Dr. Khawandanah has set up more than 12 successful companies in the ME & Europe and is a Board Member of numerous different organizations. His background includes business innovation, organizational leadership, entrepreneurship and strategic management. He is an approved and accredited business consultant by the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry and certified in strategic management from Harvard. He is currently studying a DBA at EU to add to his already prolific CV.
How does it feel that your own company, Special Direction Group, has been recognized with the King Khalid Award in the field of “Responsible Competitiveness”?
The Award reflects the appreciation of the Saudi government to the social activities and initiatives we are developing and managing in the world to develop the youth, empower women, and create the knowledge economy.
What work has the Special Direction Group has done to achieve the award?
Our focus is on creating positive and real change in the society. We believe that sustainable development and social responsibility are practices and implemented projects, not just theories.
We focus on community contributions and volunteering work, being committed to implementing the best sustainable development and social responsibility practices. In addition to that, empowering the youth to participate in knowledge and cultural programs, and educating them about the economic and innovative benefits that serve them and their society environmentally and socially.
Furthermore, we have developed “Direction” – the social responsibility arm of Special Direction Group that creates and runs a lot of supportive programs for youth in the Middle East and the world, to add value to their personal life and their nations.
In the past 10 years, Direction has handled hundreds of social and volunteering projects for universities; business centers; national and international committees; and chambers of commerce.
Is there a project that you are particularly proud of?
I’m particularly proud of our “Direction Tour” – a knowledge and culture exchange program that accelerates the beneficial value of multicultural ideas for the youth.
The Knowledge/Culture Exchange Program is designed to share knowledge on specific topics such as; Women’s Empowerment, Social Responsibility, Youth Development, Volunteering Values, Leadership and Strategy, etc. We achieve this by creating smart groups and including them in the thought process, visiting the key international bodies worldwide and meeting the leaders and decision makers in the related topics. The groups seek the latest knowledge and create a dynamic dialogue with counterparts to exchange cultures.
How have things changed since you received the award?
The award has enhanced the ability of Special Direction to build competitive advantage through a commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). We have boosted and aligned the CSR practices with business imperatives such as promoting growth, improving profitability, enhancing brand and reputation, and deepening the engagement with key stakeholders. On a global level, we have participated in increasing the Kingdom’s competitiveness, while also helping it to achieve its economic, social and environmental development goals.
What’s the next step for yourself and for Special Direction Group?
The next major step has already been taken and has been in place since January 1, 2016. Whereas before I was the CEO and Chairman of the Board since founding the group, I have now left the CEO position and allowed the second level of management to take over. Handling only the Chairman role has given the business more flexibility to grow and innovate, and achieve better results. In addition, it freed me up to focus on the activities of social responsibility.