Haitham Al-Fannah takes on new role as CEO of Oman Flour Mills

by | Apr 9, 2018

The 2003 marketing alumnus earned his UMSL degree through a partnership with the Modern College of Business and Science in his native country.
Haitham Al-Fannah

Haitham Al-Fannah, BSBA 2003, earned his marketing degree from UMSL through an academic partnership with Modern College of Business and Science in Muscat, Oman. He now serves as CEO of Oman Flour Mills. (Photo courtesy of Haitham Al-Fannah)

Haitham Al-Fannah is constantly preparing for his next challenge.

His checklist includes a variety of plans, extending from obtaining a doctoral degree to reducing food scarcity in his home country of Oman. Plans are in the works for both of these items, with the latter taking center stage at the moment.

On April 1, Al-Fannah, an alumnus of a University of Missouri–St. Louis program based in the Modern College of Business and Science in Muscat, Oman, joined Oman Flour Mills as its new CEO. This transition comes after eight years of serving in executive positions for Al Sulaimi Group Holding, a family-run engineering and industrial solutions group.

“I was looking for that change not only on a personal level but the idea of being able to have an impact on a national level,” Al-Fannah said. “In Oman, we have scarce resources when it comes to food, and I feel through Oman Flour Mills I could turn that around and aim at putting Oman on the map as a regional hub for food and agriculture.”

As he makes the switch to a publicly owned company in the food industry, Al-Fannah’s short list includes understanding the business as quickly as possible and setting long-term goals with the company’s stakeholders. But overall, he says employee satisfaction is his main priority.

“We spend one-third of our life at work, so the work environment should feel like home,” he said. “Organizational culture that keeps employees happy until they reach home is at the top of my list.”

Al-Fannah says he struggled with this work-life balance early in his career, sacrificing important aspects of his life, including family, friends and a healthy social life. At one point, he says his daily routine was pretty simple: work, sleep, repeat. But as he progressed in his career, Al-Fannah began to take more time for himself.

He’s now working to make sure others don’t fall into the same pattern, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed.

In recent years, he was selected for the competitive National CEO Program, a government initiative funded by the Sultan of Oman, and was named one of the 100 Most Influential CEOs by Oman Economic Review.

“I would say being selected as one of 100 Omanis for the National CEO Program is one of the proudest accomplishments of my career,” Al-Fannah said. “The Oman Economic Review award also meant a lot to me. It was a good boost for me to keep striving for more.”

These accomplishments have been building since Al-Fannah’s career introduction through the marketing program in the UMSL- Modern College of Business and Science partnership.

The affiliation between the two schools began in 1996, fueled by MCBS founder and UMSL alumnus Muneer Al-Maskery. Through the partnership, MCBS has developed a curriculum that mirrors UMSL’s and provides a seamless transition for students to earn a UMSL degree.

“My time with UMSL was an experience indeed,” said, Al-Fannah who has never been to UMSL’s St. Louis campus. “I loved the interaction we had with the professors. Classes hosted at MCBS have fewer students, which gives you a better chance to interact more with the professors and gave me the confidence that prepared me for my career.”

After his time with MCBS and UMSL, Al-Fannah went on to earn an MBA from the University of Strathclyde and participated in the executive program at the National University of Singapore.

Next, he hopes to enroll in a doctorate of business administration program.

Sara Bell

Sara Bell