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Being successful for the business and local community

Any business, regardless of how big or small, can make a significant impact on local communities by passing on knowledge and experience. That’s why Zahran Al Aufi, managing director of Oman-based Falcon Oilfield Services, firmly believes in giving back through education and job creation.

Falcon specialises in the maintenance and construction of oil and gas wells. Founded in 2002 by Zahran and three associates, the company now works with almost all of Oman’s major operators and employs close to 300 people. A key pillar of the company’s philosophy is investing in education, training home-grown talent from top Omani universities to become specialist scientists and engineers.



Building a successful business

Going from a full-time job to starting a business might seem daunting, but Zahran was up for the challenge – guided by his desire for innovation. He believes that through entrepreneurship, he can add value to the industry. “I would call it a feeling that you can do something in a better way. It might be something new that's never been done, or it could be something that exists but that you can improve on,” he recalls.

This is the driving force that prompted Zahran to leave his job in a major oilfield service company to set up Falcon 17 years ago. Taking cue from some of the world’s most successful start-ups, Falcon was initially run on a shoestring budget and in a low-cost basement office, according to Zahran.

Zahran describes his company’s initial years as intentionally taking a different approach from the norm, focusing only on one service rather than diversifying. Such a conservative attitude lasted almost a decade, but it allowed the company to fine-tune its service offering, understand the market requirements, and make a name for itself in the oil and gas industry.

“There is always more than one solution to a problem and there is always more than one approach to reach a result or a target,” he points out. “It took us around 10 years to build the culture that we wanted, to build around the work ethics that we wanted to be in the DNA of the business.” It was only then that they started moving into other services.

Over the years, the company has grown in both the number of employees and the value of its assets. From its main office in Muscat, Falcon’s business presence has expanded throughout Oman, with plans to also open offices in neighbouring GCC countries, such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Contributing to community success

Zahran emphasises the role that businesses play in improving knowledge and skillsets in developing countries. “I think businesses are created to make profits, but giving back to the community is essential,” he says, adding, “If everybody tries a little bit, then I think we'd move in the right direction.”

The best thing to give, he believes, is knowledge. “When you give knowledge, it's passed on from one person to another,” Zahran explains. Whether this is technical or business know-how, “at the end of the day, knowledge brings wealth and success.”

At the core of this philosophy is a strong belief in educating and nurturing young minds. “It's not just the material value, but rather getting these young children to find the link in their interests, and the desire and willingness to get into science and engineering and understanding the world,” Zahran says.

Global growth with HSBC

Zahran credits HSBC’s combination of local expertise and global presence with helping Falcon expand. “The team here is very capable, with international experience and standards while it has its local roots in the local economy.” HSBC is providing the company with the platform to achieve its regional aspirations, he explains.

He recalls a time when HSBC’s global reputation helped to secure a deal with a Chinese company. “They were also dealing with a few other banks, but the moment we told them that we would be doing this deal through HSBC, it gave them a big level of comfort.”

With suppliers around the world from South America to Europe, Falcon’s supply chain is taken care of with HSBC’s solid banking framework. “Having an international bank helps establish trust with our suppliers,” he says, adding that a good Relationship Manager is key to any business success.

For helping business growth, Zahran cites HSBC’s range of facilities as playing a fundamental role. “The past few years were difficult times in the oil and gas industry, and it's no secret that cash flow is an essential part. Products with HSBC like bill discounting help the business manage cash flow better.”

Falcon is also seeing the benefits of HSBC’s internet banking services. “It definitely adds a lot of flexibility and accelerates the approvals required. Now, with internet banking, we can approve payments even if we are not in the office.”

With HSBC supporting the company’s strategic objectives, Zahran can stay ahead of the competition through delivering technical excellence and efficiency, while contributing to the competitiveness of the Omani workforce.

Suppliers trust us because HSBC gives them a high level of comfort, this helps us to bring in new business

ZAHRAN AL AUFI MANAGING DIRECTOR, FALCON OILFIELD SERVICES

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