Vice Chairman and CEO, SABIC (1998 – 2015)
Founding Chairman, GPCA (2006 – 2015)
Mohamed Al-Mady was the 3rd Vice Chairman and CEO of SABIC since the company was established in 1976 and one of its most prominent and influential leaders of all time. Al Mady led SABIC on an impressive organic and inorganic growth journey. From ranking 25th in the world in 1998, SABIC was ranked 4th globally in 2015. Al Mady led SABIC on a program of global expansion, establishing its presence in Europe and China and leading the company through iconic acquisitions including GE Plastics and DSM Petrochemicals. He made tremendous contributions to developing SABIC’s talent and innovation capabilities, and was instrumental in the formation of GPCA, as its founding and longest serving Chairman.
“A young leader in the making”
Mohamed Al-Mady was born in Najran, in the southern part of Saudi Arabia. From a young age, education was at the heart of his upbringing. His father, a prominent local leader – the Amir of Najran – put him on a path of learning and encouraged him to attain knowledge. Al-Mady enrolled in primary school in the city of Najran, and went to middle school in Taif, 750 kilometres up North. He pursued his high school education in Abha and Taif.
As a young student, Al Mady took great interest in science. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering in 1973 from the University of Colorado and obtained a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wyoming in 1975.
In 1977, Al Mady was among the first group of Western educated young Saudi technocrats to join SABIC’s affiliate SADAF, the largest joint venture with Shell U.S. in Jubail industrial city. The following year, he travelled to receive training at the Shell facilities in Houston. His burgeoning talent was evident from day one and he soon became the company’s VP, a position in which he served from 1981 to 1989.
In 1989, Al Mady moved to SABIC’s Head Office to take the role of Director General of the company’s Projects Division. His leadership and vision were evident throughout the years as he moved up the ranks and ascended to the company’s top seat. Al Mady was appointed Vice Chairman and CEO of SABIC in July 1998, becoming only the third CEO since the company was established and one of its most prominent and influential leaders of all time.
SABIC under Al Mady: Key milestones (1998-2015)
Since its establishment by a Royal Decree in 1976, the Government of Saudi Arabia played an instrumental role in the development and evolution of SABIC to create a globally competitive petrochemical industry, develop the Kingdom’s natural resources and create value from what was previously considered as waste.
Working in close partnership with the Kingdom’s leadership at the time, Al Mady led SABIC on an impressive growth journey. Between 1998 and 2015, under Al Mady’s leadership and thanks to the government’s support, SABIC’s assets quadrupled to $87.5 billion , production capacity grew to over 65 million metric tons, net profit increased dramatically to over $5 billion , and its employees more than doubled. Under Al Mady, SABIC’s global ranking grew from 25th in 1998 to 4th in 2015.
Organic and inorganic growth
Between 2001-2007, Al Mady led SABIC’s inorganic growth and a program of global expansion. In 2002, SABIC acquired DSM Petrochemicals, which became SABIC Europe. This was a watershed moment in the history of SABIC that established its presence on the European market.
In March 2003, SABIC entered into a 50:50 partnership with Süd-Chemie AG to acquire Scientific Design of New Jersey, a world leader in process and catalyst related chemical technologies. In 2006, SABIC acquired Huntsman Petrochemicals, renaming it to SABIC UK Petrochemicals. Another milestone acquisition under Al Mady was that of GE Plastics which became SABIC Innovative Plastics.
He also led the establishment of SABIC’s presence in China through its joint venture with SINOPEC in Tianjin which began production in 2010.
As part of SABIC 2025 strategy, Al Mady focused on developing SABIC’s specialty chemicals portfolio and growing the revenue share of its specialty products.
At home, Al Mady orchestrated Sabic’s deal with Exxon Mobil to build a world-scale specialty elastomers facility in Jubail, with associated High Institute for Elastomer Industries (HIEI), a vocational training center in Yanbu.
Other joint ventures which SABIC formed under Al Mady include the SAUDI KAYAN project in 2012 and a 50-50 JV with SK Global Chemical called the SABIC SK Nexlene Company founded in 2014 and headquartered in Singapore.
Building research and innovation capabilities
For Al Mady – the sky was the limit. He placed great emphasis on developing SABIC’s own innovation capabilities. Under Mr. Al-Mady, in 2013 SABIC launched two new R&I facilities – the SABIC Corporate Research & Innovation Center at KAUST in Thuwal, near Jeddah, and the SABIC Plastic Applications Development Center in Riyadh Techno Valley. The number of research and development centres during his leadership of SABIC expanded to 19 in five key regions: USA, Western Europe, Saudi Arabia, Southeast and Northeast Asia, employing 2,000 scientists.
At home, he drove important collaboration with local universities, including King Saud University, King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), King Abdul Aziz University, and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
Human capital development
If there was one thing Al Mady will be remembered for, it’s his legacy on developing local human capital. In his own words he aspired to “create the best human resources development plan in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” In 2006 he established SABIC Learning to nurture a culture of continuous education, and training in four key areas: supply chain management, leadership skills, marketing and finance. This he knew would enable SABIC to build the skills base it needs to effectively pursue its goals. In 2012, Al Mady launched SABIC Academy in Riyadh to develop its employees’ management skills as well as technical expertise.
Role in establishing GPCA
Beyond SABIC, one of his key legacies in the region of the Arabian Gulf is the establishment of GPCA in 2006 – as the first and only regional association to represent the interests of the chemical and petrochemical industry. Al Mady believed in GPCA and its important mission, and skilfully brought all 8 founding members together to form the Association.
As the founding and longest serving Chairman of GPCA, he was instrumental in launching the Annual GPCA Forum in the first year of its inception and made relentless efforts to establish it as the flagship event in the global chemical industry’s calendar.
Awards and recognition
During his career, Al Mady received numerous Awards among which was the World Petrochemical Heritage Award in 2009 by the Chemical Heritage Foundation (now the Science History Institute). He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in 2010 by the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado as part of a talented group of university graduates who made outstanding contributions to the scientific and industrial fields on a global level.
In 2015 he joined the Military Industries Corporation.
Al Mady not only built upon the legacy of his predecessors; he lived and breathed the spirit of SABIC. Before his departure as its CEO, SABIC was the 4th largest chemical company in the world. Its business operations spanned over 45 countries. There was no script for what he did. No job description. No blueprint. He simply had a vision. A vision he pursued relentlessly. Despite the scepticism. Despite the hardship. He changed the course of SABIC and Saudi Arabia’s petrochemical industry. He left a lasting mark on our industry, our region and communities the world over and led the company with perseverance through many ups and downs. For these reasons and more we are proud to bestow Mohamed Al Mady with the 4th GPCA Legacy Award “Al Rowad” – The honour of a lifetime.