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Roy Jakobs

UAE, DUBAI - Economy

Light It Up

CEO, Middle East & Turkey, Philips Electronics

Bio

After graduating in Business Administration and Marketing, Roy Jakobs began his professional career at Shell in the Netherlands. He later moved into the publishing and media industry, joining Reed Elsevier. He first joined Philips as Chief Marketing Officer at Philips Lighting, and in January 2012 became CEO of Philips Middle East & Turkey, based out of Dubai.

"We are the largest player in terms of lighting throughout the world, almost twice as big as the second largest company."

What is the history of Philips in the Middle East and the significance of Dubai in terms of your regional operations?

We have been in the region for more than 50 years, and we truly believe in the potential of Dubai and the UAE as a market, and even more as a regional hub for Philips in the Middle East. We manage 14 countries from our regional headquarters in Dubai, focused on diversified businesses such as health care, consumer lifestyle, and lighting. We also see Dubai as a gateway to expansion into other parts of the region, as Dubai enjoys a neutral position, representing “the Switzerland” of the Middle East. It is also well equipped to serve different areas. The Emirate is also progressive and innovative in its approach to business and growth. This attracts companies such as Philips, which centers its efforts on meaningful innovation. We also have regional hubs in Beirut, Riyadh, and Istanbul. These bases all fall under the umbrella of Dubai. At its core, Philips is focused on innovation, and Dubai offers the perfect combination of innovation and location, aligned with development in the region and the UAE.

What major trends have you observed for Philips in terms of health care in 2011?

We have picked up on a couple of trends, such as the need for more private involvement, for example through public-private partnerships (PPPs). Another was to design more “one-stop shops,” which are full of solutions that cover full-care cycles, or go from awareness creation up to after care and long-term maintenance. Currently, we’ve been working closely with governmental and private players in the healthcare sector, providing education, cutting edge solutions for hospitals, and services ranging from financial, maintenance, productivity improvement, as well as knowledge brokering. The healthcare system needs to evolve beyond the government perspective, and we need to take ownership by inviting new partners, and luckily Dubai is leading this trend. As for the one-stop-shop approach, we are seeking real solutions that encompass the health and wellbeing sectors as a whole. We are considering how to tie the different segments together in order to foster a productive workflow; different components from public awareness to aftercare are part of this plan for a value-added service. For example, over the last few years, Philips has invested resources into tackling the growing problems of obesity and diabetes, leading to cardiac diseases in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. In 2010, the Philips Center for Health and Well-being released its UAE Health and Well-being Report, which showed alarming trends not only in the rising numbers of overweight and obese people, but also in the lack of understanding that this posed a significant threat to overall health. While only 25% of men and 28% of women in the UAE consider themselves overweight, figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that in actual fact 67% of men and 72% of women are overweight. Other numbers showed that only 32% are concerned about being obese, 16% are concerned about high cholesterol, and merely 13% are concerned about high sugar and diabetes, while the actual percentage of children who are obese range in different regional studies from 40% to 50%. One of the primary conclusions of the Philips Health and Well-being Report was that there was a lack of knowledge in the country about what steps can be taken to tackle weight gain and weight management problems, and since healthy living and eating are one of the key factors to the solution of such health issues, Philips developed consumer products that are both environmentally friendly and health conscious, strongly adding value toward prevention. For example, we know that almost everybody loves French fries, which can now be fried using up to 80% less fat, using the patented AirFryer technology compared to the conventional fryer. Solving medical problems does not only revolve around creating public awareness, but also includes medical professionals and healthcare customer education and following up on patients. For example, we are also looking at home healthcare as a growing trend in the region. However, there are some structural issues in terms of getting the right medical professionals to provide the necessary services.

“We are the largest player in terms of lighting throughout the world, almost twice as big as the second largest company.”

Is sustainability attracting more attention in the healthcare sector?

The “green” hospital trend is starting to grow. Looking at the hospitals from a purely care perspective as well as their footprint on society, developers are beginning to find ways to make everything greener. Hospitals must decide which infrastructure can increase energy efficiency, for example, choosing the right type of lighting from the start that can significantly reduce their electricity bills. Philips aims to start tackling these challenges at an early stage, while the infrastructure is being built, instead of retrofitting solutions when hospitals already exist. There are a variety of opportunities in the region, as many new structures and hospitals are being developed, and at the first moment that construction begins on a new hospital, directors seek the best solutions from a green perspective, with more sustainable innovations. With our help, there will be less energy usage and very attractive total cost of ownership; a financially viable proposition.

What potential exists for Dubai to become a regional hub for medical excellence?

Dubai is very adept at embracing innovative approaches. The healthcare system works toward the application of the latest technology and the sharing of knowledge. For example, the Saudi German Hospital, a recently built leading hospital in Dubai, is a facility that is fully equipped with Philips’ technology and innovations. We bring in our global knowledge and experience. Our clinical specialists provide application training to help enhance clinical output using the latest technology. Furthermore, the infrastructure at the Jebel Ali Free Zone functions as a logistical hub and a gateway for our equipment that enters the sub-continent. Many of our service operations are being built here to strengthen our presence, and the innovative aspects of our operations are strongly tied to Dubai, and the rest of the region’s agenda, as the Emirate is positioned and profiled as a service provider.

High oil prices across the globe are driving up the costs of energy. How is Philips developing new products to balance that trend?

Lighting accounts for approximately 19% of the world’s energy bill, and an even larger percentage of the energy bill in the Gulf. We are the largest player in terms of lighting throughout the world, almost twice as big as the second largest company. Philips is often quoted as “providing the most light after the sun.” Our innovations are a major contributor to the energy footprint, and we are working to become even more efficient. For example, if consumers switch all their current lighting systems to LED lighting, they could easily save 40%-60%, and sometimes even up to 80% of their current energy usage, without giving up or losing the quality of light. Combined with the long-term benefits that LED has to offer, with a lifetime of over 25 years, there are a myriad of advantages for a more reduced footprint over time. Philips is heavily investing in the technology to make this a reality, as well as apply it practically to day-to-day life. There are existing buildings for which we can conduct energy audits and carry out an assessment of the energy footprint, whether a government or a private building. We also provide consultancy in terms of how to reduce energy use through various solutions that we provide. In addition to LED technology, we offer a variety of energy-efficient systems to all our customers, including the public and private sectors. Another area for which we take responsibility is monitoring and establishing standards and regulations in the lighting field. We took the initiative to establish a lighting association for the region, which was not yet in existence. Currently, we are in the final stages of that process, and it will be active soon. A Philips representative will be the first president of the group.

© The Business Year – April 2012

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