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Q&A with Badr Burshaid

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Badr Burshaid, President – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Chapter Project Management Institute

How would you describe your career path in a few words?

I never took the easy way. My career path was, in my opinion, titled perseverance. I had joined Saudi Aramco as a project professional from a young age. My early career was about getting as busy as my plate could handle and were predominantly focused on construction projects. I recall that my first engagement with projects was with one of Saudi Aramco's facilities that aimed to increase its refined product export capacity. As I gained more tangible experience and tasted the sourness of project challenges, I was invited to join the company's engineering team to support Aramco in designing the expansion of an existing gas/oil separation plant, which could have only been possible by building the earlier knowledge foundation obtained through construction experience. Since then, I have expanded my expertise to lead project teams, assuming more senior roles with various core business construction projects till my eventual ascending to direct a critical program for Saudi Aramco. This enabled my entrustment to lead a PMO overseeing the health, readiness, and transformation of one of the world's largest projects' portfolios. Having accumulated 20+ years serving Aramco's projects portfolio, I've taken that bank of knowledge and expertise to contribute firsthand towards my beloved country and enable value where I can by leading governmental transformational initiatives, volunteering to lead professional societies, and contributing to numerous public events and workshops where thought leaders share their experience and enable the next generation of leaders and practitioners.

What was your most challenging experience and has it changed your mindset?

Well, the project management profession is a challenging one. It is dynamic in nature, requires time investments, and often many sacrifices. I spent the predominant portion of my career away from family and in conditions that many would consider unfavorable. However, amid harsh environments, I've learned to leverage the network around me to foster a collective energy that eases the tradeoff. You surround yourself with like-minded people going through similar life experiences and cultivating a positive mesh of people makes the experience beautiful and life-fulfilling.

Another thing that comes to mind is that I was always the project engineer assigned the unwanted jobs, the dirty jobs, and reflecting now, the challenges offered by the wanted jobs gave me an advantageous position against my peers. Perhaps this lesson had the best impact on my career and taught me to never shy away from any challenge as each comes with valuable opportunities. This, in turn, has activated a "can do" mentality and has been a vital tool that elevates my bar going forward.

When you get surprised by an unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?

I have learned with experience to take a step back and view the big picture. It often helps in understanding objectives and the reasons behind the unusual encounter, and always, always refrain from consuming things on a personal note. However, the most crucial element is always knowing I don't think alone. Cultivating a network of trusted people around me is key to facing day-to-day challenges, whether familiar or unexpected. Knowing that I have a support network and work as part of a team to tackle my professional career or personal life challenges just makes things easier. Lastly, a forest worth of trees is chopped one tree at a time. Processing a problem-solving framework that breaks things down into smaller components alleviates the stress of dealing with unwanted problems. Establishing that framework is essential for continued success and going through life with a positive attitude.

What’s the most important key success factor for you based on your experience?

The success of a leader depends on a number of variables. But if I had to pick just one, I'd say emotional intelligence is the most crucial one.

The term "emotional intelligence" describes a leader's capacity to identify, comprehend, and control both their own emotions and those of others. This is important because it enables leaders to forge strong bonds with team members, cultivate productive working relationships, communicate clearly, and resolve issues. Empathizing with their team members, fostering a sense of community, and inspiring and motivating their team to reach their full potential are all skills that high emotional quotient leaders possess.

Self-awareness, which helps leaders to identify their strengths and weaknesses and focus on their personal and professional development, is another crucial component of emotional intelligence. They may then make wiser judgments, speak more clearly, and set an example for others.

In conclusion, emotional intelligence is an essential element of effective leadership and has a significant impact on a leader's capacity to motivate and inspire their team, communicate clearly, forge solid bonds with others, and achieve goals.

What would be the major pitfall that may undermine the success of a leader?

Failure to assign tasks and empower team members is atrap that can hinder a leader's performance. One of the most important aspects of leadership is delegation because it frees up the leader to concentrate on their main duties and areas of expertise while simultaneously giving team members the chance to grow personally and professionally. However, when leaders don't delegate, they frequently end up overburdened with duties and responsibilities, which causes burnout and lower productivity. Due to the lack of opportunity for team members to take ownership of their work and contribute fresh ideas, this can also impede creativity and innovation.

Furthermore, by failing to empower their team members through delegation, leaders limit the prospects for their professional development. Low morale, diminished drive, and a lack of dedication to the organization may follow from this. Long-term, this may result in high turnover rates and difficulty luring top people, which could have a detrimental effect on the organization's success.

Therefore, it's imperative that team leaders have the skills necessary to assign tasks and responsibilities to team members efficiently. This entails laying out clear expectations, delivering the required tools and resources, as well as regular praise and feedback. Leaders can promote a culture of growth and success and eventually accomplish their goals and objectives by empowering their team members and fostering a supportive work environment.

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