In an exclusive interview with the zone, Stuart Bowie, group vice president, commercial, GAC highlighted the company’s effective pillars to maintain its leading position and reinforce its progress
GAC has succeeded in becoming a one-stop shop for shipping, logistics and marine services, how did you manage to maintain your market leadership?
GAC had a head start on most of our rivals, having opened our first office in this region in 1956 and in the UAE in 1967. Building on those early foundations, we have been able to develop a comprehensive regional solution, offering integrated services tailored to the needs of each customer, long before many of our current rivals had even heard of Dubai. We still enjoy that advantage today, albeit to a lesser extent. The real platform for our success was, is and always will be based on our relationships with customers, our willingness to listen to their needs, and our ability to provide solutions.
We have managed to maintain our market leadership because our growth strategy is based on a long-term vision as we always prioritise the market demands and the services needed to enhance our business. GAC is more than just a service provider; we help customers achieve their business goals. With over 8,000 dedicated professionals working in more than 50 countries, we give our clients’ a competitive edge.
What is your strategy to improve your smart services in such a competitive market in the Middle East?
“Delivering Value” is the key pillar and the brand promise in our competitive strategy. We pledge to put the ambitions and strategic targets of our customers at the heart of everything we do. It tells them that we have the skills, the assets, the values and the drive to work with them to achieve their business goals. The Group has invested heavily in technical solutions. This includes the effective management and application of quality data to provide timely information and solve problems.
Finally, the quality of our attitudes, actions, written documents and equipment reflects the level of our commitment to HSSE throughout the organisation. HSSE-related incidents can be prevented and their impact reduced through an effective HSSE Management System.
How many clients do you have in the ME region?
After more than sixty years in the region, we are very fortunate to have tens of thousands. Our services and clients are diverse. Customers can be onetime private consumers, SMEs or global giants. They are not just locally based – a healthy share of our ME business comes from customers located elsewhere. We also have many customers from within the shipping and logistics sectors.
GAC has been implementing innovative approaches to ex- cel in the shipping industry, how did you manage to intro- duce smart technology?
At GAC, we provide tailored solutions to meet our clients’ needs. It is an ongoing process of communication, before, during, and after the implementation of solutions. This listening approach often highlights new and broader opportunities which we then develop for wider consumption. Technology is playing an ever-increasing central role in providing such bespoke, adaptable solutions.
How did GAC manage to maintain a distinctive leadership management system?
Dating back to our founder, the GAC Spirit emphasises loyalty be- tween colleagues, a two-way responsibility to each other. GAC is not a hire and fire company, we put our trust in our people and we encourage freedom with responsibility as the best way to learn and grow. Most of our senior managers have worked their way up through the organisation and have become thoroughly immersed in that Corporate culture and philosophy.
Who are your main government and private partners in the UAE?
In today’s digitally connected world it is perhaps hard to imagine a time when relationships with government partners were pivotal to getting the job done. The willingness to listen and find ways to help is what has differentiated the various authorities in Dubai and particularly DP World and Jafza. This business-friendly culture is a huge part of what has driven Dubai, supported of course by ambitious investment and infrastructure. Dubai and the UAE will continue to be ahead of the pack, as long as the various authorities continue to support the business community.
Shipping/ logistics industry has been fluctuating for the past five years, what is your strategy to overcome the current challenges?
As long as the environment grows more diverse, the challenges become more complex. I personally believe that challenges can lead up to better opportunities. For instance, the previous drop in the oil and gas prices opened up an opportunity for us because oil trading expanded. Our unique business culture and the GAC Spirit will always be central to whatever we do. Customers, Relationships, Technology, Sustainability, Compliance, Quality and People are the core of our business.
Can you tell us about the company’s recent expansion especially in the region?
ME geographical expansion is easier for others than it is for us, as we have been established in all the region’s major ports/cities for decades. We recently opened new facilities in Bahrain, Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and a large expansion project is underway in Qatar. GAC Dubai has opened its newest contract logistics facility, in the Logistics District of Dubai South with an investment of AED 100 million. This facility adds to the company’s existing contract logistics capacity and complements established facilities such as the ones in the Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai Airport Free Zone, bringing total capacity in the Emirate to over 170,000 pallet positions dedicated to customers active in the local and regional markets. This investment and expansion will continue, both within the region and around the world.