Mohed Altrad is a Syrian-born French billionaire entrepreneur and chairman of Montpellier-based Altrad Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of scaffolding and cement mixers. He has a net worth of $1.12 billion. In 2015, he was named World Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young, an awards ceremony held in Monaco’s Salle des Etoiles. Mohed Altrad was picked from among the 65 country winners. He has overcome a very challenging upbringing in order to reach this stage of success.
Mohed Altrad faced many hardships in his life but he never let that become an obstacle in his path to success. He was born in Syria. He does not know the date of his birth, only that he was probably born in the year 1948. His father was the leader of a Bedouin tribe. His mother was a poor woman who was raped by this same man and passed away soon after his birth. Altrad was disowned by his father at a young age. He had no one to rely on except for his grandparents.
As a child, Altrad was raised in impoverished conditions and his grandmother could only give him enough education to work as a shepherd in the desert. Orphans face many challenges in obtaining an education and the same could be said for Mohed Altrad, who was very interested in learning but could not afford to go to school. Fortunately for Altrad, he was adopted by a couple who supported him until he earned a scholarship to study at the University of Montpellier. He did not hesitate to grab this opportunity and moved to France in 1969 although he did not know a word of French. Altrad did not let that hinder his education. He worked hard to get a PhD in computer science.
Later, he began working for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. But Altrad had the urge to attain more independence for himself and his business pursuits – an urge which eventually led to him saving enough money to buy a bankrupt scaffolding manufacturer in southern France with a partner in 1985. This was merely a small scaffolding company, but over the course of 30 years this business has grown to a total of 170 companies and evolved to become a $200 million profit a year. The most recent acquisition was a rival Dutch company that Altrad managed to absorb, doubling the size of his own company, and substantially increasing his personal net worth.
Today, Altrad Group is the employer of over 7,000 people. Mohed Altrad has built a hugely successful, fast-growing international business and is now one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs. His ability to build and sustain growth over 30 years is impressive. Aside from business, Mohed Altrad is also a writer. His interest in learning and expanding his knowledge never faded. He has published 3 novels and 3 essays so far. Most notably his autobiographical novel Badawi was published in 2002 and is currently official reading in French public schools.