Over the past year, the world has been turned upside down, revealing just how unprepared we were for the unpredictable challenges of a global pandemic. And with all the essential innovations in medical technology, there is an overlooked technology that was arguably one of the most impactful in dealing with the challenges of the pandemic – construction.
Like all countries, the United Arab Emirates is not immune to the impact of the virus, and based on Ministry of Health and Prevention statistics, the UAE saw a peak rate of infection of over 4000 cases per day, at one point registering a Level 4 on the CDC infection ranking.
The UAE was prepared to successfully navigate the rising numbers from a decision made months earlier by the Abu Dhabi Health Service Company (SEHA). Observing the global trends, the organisation rolled out comprehensive healthcare solutions in an effort to bolster public medical services. Among them was the establishment of a string of field hospitals.
Rapid Construction to Save Lives
In a statement released in the first half of 2020 by SEHA Chairman Salem Al Noaimi, the new field hospitals were a precautionary measure to ensure the capabilities are in place, in the event of an influx of positive coronavirus cases.
As predicted, with infections on the rise, the pressure was on. Al Laith, an engineering, project management and contracting services company, together with a line up of several event-related companies answered the call to do the impossible – build a 1000-patient field hospital in two weeks.
“When we were called by Al Fares to assist, my first reaction was ‘we don’t know how, but we are in’, comments Jason English, Chief Ecosystem Officer of CG Tech. “When we were then asked to double our efforts for the next phase in the same period of time, naturally we all said [yes] and accepted the challenge. We’re not building structures anymore, we’re saving lives.”
Al Laith was already involved in the supply of access solutions to the two latest states of the art hospitals in the UAE, Mafraq and Silicon Oasis when the call came in to assist.
The results speak for themselves. The first facility, completed in May 2020, is currently managed by 200 medical staff and has the capacity to serve 1,200 patients, and has proven instrumental in the successful management of COVID patients, and cementing Al Laith’s position as the go-to partner for high-pressure, high-profile industrial and construction projects in the region. The monumental task, overseen by Blink Experience on behalf of the UAE government, was a great example of what teams can do when aligning on a common vision and goal.
“It was somewhat overwhelming to see so many people working together for a common cause to save lives”, said English. “These field hospitals were built to alleviate the burden on the hospital infrastructure, making sure that those requiring professional medical care were able to access the highest standard of care available.”
“The UAE is keen on developing preventive measures and conducting a continuous assessment of data … related to the health sector. This is done to enhance the capacity of the sector and provide the best health care for members of society”, said a top official during the weekly Covid-19 briefing.
Innovations across the globe
Al Laith added far more than construction know-how to the project. Once the build was finalised, advanced ground scanning technology was used to capture the entire build, allowing the build elements to be reviewed for future emergency projects. With access to experienced experts versed in critical areas, and a range of specialist equipment across scaffolding, powered access, site overlay and temporary logistics and facilities, Al Laith is eminently suited to tackle projects such as the field hospitals.
As part of the CG Tech group, Al Laith has been involved in providing services and equipment to a number of high-profile industrial and construction projects, along with major sporting and cultural events including Golf Saudi. Al Laith is also the trusted supplier of the temporary access structures and premier hospitality venues at the Formula-E in Riyadh 2021 – the first-ever night race with lighting systems fully powered by renewable energy.
Driven by purpose
From CG Tech’s chairman, Niall Carroll, through to the 4500-plus employees across the group’s companies, the entire group operates on a mantra of ‘purpose before profit’ among its subsidiaries. Alongside virtue and integrity also comes success. In his 1994 book Built to Last, Jim Collins claimed that purpose-driven companies were able to generate six times higher shareholder returns than their profit-driven rivals. CG Tech is proof positive that the claim still holds true, some 27 years later.
CG Tech’s Board of Directors is uniquely positioned since each member is an owner-operator of their own subsidiary within the group. Led by chairman Niall Carroll, Jason English has assumed the role of Chief Ecosystem Officer, overseeing the alignment of purpose at the group level. What sets Jason English apart is his experience in building compelling corporate cultures, and how a leader can successfully translate what he refers to as their “Oros” – their ideas, knowledge, and beliefs – into every member of the organization.
“To me, The Oros Effect allows leaders to decentralize their decision-making processes within their teams. Those that can successfully transfer their vision and knowledge can expect strong company culture and increased productivity to quickly follow”, describes English in a recent article.
Examples such as the rapid construction of the field hospitals only serve to prove the group’s mantra.
“With a commitment towards a common objective, it requires two things, an understanding of the purpose which is to save people, and the will to take action. This monumental project was completed in around 20 days from the start, which would never be possible without teams that were fully aligned on their purpose”, concludes English.
The collection of business within the CG Tech group allows us to share learnings and ideas with each other, sparking collective investments into research and development of new products and services which would not normally have been created.
The technology arm of the CG Tech group, The Virtulab, has allowed me to grow the reputation of Prommac as a digital business in a traditional industry, and we have been able to transform at a fraction of the cost of outsourcing these services.
As the youngest leader in the group, the collective knowledge of leadership has helped me grow personally by engaging with great business leaders who have been there, done that and have shared their experiences with me.
The CG Tech team has helped us raise capital and fund growth using the know how and experience of the collective group. The spread of skill sets between Accountants, M&A Experts, Operational Specialists, Metallurgy Specialists has helped me shape my business for the future.