The Incredible Mulk

“We’re trying to have the group as a very strong, independently governed company. We’re getting there. It’s not leadership dependent. We want this group to be corporate-driven. Adnan and I believe in that. The point is it’s not the capability of either Adnan or the next generation — it should be the strength of the company by itself. That’s the direction and belief that we have,” he says.

Mulk says each company should have an independent management and an authority and leader.

“Today we have 25 companies and we do have 25 general managers and CEOs for each company. But then, perhaps what we’re lacking is a CEO.

“I’m still CEO of the company but I would like to develop the next CEO — a corporate CEO, not from the family. Not Adnan and not me,” he explains.

The business elements will probably be structured into three elements — building industry, energy and healthcare, with a CEO for each sector “so each group is driven”. The changes, Mulk says, will see the group “have a proper board”.

Choosing a new CEO to run a $1.8bn company is no easy task. While he hasn’t ruled out finding someone from within the group, he believes there won’t be any shortage of candidates.

“The world is full of very, very strong companies. If you look at Tata in India, there are 150 companies [in the group]. There are very talented people around.

“I will go for someone from a company with diversified businesses and I would headhunt,” he says.

“For me the person needs to be managing a larger group than mine, in a diversified business interest group. Diversity of the business itself — the mind who’s able to do that, I would look for that first. Each of these businesses [in Mulk Holdings] has a very huge potential to move on and they are very specialised independent businesses,” Mulk says.

Reminding me of his age (53), Mulk says he feels it’s time to relax after 30 years of building one of the country’s largest conglomerates.

“I think I need to be in a situation to enjoy life a little more. The dream, obviously, is to build a company for generations,” he says. It’s also a company of many facets, diverse and yet connected by one man’s vision. With some big changes in the years to come, there’s plenty left in the story of Mulk Holdings and its chairman.

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