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In Conversation with Hatem Dowidar: Building a Strong Employer Brand at e&

Michael Josem
26 June 2024

In a dynamic and insightful conversation, David Wheldon OBE, President Emeritus of the World Federation of Advertisers, sat down with Hatem Dowidar, the Group CEO of e& (formerly known as Etisalat), to discuss his journey from Vodafone to leading e&. This discussion highlighted Dowidar’s strategic focus on building a compelling employer brand and how it underpins its success and future ambitions.

A Journey from Vodafone to e&

David Wheldon began by reminiscing about their time at Vodafone, where Dowidar had been a significant corporate leader. Vodafone, formerly the world’s fifth most valuable brand, had transformed, and Dowidar shared his perspective on the brand’s evolution.

Reflecting on his tenure at Vodafone, Dowidar emphasised the importance of creating a vision of winning for the organisation. He noted, “People like to work for winners,” highlighting how a winning direction galvanises the entire organisation. This ethos of fostering a robust and attractive employer brand was something he carried forward into e&.

Codifying the Employer Brand

Dowidar discussed how e& codified its values to ensure organisational clarity and drive. For instance, being customer-obsessed is not just a statement but a practice at e&. The company measures customer handling and uses the data to improve its services. Similarly, the value of uniting as one is seen in the collaborative work environment and cross-functional teams. Lastly, daring to be bold is encouraged through a culture of innovation and risk-taking. This strategic clarity has been crucial, especially post-COVID, allowing e& to grow while other telecom companies struggled to maintain profits.

Creating a Vision for the Employer Brand

Dowidar explained the importance of setting a clear vision for the organisation. At e&, this vision is to go beyond being a traditional telecom company and become a tech company that provides comprehensive digital services. The leadership of e& is focused on positioning the brand not merely as a utility provider, but as a world-leading tech brand.

This vision of digitally empowering societies is not just about connectivity but about offering the digital services people need daily. By setting such a vision, e& creates a compelling employer brand that attracts top talent looking to be part of a forward-thinking and innovative company.

Driving Values into Every Vertical

A significant part of the conversation centred around how e& drives its core values into every vertical of the organisation. Dowidar articulated the importance of having clear targets and ensuring that every employee is aligned with the company’s values. This approach ensures that the entire organisation moves in the same direction, creating a cohesive and attractive employer brand. Employees at e& are encouraged to be bold, work together, and obsess over customer satisfaction, creating a dynamic and engaging work environment.

The Impact of AI on the Employer Brand

The conversation inevitably turned to AI and its impact on the industry and workforce. Dowidar acknowledged the transformative effect of AI, likening it to previous industrial revolutions. While there will be an impact on jobs, e& is proactive in reskilling and upskilling its workforce to harness AI’s potential.

The integration of AI is evident in the operations of e&, with AI tools embedded in their desktop platforms. Employees have access to AI-driven copilot tools, enhancing productivity and efficiency. Moreover, e& has pioneered fully autonomous AI shops, the second of which has recently opened in Dubai Mall. These shops, open 24/7, showcase the future of retail, offering self-help services and robotic assistance, illustrating the practical application of AI in enhancing customer experience.

Chief AI Officer and AI Initiatives

Dowidar discussed the appointment of a Chief AI Officer to manage the extensive AI initiatives and ensure a coordinated approach. This role is critical in overseeing the 840 AI initiatives in the UAE alone, ensuring they are not duplicated and managing the inherent risks of AI. This structured approach underscores the commitment by e& to leveraging AI responsibly and effectively, further enhancing its employer brand by demonstrating a forward-thinking and innovative culture.


Hatem Dowidar’s leadership at e& is characterised by a clear vision and innovative strategies, drawing on his rich experiences at Vodafone. His focus on winning, clear organisational values, and embracing technological advancements like AI positions e& at the forefront of the telecom-to-tech transition. As e& continues to evolve, Dowidar’s strategic insights and proactive approach to AI promise a future where digital empowerment and innovation drive growth and success.

By building a strong and attractive employer brand, e& attracts top talent and ensures that its employees are engaged, motivated, and aligned with the company’s vision and values. This conversation provides valuable lessons in leadership, innovation, and the importance of a compelling employer brand in today’s competitive business landscape.

About the Author

Michael Josem
Communications Director
Brand Finance

Michael manages the promotion of Brand Finance’s rankings of the world’s most valuable brands. He has almost two decades of experience as a communications leader working across various high-tech, public policy and financial online industries.