20 years of Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways is celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, so Business Review Middle East is taking at the airline’s success story.
Although it initially started out as a small, regional airline in 1994, Qatar Airways was relaunched in 1997, as the national airline of the State of Qatar.
It was headed up (and still is) by Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker, who is also CEO of several other divisions – Qatar Executive, Hamad International Airport, Qatar Aviation Services, Qatar Aircraft Catering Company, Qatar Distribution Company, Qatar Duty Free and Internal Media Services.
In April 2011, Qatar Airways reached 00 destinations in its global route map and, just two months later, it was named Airline of the Year 2011 at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards with over 18 million travellers worldwide casting their votes – it has since received this award a further two times. A considerable achievement for such a young airline.
The HQ of Qatar Airways is at Hamad International Airport in Doha and today it has a global network of over 150 destinations, covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Asia Pacific, North America and South America with a fleet of more than 180 passenger and cargo aircraft – a huge increase on the four aircraft in its 1997 fleet.
Nobu Matsuhisa is head chef for Qatar Airways’ Premium Class menu – the internationally acclaimed chef spent months ensuring that his culinary creations would be perfect, even at 30,000 feet. The airline also operates corporate jets for its executive subsidiary Qatar Executive, which was launched in 2009.
Qatar Airways launched a global brand campaign in 2015 – only the second time it has ever done this – and unlike many airlines, it chose not to hire famous faces for the advertising. A spokesperson told Marketing Week: “Others have produced commercials with Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston, but we thought we would do something from the heart. We didn’t want to copy anyone else.”
Read the October 2016 issue of Business Review Middle East magazine
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.