday is what I’m most excited about. 

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