Inspirational Leaders – Tony Bury

I first met Tony just over 10 years ago when I was invited to his home in Dorset to review the strategy for his business in Dubai. It was at Tony’s invitation that I first went to Dubai, and then stayed, working for him.

His career is stellar and varied and it is easier to let his resume talk for itself:

Tony was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, educated in the UK, but has spent most of his life living and working overseas, particularly in the Middle East. Tony is a serial entrepreneur and has established 18 start-ups.  Having exited from the majority of these businesses, he still maintains private equity shareholdings in a range of businesses including consultancy, energy, trading, engineering, and industrial services.

I worked for Tony at his business in Dubai and I think we had a good working relationship for the two or three years we were together. Not least our working hours dovetailed. There was a time when I was producing complex financial models of the business for Tony to review.

I have already mentioned my preference to work through the night and get up late. Tony is the total opposite. He was early to bed and wakes with the sun, or sometimes earlier, but normally just a couple of hours after I had sent him the latest drafts and updates. I knew when I woke there would be a response and new scenarios to evaluate. In a very busy period, it was almost continuous 24-hour progress.

Tony was a ferociously hard worker and I assume that hasn’t changed much.

The business I worked in, in Dubai centred all around Tony. It was his company, a company he had founded and developed. It was a company he owned and being the centre took its toll and was tiring. None of the 20 or 30 so people who worked for him could keep up with his pace.

This was the driver for the first of the metamorphoses I saw. That complex model I was working on was to distribute the shareholdings and power in the firm to the staff.

That business was in oil and gas project support. We should take the story forward again in his own resume.

In 2008, Tony founded Mowgli Mentoring (previously known as Mowgli Foundation) in response to the need for job creation, sustainable economic and leadership development, particularly in the MENA region and UK. Tony strongly credits his success to the mentoring that he has received throughout his personal and business life and believes that every entrepreneur should have access to this support.

In Mowgli, a not-for-profit organisation, he is giving back his own experiences to a wider but far less privileged group. I have no hesitation quoting directly from their website.

Established in 2008 to support the Middle East and North Africa region in reaching its ’80-100m jobs by 2020’ goal, Mowgli Mentoring was founded by Tony Bury, a serial entrepreneur who had spent over 40 years in the MENA region, to catalyse the support and development of successful and sustainable entrepreneurship in the region. Mowgli also focuses on the development of leadership and supporting entrepreneurship ecosystems as a critical solution to the region’s unemployment, poverty, and economic challenges.

I follow avidly the progress of Mowgli and before I move on, I encourage everyone to see what they do. Here is the link

We haven’t met again for a few years, but I am sure his capacity for hard work remains enormous, but this is not the source of inspiration. He has many business achievements that in themselves are noteworthy, but what inspires me most his capacity to keep reinventing himself.

I don’t know the full history of Mowgli, but I can guess what happened. Tony was probably reading and reading some more and became angry with the injustices he read about, and decided to do something about it.

We have all done that, but the difference between you, me and Tony is that he did something. I presume that he put in some seed capital, but I know that this isn’t a vanity project and will be properly funded and self-sustaining.

Tony has done this many time over his career and that is the real inspiration.

In a world where change is pervasive and young people will have multiple careers Tony is a role model. To reinvent yourself in a business career once is hard enough. To do it many times is an inspiration.