Chief Executive Officer, United Bank of Albania
AS A CEO, WHAT ARE THE THREE CONCERNS ABOUT THE BANK’S FUTURE THAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?
Accepting the responsibility of being a CEO in the times of a global pandemic that we have found ourselves in 2020 raises a number of concerns but also opportunities. The number one concern for me right now is if we will be fast enough to digitalise the banking processes and interactions with our clients before the corona chaos ends. Here lies a great opportunity for the United Bank of Albania to surpass competitors and provide better customer service. This brings us to the second concern, which is catering to the needs for our clients in this challenging period. Lastly, how can Islamic financial institutions such as the United Bank of Albania contribute to benefit the local communities.
HOW DO YOU THINK WILL THE LIAISON WITH THE ISLAMIC DEVELOPMENT BANK BENEFIT THE UNITED BANK OF ALBANIA AND THE REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA AS A WHOLE?
The Islamic Development Bank is a multigovernmental developmental institution that promotes social and economic development in Muslim communities worldwide by building partnerships between governments and the private sector while adding value through shared knowhow. The United Bank of Albania serves as a bridge between the Islamic Development Bank and the Republic of Albania, which identifies the developmental and welfare needs of Albania as well as to propose projects and execute them while channelling IsDB funds to Albania. For the UBA itself to have a major shareholder such as the Islamic Development Bank brings stability and networking access.
There are in total 41 projects founded by the IsDB, 15 of these are active and 26 have been completed with a total cost of USD606.4 million. In addition of this, due to the Albanian Earthquake in 2019, the commitment of the Islamic Development Bank is up to 415 million euros; 365 million euros in investments in financing loans for feasible projects and programmes in sectors such as health, education, social housing, infrastructure, etc. over the next 5 years, and furthermore 50 million euros in business recovery loans. In total the financial loans to Albania since 1995 is USD1.0214 million.
WHAT ARE THE FAILURES IN YOUR CAREER THAT YOU CHERISH THE MOST?
The most defining period of my life was when I had to leave my home as a young man due to ethnic cleansing. Attending university across the globe in these circumstances shaped the man I am today and has taught me invaluable lessons. Starting from scratch and building my career in the post-war Bosnia taught me patience and that everything comes to its place when you fight for the good cause.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES IN THE WORKPLACE?
Diversity is very important in any workplace because it gives us an opportunity to see things from a broader perspective and have a greater chance of fruitful results. On the other hand, it is an important task to handle the differences and communicate constructively. In order to lead people, one needs to understand them and for understanding, active listening and open communication is a must.
THE READERS WOULD LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT SOMETHING YOU STRUGGLED WITH EARLY ON IN YOUR CAREER AND HOW YOU OVERCAME IT.
I had finished my master’s degree at the International Islamic University Malaysia in 1998, when I decided to come back to Bosnia and Herzegovina and be the youth force willing to rebuild the economy. Starting out in a post-war era with limited resources, dire straits, survival instincts and determination are the preconditions for a successful career. Spending time and working for organisations that are focused on teaching new skills and sharing knowledge unselfishly is a way to go. Hustling after knowledge rather than money is very important when starting out.
IF YOU HAD MULTIPLE PROJECTS AND LIMITED TIME, HOW WOULD YOU MANAGE YOUR PRIORITIES? Firstly, I classify these projects according to various criteria such as results that will be achieved if implemented, time and resources needed to accomplish it, the strategic importance of the project to stakeholders and level of complexity. Usually, I use a weighted average than I rank them accordingly.
DESCRIBE A TIME WHEN YOU WERE NOT PLEASED WITH YOUR WORK AND WHY?
Human Resource Management statistics found out that autonomy at workplaces is one of the top things that determine job satisfaction. I am no exception when it comes to job satisfaction, I believe that autonomy at work is quite essential for stimulating creativity and achieving better results. Whenever the environment at work is not welcoming to new ideas and or comprehending different visions my job satisfaction would be demotivating.
WHAT PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Personally, I am proud of my family. The worldview and moral values that my kids grew up with and adhere to makes me proud. Professionally, I am always thrilled with new challenges. As time passes by, they become more and more complex, and important to societies I work in. However, the best feeling is when you see that your efforts have made a sustainable and long-term impact on your customers and beneficiaries.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Ultimate success is with God Almighty. It is a waste of time and resources in anyone’s life if end result is not satisfactory from an eternal point of view. However, success to me is reflected in the fruits of endeavour. If the result is a long-lasting and perpetual improvement of the situation than we can count it as a success. Perceived success reflected in the short-run presentation without a solid base can deceive someone for some time but will eventually fail, creating more harm to the stakeholders.
TELL US ABOUT A CHALLENGE YOU FACED AND HOW YOU HANDLED IT.
One of my characteristics is the ability to comprehend very complex situations with grave importance for the organisation that I belong to. Analysing all aspects of the situation helps me to prepare creative cost-effective technologically-powered solutions. The postmodern times in which we live and work are so complex, chaotic, interconnected and with unmeasurable impact on so many lives across the world. Our job is not to fight it but rather to navigate through it
TELL US ABOUT A PROJECT OR AN ACCOMPLISHMENT THAT YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IN YOUR CAREER.?
As an ambassador of Bosnia and Hercegovina to the People’s Republic of China, I was very proud to put Bosnia on the Chinese investment map. As an Islamic banker, I was honoured with the award of the best Islamic retail bank in Europe.
WHAT KIND OF WORK WOULD MAKE YOU EXCITED TO GET OUT OF BED ON MONDAY MORNING? Having a positive and long-lasting impact on society is very important for me and I try to do that through my work. Being an active and productive member of the society excites me every morning out of bed.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK FIVE YEARS, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Study more. Always study more, anytime, any day and anywhere. Knowledge is power and it can never be taken away from you.