The Business Year

Olayan M. AlWetaid, CEO of stc group, Saudi Arabia

SAUDI ARABIA - Telecoms & IT

Olayan M. AlWetaid

CEO, stc Group, Saudi Arabia

Bio

Eng. Alwetaid is the Group CEO of stc with over 22 years of experience in the telecom industry. He has held multiple positions such as the senior VP of Consumer Business Unit at stc, and prior to that, he was the CEO of stc Bahrain. He has chaired the boards of several stc subsidiaries such as Channels, Intigral, and Contact Center Co. (CCC). He is the chairman of SAMENA and a board member of GSMA .Alwetaid holds a bachelor degree in electrical engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and has certifications in the field of ICT, leadership and strategic planning.

"Doing business in the digital world is all about partnerships and having the right partners to start working together in order to address the market demand."

What was the experience of the pandemic for stc?

As a service provider that supported the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, and the entire country to continue running business during the pandemic, we are proud to have showcased a successful attitude. Business was still going on and the economy was moving. On the third or fourth day of the pandemic lockdowns, we already had 96% of stc staff working from home. We were the enabler for the country to be up and running. We are at the forefront of digital enablement. We are creating a benchmark for other countries We have got the formula and we are doubling down on it.

What is the strategy that achieved the success over the past few years and the plans to maintain them?

Overall, 2021 was a successful year for us. We saw increased growth versus 2020 and compared to the last five years. More importantly, we have expanded our business. We started looking into telecom, IT, cybersecurity, IoT, cloud, fintech, entertainment, gaming, media, and so on. The value chain stc has been able to create over the last few years is becoming a reality. stc goes beyond being just a telecom provider. Every one of these assets has been created carefully to address the demand in the market. The beautiful part is creating more options for the company to do more and start collaborating even further. In 2010-2011, we were talking about telecoms, and now we are talking about the digital leaders. stc Solution is the largest IT company in the region and reported revenues of around SAR8 billion in 2021. stc pay that transformed to stc bank is also at the forefront of fintech. stc is also active in cyber security. We are taking it seriously because our vision requires that and we are going to be the enabler of the digital movement. We have partners in the government including the policymakers in the Ministry or different regulators like the Central Bank, telecom or cyber security regulators.

Where is Saudi Arabia now and where will it be in the next five to 10 years when it comes to digitalization and stc’s role within that?

The way forward is solely about maintaining the same course on strategy. Digital is at the heart of what we do with four main priorities. We are pushing to digitize ourselves and the country. We are accelerating the performance of our assets and continue being the leader of telecoms business and every other sector that we are involved in, be it fintech, IoT, cyber security and so on. We are also focused on customer experience, which is an essential part of what we do. We strongly believe that it puts everything into a totally new level of standards, because if I am to provide the best experience in the country, then I need to have the best networks, platforms, people and everything that is needed to take these to the next level. The last part is to expand in scale and scope and do more digitally. We want to expand the regions that have been addressed in terms of geography, whether it be in KSA or so on. stc is a global champion on many fronts and is focused on progressing further. We strongly believe that the future is here in this country and it needs to be taken to the next level. There is a great deal of progress happening all around. We are going through the digital agenda and trying to figure out what the next step is and how we can accelerate. With regard to the fintech strategy, stc was ahead of the game and started it two years ago. We are aligned with the strategy, objectives, and the aspirations of the government. We are pushing ourselves to be the first in the fintech sandbox. Being the largest company in the country, we have a mission of pushing the boundaries, even if the strategy is to be developed at a later stage. The government is actively looking at what we do, and we are partnering with them on many fronts. Our movements are also helping to accelerate the strategy development and the execution of the strategy itself.

What is your investment mindset?

Investment mindset from a policymaking perspective is what has been adopted in the country. This has been the case for quite some time after the Vision programs were set. It is a formula that has been working from our perspective as an operator and investor. We are not going to be behind when it comes to technology deployments, active as an operator, digital enabler and investor. This entire ecosystem built over time is here to stay and we are here to continue to be the leader of digital enablement in the country.

What is the focus of development and implementation?

We chose a few priorities that feel right for stc. We are looking at many priorities that have already been addressed such as the MENA hub and fintech. This also includes the Cloud hub and creating this partnership for everybody to be able to host content. We believe that IOT is the next big thing in terms of technology and we’re active on that. Data analytics and data use cases is another focus area as well as AI. stc can tackle more than one priority at a time. There is a great deal of work happening on the fintech side as well. Doing business in the digital world is all about partnerships and having the right partners to start working together in order to address the market demand.

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