Ihab Ramlawi, MD & Co-Founder, DuPod
The road to achieving dreams isn’t always easy to navigate. It’s easy to dream big, but following through on it is another ball game . The journey is usually challenging, dotted with mountains to climb, barriers to overcome, and mind-numbing times that will make you feel like quitting. Yet, some people hang on to their goals despite all the odds and pedal their way to success with courage and dedication. They take the challenges by the scruff of the neck and stay unswervingly persistent in pursuing their aspirations to bring a change in the industry. Among such gutsy personalities is Ihab Ramlawi, the Managing Director and Co-Founder of DuPod, an innovative pioneer in modular Construction.
Ihab’s inspiration to become entrepreneur roots back to his teens when he started working summer jobs in his father’s supermarket in the capital of Amman. Exposure to business trade at an early age helped him shape up his communication, trading, and negotiation skills which fuelled a desire in his heart to dream of establishing his own business. While most of us get caught up in the daily drill and put aside our dreams, Ihab never gave up and started his entrepreneurial expedition after graduating from civil engineering. His first encounter with entrepreneurship was when he met his mentor, Chebel Bsaibes, who inspired him from the first minute of interaction when they worked together at Zamil Steel, a global company in the field of steel manufacturing based in KSA.’ The self-made visionary didn’t take much time to notice the spark in Ihab’s eyes. So, he gave Ihab a chance to partner with him in establishing a new company from scratch which eventually become AMANA Qatar branch.
The Journey That Led To Dupod
After Ihab had a couple of subsequent entrepreneurship ventures in the construction industry field and real estate and, with a solid framing for that experience with an MBA from London Business School in 2011, he never stopped exploring ideas and spent time researching and studying the next idea. Yet, this time the whole world was talking about disruption and using technology and innovation. Construction is one of the oldest industries and will remain among the most significant contributors to the world economy. The idea was simply about how to make the construction industry evolve and get to the aspired level of efficiency and how this industry can utilize construction technology solutions to develop further. Modular Construction has existed for a long time, and worldwide modular companies have evolved on various levels. Innovation as we know it can take different shapes, one of which is creating a new product, yet the other which is the harder one is how to make it better, which is what drove the idea of DuPod to be born.
The idea was to advance the development of modular Construction with a focus on the product approach and industrialized construction concept. Ihab observed that most of the companies in the Modular Construction business are still grounded in the construction mentality and operating model, which is diminishing their ability to provide the most crucial advantage, efficiency. So, he decided to attract know-how from various industries and not be limited to construction such as manufacturing, supply chain architecture, and technology.The construction industry, the world sought solutions to improve it and adapt technology. Yet, the manufacturing industry is already talking about industry 4.0, a completely different level of development and an excellent benchmark for the advancement of manufacturing administrated in the automotive industry. DuPod wanted to create an impact and go to places where others have not gone in a field that has been lagging in development for the longest time. Productization and adoption of the manufacturing way of thinking were the foundation. The goal was to play an enabling role in the whole industry and reach that level of innovation in the construction industry that the world is seeking. However, setting up the venture was still an uphill battle for Ihab. Being an entirely new industry, it required a lot of innovation and a good amount of research to find out how it is being done worldwide.
Starting with the strategy formation, which required mapping of all companies working in modular construction world-wise, DuPod followed the next step of building SWAT analysis to differentiate and deliver efficiency and quality in the fastest time.” In all my ventures, the first thing I look at after building the strategy is to evaluate my capacity in all business aspects and then find out how to embrace my strong advantages and how to complement to weaknesses, and partnership is a great way to do that. This was a lesson I learned from my mentor Chebel Bsaibes who is today the Chairman of AMANA Group and my partner in DuPod Venture, “asserts Ihab.
Like every successful company, DuPod faced several challenges along its journey. However being focused on the vision, the strategic planning, consistent effort fuled by passion and belief to the story, and never-give-up attitude of Ihab that enabled the company to navigate all the hurdles and reach the pinnacle of success. “Challenges are part of the game, and the more you plan, the more you should be able to overcome all obstacles along the journey,” adds Ihab. DuPod today is a pioneer in modular manufacturing, with innovative plug-and-play bespoke solutions powered by an end-to-end tech-enabled platform.
Cultivating a Strong Work Culture
As a leader, Ihab firmly believes in building a solid work culture. Thus, the whole recruitment process in DuPod is built around selecting the right talent to create a dynamic and creative culture that embraces Technology and innovation.” Sustaining an innovative culture is not an easy task, and requires ownership in every single person working in Dupod. Another important aspect is making them realize the purpose and be part of the whole journey, which creates a high excitement and enthusiasm,” opines Ihab.
He also emphasizes on open communication, listening and sharing ideas, and leading by example. For Ihab, hiring the proper management to fit the culture is equally important as they play a crucial role in attracting similar younger talent to grow and inspiring new joiners to believe that they could walk a path together rather than being just another employee.
Envisioning a Future of Persistent Growth
Forging ahead, Ihab is excited to see further growth of DuPod as it continues to lead by example in industrialized Construction and eventually leaving a mark in the construction industry innovation. He also aspires to expand the reach of DuPod to various countries and invest heavily in R&D to introduce more products and serve different sectors. Meanwhile, the company intends to leverage fourth generation ( 4.0 ) advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics and IOT to form a full integration for end to end platform to form a single source of truth wich will enable transparency in communication during the project life cycle Engineering, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, and logistics . By this we will enable scalability in the industry and achive the highest level of efficiency . “We will enable transparency with stakeholders, scalability in the industry and achive the highest level of efficiency by working in real-time using Technology. It is a journey we just started, as we barely scratched the surface, making it an exciting one,” affirms Ihab.
The Leader’s Advice to the Rising Entrepreneurs Imparting the lessons from his years of experience, Ihab advises emerging entrepreneurs to find their passion, know their potential and complement their weaknesses by working with the right people and partners. He also encourages them to think out of the box, understand their finances and incorporate the right strategy. “Your strategy is your guide. Don’t lose your way. Educate yourself, know your finance, and, most importantly, open the tap to allow the revenue to flow. Entrepreneurship is a challenging ride; the only way to succeed is to believe it will materialize. If you believe that, you will make it happen, “sums up Ihab.