Ahmed Mansour, the 32-year-old engineer and CEO of real estate company, Castle Development, is taking over the reins of the company from his father, and is quickly emerging into a real estate tycoon. He joined the company after earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport and graduated second in his class. eniGma’s Reem Tamo sat with Mansour to hear alll about his story.
Mansour has great admiration for his father, Taha Mansour, who has always been his biggest inspiration. His father is Chairman of Castle Development and its sister companies, Masrya International Group (MIG) and Ashi & Bushnag Company (ABC); both sister companies are renowned construction firms.
“He passed on the know-how of the business to me. While he is very strict, he is also a very pleasant personality. Everyone who works with him absolutely loves him, and this is not an easy thing to achieve. He’s very passionate about his work, and very precise with his likes and dislikes. I really appreciate that. I value his integrity and dedication to his work very much,” says Mansour about his father’s legacy.
His father’s partner and managing director of the companies, Mohamed Idrees, also provided Mansour with much inspiration. Although Idrees is the complete opposite of Ahmed’s father, their personalities complement one another. “For the longest time I was trying to decide which of them I wanted to be, then I realised that I just had to focus on myself, and to be myself. I ended up being deeply inspired and influenced by both of them while being true to myself and who I am as a person. I am hopeful that with my own unique character, which has benefited from both individuals, I can lead Castle Development in the right direction,” says Mansour.
When Mansour first graduated, it was assumed that he would work in the already established companies, MIG and ABC, however, he opted to start fresh and pursued jobs in different multinational companies for experience before joining Castle Development. “ABC was very big after I graduated, so by default I was expected to work there. I didn’t want to continue working in Saudi and I had this urge of wanting to start doing something for my country and putting all of my capabilities into making my country grow again after the revolution. I am very enthusiastic,” shared Mansour.
Ahmed took it upon himself to establish Castle Landmark in Egypt. He is very determined to get what he wants and does not take no for an answer. He actually went about physically knocking on the doors of government entities with proposals of working together. “I like doing everything myself and don’t like to have things simply brought to me. But one of my experiences in trying to find work when I first started really depressed me. One time, I went to someone I wanted to do business with, and he kicked me out of his office. Even though I was very upset, I showed up at his door again the next morning. To this day, this man comes up to me and wants us to do business together,” says Mansour, who firmly believes that you must struggle to reach what you want.
Mansour is a dedicated businessman who leaves no stone unturned. Even though his company has been in the market for less than two years, it is already a force to be reckoned with. One of his main strategies that has helped his company’s rise to prominence is its use of distinctive raw materials of higher quality than those used by other companies in the field. His sister construction companies also have the reputation of always finishing their work early, before their expected deadlines. “I didn’t expect even a fraction of what we have amounted to through Castle Development; we’ve only been in the market for less than two years and I know we’re not one of the biggest ten companies in the country, but it’s something that I aspire to accomplish in the near future. I’ve been hearing very positive feedback about Castle Landmark. I think it has a lot to do with desire, hope and envisioning your dreams,” says Mansour.
“Engineers think differently; they analyze everything, especially in business related aspects. I think most of the greatest businessmen in Egypt are originally engineers,” notes Mansour. He stresses that engineers have a particular way of thinking and have a knack for making insightful calculations, not only when embarking on a new project, but also when assessing people and businesses. Having been always good at math and art while growing up, Mansour decided to go into the engineering field because he saw that in this field, he could use both his love of numbers as well as his talent in drawing. Even though his family was in the field of construction and engineering, there was absolutely no pressure on Mansour to pursue engineering. What drove him towards this field was solely his own passion.
Emphasising that the road to success starts with big dreams, Mansour notes, “By envisioning your dreams, you’ll be able to manifest them. In order to achieve what you want, you must first imagine your ambitions as the light at the end of the tunnel, assess how to get there, and forcefully head towards that ray of light.” Mansour stresses that anything is possible if a person has conviction; there is nothing that is impossible, both personally or businesswise. However, he emphasises the need for each person to understand where he currently stands in a situation in order to know what needs to be done, and where he ultimately wants to be. “I can’t reach the top if I don’t know where I currently stand, but if I know where I rank and have trust in what I’m capable of, then there’s nothing that can stop me,” says Mansour.
In his office, Mansour likes things done in a very specific manner with great attention to detail. He values having his staff work in a healthy environment, while maintaining the best office vibes for optimum performance. His focus on employing young people and fresh graduates means that there are always fresh ideas being introduced and that the level of passion in the work enviroment remains high. Much of the company’s success is also a result of his friendly relations with his staff, forming friendships with them that extend beyond official working hours.
Mansour’s youthful staff bring tremendous energy and have a positive effect on his company. His young associates share his enthusiastic attitude and welcome introducing new ideas relevant to the constantly changing market. “The creativity and young spirited minds these people bring into the workplace provide incomparable energy that really benefits the way we do business,” says Mansour. At the same time, Mansour appreciates the experience which the company’s older generation brings, and he stresses the importance of the mutual respect that exists between older and younger staff, with everyone realising the benefits of working together. As a side note, Mansour jokes that “Egyptians are very smart, sometimes too smart for their own benefit; they produce efficient results when they put their brains to their work and stay away from personal issues.”
Focusing on the Egyptian real estate market with its many well-established developers was obviously challenging for Mansour at first. However, the fierce competition just meant he had to work harder and be more creative. While some developers are hesitant to work with the government, Mansour saw that as an opportunity that led to his huge project in Cairo’s New Administrative Capital. “I could not have made a better decision,” he states. His philosophy is that if you use everything to your advantage, keep your eyes on half of the cup that is full, you advance yourself and others around you.
While he enjoys working on different types of projects, Mansour notes that he derives more satisfaction from commercial rather than residential projects, even though the latter are generally more profitable. He particularly enjoys working on business plazas.
Despite his dedication to his work, Mansour is also a family man who loves spending time with his family at his home. His hobbies include many sports that include squash, kung fu, mixed martial arts and football. He also enjoys going on biking trips and has been going on a morning ride every Friday with a group of his friends for over eight years.
“I’m very dedicated to my job and like to always supervise all details affecting my business to ensure optimum quality. If I have a fear that drives me, it would have to be the fear of failure, and I don’t mean failure in terms of money. I feel that my ambition to succeed drives me to always push myself to excel,” says Mansour.
Photography: Khaled Fadda
Styling: Hoda Wahby