My WFH Routine: Mohamed Abdallah, CEO of Vodafone Egypt
Mohamed Abdallah, CEO of Vodafone Egypt: Each week, my Morning / WFH Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Mohamed Kamel Abdallah (LinkedIn), CEO of Vodafone Egypt.
I’m Mohamed Kamel Abdallah, the newly appointed CEO of Vodafone Egypt. I’m a husband and father of two. My eldest daughter, Jannah, is 17 and my son, Youssef, is 12. My wife, Sahar, is an interior designer. After 22 years in the telecom industry and over a decade working in one of the best environments in the business world, I’m honored to move into the new position at Vodafone Egypt.
I wake up at 6:45am, grab my first cup of coffee and read the day’s news from bed. I start making my way to the gym at 7:30am and head into the office somewhere between 9 and 9:30am these days. Meetings that may bring up a lot of questions are slotted earlier in the day so that I’m able to make time for myself to reflect later in the afternoon. I take one day for externals and one day to talk to our teams.
We went 100% WFH in March and partially resumed in-person work on 1 August by going back to the office once a week — at a 20% occupancy rate — and then moved up to two days a week in September. Each person is required to come into the office twice a week, or up to three days, with approval from upper management. We’re currently 40-50% WFH.
We’re evolving from the office we knew to a much more flexible system. Working from home is really nice — it's more efficient and you can see productivity going up. Internal reports show our staff is spending more time on tasks, more time on strategy areas and more time developing themselves.
The cultural side of this transition has been a bit of a challenge. We’ve seen people want to go back to interacting with their colleagues. The success of our company is the aggregate brainpower of our organization. Without the right digital mechanism that can fill in some of the gaps left in the absence of physical interaction, it’s not clear to me that the office is dead yet.
I see my role as building a strategy and creating the proper environment for our teams to work well together. Making sure everyone is aligned and equipped with the proper support to execute our strategy is essential.
The telecom industry has evolved dramatically from solely providing voice services to becoming a data provider and now becoming a full connectivity provider. The telecom industry — and Vodafone specifically — is responsible for digitizing societies. This is the purpose behind our work. We make sure to deliver the highest quality connectivity products.
We are playing a huge role in financial inclusion and financial services. We started on financial services 10 years ago with Ian Gray — the godfather of Vodafone Egypt — to prove that this would become a success in Egypt. We’ve worked with regulators to build the environment and we now have 65% of digital wallets in Egypt and 80% of active wallets, according to NTRA figures.
More than 8 mn Egyptians have Vodafone Cash wallets that process mns of transactions every month. At the start of the pandemic we worked with the government to deliver to some 30k people their day labor subsidy through our service. The market for financial inclusion is still massive and the window for the economy to move into digital financial services is huge. New payroll services on Vodafone Cash or merchant payment relationships that give people an extra way to finance their products could give SMEs a huge boost and help the economy grow.
We recently launched App Hub, a new platform for SMEs to digitize their operations. A company with no HR system can subscribe to an automated tool hosted in our cloud rather than going and buying an HR system that’s outside their budget. This is a simple OPEX model paid on your bill. We’re putting some 60 apps onto this and providing it without charge for three months as a trial period. It’s going to change how they do business.
We’ve been working with the government on big digitization projects over the past year. We’re now operating the Universal Health Ins. System in Port Said, the rollout of which we will later be involved in on a national level. Vodafone Egypt was also awarded the biggest private sector cloud agreement in the country by the Public Enterprises Ministry, which will host 60 government entities.
I come back from the office around 7:00pm and try to use the time with the family or watch games. That’s weekdays. And on the weekend, it’s family time. We either visit family and go out as a family.
I’m a big Ahly and Liverpool fan, of course. Mo Salah has been a true inspiration to everyone and he’s our ambassador, so I really enjoy watching all of the games.
Every quarter I try to take one long weekend to disconnect. Sometimes I take the time at home, other times I might travel domestically.
I’ve been reading this business book called On Purpose by Jim Tanner about the importance of clearly identifying and communicating your organization's purpose. It's essential for getting everyone on your team actively engaged in the work that you do.
Best piece of advice I’ve been given was from Ian Gray: “Don’t worry about things you cannot control.”