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Collective success through business partnership by Ammar Aqeel Alhassan

With BMMI Group’s diverse divisions, departments and countries of operations working together to achieve a common goal, the Corporate Communications and Marketing team recently sat down with Deputy CEO & CFO, Ammar Aqeel Alhassan, to find out more about why the organisation places so much importance on the concept of ‘business partnership’.

We’ve been hearing a lot about business partnership at BMMI, can you tell us more?

From my perspective, business partnership isn’t something new; it’s something we’ve been doing for decades. For example, when a part of our business is going through a difficult time, we try to pool our resources together to lend them a helping hand and do whatever it takes to support our business to succeed. Equally, when a part of our business is successful we celebrate our achievements together across our Group.

What happens when we don’t take a partnership approach?

One of the symptoms of bad business partnership is when you hear people talking of ‘I’ rather than ‘we’. This really goes against our Winning Hearts culture, with ‘Team Spirit’ being one of our core values. We find some of that sort of behaviour sometimes when people aren’t displaying true partnership. At BMMI, we really like to cultivate a spirit where ‘my success’ is ‘your success’, and vice versa. At the end, we’re all team BMMI – no matter where in the Group we work.

How do we balance between collective and personal responsibility?

It’s crucial to make the link between business partnership and personal accountability and performance. Sometimes when you talk about business partnership, some people could misconstrue it and think that there isn’t personal accountability. But I think they’re very much linked, and you’ll be in trouble if you delink them. This is true for us here, because even with our focus on team achievement and success, we still have a very strong sense of personal accountability. Our high performers are shown much appreciation through rewards, training and career progression. We do everything we can to enable individuals to perform at their best, and because of our culture, we believe we have a high percentage of high performers in our team. Imagine how successful BMMI can get when you combine team power with a strong sense of personal accountability and performance.

What are some core components of business partnership?

Business partnership doesn’t happen by accident. I believe it requires two key ingredients for success, the right cultural setting, which in our case is our Winning Hearts values and culture, supported by the right organisational processes. Fundamental to business partnerships is what I call having a shared vision, as well as trust, and transparent communication. For example, when an individual or department operates in a silo, even with the best intentions, they would deliver what they think is required. But, in many cases what they think is required isn’t necessarily what’s expected from them by the stakeholders. This is why having that common understanding and constant communication along the way is very important.

What are some ways that we’ve attempted to strengthen business partnership at BMMI?

Well, for example, we’ve recently developed ‘customer charters’ where many of the departments at BMMI communicated, in a measurable manner, their commitment to their stakeholders. It is based on transparent communication and measurable outcomes, because the less ambiguity there is when it comes to setting expectations, the better we can meet and, hopefully, exceed them. This process resulted in healthy internal debate with stakeholders and customers, where goals were challenged and the end product was a shared vision with customers and a clear set of challenging but achievable goals.

So what does an ideal partnership look like?

I think we’ve been able to have some pretty good examples of partnerships at BMMI. What it comes down to, in my opinion, is basically having that shared vision and common understanding. This will help the team have a deliberate proactive approach when they face any issues, and they can address them as a unit, working together with a clear objective. It’s also crucial to be open to change and to be dynamic, basically you need to have the capacity to change your position based on circumstances, without ever compromising on your values.

How can people spread this approach through their organisation?

You know, in some departments, their work is naturally much more collaborative and there’s much more partnerships in those structures. Nevertheless, I encourage everyone to be curious, to talk and interact with colleagues in other departments, and to talk to leaders and managers in the company. This will help reinforce how we all work towards the same shared vision. It’s also important to read news and updates about the company and to stay informed about what other divisions are doing. You need to proactively involve yourself. Whether it’s contributing to cross-functional teams and workshops, taking part in team building exercises, or just getting together around the table over coffee, and bouncing ideas off each other. It all helps you contribute towards the same goal – and that’s what partnership is about.