Cedar Rose, a digital transformation company in the MENA region has grown into a mature business ready to succeed in a post-Covid world. Christina Massaad, founder of Cedar Rose, reflects on her 20-year tenure as CEO and shares key lessons about managing remote teams.
What are the key characteristics that set Cedar Rose apart?
Cedar Rose is an innovative, proactive, agile, and dynamic business. My team has been transforming data for over 20 years while providing quality, reliable credit, and compliance solutions to our customers. Our passion is to be provocative market disruptors, combining hard-to-reach data and artificial intelligence with machine learning to create new markets. We will continue to invest in high-end translation technology, data standardization, and other related technologies, so that we have a multilingual, multifunctional, and comprehensive database that covers the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. This means that we can provide accurate global coverage for automated credit assessments and compliance assessments.
Cedar Rose's combination of innovation, future thinking, agility and years of experience - which includes coping with several regional disasters – gives it the edge it needs in order to survive and thrive following this unprecedented global crisis.
Cedar Rose has had to make it harder for Cedar Rose data collection and trends identification because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We had to adapt, just like most businesses. Cedar Rose has offices around the globe and employees who work remotely. Many of the team was based in Lebanon, where there were street protests even before the pandemic. They were used to working at home. The Business Continuity Committee met regularly to discuss crisis plans and prepare for disaster recovery. We have been through many crises thanks to our solid planning and preparation, including the war in Lebanon in 2006, the long-lasting power outages in Cyprus (2011) and the economic crisis (2013). We had prepared for all possible outcomes and had a committee to supervise the transition to home-based work. Working from home initially made it difficult to do outreach and research as many companies and government offices were closed. Within a matter of weeks, most organizations had caught up. This was also due to the fact that a large portion of our revenue comes now from automated online solutions, which have not been affected by the Covid crisis.
Unprecedented events will improve predictive analysis because there is more historical data. Unfortunately, several sources suggest that climate change could lead to more pandemics in future. However, each one of us, whether we are governments, businesses, or individuals, has a better understanding of how to respond next time.
How did the pandemic affect your operations in the MENA (Middle East, North Africa), region? What lessons can you share with business leaders?
It all depends on where you live. The pandemic, for example, exacerbated one the most severe economic crises in Lebanon. The United Arab Emirates, on the other hand, handled the pandemic very well. When I visited Dubai in March 2020, hand sanitizer was available at every lift and reception desk. Visitors from high-risk nations were also tested at the airports.
While many MENA countries have seen a rapid increase in digitalization, ecommerce, and compliance over the last year, this has also resulted in increased fraud. It is important to enforce stricter compliance standards alongside any e-commerce or neobanking technology. Most MENA countries have adopted stricter anti-money laundering laws and counter-terrorism financing laws. Business leaders need to know who they are lending credit to or paying. It is also important to determine if the ultimate beneficiaries or companies are located within high-risk countries. Automated checks were not available in the MENA area a few years back, but today KYC/KYB, credit and compliance checks can be done quickly and inexpensively.
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If you want to avoid problems such as strokes and heart disease, there is an easy way.
Get more fruits and vegetables.
Whole grains are better than refined ones. Brown rice is better than white. Switch to whole-wheat pasta
Consider lean proteins such as poultry, fish and beans.
Reduce your intake of processed foods, sugar, salt, saturated fat, and other unhealthy food.
Flexibility is key to eating well, according to Joyce Meng, MD assistant professor at UConn Health's Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center. You can follow a strict diet plan if you prefer. It's okay if you don't like following a strict diet plan.
Tricia Montgomery (52), founder of K9 Fit Club knows firsthand the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Her favorite things are eating healthy food and making small, frequent meals. She says, "I don’t deny myself anything." "I still enjoy dessert, key lime pie, yum!" -- I love frozen gummy bears and moderation is the key.
Get regular checkups. Your doctor will keep track of your medical history so that you can stay healthy. If you are at high risk of osteoporosis (a condition that weakens bones), your doctor may recommend more vitamin D and calcium.
You may be recommended by your doctor to have screening tests done to monitor your health and detect conditions before they become serious.
Be open to communication. Meng said, "If you have any questions, ask your doctor." "Ensure you are satisfied with the information." Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about any medication or procedure.
It can be very detrimental to your health. It is impossible to avoid it all, but there are ways you can reduce the effects. Do not take on too many responsibilities. Set limits for yourself and others. It is okay to say no.
To relieve stress, try:
Talking to a friend or family member.
Develop healthy habits
You can prevent problems from coming your way tomorrow if you make the right decisions today.
Brush your teeth twice daily and floss each day.
Limit your alcohol. Limit your alcohol intake to 1 drink per day.
Take your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
Get better sleep. Try to sleep for at least 8 hours. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping.
Keep out of direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Wear your seatbelt.
Meng suggests that you take time each day to invest in your own health.
Montgomery was able to see the benefits. Montgomery says that she has overcome health issues, is happy, and has a positive outlook. She says that her life has been forever transformed.