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I’ve been in this industry for more than two decades now. All of my career has taken place in the Middle East; I was Booz Allen employee number six in the Middle East and North Africa and helped establish the firm’s presence in the MENA region in 1995.
Since then, I’ve worked with countries to develop national agendas and sectoral policies, strengthen their agencies and organizations, and implement government strategies for tackling complex developmental challenges.
We’re company and government doctors. Our role is to help clients recognize and verbalize their pain points—and then buy into the solution.
Nabih Maroun serves the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region from Booz Allen’s Abu Dhabi office. He currently leads the firm’s work in mission operations, strategic innovation, data analytics, critical infrastructure, human capital development, and technology and digital enablement for MENA’s government and public sector clients.
Nabih specializes in:
Nabih joined Booz Allen in 1995 as part of the firm’s first permanently established office in the Middle East. During a three-year leave from the firm in the early 2000s, Nabih served as chief financial officer for a French telecommunications company where he led the financing and expansion of operations to multiple locations worldwide.
Before returning to Booz Allen in 2014, Nabih also worked as executive director of Quantum Communications, a specialized strategic communications advisory firm based in Washington, DC and Beirut. He remains a member of their executive board.
He holds an M.B.A. from INSEAD and a master's of engineering from McGill University in Canada.
Why are you passionate about what you do? There is nothing static in what I do; things keep changing. The exposure is tremendous. You set your mind on one thing, and you end up doing something else. You’re building a business, but never as initially intended. Then you get you do something else and come back enriched from that experience only to start something new. I like change. I like diversity. I like exposure. I like challenges of growth and all of these things that you can find in the consulting industry.
What is the best business advice you’ve gotten in your career? One day after I had just become partner, my mentor at the time told me, “From now on, your time is no longer yours. Your time belongs to the people and the teams that are working with you. You think that by becoming a partner, you’ll gain control of your schedule and you’ll be able to step back a bit. To the contrary. It is just starting.” He was right.
How do you help your clients prepare for the future? It’s mostly helping them break big problems into bits and pieces; rationalize the pieces that they have; help them verbalize their ambitions and plan out their goals; and listen to them, help them talk through the challenges that they’re facing, and help them be part of crossing the solution. I tend to describe myself and my teams as catalysts for drafting the solutions. We are buy-in agents with our clients and their stakeholders to get things done. We’re company and government doctors. We give the diagnostic, but the patient has to go through the experience of being tested, and the patient has to express where and what is hurting for the diagnosis to be complete. And then we prescribe the appropriate energizer.
What are the most pressing needs in your industry today? The first thing that my clients need is innovative ways of tackling problems—more use of technology that enables the creation of new industries and new jobs. Digital is an important component of transforming societies, and governments are figuring out how to harness digital capabilities to create new industries and also to enable better public service and more transparency.
What advice would you give yourself as a young professional? Have patience. Like wine, we take time to mature.
What would you say is your strongest character trait? Humor. If you’re not having fun, what’s the point of doing all of this?
What motivates you? Appreciation and gratitude.
What are your tips for managing and motivating your people? Remove the “us versus them” mentality. I believe that you can learn something from every individual that you meet, so I tend to be very close to people. They reciprocate that; it’s a good feeling.
What makes you excited to come to work in the morning? The people I work with, because they are a fun bunch. It’s like going to a house where all your friends live. There’s always something new. The challenge of cracking the problem at hand. When things slow down, I’m bored. And things are never slow here. That’s what keeps me going.
What is something that not many people know about you? I used to have a ponytail. I had to trim it before my first consulting interview because I figured I was entering the real world and becoming serious.