Khaled Bassatne, the managing director of global independent energy trading company BB Energy, is a highly successful businessman and entrepreneur. The company employs more than 200 people worldwide and operates in countries including Greece, Africa, Dubai, USA, Afghanistan, Singapore, Lebanon, Turkey and the UK.
Born in Beirut in 1967, Khaled attended the city’s American school in his early years. Soon after, he emigrated to Greece in the 1970s due to the war in Lebanon. From there, he travelled around the world, attending boarding school in Switzerland and enjoying college in Greece before enrolling in university in Austin, Texas. Khaled studied and graduated from Saint Edward and the University of Texas at Austin with a double major in Economics and Finance and has fond memories of his first job working as a broker in New York. However, the attractions of the family business were soon calling him.
“I enjoyed my work as a broker, however the family business needed me and so I left New York and joined BB Energy in 1993,” he said. “I started out working in shipping before moving into risk management. I have worked in many roles within BB Energy because I felt it was very important to really know the business inside-out and understand the cogs which keep the wheels moving. I also moved around a lot, and as the business continued to grow I travelled to London, Houston, Singapore, Bahrain, Beirut and finally Dubai which is where I’ve resided for the last nine years.”
Khaled always wanted to work for his family business. He understands the challenges of working in such an environment, but as the current managing director for the MENA region, he thrives in his role.
“My role is very challenging, especially being a member of the family and having to earn the respect of more than 200 employees. I must always provide the best example to other members of the company, with hard work and following best practices.
“One of my biggest achievements at BB Energy has definitely been the launch of 3B – a subsidiary group of three companies organised as an integrated group for the trading of bitumen. The group is responsible for the investment in shipping terminals, sales of bitumen, supply chain management and procurement. It was something my grandfather had done at the company but we hadn’t looked at in many years. It was a great achievement to bring this service back to the company and see it prove successful. I have also led the company in its move into the agriculture sector and I look forward to seeing this grow.”
Khaled is the first to admit that his success is based on the hard work of a loyal team supporting him. He enjoys a strong relationship with each of his employees which has been nurtured through regular communication and delegation. He also notes the importance of including the wider team in company successes, as he believes that if employees can see the results they are creating, it will inspire them to continue to create work of the highest quality.
He credits his inspiration and drive to be a successful entrepreneur down to the founding members of BB Energy – his father Walid and Uncle Baha – along with his strong work ethic and friendship. “I always believe in honesty and hard work. In a high level position like mine you must always be prepared to put your neck on the line: it’s how I got to where I am. Friendships are also a huge factor to success, especially in the Middle Eastern culture where it is the basis for everything. My father always taught me to treat people well and create friendships in the industry that will last a lifetime.” He also attributes his success to following his strong instincts when it comes to business decisions and a willingness to take risks when necessary.
Khaled has a strong passion for his business and after more than 20 years with BB Energy he still enjoys the variety the job offers: dealing with different countries, different people and new projects on a daily basis. “I have a real opportunity to continue learning each day, which I think is very important and I’m constantly solving new problems and creating solutions to issues,” he said.
Away from his working life, Khaled is a family man who enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter whenever possible. He is also a keen tennis player and attends the gym to stay fit and active. He always likes to be surrounded by friends and family, and regularly enjoys entertaining at his home. “It is very important to have a balance between our work and personal lives. I find entertaining my friends and spending time with my family the most enjoyable parts of life.”
BB Energy is already a global player in its market, and Khaled looks forward to seeing it continue to grow even further as he regards this aspect as the most rewarding part of his job. “I would like to see BB Energy continue to grow on the trading side of the business. It would be great to see more terminals have downstream business and working with the major oil players. As a company, we set targets to grow by 15-20% each year and I hope this target is met with the expansion of new products and services,” he said.
“I find it is always better to grow in small steps each year opposed to setting unrealistic targets. This strategy has worked for us so far and we will continue to follow this module. The management team has a big role to play in growth but so do the teams behind it; without each employee playing their part, the company would not be where it is today.”
Khaled has a strong piece of advice for any young entrepreneur: learn from the experienced people around you. “The younger generation needs to always remember that they must start at the bottom and work their way up. Take the knowledge and experience from other members of staff around you and soak up all the information. If you want to be a CEO or a managing director one day, you must know all the smaller parts that make the big differences in a business.”