713: Banker, Builder, Finance Leader | Stuart Henrickson, CFO, Bold Commerce

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Manage episode 296280718 series 1039141
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In the late 1990s, when Stuart Henrickson was CFO for Koch Industries’ Canadian operations, Chase Manhattan made him a job offer unlike any that he had received before.

“It was a fork in the road for me. Koch had been consolidating and bringing many of its operations back to their head office in the U.S., and it happened to be at that point in time that Chase brought me the opportunity,” explains Henrickson, who reports that he was asked to spearhead a development bank for Chase in the Middle East.

“So, within the course of a week, I had to make a decision regarding whether I went down to the U.S. to be part of a Koch team that was already built or instead started to do something new with a blank sheet of paper,” recalls Henrickson.

After 4 years with Chase, he would join the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, where he led investment banking for nearly 5 years before accepting a CEO position with Standard Bank MENA.

In all, Henrickson’s Middle East career chapter would extend across 11 years, a span of time during which the Middle East’s appetite for financial services escalated along with the price of oil, which grew from roughly $9 a barrel at about the time of his arrival to a high of $149 per barrel, according to Henrickson.

He recalls: “The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) went from having a handful of Western-based financial institutions consisting of rep offices of between 2 and 10 people to growing overnight to eventually number some 1,500 employees. Dubai became the hub for the whole region.”

Asked for some pointers when it comes to doing business in the Middle East, Henrickson says that board members and company management need to be treated differently.

He remarks: “I remember that one board member from a large local investment house told me, ‘The biggest difference between a European investment banker and an American investment banker is that the European knows full well that he needs to come back every 3 months for a year or two before he would get a deal, while the American comes over, doesn’t get a deal, and leaves in frustration—for good.’”

Still, the biggest differences in business are in the thought processes, he explains.

“Leave your logic at the door—so much of it is knowing what makes the other person tick,” says Henrickson. –Jack Sweeney

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