Roland Salameh : The importance of doing the right thing in business

Roland Salameh : The importance of doing the right thing in business

Frenchman Roland Salameh speak three languages – French, Arabic, and English – and has profound experience from his varied work in many countries. He led all kinds of businesses before. Now, he is facing a new challenge as the CEO of Atalian Global Services Asia. He shares his story in an exclusive interview with the Independent Observer.

Atalian Global Services is a global company with a local approach. This hospitality service company joined the ranks of facility management businesses in Indonesia with its international-standard range of services in 2014. Among its services are: cleaning, security, receptionist procurement, facility management, technical maintenance, pest control, landscaping, energy management, office services, and IT services.

Roland Salameh finds the facility management business fascinating, because despite people’s attempt to limit its scope to things like cleaning, security, and building maintenance, it is actually limitless. “So basically, the good thing about facility management, we indirectly also contribute to the success of our customers, because we make sure that they are fully compliant, that they operate in a good and safe environment, and that their employees are happy to come to work, and are motivated to come to work.  So these are the “side effects”, if you want, of our business.  And the other good thing about facility management, it’s very human-intensive,” he said.

Atalian Global Services employs 23,000 people just in Asia. “So it’s very challenging in a way, because we are responsible for all these people.  And we want to make sure that all of them…have a suitable salary, suitable training, have equal opportunity to go, for the sake of the company also.  It’s very interesting, because a lot of human lives depend on us in the end. That’s what I love about this business,” he said. “Especially because our customers come from all kinds of backgrounds! To be able to do our job properly, it’s very important to understand these customers, how they operate, and understand their business.  Because that’s our added value at the end.  The better we understand how they operate, the better we service them.”

Roland admitted that the pandemic strongly impacted various businesses, including facility management. “The pandemic totally transformed the industry. The overall business environment has changed: the technology, the new way of working… Because of the Covid-19, we have a lot of people working from home. So we are the first one to be impacted by that.  And we the first one who need to evolve and adapt to this new business environment. And it’s very challenging, because in this period, the first one who needs to adapt, to find new business models, that is suitable for the situation will be the future. That company would be the leader of the future,” he said.

Roland went on to explain how the facility management sector differs greatly from one country to another. “It depends a lot on the maturity of our customers.  When I talk about the “maturity” of our customers, it’s not about the size of their business, or their scope ‒ it’s more about how they perceive their non-core activity, and the concept of outsourcing.  So you have many schools of thought about it. Basically, a lot of companies are realizing that a bank, for example, its job is banking. Not managing the branches, not managing the facility itself.  So now these…a lot of companies have the maturity to think that, “OK, these are not my activities, if I outsource them, I can have better service, have better price, save money at the end. Furthermore, these outsourcing companies can become my partner to achieve my goals in the end.” And we are also seeing the shift today.  A lot of companies are starting to realize that, starting to look for companies like Atalian to be their partner in their facility services as well.  Also, we have different levels of outsourcing today, and the higher the maturity level, the better we can serve the customers, the more we can add value to the customers,” he said.

Roland also declared that the market opportunity in Indonesia is enormous. “I’m excited about Indonesia!  Because I believe it’s one of the biggest potential countries not only in Asia but in the world. It’s not only about the size of Indonesia, it’s also about how fast the economy is growing here.  It’s also about the mentality of the people ‒ they want to succeed, they want to grow their country, so I see a lot of potentials here.  That’s why one of the first countries that I want to visit, that I want to come to is Indonesia.  I spent three months here before my official appointment,” he said. “I want to use Indonesia as one of the base models for Atalian companies in Asia.”

Indonesia has various industries: petroleum and gas, mining, healthcare, and many more. “Many multinational companies invest here. There is also a very high rate of urbanization – a lot of people are moving to cities, opening businesses here or working in companies… we look at all these factors when we seek to invest,” Roland said. “And I think, if I’m not mistaken, one of the biggest investments of Atalian in Asia is in Indonesia.”

As a service company, Atalian looks for certain values that new employees must have before they join: “It’s very important for the people who join us to understand the concept of “service” and to have the humility to serve others. Another extremely important criteria is ethics. Because we are here, we are pushing for compliance, ethical practices on our side. It’s very important for our people to understand and share our ethics.  Then, we look also for people who are willing to learn, eager to learn, to have a positive attitude, to create a good environment for the company.  Because we have 13,000 employees here in Indonesia, so it’s important that we operate as a family.  So we look for people who can fit into this ‘family’ and bring a positive attitude,” he said.

Atalian Global Services is originally a French company, but now it is a global one. Even its headquarters are now in Brussels, Belgium. “Atalian is a global company. But we have this French root. France is a country very focused on corporate social responsibility, and it is also very environmentally-friendly. These roots are an essential part of Atalian’s core values,” he said.

At the end of the interview, Roland shared his tips for success in career and life. “To succeed in life, I think we need a lot of resilience and perseverance. The key is to know which opportunity to seize, and to fight at the end. This is where people fail, usually.  Perseverance.  Everything has a price to pay. Once again, nothing comes easy. So it’s very important that people continue fighting and be very resilient. Another thing that extremely important I learn is work ethics. It’s extremely important to always do the right thing in the business ‒ whatever it will cost you. I always put my company as my main focus. Every decision I take, it’s only for the best interest of the company. I don’t take personal benefits; I don’t care about my personal interests. So this is one of the keys. I think it’s the most important advice to give to anyone: always be honest, always do the right thing, and maintain your ethical honor as much as possible. It is the key to success,” he said. (des)