By Michael Ives
Former executive vice president of Corporate Development offers advice for fellow Aramcons.
Amin Nasser, president and CEO, presents Abdulaziz M. Al-Gudaimi with a token of the company’s appreciation in recognition of his years of service. (Photo: Hasan Al-Mubarak/MPD)
Welcoming me with a warm smile into his office, former executive vice president of Corporate Development Abdulaziz M. Al-Gudaimi, took time with The Arabian Sun to reflect on his nearly four decade career with Aramco as he prepares to transition into retirement.
“It’s funny, but when I started at school I had no clue about what my career would be like,” said Al-Gudaimi. “But I had one solid idea, which was to get a good education. I went into engineering and went to a good school and when I graduated I had opportunities.”
Differentiate Yourself From Others
And he has good advice for all of us: “Understand your competitive advantage in a moral way, which can be defined in many ways. Understand what differentiates you from others. Be smart, hardworking, read widely, be curious, and most of all, manage relationships — these are all key.”
People sit at the center of long-term success, he said, adding, “Relationships should not be transactional — if you link yourself into a transactional relationship, once that transaction is done that relationship is over.
“I saw many transitions in my early career — moving from a government company, to SAMAREC, and then Aramco. And I have had a wonderful time throughout my career — from upstream, midstream, downstream, and staff organizations. And what I gained from all these positions was the knowledge that learning has no finish line.
“As you progress in your career, you should also progress in your knowledge — keep learning, add new skills and gain additional certifications.”
— Abdulaziz M. Al-Gudaimi
“And also, do the simple things; respect and trust your boss, be punctual and make good use of the time you are in the office — and be systematic by focusing on what you want to accomplish every five years,” he said.
Abdulaziz M. Al-Gudaimi
He added that you will learn an enormous amount by remaining humble, by helping people, and passing on your knowledge. And don’t be afraid to surround yourself with colleagues who know more than you in their areas of specialty; you can only gain from the experience, Al-Gudaimi noted.
“Relationships are the key, whether it is through genuine sharing in discussions, coaching, or in productive meetings. Every engagement with people can be a learning experience,” he said.
Al-Gudaimi highlighted the importance of soft skills, adding that good communication can help anyone’s career enormously, combined with hard work and respect.
“When you see people going through change, whether personally or in their career, emotional intelligence is key,” he said.
“When you smile at people, they smile back at you.”
— Abdulaziz M. Al-Gudaimi
“Be pleasant and have fun at work and make sure your people feel that way. Be balanced and listen,” he advised. “And come to work every day with a smile. Be open. If you have issues, talk about them. If you are a shy person, try and find the right friend or colleague who you can coach you and help you out.”
The more open you are, the more you will learn — and don’t be insecure, he said. “There are always people smarter than you, but don’t see this as a risk — see it as an opportunity.
“Wisdom and experience have no replacement, however, when finding people that are smarter than you. Bring them close, because they will help you build the best possible team.”
When asked about his legacy, Al-Gudaimi said it is the relationships he has with people both inside and outside the company. He also hoped he would be remembered as a person who treats people with dignity, and as someone who looks at the big picture.
“I also pushed people hard, but with respect and dignity. People can learn so much about themselves when we have high expectations of them,” he said. “That way, together, you can deliver results that will be a credit to everybody — and recognize peoples’ success. Saying thank you is so important. Being passionate about what they achieve is so important — as is being balanced and calm yourself.”
Al-Gudaimi highlighted the pleasure and reward from meeting and mentoring young people at his weekly coffee sessions, noting, “At these meetings, we would talk about everything — personal life, business experiences, and financial life — how should you look after your future.”
His wisest advice was the reality that when your career ends, what remains is your family and friends. “These are the foundation of a contented life: The three ‘F’s — family, friends, and fun. If you treat family well, have a good social life, and have fun, every day is a great day!”
— The Arabian Sun: January 11, 2023