What if Rami hadn't died young? What would he be doing now?
That is the question one is left with after reading The CEO's Journey, by Jacqueline Moore and Steven Sonsino. It recounts the life of Rami Makhzoumi, a Dubai business leader with a knack for spinning ideas into structures.
He died in April 2011 at the age of 33 of an aneurysm, eight years after becoming the head of Future Pipe Industries, the family business that his father, Fouad, had founded in 1984.
This book is dense with praise for the young Makhzoumi. It is, the authors note in the foreword, "unashamedly a celebration and a business book at the same time". Clearly Makhzoumi inspired an unusual degree of loyalty and trust in those around him, thanks in part to his gift of the gab and great reserves of energy.
He had an inner circle but it is his treatment of the people in the outer circle that stands out: when he put Future Pipe through a revisioning exercise called Think Teams, he designed it so that 100 employees from all levels and divisions of the company were working together.
That was his third company-wide development exercise. The first was called Evolution, and was meant to get all levels involved in the life of the company. The second was Revolution, "a programme designed to realign the business under a unified and centralised operating structure".
While this book does not dwell on setbacks, there were some for Makhzoumi, in both personal and corporate life.
He suffered occasional anxiety attacks. These began when he was a schoolboy in London, and he learnt to deal with them, but they flared up again amid a divorce and after two unsuccessful attempts at an initial public offering for Future Pipe (the first IPO effort suffered from overvaluation, the second from the global financial crisis).
The impression that a reader is left with is of a great restlessness at Makhzoumi's core.
It is exemplified when, at the dawn of the IPO process, he tells friends over dinner in Beirut that once the offering is complete, "I plan to stop working".
And after that?
"And for the rest of my life I'm going to help save the world," he says.