A Cleaner World; Better Lives
Project Manager:Donovan Smith
Averda has grown substantially in both size and diversity almost every year since inception. Starting in a single market with a single service offering, today the Company works across three continents offering clients a complete end-to-end solution to their waste management challenges.
The core development has required every aspect of the business to be agile and resilient, ensuring it can consistently offer the highest quality of work, while remaining competitive and entrepreneurial. This evolution has been executed by a unique team whose diversity and industry experience has enabled continued growth.
“Averda is a family run business, in which Growthgate Capital Dubai – the private equity firm – has a minority stake,” explains Malek Sukkar, the Chief Executive Officer at Averda. “Adopting this ownership structure provides us with a unique advantage in the market; we have the history and stability of family ownership, coupled with the rigour and efficiency of private equity investors.”
The services available from Averda branch across the entire spectrum of waste management, reaching clients across Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Its core range of services span recycling and minimising waste streams on customers own sites, through to collection and sorting in Averda’s bespoke facilities.
“We pride ourselves on providing specialised treatment solutions such as composting, anaerobic digesting and refuse derived fuels,” continues Sukkar. “Over time we have also branched out to include thermal destruction solutions such as waste-to-energy and microwave treatment, as well as engineered landfills.
“At present our customer base ranges from single site clients and multinational corporations, to large metropolitan municipalities.”
The diversification within the Company has been multi-facetted, in geographical terms and in terms of the waste management services it has been able to offer.
“We have a series of pilot schemes in adjacent sectors, but have discovered over time that our competitive advantage stems from being focused on waste management,” explains Sukkar. “Bearing this in mind, we have invested heavily in securing the top leadership positions in waste management technology and methodology of operations.”
At present the key trends the Company is witnessing across the emerging world revolve around urbanisation, longevity and environmental awareness. With the apparent large numbers of people moving out to cities, there has been a drive in waste generation rates and quantities.
Technology is paramount
Today, investment in developing the latest technologies is pivotal to the Company’s success. More than a quarter of a century ago, Averda realised the paramount importance of up-to-date technology for its services as a business, and combined with following best practice in every aspect and having an adventurous spirit, it has stayed ahead of competitors in the market.
Sukkar continues: “Alongside technology, our investment in people and training has become a key factor in our business philosophy. Employing bespoke recruitment programmes, hiring and developing local talent alongside on-going training initiatives have helped us to build a skilled, dedicated and renowned workforce.”
At present this workforce is found in 13 countries, spread across the Middle East and Africa, while also owning a large waste management business in Ireland. The Company’s approach to identifying products is very similar to that of which it employs when training and choosing its workforce.
“It is really about what aligns with our mission, which is to be the largest, most adventurous and most innovative waste management Company in the emerging world,” adds Sukkar. “It is a truly exciting and a valuable philosophy to work to, especially when you consider our vision: a cleaner world; better lives.”
Sustainability is key
As with all large companies in this market, attaining key projects is vital to progression and therefore, client partnerships, fast deployment and a ‘glocal’ model have been at the top of Averda’s list in obtaining key contracts.
“We take great pride in our cutting-edge technology that underpins our mechanical and human resources,” Sukkar elaborates. “A great example of this is our five smart recycling centres in Dubai, which are the first of their kind in the Middle East, are fully automated, energy efficient with solar-panel operations and sensor-equipment.”
Averda was the first waste management Company to invest in new and exciting recycling technologies in Abu Dhabi, including used cooking oil which was re-used to fuel trucks. In Oman and South Africa, Averda is the largest provider of hazardous medical waste treatment solutions, having found a way to build and commission South Africa’s first fully environmentally compliant hazardous waste landfill.
“Our market intelligence research demonstrated to us that sustainability is key to organisational and technological innovations that would allow us to yield both bottom-line and top-line returns, not only benefitting us as a private business, but also our clients,” interjects Philippa Charlton, the Chief Marketing Officer at Averda. “Becoming environmentally-friendly lowers costs for companies as they will inevitably reduce the inputs they use.”
Operations in emerging markets
Operating in emerging markets requires a highly entrepreneurial mind-set from Averda’s employees, combined with a mixture of interpersonal and technical skills to move the Company forwards.
“When we source talent, we tend to prioritise grit, the ability to flourish under ambiguity and a strong emotional intelligence above all,” explains Lisa Emami, Chief Talent Officer at Averda. “Of course we ensure that any baseline technical requirements are met, however, we firmly believe in the Peter Schutz quote ‘Hire Character, Train Skill’.
“We empower our employees who embody these characteristics to drive their own careers forward, while investing in personal development and allowing them opportunities to share their expertise cross-functionally throughout the organisation. We have found this approach to be highly successful in driving the engagement level of our top talent.”
From a human resources perspective, each time Averda enters a new market, it arrives with a mission to attract and develop the most promising talent that each country has to offer.
“Our skilled people are one of our main differentiators, allowing us to take the clients’ briefs and work hard to service their needs quickly and efficiently, going above and beyond to put ourselves in their shoes and strive to see the wider issue from their perspective,” continues Sukkar. “We are so proud of our organisation and the fact that running through our DNA is the drive to do the best and be the best at what we do.”
The core values, ethos and passion that is clearly visible at Averda is a factor that truly sets it apart from the rest in the industry. It has worked hard to build the capacity to strengthen the capabilities and knowledge base of its clients, while fundamentally raising waste awareness and investing in the environmental education of the communities it operates within.