Kabir Valrani

Aiming For The Skies And Beyond : Kabir Valrani

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CEO | Aswan International Engineering Company and Modern Plastic Industry Vice Chairman | Al Shirawi Group

As Vice Chairman of the Al Shirawi Group, one of the largest diversified conglomerates in the region, and CEO of Aswan International Engineering (Aswan) and Modern Plastic Industry (MPI), Kabir Valrani has been making waves reshaping the company to market and expand globally with a technologically advanced industry, 4.0 factories, and products.

As a passionate leader at the helm of these fast growing and successful giants, he brings innovative ideas and a firm grasp of adapting to fast-paced market disruptions.

With a strong financial standing and a sustained annual growth rate of 15 per cent, MPI and Aswan are unstoppable forces, bringing innovation, leadership and cutting-edge technologies to their operations.

Shrewdly diversifying into multiple new products and markets and elevating facilities to stay ahead of the curve, the group’s Vice Chairman has his strategic vision on the far horizon, and with an elegant series of plans to get there.

The Al Shirawi Group is a reputed name among conglomerates in the region. As one of the largest industrial groups i n the Middle East, it encompasses 34 subsidiary companies with over 12,000 employees in a wide range of fields.

With arms in engineering, construction, manufacturing. packaging, printing, logistics and education industries, it is also indirectly present as an investor in markets such as healthcare.

Formed in 1971, the company is now a global enterprise that is actively managed by members of the Shirawi and Valrani families.

The Arcadia primary and secondary schools are among its new and successful investments in the education sector.

Rapid Diversification

Blessed with limited debt borrowings, low-interest-rate access to capital and strong financial performance, the passionate leader takes a sky-is-the-limit approach toward innovation and technology.

Keen to maintain the group’s edge, Valrani leans strongly toward investing today in technologies and assets to cultivate a better and sustainable tomorrow.

His perfectionist and dynamic personality benefits the group through the world-class benchmark he sets for investments.

With Aswan and MPI’s vision to be the preferred partner of choice, he settles for nothing less than the European and American standard for the factories under his domain and cuts down on rising labour costs by automating heavily with robots and integrated machines, yielding a per unit cost that is drastically lower than his competitors.

Presently, the businesses he handles are predominantly in the oil and gas sector, packaging, and the plastic piping system for construction industries, apart from operations in allied sectors such as dredging, land and offshore drilling, and marine through the mechanical engineering vertical.

Harnessing Advanced Technology

Capitalising on his youth, the tech-savvy business prodigy keeps his company up to date on the software front with the help of cutting-edge programs from Oracle, Zoho, Google and BMS software, by amplifying its operational efficiencies and digitising information seamlessly and live with data analytics.

Valrani’s modus operandi of continuous improvement, operational excellence and industry 4.0 is set to be reflected in the specialist-guided implementation of state-of-the-art tech such as cell-based and lean manufacturing across production units.

Aswan also liaises with many leading partners such as HMH, Axon Energy and Forum to tap into the opportunities of technical know-how and patent niche products.

Aswan uses advanced technology to build critical components for land and offshore jack up drilling rigs in its 250,000 square feet facility in Dubai Investment Park, with over 1 MW of solar energy.

The enterprise has cultivated over 43 years of experience in dedicated engineering and now banks on its robust and specialised manpower and hi-tech machines to ensure absolute, unimpeachable product quality.

Aswan prides itself on its value system – Reliability, Quality and Value. This reflects in its prestigious client list that includes Baker Hughes, NOV, Schlumberger and ADNOC.

MPI, established in 1985, caters to the MEP construction industry, with innovative piping and fitting systems for drainage, hot and cold water and irrigation systems.

It has supplied products to several prestigious projects for villa communities, high-rise towers, landscape and golf courses, and infrastructure works in the UAE, as well as the Gulf, Africa, Middle East, the UK and Asia.

MPI has diversified and expanded into manufacturing packaging products for the beverage, water, personal and home-care industries.

MPl’s state-of-the-art factory covers a combined area of 450,000 square feet in Dubai Investment Park and Kizad, with solar panels supplying over 1.3 MW of power, and autonomous robots for its 50 injections and extrusion machines.

Flying Into The Future

The industrialist is excited about the group’s performance, with several new projects to look forward to in the pipeline. The group is planning to diversify its businesses globally into several new verticals with its products in the plastic and packaging field.

Keen to capture the European and American markets, VaIrani ensures that the products are not only ISO-certified (18001 and 45001) but also feature quality marks like Kitemark, WRAS and HACCAP, while being Kiwa- and SKZ-certified.

This is just one of the plans that the astute CEO has in place, with engineering, manufacturing, and selling the group’s own products internationally also on the roster.

Another pipeline project for the group is foraying into the aerospace industry and EV cars.  While there is much opportunity in the space, the young tycoon is conscious of the heavy industry regulations and stiff global competition.

However, he is confident that the group’s excellent financial position and experience in the O&G and  manufacturing expertise can be leveraged for an easier break into the aerospace market.

Devoted to crafting a well-rounded future by engaging in multiple sectors, Valrani is open to business partnerships, joint ventures, and acquiring companies doing M & A activities to ride the market cycles across fields.

Guided by his innovative approach, the group also plans to set up facilities internationally, with its eye on Houston, Texas, in the US, Saudi Arabia and on India.

Valrani is one of the founders of the Dubai downtown chapter of the Young Presidents Organization, a global leadership community of CEOs from leading businesses with more than 30,000 members worldwide. Entrusted with the job of leading a board of renowned CEOs, he now cherishes the start-up-like experience.

Looking back, he reflects that setting the YPO Dubai Downtown Chapter up was an enjoyable challenge due to the limited funds, and is rightfully proud of how far the Chapter has come – from 19 members at the start to over 90 members on its roster today.

It could be argued that his unconventional approach to such challenges stems from his perspective that every failure is a learning opportunity. It ties in neatly with his credo of sharpening one’s mind through continued learning.

To the aspiring entrepreneurs of today, he recommends the same through the acquisition of at least a Masters or Postgraduate degree and specialising in one area in depth.

He advises them not to stay long in jobs that don’t incite their passion and to recognise that struggle is the precursor to pushing past limits to achieve greatness.

On the personal front, the businessman cares for his body as assiduously as his mind, and works with personal trainers apart from enjoying tennis, boxing, swimming, yoga and supporting the football team, Liverpool, a team that he’s been a fan of since childhood.

Valrani is also a frequent visitor to Japan, a country that his beloved wife Riya Valrani hails from. The couple share the joys of raising and spending quality time with their two sons, Yuvraj and Aarav together at their home in Emirates Hills.

A Continuous Upward Learning Curve

A Dubai-born entrepreneur, Valrani’s upbringing in this diverse metropolis held him in good stead when he went to the US to earn a double major in management and marketing.

He then applied his skills at the Fortune 500 financial giant. Merrill Lynch, before heading back to Dubai.

The passionate and confident CEO believes firmly in investing in oneself to stay abreast of the market and its rapid disruptions.

Perhaps, he inherited this thoughtful ideology from his mentor and father, Mohan G. Valrani, whose powerful and humble entrepreneurial style also included the relentless pursuit of knowledge and growth.

It is easy to imagine the younger VaIrani learning this strategic approach from the leader who was instrumental in building the Al Shirawi Group, and continues to work and grow the business to this day.

From a logical standpoint. This perspective is an intelligent one that is strongly relevant in today’s technological landscape.

Valrani maintains that one has to keep educating oneself to stay up to date, and pursue pertinent new knowledge avidly.

As an example, he completed the Owner/President Management (OPM) course at Harvard University, a programme that caters specifically to owners and presidents from around the world.

It provided a great opportunity to Valrani to learn from the best Harvard professors through case studies, as well as gaining keen insight into the strategies of the world’s best companies, while networking with like minded leaders and forging bonds that would go on to benefit his group on the international level.

This attitude of continuous learning is imbibed within the Al Shirawi Group, which fosters comprehensive understanding and growth by investing in its employees.

There is continuous internal and external training and development through courses, partners, exhibitions and certifications.

As a CEO, the vision is to build a culture with high performance, a highly skilled workforce where strategy is communicated through the organisation, and customer expectations are consistently met.

A well-defined structure is implemented for open and transparent communication, where everyone is incentivised and motivated.