Our interview guest is Mr. Alaa Samaha, a well-known Egyptian Economist. His main specializations are strategy planning, risk management and banking in addition to Mergers and Acquisitions. He started his career at Chase National Bank- Egypt as assistant manager operations. He then moved to Saudi Arabia where he worked at Saudi Investment Bank and Saudi Cairo Bank. He also worked for the Commercial International Bank Egypt “CIB” for 14 years from 1992 till 2006 where the last position he held there was General Manager and high policies committee member. In March 2000 he became the chairman of Commercial International Life Insurance till July 2006. Then he was the managing director and CEO of Blom Bank Egypt and chairman of Blom Egypt Securities and Arope Insurance.was responsible for building and managing the country three years’ strategic plan and working in both the customers and contents acquisitions. Samaha was nominated as advisor of the Minister of Finance in Egypt from 2009 till 2011. In 2013 he was the chairman of the Principle Bank for Development and Agricultural Credit (PBDAC). Afterwards from 2013 to 2015 he was the chairman and managing director for Tropicana for Food Industries. Currently Mr. Alaa is the co-founder and partner of K&S for investments, founder of Experts for consultancy and supporting services and the board director for Porto Group holding company.
1. Mr. Samaha, a lot of effective employees working in banks, investment, and insurance companies say that they follow the school of Alaa Samaha. Will you tell us more about that?
Actually I don’t have a school, I was part of a school where I was well trained, coached, motivated and supported based on my continuous sincere efforts and my dedication to the institution I serve during my whole career. Equality, fairness, sometimes tough and sometimes generous creates team confidence in their Leader. People always seeks & search for their role model whom they would like to be, I always worked on being that leader that people seek to find during their career.
2. Your thoughts about John Maynard Keynes?
One of the best British economist in the 20th-century, known as the father of Keynesian economics. One of his best principals is that if an economy’s investment exceeds its savings, it will cause inflation. Conversely, if an economy’s saving is higher than its investment, it will cause a recession which simply means that an increase in spending would, in fact, decrease unemployment and help economic recovery which also means that more spending creates demand which is the true driver for production and not supply, which I actually strongly believe to be true.
3. And Joseph Schumpeter?
An economist and one of the 20th century’s greatest intellectuals. His theory of “Dynamic Economic Growth” also known as “Creative Destruction” which is an increase in the capacity of an economy to produce goods and services, compared from one period of time to another. In my opinion within the current economical global situation it is difficult to be achieved.
4. And Milton Friedmann?
An American economist and statistician best known for his strong belief in free-market capitalism who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. I am a strong believer to his Theory of the “Consumption Function” meaning that a person’s consumption and savings decisions are more greatly impacted by permanent changes to income rather than changes to income that are perceived as temporary. Also he published pioneering books on the modern economy, as well as numerous influential articles, changing the way economics is taught.
5. What is in your eyes the greatest Economist of Arabian Origin? Or are Muslims weak on the subject?
Other than Ibn Khaldun, as much as I know actually Arabs or Muslims generally has not been well known or famous of creating or developing economist theories but of course you will find a lot of successful implementers.
6. What do you think about the actual financial inclusion in Egypt?
It started lately with a strong support from the highest political & monetary level, although it still needs a lot of effort and a long way to reach an acceptable level but with the increase of its importance and how it simplify dealings the trend will increase.
7. How do you evaluate the investment situation now in Egypt?
Investment is an environment; laws are important to regulate business relations but will never alone attract investors. Investor’s choices focus on main 5 factors, easy entry, easy exit, stable situation, calibres availability and access to markets. The new investment law has resolved major difficulties facing investors, and despite that Direct and Indirect investments in Egypt are increasing and it will also improve, however, we still need to work on simplifying the needed documentations and face the burro-curacy in the governmental sector.
8. What are the main challenges of the next ten years for Global Economy and for Egypt?
Egypt will pass its current economic situation and but the main challenges that it faces can be summarized in shortage of technical skilled calibres, quality of service and products, competition, research and development and marketing.
9. What are your criteria about the effective employees?
Has the will to succeed but ethically, the willingness to achieve and impact don’t stop learning and define his role model.
10. From your previous experiences, we can see that you are a man of power and challenges. What is your strategy of success?
Believe in yourself & capabilities, learn from your mistakes and avoid it in the future, maintain your values & principals accept challenges, face & mitigate risks, love what you do and always be fair to yourself & others. It’s not necessary to be the best but be one of them.
11. You have been working in Mergers and Acquisitions, would you tell us how did you face their challenges?
Lots of challenges, the most important one and a killer for any deal of these types is the acceptance of the other party which creates conflicts and disturbance.
12. Which was your best case in Mergers and Acquisitions?
Actually most of the cases I went through was not successfully completed either due to disagreement on valuations or due to different cultures.
13. What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs based on your experience?
Be patient, focus on your target and insist to achieve even if you face some failures.