Chief Legal Officer
As a critical member of a business’ executive team, a Chief Legal Officer helps organizations navigate the complex legal landscape, minimize risks, protect assets, and ensure legal compliance, all while contributing to the overall success and strategic direction of the company. Acting as strategic partners, aligning legal considerations with the company's objectives and collaborating across departments, the role of a Chief Legal Officer is pivotal in shaping a company's trajectory, creating policies, negotiating contracts, handling disputes, and staying ahead of legal trends. Having pursued a law degree from the University of Jordan in 1993. Omar Shteiwi, assumed the position of Chief Legal Officer with Abdul Latif Jameel in 2W014, where he continues to contribute his expertise and leadership to shape the organization's legal landscape. Let’s hear more from him in this below interaction.
Provide a concise overview of your professional history and journey. What initially led you to pursue a career in the legal field, and what motivates you today as a prominent figure in the industry?
Originating from a rural village in the northern region of Jordan, I studied for 12 years before I embarked on my legal education at Jordan University, culminating in graduation in 1993. Subsequently, I attained registration with the Jordanian Bar Association, marking the initiation of my diverse legal trajectory within Munir Sukhtian Group. This phase witnessed my role as a lawyer and litigator, advocating before various courts until 2004. My journey then transitioned to the UAE, where I undertook the mantle of Regional IP Advisor at Nestle Middle East. This trajectory evolved to my tenure as Head of Legal, Compliance, and Corporate Governance MENA till 2014, followed by assuming the position of Chief Compliance Officer at Abdul Latif Jameel ('ALJ') in Saudi Arabia until 2018. I am continuing serving in ALJ as Chief Legal Officer, directly reporting to the Vice President who is leading ALJ’s Legal Solutions Centre, undertaking extensive roles across international and diverse business sectors, centered in Dubai.
My affinity for the legal profession traces back to my formative years, driven by a desire to offer counsel and a sense of empathy towards others. I am grateful for opportunities to collaborate with remarkable proprietors, partners, great business owners, leaders and colleagues who have propelled me towards contentment and self-assurance. I believe that unwavering education is pivotal in delivering exceptional outcomes, channeling focused strategies systematically. My inner strength reflects my achievements and ambition, and it allows me to surpass obstacles that I have never imagined I could. This left me with many memories over years. I work with passion and deliver with love, generous in gratitude to others, and regardless of the circumstance.
How can you characterize the ALJ’s Legal Solutions Centre and its present standing within the market?
The ALJ Legal Solution Center stands as the primary protection line for ALJ's operations. Through collaborative engagements with business leaders and cooperative integration with other shared services and support functions, it facilitates the collective success of the entire ALJ workforce. Drawing from a wealth of experienced legal leadership and team members and comprehensive market awareness, I am resolute in asserting that the ALJ Legal Solution Center occupies a pioneering role, delivering unparalleled in-house legal services across all ALJ entities in Dubai and the region. By offering essential updates to ALJ’s diversified business scoters, the ALJ Legal Solution Center acts as a gateway to excellence, propelling a competitive advantage through its inhouse legal services. Connecting with my colleagues within the ALJ Legal Solutions Centre is essential to developing and maintaining a high-functioning and interacting environment. These practices have proven best outcome to overcome challenges, understand the business needs and deliver qualified, quantified, sustainable legal services and drive organic values to ALJ entire business units across the globe.
Could you please share your leadership approach with us? What principles or methodologies do you follow as a leader?
I come from a simple background, raised by loving parents and surrounded by caring siblings who instilled in me a range of admirable qualities, such as compassion, inner strength, and gratitude. Additionally, I approach my leadership role with a strong sense of self-respect and a commitment to treating everyone equally, without any form of discrimination. Over time, I've worked diligently to overcome selfishness and suppress my ego. Before making any decisions or taking action, I always take a moment to reflect, much like pausing on a balcony before stepping onto the dance floor. I firmly believe that simplicity is a key aspect of effective leadership, and it's crucial not to let one's ego cloud their judgment. Respect for others and maintaining an optimistic outlook are central principles that guide me in achieving positive outcomes. Caring for the wellbeing of others is a fundamental aspect of our shared human nature, and I believe in nurturing this quality. It's essential for individuals to grow while never losing sight of their humanity values.
Reflecting on my 28 years of experience in the legal field, I can summarize my personal leadership style as follows: A legal professional's greatest strength lies in treating clients with genuine care, as if they were your own children. Recognizing that a significant portion of knowledge is acknowledging what one doesn't know drives me to continually seek learning and expand my knowledge base. Additionally, I prioritize personal growth and improvement, constantly working on refining my own behavior.
Taking a different perspective, I encourage others to flourish and develop their leadership abilities. I firmly believe in eliminating selfishness and ego, as these traits can hinder success. Ultimately, serving as a guide for aspiring leaders is a cornerstone of my leadership philosophy.
How do you ensure that you stay wellinformed about current industry trends in order to guide your organization towards future success?
My approach involves several key elements. Firstly, I consider reading as the foundation for staying informed. It's through reading that I gain valuable insights into industry developments. Secondly, I view learning as a vital tool for empowerment, enabling me to adapt and grow in a rapidly evolving landscape. Additionally, I actively engage in searching for information and seeking guidance from my boss, peers and external experts in the field. These actions are akin to the bread and butter of my knowledge acquisition process.
Furthermore, I emphasize the importance of execution, but only after a thorough risk assessment has been conducted. It's in the execution phase that the rewards of my efforts come to fruition. I also advocate for embracing new technologies and incorporating effective planning, leveraging methods with proven track records.
I firmly believe in the concept of 'brain blooming', recognizing that each person possesses a unique skill set that can be expanded through a commitment to learning and a willingness to absorb knowledge from those colleagues around me. Ultimately, my approach involves aligning the execution of our organization's broader strategy with the collaborative efforts of our teams. This synergy is what allows us to proactively anticipate the future and navigate it successfully.
Tell us about the obstacles you confronted while establishing yourself as a accomplished leader within the legal sphere? How did you navigate these challenges to ultimately achieve success?
I must acknowledge that persistent challenges have been a constant presence, yet I approached these hurdles as invaluable learning experiences rather than insurmountable barriers. A guiding principle that resonates with me is that no one can master every domain; instead, the key lies in identifying experts for specific matters. This perspective guides me to swiftly respond to situations and stay informed about the latest developments, thus maintaining the integrity of my work and ensuring solid outcomes. Engaging in open dialogues with my team, seeking advice from top-tier external service providers – these tried-andtrue strategies have proven effective in surmounting challenges.
I firmly believe that the success of a legal leader is not an isolated endeavor. I believe that business leaders are nowadays much more aware of the high importance of the legal team as business success enablers, this should be taken more serious and business leaders should ensure that the responsible legal person is thoroughly informed and actively engaged right from the inception of any business project. This synergy emerges as a critical catalyst for mitigating risks and achieving outstanding results.
What lies ahead as your ultimate destination in the foreseeable future?
I have consistently aspired for continual growth of both myself and the ALJ Legal Solution Center. This is achieved through synergistic collaboration with my accomplished boss and colleagues and by providing unparalleled legal guidance to our esteemed clients within ALJ. I am driven by the aspiration to contribute towards the company's augmentation, generating sustainable benefits for shareholders. At this juncture in my professional journey, I find contentment in my current position. As I navigate the path ahead, my aspiration remains unaltered: to cultivate growth, collaboration, and excellence, both personally and for the ALJ Legal Solution Center and at a wider level, for all our clients in ALJ globally.
Omar Shteiwi, Chief Legal Officer, Abdul Latif Jameel
Omar Shteiwi Earned His Law Degree From The University Of Jordan In 1993 And Licensed Lawyer Since 1996. He Garnered Experience At Munir Sukhtian Group And Nestle Before Founding With Others And Leading The Brand Owners Protection Group In 2005 Till 2014. Since 2014, He Has Held A Role Of Chief Legal Officer At Abdul Latif Jameel.