Interviews

Tête-à-Tête: Ashraf Yehia of Eaton Middle East

Small Enterprise speaks to Ashraf Yehia, the Managing Director of Eaton Middle East, about the current state of the regional market and the promises ahead

What are your career history to date and key career achievements?
I am the Managing Director of Eaton Middle East. I have held this position since February 2019 and am responsible for the company’s operational and commercial business in the Middle East and increasing the organisation’s footprint in the region.

Prior to this, I joined Eaton in 2012 as part of Eaton’s acquisition of Cooper Industries and was part of the team that put together a successful transition between the two organisations. I was the General Manager for MENAI region for Eaton Crouse Hinds & B-Line from 2012-2019.

I was involved in putting together a strategy and business model for Crouse-Hinds & B-Line which saw the company boost gross yearly local sales from $60 million to $100 million in 48 months. I also set up a distribution facility in Dammam, Saudi Arabia to manufacture and produce B-Line products locally which also helped boost the local economy in Dammam.

What are your roles and responsibilities in your company?
Eaton helps the most prestigious and demanding customers in the region when it comes to powering mission-critical applications reliably, safely and efficiently. Leveraging more than 100 years of experience, Eaton sets standards in performance by bringing end-to-end solutions and the expertise of a global company with a proven success record. Eaton has a local presence in most of the countries in the Middle East with 14 offices and over 300 employees across the region.

As Managing Director for the region, I have full responsibility for Eaton in the Middle East. Managing a day-to-day business with teams from all countries, ensuring the operations are running smoothly, meeting customer satisfaction and needs.

What is your advice on finding success in the regional market?
Serving the needs of your customers is imperative. Customer satisfaction is a benchmark we strive on a daily basis and catering for what they require to serve prestigious projects across the region.

How would you assess the current state of the regional market?
We expect 2019 to be a solid year despite the macro-economic uncertainty, mostly driven by existing projects. Regional governments have announced ambitious spending plans for the year ahead and they will keep pace in their spending which should result in the right level of funding. Moreover, key event dates such as Expo2020 are adding even more pressure to accelerate the pace even more.

What is the biggest challenge facing the IT industry in the region?
There are various complexities that are affecting the industry whether that is technology, financial or growth. Evolution is an inherent part of the IT industry. Any evolution in the IT infrastructure is first driven by business needs and business outcomes.

Today businesses are struggling, even more, to cope with the fast-paced economy, therefore they are looking for their infrastructure to be more smart and agile. The segment has changed dramatically in the last 20 years and at a rapid pace. Organisations need to stay abreast with the transformations in the industry, invest in human resources and train them more regularly.

Our industry is one of the most creative eco-system. Over the years, both vendors and channel partners have established strong local relationships to deliver the most advanced technologies available in the market, while adapting to the demands of the Middle East region. This could be on the scale or speed of deployment or their complexity of adaptation to environmental conditions.

Technology is growing at an unprecedented level and even the Back-Up Power industry now requires software skills for example. Our partners could design solutions for the modern data centers including integration to Virtual environments and hypervisors.

If you could improve one thing about the IT business what would it be?
There is an interesting conversation going on about data protection and security and how we need to protect our assets. Companies have realized this and have started to make huge investments towards protecting valuable information.  Investments in data centers, especially in the technology for data protection, is becoming increasingly important in the region, whether it is the server present in buildings or all the way to big colocation sites.

Safety and security are paramount for companies to build strong, well-tested, reliable foundations, both in hardware and software. This enhanced connectivity and higher amount of data present companies and governments with huge potential, but people need to understand what it means. It all boils down to the intelligence of the network, and how can we take the data, turn it into really useful information that people can make decisions on. There are big steps being made in this direction, and it is overall an exciting time.

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