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Salim Jarrar | CEO | UrbaCon Trading & Contracting

Salim Jarrar: Spearheading the New Wave of Infrastructure

The recent advancement in the construction industry focuses on minimizing costs and maximizing value to capture various growth opportunities. The introduction of new work models factoring in the significant development amid headwinds of the Pandemic can help the industry unlock new streams in the value chain. Assisted with emerging technologies, leaders in the field can leverage the broader capabilities to integrate and automate operations into a secure smart infrastructure. One such leader who is recognized for his influential contributions to the growth of Qatar’s construction sector is Salim Jarrar.

As the Chief Executive Officer of UrbaCon Trading and Contracting (UCC), Salim has led with innovative approaches assisting the company to reach newer heights. He is a strong relationship builder with incredible abilities, matching clients’ aspirations to the realities of building high-profile projects. Salim represents UCC in all the financial, government, social, and construction functions and manages all departments.

Being one of Qatar’s leading companies, UCC purpose is “building for generations,” developing state-of-the-art living spaces, business facilities, and plants, having the country’s future generations in mind whenever it undertakes any project.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at UrbaCon Trading and Contracting. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?

I have been working with Urbacon Trading and Contracting for the last seven years and have been an active and strategic member since 2012. I graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and a master’s degree in Civil Engineering (Construction & Management). I have successfully led the company with strong leadership qualities for the last seven years. I consider myself a relationship builder and can meet and exceed clients’ demands by building high-profile projects. I am representing the company in financial, government, social, and construction functions and managing and controlling all the departments across the company. Overall, I have 35 years of experience managing construction companies and projects in different portfolios of the Gulf region. One challenge is that we always have ongoing projects that require different skills. The issue becomes how you use the skill set available to you to meet the clients’ expectations. Different clients have different expectations. What has worked for me involves people at every level of the planning and implementation process. People bring brilliant ideas to the table. Building trust and good relationships with the team is the key to success in this industry.

Tell us something more about UCC and its mission and vision.

At UCC, our vision is clear; to lead the industry. We want to transform construction in Qatar and the region. This transformation requires agility and resilience. We envision to be employees’ number one choice in Qatar and beyond. As an employer of choice, we can hire the best minds and retain them to achieve the mission and vision of the company. Essentially hiring incredible staff who are determined to provide unmatched services. At UCC, we want to build sustainability through employee retention and offer our clients’ the best services in the form of environment-friendly properties. In implementing our projects, we are detail-oriented, from the minor operation to the most delicate processes. Our infrastructure incorporates technology innovation aimed to build state-of-the-art infrastructure that meets modern needs. We train and hire the best people to support our innovations and expansion. We are incredibly proud of our staff who choose to work with us and contribute meaningfully to all our projects, ranging from planning to implementation.

Enlighten us on how you have impacted the Construction niche through your expertise in the market.

Starting with being the CEO takes an act of great courage to make certain decisions. At UCC, the key has been prioritizing and hiring the right people. We are successful in the market because of the incredible people who choose to work for us. These are groups of talented and energetic people who know what they are doing. We can rely on them to make crucial decisions, and collaboration is the key to our success. We are detail-oriented and risk-takers. Collaboration from the business development team, safety team, and workers is necessary for projects to succeed. We have a team of experts who invest the required skills and resources in all our projects for quality services, not quantity. This is what we stand for at UCC.

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.

At UCC, our values are leadership, safety, and collaboration. The goal is to complete our project by the agreed delivery date. While we want to be on top of our game in the construction industry and are conscious of our clients’ needs, we place strategic importance on our staff’s safety and the wellbeing of the team. We use the latest technology in our day-to-day performance of work. These include using hydraulic jacks and other machines for lifting heavy materials. Essentially, we know one side of the coin does not fit every project, and that being the case, we have a team of expert engineers who review the design of each project based on each site’s need to implement it accordingly. I believe that what drives our organization is the thinkers and innovators that are encouraged to be proactive. We provide them with the resources and the conducive environment to develop and grow. As an employee at UCC, you are never alone; instead, we emphasize being a team player. Therefore, at UCC, we are team players, proactive, collaborative, and innovative.

Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?

Technology is indeed playing a significant role in the industry sector. Because of that, we incorporate technology in everything we do at UCC. We use advanced industry-specific technological support if you look at all our projects. We are constantly improving how we do our operations. All our infrastructure is environmentally friendly and operates with renewable energy. For this to happen, we must be utilizing the latest technological advancements. We are always looking for the latest technology to incorporate into our work. This technology supports our ground workers by providing them with “cooling vests,” airlifting heavy materials, or in designing and implementing the project. At UCC, we are always thinking about making work easy by utilizing the latest technology available.

If given a chance, what change would you like to bring in the Heavy Construction industry?

At UCC, safety is our number one priority. It is no secret that the Heavy Construction Industry has many risks associated with employees and the company. My focus as CEO is to highlight this risk to our safety management team and ensure they have developed the proper procedures and mechanisms to protect employees, allowing us to strategically use all the tools available to ensure the safety of our workers. For example, UCC has a certified Integrated Management System (IMS) that utilizes several ISO standards such as ISO9001, ISO14001, and ISO45001 to ensure effective operation and management. The IMS system is the foundation for acceptable and correct documentation and compliance, aligned with UCC’s Health and Safety Plans, QCS2014 Construction Specifications, and client requirements. Prioritizing safety in the Heavy Construction Industry has won us two awards: BSC International Safety Award with Distinction 2020 and BSC International Safety Award Winner – “Best in Country Award Qatar.” If there is anything to learn in this COVID-19 (C-19) pandemic, particularly for the Heavy Construction Industry, C-19 has unequivocally strengthened us to put safety as the number one priority. For me, making safety a culture and embedding technology in our daily operations is a must for the industry.

What, according to you, could be the next big change in the Facilities Management industry? How is UCC preparing to be a part of that change?

The industry is growing daily due to the desire for exceptional living standards and better facility management such as environment-friendly infrastructure. UCC is working to provide a modern structure for all our clients. Currently, climate change is a significant environmental issue in Qatar and the region. It is a concern for the world; at UCC, whatever we do, we consider the environment and how sustainable our projects will be for the longest time. Basically, putting technology and innovation at the forefront of our projects. We planned to continue building sustainably and utilizing efficient technology to build infrastructures that meet the demands of our clients. It requires innovation and forward-thinking to solve the challenges we currently face and those we will encounter in the future.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for UCC? 

At UCC, we offer the best services to our clients. We want to remain the number one contracting company in Qatar and beyond. We are a one-stop-shop international construction services company with diverse projects in the industries of infrastructure & heavy construction, buildings, marine works, and energy. Therefore, our goal is to build living spaces for future generations. At UCC, we emphasize quality over quantity, reflecting our employees’ resilience to being the best. We want to train more people and put them in leadership positions. We want to be an employer of choice based on career development and work-life balance. Employees must be motivated and feel appreciated. That is why we encourage healthy competition of ideas and collaboration between teams. We also provide all the necessary tools and training for our employees’ personal and professional growth. The company has witnessed increased productivity in the workforce since we incorporated regular training programs for our staff.

What would be your advice to budding CEOs who aspire to venture into the infrastructure sector?

The key to being a successful CEO is your ability to build leadership and trust within the team. Once your colleagues trust you and contribute to the best of their ability, they will do an excellent job for your clients. And this will translate into financial success in the long run. At UCC, our emphasis is never on our finances but rather on providing the team a conducive environment for all to work and thrive. My advice is to involve people, listen to people, and trust their contributions. Build a culture of trust and collaboration among your employees. You will always succeed. The key to your success is the people who work with you. The ideas are abstract, and the implementation of these ideas always lies with the people.