Husam Al Mandhari, Senior Mall Manager For Muscat City Centre
Tell me about your career in brief:
I graduated in the United States in engineering, before going on to work for Muscat Municipality for eight years. After that, I worked as an operations manager at a mall before becoming the manager for Qurum City Centre and now Muscat City Centre.
Moving from engineering into retail is a fairly dramatic career leap. What prompted it?
Malls always fascinated me, so what I do now is a dream come true. I was presented with an opportunity in 2009. I thought that it was the right time to progress and take up the challenge of doing something new, moving from the public sector into the private one. There’s no doubt that it’s been a 180 degree change but I have no regrets because my journey has brought me here.
How is working in the retail sector different?
People think it’s an easy job but it isn’t. There’s no routine. Every day you meet new people and challenges. You try to create the best experience for everyone who comes into the mall as well as working with the team, sitting with them and creating the changes you see right now [he points to the recent expansion and refurbishment of the food court and children’s area].
What are the challenges?
Part of it is converting footfall into sales. Fortunately, the mall is doing very well. We have different attractions that appeal to different customers. There are people who want brands, which they get here, but there are also those who want value, which they can also find here. There’s something for everyone. I think the challenges can be overcome by adding more options, brands and F&B (food and beverage) opportunities.
How do your visualise the future of malls, here in Oman?
There’s a boom in retail here, and as you’ve seen in the news, there are many malls coming up. This is a good thing. Competition is healthy because it elevates standards, which in turn is positive for the country.
What you see right now is the future. Every mall coming up is talking about cinemas, food courts and entertainment. That’s what people want here in Oman.
If you were given a rewind button for life, would you press it?
I have a good job, a beautiful wife, four children (we’ve just had a new baby boy a few weeks ago.) Thank God, I have a good life and there’s nothing I would really want to change.
What’s the mall’s USP?
First of all, being managed by Majid Al Futtaim is a plus. Secondly, the tenant mix that we have and thirdly, the high standard of customer service we provide.
Describe your personality in four words:
Kind, supportive, I listen and I’m pro-active.
Tell me about Omanisation….
As an Omani it’s not something I think about, it’s something I feel that I have to do. We have 85 per cent Omanisation here and I’m working to increase that number. Also, we always support any opportunity to train Omanis.
What do you do in your personal time?
I wish I had more time to spend with the children because I’m always busy with work. If I had time, I’d take my family to a private island. I enjoy travelling.
What were your last three mall purchases?
I like to visit electronics shops because I’m a gadget enthusiast. Recent buys include a signal booster for Wi-Fi connection at home, a new mobile phone and a specialist phone charger.