A Visionary Leader

by Kristian Harrison

Sun, 12 May 2024

Khalid AlQoud A Visionary Leader

Few entrepreneurs have made more use of Bahrain’s business-friendly nature than Khalid AlQoud, a visionary leader whose journey from modest beginnings to the helm of AlQoud Foundation is a testament to resilience, innovation and unwavering commitment to community betterment. Kristian Harrison sat down with him to delve into the evolution of his entrepreneurial endeavours, the profound impact of AlQoud Foundation on Bahrain’s commercial landscape and the enduring importance of corporate social responsibility. 

Mr AlQoud’s odyssey commenced in 1998, with the humble beginnings of a small retail boutique. With an innate entrepreneurial spirit, Khalid quickly navigated into real estate while balancing his studies, before shifting to event management and a role within the aluminium industry. In 2007, he transitioned to work for a family business office located in Bahrain, which boasted more than 100 years of experience and service.

“During my time there, I gained valuable insights into operating a successful business, which eventually led me to quit my job and start my own consultancy firm in 2012,” he explains. “The consultancy firm began to thrive, prompting us to expand our activities and eventually change the name from AlQoud Consultancy to AlQoud Enterprise. This marked another milestone in our journey, leading us to establish a second organisation: International Leadership and Coaching, in neighbouring countries including UAE and Kuwait. 

“During the challenging pandemic, our team came together to brainstorm ways to overcome the obstacles. This led to the creation of a foundation, which consolidated all our companies under one umbrella. The foundation operates as a socially responsible group of companies, dedicated to giving back to the community by allocating a percentage of its annual profit to sustainable projects and supporting corporate social responsibility organisations in Bahrain and beyond.

“This transition from a consultancy firm to a foundation with dedicated sections for CSR, philanthropy and sustainable support for the environment, economy and social well-being reflects our commitment to making a positive impact on society and culture.”

Reflecting on his own experience, Mr. AlQoud highlighted Bahrain’s significant influence in propelling local businesses onto the global stage. The Kingdom’s robust education system, strategic partnerships and institutional support mechanisms propels entrepreneurs towards international success, he believes. “Organisations like Tamkeen, the Economic Development Board, and the Bahrain Development Bank play crucial roles in empowering startups to expand globally,” he adds.

That is not to say that budding entrepreneurs don’t face a multitude of challenges alongside abundant opportunities. Mr. AlQoud acknowledges the complexities of cultural diversity, regulatory frameworks, smaller market size and talent acquisition that characterise Bahrain’s landscape. However, he views these obstacles as catalysts for growth. “While this may pose difficulties in terms of scalability, it also fosters a close-knit business community where networking and word-of-mouth referrals can be powerful,” he explains. “Furthermore, finding skilled talent can be a challenge in Bahrain, particularly in niche industries. However, this shortage presents an opportunity for businesses to invest in training and development programmes to upskill local talent. The convergence of global expertise and local ingenuity fuels a wave of transformative innovation.”

Amidst the unprecedented challenges posed by the global pandemic, Mr. AlQoud spearheaded a transformative initiative, giving rise to the AlQoud Foundation as a platform for unified action and social impact.

“The foundation embodies our commitment to creating positive change in society,” he posits. “By consolidating diverse entities under a unified umbrella, the foundation fosters a collaborative ecosystem dedicated to community upliftment and sustainable development. From corporate philanthropy to environmental conservation efforts, the AlQoud Foundation is a trailblazer in driving transformative change and fostering a ripple effect of positive influence.”

Mr. AlQoud champions the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a cornerstone of ethical business practices. “CSR goes beyond mere philanthropy – it embodies a philosophy of shared prosperity and collective well-being,” he asserts. 

“Successful organisations often reflect their internal success through their philanthropic endeavours. Therefore, cultivating a positive organisational culture that prioritises the well-being and rights of employees is crucial. This involves implementing policies and practices that create healthy and supportive work environments. Additionally, crafting an effective branding message associated with CSR and philanthropy can underscore the enterprise’s commitment to people and the community at large.”

In his view, CSR encompasses a holistic approach, encompassing environmental stewardship, economic empowerment and social cohesion. “Our initiatives span diverse sectors, including healthcare, education and environmental conservation,” Khalid elaborates. 

“It’s best to explain this by giving a specific example. Imagine you’re an active participant in your community, consistently offering support and assistance to its members. In doing so, you build a sense of loyalty towards you, your brand and your products. People naturally gravitate towards those who have consistently shown care and support.

“Additionally, engaging in sustainable projects can significantly contribute to your organisation’s branding efforts in a unique and cost-effective manner. For instance, consider a scenario where a neighbourhood or village lacks essential facilities such as a hospital or school. Now, envision a corporate entity, let’s call it ABC, stepping in to construct such a facility with their name proudly displayed. Every individual who benefits from these facilities will associate them with the corporate entity responsible for their existence. This builds a strong sense of gratitude and loyalty towards the company, potentially leading to increased product usage and service adoption.

“Moreover, actively participating in CSR initiatives not only enhances your reputation within the community but also strengthens your position when tendering for projects that require corporate contributions. These benefits, among others, underscore the importance of CSR in shaping a positive image.”

Recently, the AlQoud Foundation successfully collaborated with a neighbouring country and a small diabetic clinic. Despite its size, the clinic offered unique solutions, aiding patients with dire prognoses turned away by other hospitals. The Foundation’s aim was to expand this vital service’s reach, providing strategic direction to scale up operations, source resources and enhance capabilities. This resulted in a network of branches, serving a larger community.

Additionally, it addressed rising unemployment in Bahrain by establishing five free training centres across the kingdom. These centres, managed by non-profit organisations, provide vocational training to empower the unemployed with valuable skills. The company also launched, an online platform facilitating internships and professional development, aiding individuals in enhancing their CVs and career prospects. 

Aside from his work with his foundation, Mr. AlQoud is an international trainer certified by Directive Communication and the American Association for Leadership Psychology, especially committed to making a significant contribution to educating younger people, corporate entities and the next generation of family businesses. Over the years, his team has developed more than 100 management curricula and authored 20 educational books tailored for trainers to enhance their training delivery.

“Ultimately, I would like to emphasise that every experience in our lives, whether it be a challenge or a success, occurs for a reason,” he concludes. “These reasons are often connected to the actions and decisions we make. Therefore, we should not dwell on regrets for anything that has happened to us. Instead, we should strive to learn from every experience that comes our way.”