2018 CEOs Who "Get It"

2018 CEOs Who Get it
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Dr. Abulrahman Jawahery

Dr. Abdulrahman Jawahery

Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co. (GPIC)
Kingdom of Bahrain


  • In the spirit of continuous improvement, invited his company to go under the microscope for stringent audits such as RoSPA’s QSA audit (Level 2 achieved) and the British Safety Council’s five-star Audit, and drove the company to achieve ISO standards that include 31000, 22301, 9001-2000, 14001 and OHSAS 18001, integrating them all through PAS 99.
  • Encourages safety beyond the workplace in homes and communities, training employees’ family and children, hosting annual family evening and EHS night functions, and EHS week.
  • 26 million hours with no lost-time injuries

GPIC was established in 1979 as a joint venture equally owned by the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) and Petrochemical Industries Co., Kuwait. GPIC, which employs 480 workers, uses natural gas as a feedstock for the production of ammonia, urea and methanol. In addition to the production plants, the GPIC Complex comprises utilities plants, maintenance workshops, offices, stores and laboratories, as well as numerous environmental green-initiative gardens and projects.

Describe your personal journey to becoming a CEO who “gets it.” What experiences or lessons brought you to where you are now?

Like most people, I wasn’t always sure of the direction I was taking in my career or what position I wanted to hold years down the line. But what I have always fundamentally known is what kind of person I wanted to be. That never changed at any point in my life. My career and my journey to the position I am in today took many roads, many experiences and many turns. But knowing who I wanted to be and shaping those solid values and characteristics is, I believe, the reason that I am where I am today. It’s also the reason that I do not give up on the things that are important to me. The health and safety of people is the most important practice and value any individual or company can covet. It’s also not only about what you do inside the confines of your own business, but the permanent and positive impact you make for the people and the society in which you operate.

Safety is leadership imperative, in my opinion – to continually show your employees they are your number one priority is measured only through your words and actions. It means putting safety first in everything we do. It means we’re doing everything possible to ensure our people come to work and leave work without injury. Our people know if we cannot complete the job safely, then we will not do the job. We are very clear that we will never conduct business in a manner that would put our employees at risk.

Why is safety a core value at your organization?

We are successful because safety isn’t just a program – it’s a way of life for us. As a forward-looking petrochemical and fertilizer company, GPIC recognizes that our commitment to safety is the foundation for building and maintaining trust and public confidence. It’s part of being a good citizen, a good neighbor and a good partner. Safety drives our commitment to sustainable business and defines who we are and what we stand for. By instilling a culture that ensures the well-being and safety of our employees, we empower them to focus on the details and to do what’s right the first time every time. This leads to improved performance and reliable, consistent and predictable delivery of our high-quality products.

What is the biggest obstacle to safety at your organization, and how do you work to overcome it?

I am proud to say that our company thrives on making the impossible possible. This also applies to our health and safety standards at GPIC. The only obstacle a company may have to implementing or ensuring best practice is if adopts an attitude of complacency. We need to assume an accident can occur at any moment. When one does, we need to quickly understand why and put the right procedures in place so that it doesn’t happen again. At GPIC, we have mandatory safety training every year for our employees. We also do yearly on-site safety assessments at all of our plants, and spot site assessments regularly. But the best thing we do – and that any company needs to do – is utilize the full capability of our workforce. All of our GPIC employees are our eyes and ears constantly. Conditions change, plants and offices change, people change. It’s an ongoing process.

How do you instill a sense of safety in employees on an ongoing basis?

Creating a safety culture requires continual communication and reinforcement at every level of the organization. Every communication we do, from our most important operations morning meetings to our daily supervisor meetings on the shop floor, starts with a message on safety – how we’re doing, how important it is, and everyone’s role in creating and maintaining a safer workplace.

It is not just an agenda item that I push for, but one that every single employee completely and utterly believes in. Health and safety is not a strategy. It is not a business initiative. It is a moral code and a behavior that is only visible through the actions and deeds we initiate and the change in focus and attitude we create in others. I would go so far as to say that it really is an inherent part of our culture and DNA at GPIC, and stems from a values-based mindset that we seek out through our recruitment, development and retention strategy. Who we hire matters because our focus is not solely on the skills required to do the job – that is easy to teach. Our focus pivots on the values and principles the individual holds and brings into the ethical framework in which we strive and operate.

How does your organization measure safety? What are the leading indicators that show you how safe your organization is, and where do you see room for improvement?

At GPIC, safety, health and environmental performance is a top-level agenda and is measured, reported, evaluated and continuously improved upon. It is part of our company’s regular review process, and we have set stringent, clear and visible goals with leading and lagging indicators throughout all levels and processes of the organization. We focus and apply measures to all the four elements of safety culture: Systems and Processes; Skills and Knowledge of Individuals; Behaviors; and Attitudes, Perception and Leadership. We have long realized and recognized that there is no single reliable measure of health and safety performance. What is required is a basket of measures providing information on a range of health and safety activities.

As a forward-moving company, GPIC has understood the worker safety dimension of sustainability and has started proactively leveraging the OHS and sustainability connection. With the launch of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, GPIC is using these global strategies to underpin its sustainability efforts.

What role does off-the-job safety play in your organization’s overall safety program? What types of off-the-job safety and health programs does your organization offer to employees?

GPIC firmly believes that effective health and safety knowledge can only be powerful when it is shared, and more so when it comes to passing on that knowledge to the wider community and society. Since its inception, GPIC has led the way in passing on that knowledge to future generations through an extensive number of initiatives and program sponsorships. GPIC conducts yearly industrial training programs for university students; involves over 30 percent of its employees in educational programs and transferring health and safety methodologies to the wider public; hosts annual safety, health and environment evenings; and works closely with charities and institutions.

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