Adam Azim | CEO of Maldives Transport & Contracting Company

    Adam Azim is the CEO of Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC), the longest-serving public company in the Maldives. We had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Azim to gain valuable insights into his successful career and his strategic vision for the future of MTCC.

    Could you tell us a bit about your career so far?

    Throughout my career, I have held CEO positions in three different companies, including one and a half years at STO, MWSC, and a three-year tenure at MTCC. My professional background is in finance, and I have accumulated over 25 years of experience, including 15 years at the senior management level.

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    I began my career at MWSC in the accounts and finance department, where I started as an accounts assistant and worked my way up to become CFO within ten years. While working at MWSC, I pursued higher education, earning both a degree and a master’s degree. As I aspired to hold more senior positions, I realized that I needed to expand my skill set beyond the finance field. Consequently, I joined STO as the General Manager of the Sales and Marketing department, aiming to contribute to my country at a higher level. I was eventually appointed as the Managing Director at STO before moving back to MWSC as its MD. Finally, I served as the CEO of MTCC.

    In addition to my professional career, my background in sports has also contributed to my success. Playing football has taught me valuable lessons on how to work with people and the importance of teamwork. Although an injury halted my sports career, the discipline that it instilled has been instrumental in my corporate career.

    Since you joined MTCC, what have been your key priorities or focus areas to improve operations?

    Upon my appointment to MTCC, I faced a daunting task that was undoubtedly the biggest challenge of my career. STO and MWSC were well-structured organizations, and I gained valuable experience on how to operate a company with good governance. However, MTCC was a financially struggling company with negative revenue, and my financial background proved beneficial in this regard. The absence of any hierarchy or organizational structure required my primary focus to be on building a sustainable, long-term approach towards improving operations.

    My experience with companies in the Maldives, particularly state-owned ones, has taught me that very little is done to improve them. Once a building is constructed, maintenance is often neglected, and doing business in a sustainable, long-term manner is not prioritized. At MTCC, we had to prioritize repairing and maintaining infrastructure, providing adequate workspaces for our employees, and resuming staff development and team-building activities.

    Leveraging my corporate experience, I quickly familiarized myself with the company’s operations, identified individuals who were best suited for particular roles, and made the necessary changes to optimize performance. I aimed to accomplish these objectives within the first six months of my tenure. Patience, management skills, and developing a stable and disciplined workforce were essential to achieving these objectives.

    MTCC has spearheaded many initiatives to recruit and train locals in various fields. What role does MTCC play in the development of a skilled Maldivian labour force?

    My approach to management involves focusing on developing a stable and disciplined workforce, as I believe this is crucial for running a successful company. At MTCC, despite the financial difficulties, I made the decision to increase employee salaries to the best of my ability to ensure that our staff were motivated and satisfied with their compensation. This was a significant risk, but I felt it was necessary.

    As the company’s financial situation improved, our focus shifted towards making MTCC a model for engineering and customer service excellence. Last year, we provided our staff with 26,900 hours of training, with 80% of this focused on customer service. We believe in providing training opportunities to all employees, from janitors to management.

    We have implemented strict guidelines and values to ensure that our staff understand the importance of punctuality and completing their work on time. To further support our employees’ development, we offer free access to Udemy courses and have also established a scholarship program, sending students to top universities worldwide, particularly in engineering and transportation fields. Last year, we awarded 15 scholarships, and an additional 10 have been awarded this year, ensuring that the best and brightest are given the opportunity to excel.

    I strongly believe that MTCC’s success is attributable to our employees. We will continue to prioritize their training and development, ensuring that our programs continue in the future, regardless of who is in charge.

    What do you consider to be your greatest personal achievement?

    In my professional career, I consider the development and success of the people I have worked with as my greatest achievement. While there have been significant financial accomplishments as well, such as strengthening company operations and making them profitable, my most fulfilling moments have been watching my colleagues flourish in their careers.

    At MTCC, although my tenure has been relatively brief, I am proud to have made the most significant contribution towards the company’s growth and success. Through my leadership and commitment, we have achieved unprecedented levels of profitability, executed a record number of projects, and recruited and trained a considerable number of employees. These accomplishments are the result of the collective effort and dedication of the team, and I am honoured to have been part of it.

    While financial achievements are essential, the success of an organization ultimately lies in the growth and development of its employees. Witnessing my colleagues excel has been my most significant accomplishment, and I will continue to prioritize their growth and success in my future endeavours.

    What can we expect to see from MTCC in the coming years? What’s next?

    My strategic vision for MTCC is to cultivate a highly trained and disciplined workforce, who are passionate about serving and developing their country. We aspire to become the leading provider of marine infrastructure projects in the Maldives, with a focus on bridge building, harbour development, and shore protection. Our ultimate goal is to undertake all large-scale infrastructure development and reclamation projects, and become the premier choice for clients seeking reliable and high-quality services in this domain.

    We recognize that certain challenges exist with reclamation projects, and are currently engaged in discussions with the government to overcome these limitations. By doing so, we aim to prevent significant outflow of foreign exchange from the Maldives, and contribute to the long-term strengthening of the national economy. Over the past three years, our expansion efforts, improved fleet, and increased workforce have resulted in significant cost savings of over USD 100 million for the Maldives. We are committed to continuing this trend and achieving our mission of becoming a truly self-sufficient and sustainable organization.

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