60 Seconds With

“We’re always rushing to be the biggest, the best … We just need to take things more slowly to reach the end goal” – 60 seconds with Ahmad Younis, CEO, Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce

By Business & Finance
05 September 2023
Pictured: Ahmad Younis, CEO of the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce

Ahmad Younis is CEO of the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce

What was your first job?

I joined AIB as a college graduate and I guess you could call my first role ‘head of stationery’. I was involved in sourcing and procurement for more than 600 staff and I loved it. It taught me a lot about negotiating and pricing that has stayed with me to this day.

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

Like many young graduates at the time, my father encouraged me to join the bank seeing it as a permanent and pensionable job. I had originally been interested in a career in sports and fitness but instead stayed with AIB for 11 years, moving through the ranks to become a senior manager advising high net worth individuals. One such customer was a director of the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce who asked me if I would be interested in working there. It took two years and an intense series of interviews with both Arab and Irish directors before I was appointed CEO. They were very thorough!

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Being involved with the organisation of the Arab-Irish Business Forum, which is one of the country’s largest gatherings of Arab-Irish business interests. On September 13, we will host our fourth conference in Dublin, featuring speakers from both Ireland and the Arab states who will provide expert analysis, insight and advice on looking beyond the UK and the EU for extensive business opportunities.  As an Arab living in Ireland since the age of nine, I’ve always felt part of both cultures and understand the many similarities between the two. The Arab world offers Irish businesses significant opportunities and it’s a great privilege to be able to support Irish exporters in doing business in the Gulf and Middle East.

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

When I joined the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce, I tried to rush through a number of changes too quickly without having all the requisite resources. Were I to start over, I would have slowed things down and scoped them out more fully. We’re always rushing to be the biggest, the best, the first, and often we just need to take things more slowly to reach the end goal. I would also have trusted my instincts more, but that’s something I have learned through experience.

In one sentence, how would you define success?

Being happy within yourself, as this happiness and contentment expresses itself through your work and how you deal with and treat colleagues.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Listen more than you speak.

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

It’s important that staff feel part of the organisation’s journey and are offered ample opportunities to contribute to its success. But I also think it’s important that they are given the scope, trust and support to help them define their own success within the organisation. My own motivation simply comes from my enjoyment of the job, which includes meeting interesting and inspiring people.

How do you handle adversity?

I’m a straight-talker and believe in open communication. I like to give people the space and time to talk through their issue and often this can diffuse any tension and avert the problem. I also think it’s important to try to understand the other person’s point of view, even if you don’t necessarily agree with it.

How do you relax?

I really enjoy gardening and family time – hanging out with the children is always fun. I also try to get plenty of exercise and cycle a lot – when the endorphins kick in I feel great and while this might not sound like relaxation, it’s a fantastic de-stresser and really clears the head.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

To be the most technologically advanced Chamber of Commerce in the country, which means embracing AI. It’s still something of an unknown, but is equally something we should welcome and work with rather than against. At the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce we want to be forward looking and early adopters of ever-changing technological advancements.


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