Sadek El Assaad, CEO, Zeder GroupSadek El Assaad, CEO
In an era where only smart, fast, and agile organizations survive the disruptive changes and grow, nine out of 10 businesses overlook designing a solid leadership strategy and organizational culture to steer and drive their people, financial, or business performance. What if an external organization with an in-house team spirit guides them to perform better? That’s precisely what Zeder Group enables.

Headquartered in the UAE, with the aim to enable all businesses to gain and maintain their Leadership, Zeder Group works closely with organizations from different industries and sizes to assess their shortcomings and devise effective HR, Business, and Leadership strategies and solutions to help them flourish.

In an exclusive interview with Manage HR, Sadek El Assaad, founder and CEO, and Hassan Sidawi, partner HR and operations of Zeder Group, shared their insights on their company’s role as a reliable HR and business consulting company identifying external and internal factors affecting their clients’ business and implementing solutions.

1. Could you give us an overview of your company?

12 years ago, we started our HR and Management consulting firm and shortly afterward realized that the biggest challenges organizations face is either achieving or maintaining their leadership in the market. Four years later, we extended our services to business consulting helping our clients set up their organizations for success.

With our cross-industry and more than 30 years of experience in developing, transforming, and modernizing businesses in the Middle East, we have established a framework to help companies gauge their individual, team, financial, and overall organizational performance issues with a fresh eye to avoid the same pitfalls that hundreds of organizations faced before them. This not only saves them time, energy, and cost but also gives them an unfair advantage to drive and lead their business to higher profitability and growth.

Our interventions range from helping profitable businesses set up a solid foundation in order to grow and sustain their growth, to supporting organizations with past success records to regain a foothold in profitability, to aiding companies experiencing significant low or no profits alter their situation before it is too late.

2. How do your solutions and services help clients overcome their business challenges?

Though every business considers its challenges unique, the root causes of all these challenges are similar. With our organizational behavior and business transformation expertise, we determine these causes and implement tested and proven approaches adopted by successful organizations. Thus, allowing our clients to focus on their core business to attain and retain full leadership.

Knowing that the concept of one-size-fits-all is not practical, all our interventions are tailored to the client’s unique positioning—their maturity, internal dynamics, market, and overall culture. Specifically, our operational on-the-ground interventions are customized based on the needs using a combination of the following:

Operational Restructuring: Through this, we are helping companies make significant changes to their financial and operational structure, typically when under financial duress. It includes services like cost reduction, resource optimization, procurement improvements, short-term cash management, and departmental/functional performance assessment.

Turnaround and Transformation: We also specialize in creating radical turnarounds in client performance by designing and delivering complex implementation programs, which include all elements of the business from team assessment and appointment of an interim c-level team to change management, situational and crisis management, financial visibility structure, and recruitment of right calibers.

Strengthening for Growth: This is done to ensure clear changes are made for capability-building and embed those attributes within the organization.

It includes identification of barriers, capabilities assessment, growth strategy formulation, and implementation, phased organizational structuring, headhunting, and recruitment for new positions.

These combinations are further expedited by our constant and consistent quest to enrich our practice, knowledge, and learning to help clients grow their awareness and leadership through the transfer of knowledge on focused, proven, and tested strategies tailored specifically to fit their business and culture.

3. Could you also highlight the uniqueness of your leadership training programs?

Right off the bat, our OSM leadership training doesn’t follow a cookie cutter approach; first, all our trainers are successful business owners turned trainers and consultants to share their personal experiences and knowledge. This eliminates the conceptual textbook approach to leadership and cuts directly to very practical, experienced, tested, and sometimes counter-intuitive methodologies of what leadership is. Second, before the program, all attendees conduct a personal assessment using our OSM I-Profile leadership analyses benchmarking their personal traits against our thoroughly researched traits, and behaviors of successful leaders. This will assist each candidate, with the help of our experienced trainers, develop their personal plan for improvement. Third, with our monthly and quarterly follow-ups, we maintain momentum to ensure group and individual progress.

Our I-Profile analysis and Leadership program are also extremely beneficial to understanding the overall company’s Leadership, identifying gaps, and detecting up-and-coming leaders.

As top recruitment and leadership training organization, an essential part of our contribution to our clients is to support their culture change journey to enable empowerment, efficiencies, and higher performance. Establishing a winning work environment with open communication, feedback, respect, and professionalism. We are our client’s constant guide to accountability in deciphering how to make their teams happy, motivated, and wanting to achieve more.

4. What, according to you, steers you ahead in the market?

We are first and foremost, successful business owners, who have developed the practical know-how to achieve success and not just conceptual consultants. Most businesses believe in their vision; however, they struggle in developing a clear and detailed tangible picture of what their organization should look like in the future and how can they steer it towards that vision. We have developed a practical and operational approach whereby we develop our client’s business and leadership while helping them execute their vision. Instead of just advising them on what to do; we agree on a roadmap, assume a temporary executive role, implement the changes needed while transferring the experience and know-how to their teams. This practical approach has achieved outstanding outcomes for all our clients evidenced by the word-of-mouth recommendations we constantly receive.
  • Zeder Group works closely with organizations from different industries and sizes to understand their shortcomings and devise effective HR, recruitment, and leadership strategies and solutions to help them flourish

From an HR perspective, our team’s profiling certifications and experience are an added feather in our cap, which positions us as dependable advisors for recommending candidates that would fit into a client’s organizational culture and deliver high performance within the current dynamics. A testament to this is the fact that most of our placements assume higher roles within two years or less.

5. Is there a particular case study where you helped one of the clients attain outstanding outcomes?

We worked with a 15-year-old business operating in UAE and KSA—categorized as a stressed company—on a seven month assignment. The company was asset-heavy and had lost one of its major contracts. We joined the company as interim executives, collaborating with the current CEO and management team. We examined their current client contracts to increase operational efficiencies, analyzed project viability, and explored alternate revenue streams. We also restructured their back-office operation and negotiated vendors’ medium to long-term payment schedules. Then, we reformed their management team by replacing or altering responsibilities with a newly appointed CEO. As a result of these efforts, the client ended the year with a profit even after predicting enormous losses for the year.

6. What does the future look like for Zeder Group?

Keeping our eye on our clients’ needs while adding value to grow their business will unquestionably be our continuing agenda. As for our expansion, we are really industry and geography agnostic. However, we plan to enter the Asian (South or Southeast) and the African market. Adjacently, from the industry standpoint, we have developed expertise in retail, catering, logistics and e-commerce, real estate, production and distribution, and many more. We will continue remaining experts in people and organizational performance for any industry that needs our expertise to develop and implement tailor-made practical solutions.