Dated: 13-12-2018

 “We have a great purpose at Ecolab: to make the world cleaner, safer and healthier – protecting people and vital resources.”

- Hulya Ibrahim, Vice President & General Manager, Ecolab MEA Institutional

Over the past two years, Ecolab has been a pioneer in water-food-hygiene and energy industries across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. Last year, the company acquired Arpal Group, a UK-based company specialising in hygiene solutions across both the UK and UAE. This year, in line with Ecolab’s ongoing regional expansion, Hulya Ibrahim joined as Vice President and General Manager Institutional at Ecolab MEA. Hulya leads the institutional MEA team after 20 years with Ecolab, across its diverse markets. Clean Middle East speaks to Hulya about her journey so far and the growing MEA market.

You’ve recently taken over the role of Vice President and General Manager Institutional, Ecolab Middle East and Africa. Tell us a bit about your professional background.

I started my career with Ecolab more than 25 years ago - at the time as a chemist in R&D. Over the years, I have held many sales and general management roles in our Institutional and Textile Care divisions. In 2012, I was heading up our business in Turkey, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine. A year later, I was appointed Managing Director of Turkey, and subsequently as Turkey’s Vice President and Market Head.

Throughout my career, I have always been interested to learn more about our customers and their challenges on a day-to-day basis. This has been my motivation to identify and offer value-added products and services that address our customers’ needs and make their lives easier.

Looking back, I believe my career has been filled with learning, inspiration and fulfilment. We have a great purpose at Ecolab: to make the world cleaner, safer and healthier – protecting people and vital resources. It makes me very happy to work at a company where we make a difference every day.

What do you see as the key trends and market dynamics in hygiene and food safety in the region’s hospitality industries?

Building knowledge around food safety, hygiene and sanitization remains a priority. Our mission at Ecolab – regardless of trends and shifting market dynamics – is to continue to be the leading global innovator, developer and provider of cleaning, sanitation and maintenance products, systems and services.

Interesting to note is that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), ranks only behind Africa and South-East Asia in shouldering the third-highest estimated burden of foodborne diseases. While such diseases rank amongst the world’s most preventable illnesses, a recent WHO report revealed almost one in 10 people globally contract a food-related illness every year.

In places like Dubai, for instance - a significant hub for tourism, hospitality, fast food and fine dining - Ecolab helps protect public health and mitigate food safety risks. While there is a huge growth opportunity for many companies in the region, public health and food safety risks cannot be downplayed. The sheer number of guests, the increasingly global supply chain of food, and varying levels of knowledge about food safety, hygiene and sanitization present enormous risks - with significant repercussions.

Ecolab is in a great position to help companies with their food safety and hygiene concerns. Annually, we help clean more than 40 billion hands and delight guests with more than 800 million clean hotel rooms. We help clean more than 110 million loads of linen, support clean kitchens, serve 45 billion restaurant meals and prevent 1 million foodborne illnesses.

How are Ecolab’s products and solutions different?

Ecolab is a total solution provider. We have an unparalleled portfolio of more than 8,700 innovative, patented products. Our impactful products help improve employee hygiene practices and sanitize equipment used to process, prepare or serve food, as well as detergents and cleansers to sanitize a variety of surfaces. The difference we make does not end with just our product portfolio, our team consists of some of the sector’s most experienced and highly trained field experts, who work on-site in partnership with our customers to implement cutting-edge food safety procedures and solutions. We combine best-in-class technology with world-class service capabilities. Ecolab works behind the scenes, so our customers succeed in the front – ensuring we protect our customers’ brands and reputations. This is our mindset across the many industries we serve.

Last December, Ecolab acquired UAE-based Arpal Gulf (part of UK-based Arpal). How has this acquisition changed your presence here in UAE?

Not only do we now have a bigger footprint in the market, we have gained the scale needed to better serve our customers. We can now offer an even more comprehensive portfolio of value-added products and solutions. Arpal’s expertise in commercial catering in the Middle East helps build on our segment leadership aspirations. Ecolab’s global reach in corporate accounts presents a great opportunity. Our “Cleaner, Safer, Healthier” platforms enable product and equipment innovation, customer and employee training, and enhanced customer service capabilities.