Ahmed Detta envisions a day where recycling is habitual and people no longer need to think about how or where to recycle, but rather recycling becomes a part of their behavior and a task they complete with little thought and effort. Ahmed is on a mission to help individuals, governments and companies reach the point where recycling becomes part of their everyday lives, and he is already making an impact as CEO and Founder of Enviroo.
A Look at the Company’s Services
Enviroo is a PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) plastics recycling company. PET plastic is a material that is used for food and beverage handling. Enviroo takes the used and discarded plastic waste bottles and other PET plastic materials and processes the plastic to create flakes. The flakes are then turned into food grade polymers. The pellets are used to create a pre-mold which bottlers and food manufacturers use to create bottles again. Many brands are working towards net zero, and it will soon become a global leglislation for companies to use the recycled polymer.
Taking the Leap of Faith
Ahmed was inspired to take the leap of faith and become a CEO after experiencing inadequate management and poor bosses in the past. He did not like how some of his bosses handled business and how they dealt with difficult situations. At times, he felt like he was a successful employee, but his accomplishments were not recognized and undermind. Ahmed was tired of witnessing this behavior and no longer wanted to be part of someone else’s agenda. Too often he saw politics in the workplace and even got wrapped up in political situations himself, that he did not enjoy. The combination of all these negative experiences sparked the fire inside him to run a business himself where he would be able to lead with his ethics, model, and outlook.
The Journey that Led Ahmed to Enviroo
Ahmed graduated from Lancaster University Management School with a degree in Marketing. He then went on to study at the University of Cambridge, where he studied Sustainable Business. Ahmed is currently working on his Executive MBA at Quantic, one of the leading online schools. Ahmed started his career in England working for a Cisco Systems reseller. The reseller was a Gold Partner and Ahmed was involved in massive IT infrastructure projects and other technology projects, as well as working on green data centers and sustainable technology. After that, he moved to the Middle East to evolve his sustainability and recycling career. Ahmed initially went to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates to set up a mobile phone collections business called The Green Foundation. He then left to do work with electronics recycling, looking at wider IT equipment for the region. Afterward, he founded a consultancy that oversaw the feasibility of a PET recycling facility in the Middle East.
Early in his career, Ahmed describes the emotional struggle between the level of guilt he felt being a successful salesperson and earning a lot of money, but not seeing its value to society. Ahmed’s parents are philanthropical and always gave back to others, so working in sales while flying all over the world, left him feeling empty. He knew there was more to life than that, which is why he began his work in recycling. When he started recycling mobile phones, the profits were used for charity, specifically children who were needing cleft palate surgery. He started a campaign called “Give a Child a Smile for Life” and he felt really fulfilled, which ended up being a turning point in his career. He finally felt that he could make a profit and feel good, knowing he was helping others. This is what Ahmed considers the turning point and has led him to where he is today.
Adversity is Part of Being Successful
Ahmed views success as holistic. He explains how success is not only an individual achievement but involves the entire team. As a CEO, Ahmed does not view success as only creating a profitable business. Success to Ahmed is also ensuring that health, mindset, and well-being are all in-tune and making sure his team is happy and feels successful in their personal and professional life. Success is not driven by financial gain or monetary reward, but it encompasses the achievements of everything that goes into the business and includes all involved.
Ahmed agrees that challenges can make people stronger and that adversity is part of being successful. Most people have experienced challenges, trauma, and setbacks that ultimately make them feel grateful for what they have, and that gratitude can help drive them towards success each day. Ahmed explains how roadblocks are necessary in every journey to teach us to appreciate the journey. Personally, roadblocks have taught Ahmed to always continue, persevere, and remain relentless. Whether it is relationships, the workplace, or life in general, challenges cannot be avoided. However, to grow, individuals must experience growth pains. Additionally, throughout each journey, one needs to really accept that everybody is bound to make mistakes. Ahmed explains how we must learn from those mistakes without attaching ourselves to them. We cannot dwell on our mistakes but must learn from them to continue to grow as individuals.
Growth Under his Guidance
Ahmed’s biggest contribution since taking over the company is his strategic vision. He is determined to make a change, and he is focused on growing the company. Growth to Ahmed means growth in all areas – regional growth across geographical regions, growth in products, and growth in the impact the company has, including socially, by providing jobs, and by helping the environment by reducing the amount of plastic material hitting landfills and oceans. The key contribution that Ahmed provides is the consistent implementation of his vision, including the social impact, economic impact, environmental impact, and financial prosperity.
A Day as CEO
On a typical day, after a consuming a strong coffee, Ahmed begins with checking in on his team, making sure everybody is on form. He then prioritizes his day, which can range from talking to investors and updating them on progress or talking to suppliers on trials and product material. He also remains in contact with his shareholders who help the business develop and grow. Although his tasks change day-to-day, he is always focused on ensuring the company is delivering on the business goals and that everybody is in the right frame of mind, because without a team, business goals will not be met and delivered. If Ahmed could describe himself in one word, it would be persistent, as he never gives up. He is clear on the vision of the company and what he wants to achieve, and he is determined to keep working until he gets there.
Ahmed always plans his week ahead on Sunday night, by writing out his to-do lists on paper. He has a daily to-do list that he follows and checks off tasks as he goes. This helps keep him focused, as he finds it advantageous to visually see that he has accomplished work tasks so that he can shift his focus to his personal life, including spending time with family, friends, and enjoying personal activities. Ahmed remains dedicated to his daily to-do lists to maintain balance. To keep his staff motivated, he continuously checks in with them and remains empathetic, as he believes everybody has their own challenges and personal circumstances. For example, some team members have family and children and must drop off and pick up children from school. Ahmed understands that and is considerate of the various situations of his staff. Ahmed remains dedicated to checking in regularly, having open conversations, and understanding each staff’s environment to not put too much pressure on them. He describes empathy as his biggest accolade as CEO to keep his team motivated each day.
Staying Ahead of Competition
Enviroo differentiates themselves from the competition by listening to their customers. Their customers involve a wide range of stakeholders ranging from consumers who buy the end product (bottles) to the manufacturers who produce them and everybody in between including government departments and consumers. Enviroo strives to understand their customers’ challenges to improve their products and the outcome. Most of the company’s competitors are larger global conglomerates who tend to take longer to meet market requirements. Enviroo is a nimble, agile corporation backed by private equity funding that understands the growth and nature of the industry. Therefore, they can react quickly to the market and release a product quickly. The company is focused on PET plastic and is beginning to look at PP (polypropylene) plastic. Other than that, they are not looking to diversify their portfolio much further, because they feel like they would struggle to provide long-term solutions. Remaining focused on two or three key products allows the company to continue to deliver with excellence.
Waste and Recycling Leader of the Year
Enviroo has received several awards including the most innovative recycling business and most disruptive companies in the UK for thinking around recycling. Ahmed was also recognized as Waste and Recycling Leader of the Year. He considers that as one of the best recognitions as he is one of the youngest people in the recycling industry, which people tend to often disregard him due to his age. However, he believes the industry needs younger people, as the younger generation reflects future generations, and it is important for the future generations to preserve the environment while keeping up with trends and our fast-paced society. Ahmed wants to continue to encourage a diverse range of people to get involved in recycling, which is why this particular award meant so much to him.
As he looks ahead, Ahmed envisions creating a series of recycling plants across the UK and creating a blueprint for the product they are creating, as well as create additional product sets as part of the portfolio, and then he would like to look at expanding across Europe. As a business leader, he would like to be considered as one of the key people that makes recycling easy for society. He wants to help ease the recycling challenges and to be a leader that helps make people aware and conscious that recycling is not a difficult thing to do, and that it does make a difference to society and the environment when we participate in recycling.