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Wael Ahmed Itani | C.E.O. | General Poultry

Wael A. Itani: A Continual Pursuit of Freshness

Wael is no stranger to change management and business transformation, having spent 27 years in leading MNCs in the Middle East, Africa, India and GCC region doing precisely that before taking on his current role as CEO of General Poultry Company, Bahrain.

Established in 1977, GPC is the country’s leading producer of fresh table eggs in the Kingdom of Bahrain and a wholly owned subsidiary of Mumtalakat Holding Company, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund.

With Bahrain’s Leadership vision 2030, Mumtalakat Holding Company envisioned a greater role for GPC in the nation’s drive for self-sufficiency in production and delivery of ‘Farm to Table Fresh Eggs in 2018. For this mission, Wael was invited to join GPC in 2019 and lead the change in transforming the company’s journey from its legacy operations to a state-of-the-art automated poultry egg farm.

When Wael took charge at the helm of affairs, GPC produced 126,000 cartons of fresh eggs annually accounting for 65% of domestic production and a market share of 18%. Today, its annual production has been amped up to over 200,000 cartons per annum with production further expected to rise to 360,000 cartons in the coming 18 months targeting an estimated market share of 42% by 2023. The expansion will also see, down the line, introduction of specialty egg variants (brown, Omega 3, Lutein enriched eggs, etc.) as well as value-added egg products like Liquid Eggs.

Under his stewardship, GPC has mitigated key challenges and has embarked on a phenomenal expansion program of growth through strategic tie ups with Big Dutchman, GmbH Germany for the new farmhouses & MOBA, Netherlands for the Grading & Packaging unit respectively. This move firmly establishes General Poultry Company as a leading player in poultry farming, egg production, grading, and packaging cycle in Bahrain and on the regional stage.

Wael notes, “The new facilities boast of several advanced features such as automated grading and packaging technology, limited human intervention, and 24/7 live data streaming. You will find technology in use across all aspects of operations from ventilation, temperature control, lighting, electricity, water, feed consumption, health & safety of our biological assets, Eggs placement, grading, packing and storage to logistics and supply chain management… In fact, you will be hard-pressed to notice any area of our operations where technology is not playing a significant role in our migration.”

Under Wael’s leadership, the company also obtained key international certifications, including ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 45001, ISO 22000, and is working towards FSSC 22000, a significant milestone in GPC’s food safety journey.

Striving for Excellence

Wael notes, “We are striving to integrate the most advanced technology into poultry farming, including poultry health management, biosecurity, nutrition, and food safety for the benefit of our customers, consumers and community alike.”

Key measures implemented included understanding the market dynamics, learning thoroughly the business cycle and investing significantly in:

  • Technology
  • Biosecurity
  • Food Safety

According to Wael, technology will help GPC streamline its poultry farming process with significant efficiency and to establish a lean agile organization able to evolve to not only meet consumer demand; but also to become a solution provider beyond table eggs towards catering to niche market variants as well as egg meal solutions.

A professional’s professional

Starting out as a sales rep in the FMCG industry, Wael’s key goal was to learn as humanly as possible to gain knowledge, acquire evolving skillsets and build expertise both regionally and internationally. A relentless focus on business development, relationship building, executive experience, and cross operational experience in sales, marketing, and budget management won him accolades in his previous companies that include the likes of Energizer Holdings/Edgewell Personal Care and SONY Gulf FZE across MENA, India, and G.C.C. markets.

Wael is a firm believer of “people” being an organization’s greatest asset and “process” being a key proponent of driving change. Migrating away from a personal relationship business model to a data driven business model while maintaining the cultural and personal ties is a key objective in GPC’s transformation journey, while leading with core values of knowledge, passion and integration. He is confident that the new structure, facilities and policies will position GPC as a role model in the poultry farming sector while achieving the three key principles of Sustainability, Continuity, and Competitiveness as laid out in the Economic Vision 2030 document .

Words of Wisdom

Wael’s advice to emerging leaders is best summed up in 4 words: Passion, Engagement, Inclusion & Openness. He believes that when you practice these core values diligently, success follows naturally!