Industry leaders throw light on recession-proofing businesses at Invest in Sharjah webinar

Experts advise on how shifting conventional mindsets will help implementing new protocols that will boost business outcomes amid changing economic realities 

Industry leaders throw light on recession-proofing businesses at Invest in Sharjah webinar

SHARJAH, UAE: Four successful industry captains from sectors as varied as aerospace manufacturing, food packaging, healthcare and research and innovation in Sharjah revealed their strategy for survival and growth amid the economic tumult resulting from the Coronavirus outbreak, at a webinar organised by the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), an affiliate of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), recently.

Titled ‘Shifting Mindsets and Business Resilience’, the live, interactive discussion heard from HE Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Muhairi - Director, Sharjah Health Authority; Ismail Ali Abdulla – CEO, Strata; Ismael Touq – Sharjah Open Innovation Lab Manager, Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park 

(SRTI Park); and Mohammed Javeed – Business Excellence Manager, Falcon Pack Industries LLC. Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO, Invest in Sharjah, moderated the session.

All these entities had taken a hit following the onset of the pandemic, but had managed to survive the negative economic climate by catering to new opportunities thrown up by the global situation. By stretching their conventional mindset and putting available resources to manufacture products currently in demand, the session’s speakers highlighted that they not only stayed afloat but also continued to grow their businesses successfully. 

HE Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Muhairi said: “Every company represented here today have all demonstrated their capability to shift production lines, even from one industry to another. That is the hallmark of survival. The demand for personal protection equipment is not going to die out in the near future. Beyond masks and gloves, there are many items required by medical professionals which will always command a robust market.”

From his part, Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh said: “The rapidly evolving threat around the pandemic is impacting the business and investor community across the world.However, as it evolves, we are seeing companies like those represented here take measured approaches to safeguard employees and mitigate financial and operational exposure. The federal as well as local governments have helped companies weather the situation through stimulus packages, favourable labour laws and exemptions in various fields. The lesson we learnt here today is that businesses need to stay flexible and change strategies to suit the situation. I would like to thank our eminent speakers for having taken out the time to educate and encourage our business community in this time of need.”

There is always an opportunity in every situation and businesses would do well to read these in advance and adapt to shifting realities, said Ismail Ali Abdulla, CEO, Strata. “The aviation industry has been hit hard and recovery will take at least three to five years. This made us think of utilising our facilities to manufacture products that are required most now. Building on our strong partnerships, we have managed to rapidly prototype and trial healthcare innovations required to fight the COVID-19 virus. We have the capacity to manufacture 30 million masks annually. Our turnaround highlights the valuable role manufacturing companies can play during these unprecedented times. While we will continue to deliver high-quality aircraft parts to our customers like Boeing and Airbus, we will also leverage our industrial and technological capabilities to support the UAE government’s self-sufficiency in the healthcare supply chain, and share our innovations globally.”

Talking about how fulfilling a social obligation could lead to a business opportunity, Ismael Touq said: “As a lab we focus on new ideas. We were quickly able to identify a need and when the demand for face shields and masks shot up, tied up with Immensa, which has 3D printing facilities to design and produce key protective equipment. Through trials in accessing raw material and getting the product in the market, we learnt that we could manufacture [what was required] if there was a demand.” 

He added: “We built up production lines in a few weeks, split the manufacturing between different facilities and overcame logistical issues to deliver as many masks as were required on time.

If Falcon Pack Industries LLC had not decided to deviate from their core business of manufacturing disposable food containers, it would have had to cut back on its production capacity drastically. However, an innovate thought led the company to shift focus to producing personal protective equipment and today it is working to full capacity. “We decided to start producing PPEs, face masks and gloves because we had to keep working, we could not afford to sit idle,” said Mohammed Javeed. 

“Very soon the demand increased so much that we have plans to ramp up production. We have a range of products now and even plan to open retail outlets.”