Transforming Culture in the Kingdom: How Saudi Telecom Focused on People to Compete in the Digital Age

by: John Branch, Kim Cameron

Publication Date: September 19, 2019
Length: 18 pages
Product ID#: 4-942-329

Core Disciplines: International Business, Leadership/Organizational Behavior, Strategy & Management

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Teaching Note

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This case describes Saudi Telecom Co.’s (STC’s) transition from a government-run entity to a business competing on the open market. Early in its transition phase, STC recognized it would need to transform its employee and company culture to succeed.

Led by Dr. Khaled Biyari and his immediate predecessors, STC’s cultural transformation was widely heralded as successful by 2018. But Biyari left the CEO role that year, leaving Nasser Bin Sulaiman Al Nasser to take over the position. The change at STC’s helm represented a critical inflection point for a company that, as the incumbent provider of all telecommunications in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was seen as critical to the success of the country as a whole.

The case is intended to show how a management change might be handled during a firm’s critical years. Could Al Nasser continue the cultural improvements of his predecessor? And how would he go about building on the legacy of Biyari, whose personal vision and leadership presence was seen as essential to STC’s achievements? Could Al Nasser push STC to become the modern, digital company it would need to be to attract talent in the highly competitive technology pool?

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Recognize the basic structure of a public to private transition.
  • Understand change management and methods for affecting lasting corporate transformations.
  • Identify leadership strategies and actions that can affect lasting corporate transformations.
  • Define company culture and unpack how it affects business outcomes.
  • Develop strategies to improve company culture and understand how outside factors affect culture.
  • Use organizational health measures to benchmark company culture and catalyze change.
  • Recognize how mergers and acquisitions can affect company culture and predict potential stumbling blocks to inorganic growth.