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Interview with Founders of Real Hands-On ~ Maha Nagaty & Yasser Ghoneimy

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Interviewer: Mariham Magdy

Publisher: Ahmed Mohamed Hassan

Introduction:

First of all I would like to express you my great pleasure to make this interview with you both.

Throughout my career I got to attend different training courses with different agencies here in Cairo, and although I can admit that I learnt a solid knowledge from all of them, however the practical experience I got to learn from “Real Hands-On” courses has really played a great role in enhancing my professional experience &  career.

I got really curious & enthusiastic to learn more about “Real Hands-On” Co-founders story & how were they able to provide their courses attendees’ with such impactful learning experience.

1- HR Revolution Middle East: Can you tell us the story behind Real Hands-On foundation? 

Yasser: Building on more than 15 years of experience in the training industry, we identified untapped areas of real learning in most of the HR functions, especially after meeting lots of HR people who went through several training courses, certifications or diplomas, yet they really miss the hands-on part! A training program that enriches their technical practice in their day-to-day activities and gives them the real hands-on know-how and secrets of skillful practice, not only the theory behind it, from real Subject Matter Experts of the field. So we decided to make this happen and bring an exceptional HR learning house to the Egyptian market. And that’s why we decided then our slogan to be “When Theory Doesn’t Do”, the market had enough studying high-level approaches and theories, and needed some unrevealed tips of application.

2- HR Revolution Middle East: What was your vision when you decided to found Real Hands-On?

Yasser: We have a big belief that the HR people have great impact on growing & steering the business in the current dynamic economical setting. We had a very clear vision to equip our clients with robust, advanced and practical approaches, to assist them as well as their organizations to grow, by identifying the learning gaps and bringing the Subject Matter Experts around the globe, making this exceptional learning experience not only available to the Egyptian and Middle East market but also at a very competitive investment.

3- HR Revolution Middle East: What were the initial challenges you met at the beginning of Real Hands-On foundation? How were you able to overcome?

Yasser: We were not satisfying an existing learning need in the market, we rather had to create the need, we created the awareness of the new training programs in HR and their impact, programs that elevate your perspective as a forward-thinking HR practitioner, a true Business Partner who is most valued and invited by the Top Management. Another challenge is that we had to work on the somehow existing stereotyping that a learning program is only valuable if it’s accredited from some historical body, but overtime this mindset is changing, people who attend our programs tell their friends how this training saved years of trials for them, how concise and rich in information it is. People now are beginning to search for real learning rather than just certifications or titles.

4- HR Revolution Middle East: How do you succeed to abide to the realistic realization of your vision?

Maha: We plan a lot and as we said we have a clear vision, with defined milestones yet while we are moving forward towards our goals, we have the flexibility to respond to the ever-changing business dynamics.

5- HR Revolution Middle East: How do you choose your annual training strategy to be unique in the market?

Maha: Our reference has always been the international market as well the business dynamics and their need, we do not necessarily follow the local training direction or provide a program just cause it has great demand, and that explains why our training menu lacks some of the “Must haves” for any training firm let alone an HR training provider, the Egyptian market is saturated with all those HR diplomas and basic HR learning courses. We only provide eye-opening experiences, programs that would make you want to revisit and reassess how things were done before, or programs that immensely answers all the Hows and Whys that you have ever come across in the domain in question.

6- HR Revolution Middle East: What challenges you still meet today in the market?

Maha: Hmmm where do we start J There definitely are some challenges just like any other field, but in a way we actually enjoy working on those challenges, it keeps on reminding us how strong we are. Some have to do for instance with the training budgets in the market given the economic situation, but then again companies now started to realize that the less money you have, the more skilled you need your manpower to be, you need your employee to learn how to work smarter & not waste any resources or potential opportunities, no room for errors.
Other challenges have to do with how some clients are skeptical or worried that short-duration professional workshops or certifications are less informative than a long program or a 1 year diploma, but this challenge is automatically overcome after they attend any of our programs, they instantly feel the difference, they actually find the information and practical tips they’ve been searching for and had to struggle with trial & error with no guidance to show them how things are actually done. After that we never receive any concerns or worries regarding the courses duration, on the contrary, they’re rather very glad we didn’t waste their time and gave them what they needed in a nutshell.

7- HR Revolution Middle East: How do you choose your trainers & how do you get to ensure that your trainers will be able to realize your strategy?

Yasser: We don’t call them trainers per se, we bring subject matter experts of the field with extensive proven track record of successful implementations, scope of diversified industries in addition to their exposure to the business and market needs. Our subject matter experts share the same vision for people development and knowledge transfer. They reveal all the untold know-how and tips of seasoned experts.

8- HR Revolution Middle East: How do you see the training market in Egypt?

Yasser: The training market is growing, we can see that organizations invest in developing their human capital. We still see that training providers need to work on their offering making their clients feel the value of training and development for their business.

9- HR Revolution Middle East: What do you believe we still miss in the training providers in Egypt? What are the criteria of the successful training providers?

Maha: We miss the hands-on learning, the modern learning topics and methods, in most domains not only HR & Management. A successful training provider should always be aware of the global changes, the state of the art practices of the field, and linking that to every company’s unique situation, some robust solutions might cause huge harm if applied as is to a company that is not ready yet. A training provider should be very aware of their local market as well as the international one.

10- HR Revolution Middle East: I was really glad when I knew about your latest achievement about providing in Egypt. “Certified KPI Professional”, “Certified ROI Professional”, “and Organization Design Architect”, “Balanced Scorecard Certification”. Congratulations for this great achievement & please share with us how you were able to achieve this success?

Yasser: Part of our vision to bring the most advanced learning modules to the Middle East, we managed to tie up with The KPI Institute, ROI Institute and Kates Kesler Organization Consulting, bringing their whole menu of programs to Egypt and the Middle East.

Again, what we are adding is tightly linked to our endeavors in providing technical practical know-how by the top notch subject matter experts around the globe to help HR and Management people better reach their goals.

11- HR Revolution Middle East: Would you please explain for us how those certificates can enrich the knowledge of HR professionals to provide tangible changes for their Orgs?

Maha: Actually those certifications were carefully selected to help leverage the HR & Management practices in Egypt. Let’s talk first about The KPI Professional Certification, most people have set KPIs before and went all the way through the process, but only very few companies can claim that their Performance Development System can compete with Fortune 100 companies for example, so we say KPI selection, balancing & alignment can definitely be improved, specially that this is pivotal in the organization success, it’s most suitable for Line Managers even before HR Professionals, as they’re supposed to set their Department KPIs themselves. As for the ROI Professional Certification, it’s especially of great value given our current situation, managements now would always ask “show me the money” before approving any initiative or project, no easy approvals are granted anymore. Line Managers and HR professionals must know very well the financial outcome of their projects, they must know how to translate intangible outcomes into real money, just like a Sales or a Finance Manager talks. The less the organization money pot is, the more vigorous is the conflict and more proofs are needed from each party.

As for the Organization Design, this is becoming a core and expected skill from Managers as well as HR. Based on the book “Designing Your Organization: Using the STAR Model to Solve 5 Critical Design Challenges”, by Amy Kates & Jai Galbraith, we learn the holistic approach of how to link the Strategy, to Structure, to Process, to Rewards, to Capabilities and definitely to People & Culture. A mandatory skill for those who always want to stay ahead of the game.

We also partnered with regional software partner who offers a state of the art HR Management System with all the modules needed to manage and automate the HR function. That in addition to our robust Compensation Management Software that is very unique & time-saving to all compensation professionals.

12- HR Revolution Middle East: I have lately seen also your expansion to provide courses in Dubai & Kuwait; to what extent was it difficult for you to expand in other Countries in the Middle-East such as Kuwait & UAE?

Maha: It is a big challenge, aggressive competition with international market leaders, but for us it was the other way around, as companies in the GCC were approaching us in Egypt, asking for our training programs to be provided in the whole region, so we finally made the decision of being present there as well, and I got to tell you this, we cannot be more excited!

13- HR Revolution Middle East:  What differences do you observe between Egyptian, Kuwaiti, and Emirati trainees preferences in training & expectations?

Maha: Well, in the GCC of course they’re more exposed to international certifications and figures more than the Egyptian market, but for their preference I would say both markets are seeking hands-on, practical value to get back and apply it the next day.

14- HR Revolution Middle East: Where do you see Real Hands-on 2 years from now? To what extent do you aspire to enrich the HR field in Middle East?

Maha: I am beyond optimistic for the future of Real Hands-on, especially when I see how well received is Real Hands-on among the Senior HR & Management Professionals in the region. More than anything, we wish to have a significant and tangible impact on the everyday People related practices, and to alleviate the role of HR as well as the workplace conditions for all employees.

15- HR Revolution Middle East: What recommendations would like to give to HR professionals in Egypt?

Yasser: HR people have great opportunity to become a real strategic partner for business owners and executive decision makers, they have all the data linked to manpower, performance, talent management and development. My advice for HR people is to strengthen their HR practical knowledge and make it very linked to their specific business practice.

16- HR Revolution Middle East: How do you evaluate the companies care in Egypt for employee training compared to other countries in Middle-East?

Maha: The Egyptian companies may not need to increase their learning & development budget, they only might need to better utilize it, calculate the ROI of their initiatives, to ensure maximum outcome for every pound spent.

17- HR Revolution Middle East: What skills do you believe a training agency founder should have, in order to be successful in this field?

Yasser: Business understanding, people development and Technical know-how from my point of view are very crucial elements for a training firm’s success. We support business leaders achieve their results by developing their people in certain areas that bridge the gap between the current level of knowledge / skill that the employee has and what’s needed to achieve his objective. And in order to do this, we need to understand the 3 enablers to be able to provide valuable tangible results for our clients.

18- HR Revolution Middle East: How do you feel when you find yourself a reason in enhancing the professional career of your trainees?

Yasser: Actually, this is the ultimate motive behind what we do, when we see our clients progressing with their careers and as you said in the beginning that we add real value to our participants. We hope we continue doing our job in developing the HR people and bring more value to the market.

THANK YOU

Civil Work

Q&A with Sherihan Elkamash; Researcher at the Center of Strategic Studies, Bibliotheca Alexandrina & Charity Activist

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Interviewer:
Mahmoud Mansi

“I am always trying to not lead members, but inspire them and gain their trust by encouraging my team to work on new projects. I help them make their work plan, and I provide them with some guidance and coaching to finally have a successful deliverable to help impact more people in the community.”

Sherihan Elkamash

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Sherihan you are multi-talented and active in building the community in several different ways, one of your main roles is working at the Center of Strategic Studies at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, can you tell us more about your role?

My main work is about making strategic researches. I also, write articles about the recent international political events. One of the main roles for me is to organize virtual discussions to discuss different economic and political subjects. I am always in contact with high profile degenerates in the political arena to make interviews with them to be published. I am also the social media specialist for the center, responsible for managing the official page by managing and posting the news, declare about the new events and conferences for the center.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Across your career you have worked in different careers and gained different experiences. Can you tell us what did you learn from these experiences? And how those skills are helping you at your current role?

I have been working in many fields since a young age I have acquired professional experience in many fields for the past fourteen years; working in NGOs, media, research, translation and communications. These experiences taught me to navigate in different kinds of structures (public/private/international), as well as dealing with the internal dynamics of each organization. In my previous roles, I have demonstrated exceptional ability to manage external stakeholders including senior government officials, high-profile clients, and well-regarded organizations. As a trilingual officer, I can communicate effectively in Arabic, English and French.

Working in all those fields taught me how to work in full power with a great performance, deliver my work in a high quality and always being in time and following the timetable.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You also have your own charity project “El Rahmoun”. Can you tells us more about managing people in a charity structured projects?

Let me first talk about myself when I was a regular member in NGO’s and volunteer projects. I starting volunteering since I was a 13-year-old school student. During those 21 years in charity, I’ve learned many things:

-I learned how to take the initiative to start new projects to help the maximum number of people in need.

-I learned more about contributing to the community and helping solve issues.

-I learned how to deal with all categories in my society, understanding their needs and being helpful to them.

-It is not only about leadership, but I have also been a great “team member”, by coming up with new ideas, working with enthusiasm and integrity.

As a founder or a leader for “El Rahmoun” charity group – like any business structure or project – it depends on the number of volunteers whether they are many or few, based on that we put a strong administration and operations management plan.

I am always trying to not lead “El Rahmoun” members, but inspire them and gain their trust by encouraging my team to work on new projects. I help them make their work plan, and I provide them with some guidance and coaching to finally have a successful deliverable to help impact more people in the community.

There is an interesting difference between a traditional corporate structure and a charity structure. In charity the individual is the one who deicides his/her responsibilities and commitment to the charity work. I cannot obligate them to attend the events or to do their tasks. Which means that I have to be their friend so they love me and maintain a good communication with the youth, meanwhile at the same time I have to be their leader when it comes to the big decisions. And this is the most difficult part. I think after 3 years of continuous work, while our volunteering community is getting bigger… my team and I are doing it well.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How do you define success your own way? And what would be your success tips for youth?

I have learned the perfect strategy to achieve success, it is balance. We all have the desire towards success but those who are working and planning for it are the ones who are reaching their goals in a steady way. We all grew up with big dreams, seeking success in life, but few of us who understood that sustaining the success is the hard part. Balance is the key, youth need to know the importance of balance in their life between their studies, hard work, community service and social life. Youth need to make balance between physical, emotional and spiritual elements, to keep the high performance in everything they do. When we maintain our balance it shortly affects our sense of security and helps us to move forward. The balance in all activities in our days helps us maintain our mental health in order to have healthy minds and lifestyles. Stress is a serious threat to Youth and one should make it a priority to keep the stress away because stress prevents success.

Balance = Success

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: With the development of technology, virtual communication and accessibility to knowledge, do you believe that some jobs are in threat? Can some careers take another form, offer different services and still impact the community?

The whole world is turning digital. The easy access to knowledge and data is the way of living now. Well, the development of technology can never be a threat. It actually helps us and is not a threat to our existence nor to anything created or made by the human being. NEW careers have been created and much more are on their way to glow and have place due to the virtual life. Furthermore, thousands of activities and services are provided through the internet now (website- social media) which also supports entrepreneurs and organizations to easily create new projects.

The Egyptian Government is taking the same track now in most of its governmental institutions. The pandemic helped a lot. It was a red light to hurry and accelerate our path, not only organizations that are turning digital but also individuals are becoming more focused on e-learning and other daily life services and in their lifestyles. I am very optimistic; because of the development of technology, new jobs are opening and great opportunities for youth which is very advantageous, beneficious and profitable to the growth of our great Nation EGYPT and to the rest of the world.

Thank you Sherihan for this interview and for developing and inspiring the community in such a unique way!

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Articles

LA CULTURA DIGITALE AZIENDALE E I SUOI LEADER CORAGGIOSI. LA SOCIETA’ DI MARKETING DIGITALE ITALIANA “DERAWEB” COME ESEMPIO DI ECCELLENZA NELLA GESTIONE DELLE RISORSE UMANE

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INTERVIEWER: Cinzia Nitti

HR Revolution: Ciao Fabio, grazie per aver accettato la nostra intervista e per quanto vorrai condividere con noi. Cominciamo: chi è Fabio De Lucia?

Fabio De Lucia: Ciao e grazie per questa intervista. Sono nato il 21 marzo del 1986 e il percorso accademico mi ha qualificato come perito commerciale con il massimo dei voti. Dopo la maturità e coerentemente con il mio approccio pratico alla vita, trovavo inefficace continuare a studiare per qualcosa di “non-tangibile”, quindi sono partito per Parigi e una volta rientrato, ho trovato impiego presso un’agenzia viaggi nel 2005. Ho iniziato a interessarmi a piani di sviluppo per implementare e migliorare i prodotti offerti. Credevo in quello che facevo ma, non trovando riscontro positivo da parte del mio titolare, ho rassegnato le dimissioni. All’epoca conoscevo già il mio caro amico e colui che sarebbe diventato il mio socio, Andrea (Dettole), il quale lavorava nel settore utilities nel nord Italia. Unendo le nostre conoscenze e competenze, nel 2008 abbiamo avviato Sundera, azienda di vendita servizi Business To Business (o B2B) e assistenza nel campo delle utilities: mi occupavo principalmente dei piani di sviluppo commerciale.

HR Revolution: Come nasce la web agency Deraweb e quale la sua mission?

Fabio De Lucia: Dall’esperienza positiva pregressa, nel 2016 abbiamo deciso di fondare con Andrea la società di marketing digitale Deraweb, brand partner della primogenita Sundera. L’impreparazione dei titolari di partita IVA in fatto di marketing e digitalizzazione dei prodotti aziendali – riscontrata a livello nazionale – è stato il fattore chiave che ha dato vita a Deraweb. La nostra azienda ha l’obiettivo di fornire strumenti efficaci per lo sviluppo aziendale in prospettiva di promozione digitale. In quattro anni il nostro pacchetto clienti è cresciuto in tutta Italia e su piano internazionale, acquisendo 600 clienti e con proiezione di raggiungere quota mille entro fine anno. La famiglia Deraweb conta oggi 15 dipendenti e 20 consulenti.

HR Revolution: Le Risorse Umane sono le componenti-chiave per il successo imprenditoriale. Il COVID-19 ha inevitabilmente imposto un cambiamento degli equilibri nella gestione aziendale. Come avete affrontato la sfida in fatto di nuovi assetti, ripianificazione e gestione del personale?

Fabio De Lucia: Il nostro metodo operativo prevede la maggior parte del lavoro da remoto. Gli strumenti digitali dunque, si sono confermati lo strumento indispensabile nel nostro lavoro; la pandemia è stata un elemento positivo in fatto di consolidamento di Deraweb. Si è trattato di un periodo di transizione per tutti. Nonostante uno stop forzato per alcuni e il crollo degli incassi nel mese di marzo, i nostri dipendenti si sono messi a completa disposizione dell’azienda, dei clienti, contribuendo in modo non indifferente alla buona riuscita degli intenti. Ci sono stati tutti vicini. Sono stati bravi e vanno tutti elogiati per questo.

HR Revolution: Cultura Digitale Aziendale: la risoluzione di problemi attraverso l’utilizzo di strumenti digitali si è rivelata un elemento vincente nella gestione del pacchetto-clienti durante la crisi pandemica?

Fabio De Lucia: Da titolari di azienda, nel supporto ai clienti e per una gestione ottimale dei servizi offerti, abbiamo deciso di operare in modo differente rispetto ai concorrenti. Abbiamo fornito gli strumenti necessari alla “sopravvivenza pandemica” con metodo studiato e mirato, soprattutto gratuito. In che modo? Creando manuali, guide strategiche “BUSINESS WORKOUT”, webinar e consulenze gratuite a disposizione dei clienti per evitare il fenomeno dell’inazione. Non a caso, il feedback è stato assolutamente positivo: abbiamo rafforzato il rapporto di reciprocità e fiducia con i nostri clienti, premiando inoltre coloro i quali hanno rispettato le scadenze in un periodo tanto complesso, fornendo un’estensione gratuita di un mese del servizio. Quest’approccio ci ha permesso di registrare risultati esponenzialmente più alti nel nostro ambito, a dispetto delle previsioni che la condizione economica generale avrebbe imposto.

HR Revolution: Spesso si pone l’accento sulla fidelizzazione del cliente, sottovalutando che la riuscita di un progetto o l’acquisizione di un contratto, derivi da un’ottima commistione di professionalità ed energie di un gruppo omogeneo e coeso. Dicci di più del tuo team. Sono importanti la Diversità e l’Inclusione in Deraweb e perché?

Fabio De Lucia: Assolutamente sì, per noi Diversità e Inclusione sono importanti. E rendono Deraweb un ambiente stimolante: il clima aziendale assume il giusto equilibrio tra competenze, rispetto delle qualità di ognuno e dimensione umana. Abbiamo messo in atto un modello di leadership che ispira gli altri e invoglia a migliorarsi. Dal consulente commerciale al servizio clienti, ai tecnici grafici, addetti marketing, comunicazione e social media, l’elemento della formazione continua inoltre, ha permesso di stabilire la gestione dei progetti in cui, senza più necessità di definizione esplicita, ogni membro del gruppo conosce esattamente il suo ruolo all’interno del processo. 

C’è fiducia e stima reciproca, spirito di sacrificio e altrettanta collaborazione. Da parte nostra c’è attenzione alle proposte di ognuno. Il mio lavoro mi ha dato modo di visitare tante aziende e conoscere altre realtà, ma qui da noi c’è un clima diverso, un clima che piace e che permette di lavorare secondo un equilibrio che dimostra quanto i nostri ragazzi siano “allineati”: in Deraweb proprio non riesce ad arrivare qualcuno che non abbia i nostri stessi valori.

HR Revolution: La Parità di Genere è un obiettivo di rilievo in una realtà aziendale. Definiresti l’equilibrio di genere parte integrante del vostro successo?

Fabio De Lucia: Sì, le donne nella nostra azienda sono un valore aggiunto e particolarmente apprezzate. Hanno un approccio naturalmente diverso all’ascolto del cliente e alla gestione di una richiesta. Sempre attente ai dettagli, precise, sicuramente meno impulsive in fatto creativo rispetto agli uomini. È una scelta aziendale mirata, quella di impostare gruppi di lavoro misti: sono la sintesi perfetta che genera stabilità. In Italia si parla troppo poco di Parità di Genere sul posto di lavoro, noi invece siamo ben felici di dare possibilità di crescita e carriera alle nostre dipendenti, mamme incluse! Sono tutte ben accolte, troviamo che siano una risorsa irrinunciabile e grande indice di maturità nel nostro team. Da sempre puntiamo su piani di sviluppo aziendale assolutamente paritari; la famiglia Deraweb è un gruppo eterogeneo che ha fatto anche di questo equilibrio un punto di forza. 

Grazie Fabio per averci aperto le porte di Deraweb e condiviso con HR Revolution Middle East, l’esempio positivo di una realtà aziendale solida che ha fatto delle Risorse Umane il suo motivo di orgoglio!

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Interview with HRCI Advisory Council Member Dr. Amir Dhia

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Interviewer: Mariham Magdy

” The CEO Advisory Council is a model for other industries as they play a role in connecting the lines between the labor market needs and the professional job industries” Dr. Amir Dhia

Brief Biography about the Interviewee:

Previously, Dr. Dhia was Dean at INSEEC MBA & MSc

Dr. Amir Dhia serves on different boards and educational organization programs. He is a member of the HRCI CEO Advisory Council; a Board Member of the Standards Supreme Council of the Global Academy of Finance and Management (GAFM), and a Board Member of the Standards Supreme Council the American Academy of Project Management (AAPM). Dr. Dhia is the Director General of UBT Executive Education (University of Business and Technology, Jeddah); the Director General of UBT English Language Academy, and Assistant Professor of UBT MBA and MSc programs.

Previously, he was Dean at INSEEC MBA & MSc Programs (Paris Campus), Founder & Director of INSEEC MBA in Business Diplomacy (awarded Innovation Program for 2015 by Eduniversal Rankings), and Director of its MBA program in Marketing and Communication. He was also a Professor at the Center of Diplomatic and Strategic Studies (CEDS, Paris), and at the Department of Diplomacy and Strategic Negotiations of the University of Paris XI, Jean Monnet College (awarded Professor of the Year 2009), as well as Head of English language programs at one of the largest language and training centers in Paris, CFILC.

With a PhD in International Relations and Diplomacy (summa cum laude), Master and Bachelor degrees, Amir Dhia is a specialist in the Information and Knowledge Society, a Legal Translation Expert, an Accredited SME Consultant, a Certified Digital Marketing Associate, holds a Chartered Certification in Talent Management, and completed the Distinguished Leadership Development Program from the National School of Administration (ENA, Paris). Training diplomats, officers, government officials, CEOs, executives as well as undergraduate and graduate students, he has worked, lectured and trained in several countries around the world. 

1. HR Revolution Middle East: Dr. Amir, welcome to HR Revolution Middle East Magazine. It’s a great pleasure to have the opportunity to make this interview with you.

Would you please share with our readers more about the international certifications offered by the HRCI and how are they exactly designed to help advance HR professionals’ careers at different seniority levels?

Dr. Amir Dhia:

HRCI has an outstanding record of global certification and recognition for over 45 years. This is in part due to both the well-established standards and credibility and accreditation of its certifications and their impact on HR practitioners. HRCI’s eight certifications and qualifications requirements are significant for the HR profession. Certification adds value to a professional’s career. The various aspects of HR are included in the HRCI certifications and the exams cover a comprehensive spectrum of topics ranging from HR Administration and Operations, Recruitment, Talent Management, Compensation and Benefits, Employee Relations, HR Mobility, Health and Safety, HR Information Management and Business Leadership. With more than 500,000 certification holders in more than 125 countries, HRCI certified professionals lead global HR organizations and businesses. 

2- HR Revolution Middle East: Providing International Certification for such a sensitive profession like the HR is definitely not easy, considering the changing environments for this profession and how they can dramatically impact even the way of managing the HR different functions. Would you please let us know how do the HRCI succeed to tailor a sound know-how for global professionals? How is this secret recipe cooked?

Dr. Amir Dhia:

HRCI certifications are accredited by both the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and International Accreditation Service (IAS), where that accreditation offers impartial, third-party validation that the development and administration of HRCI certification programs has met stringent standards set by the testing industry. HRCI certification exams are conducted at proctored test centres worldwide and to a limited extent online. The certification exams are evaluated and revised to stay in line with current HR practices. Unlike other certifications that may simply require research and memorizing concepts, HRCI candidates need to acquire and master HR concepts and practices to be certified.

3- HR Revolution Middle East:  The aPHRi is the latest Certification added to the series of International Certifications offered by the HRCI. How did the HRCI evaluate the actual need in the market to help support the experience of junior professionals? How can this early certification help junior professionals to advance their careers with quicker steps than usual?

Dr. Amir Dhia:

The HRCI aPHRi international certification is indeed highly useful and significant for new practitioners and recent university graduates in the field of Human Resources. Many candidates take the entry-level certification when they shift their career from one field or another towards HR. Recent university graduates also take the certification to combine their university degree with a professional certification to distinguish their qualifications when applying for their first job. HR practitioners who do not have a solid foundation in the field of HR are expressing interest in aPHRi to support them in their positions and careers. Encouragingly, aPHRi professionals are already planning to take their competence to a higher level by preparing for the PHRi certification. UBT Executive Education was among the very first global partners of HRCI to adopt the new aPHRi certification when it was first launched back in early 2018, noting that the number of aPHRi professionals are growing steadily.

4- HR Revolution Middle East: What special tips would you share with professionals preparing for their HRCI certification? How can they prepare themselves for the exams?

Dr. Amir Dhia:

Preparing for HRCI certifications should be a pleasant, enriching and fulfilling experience and challenge. Regardless which certification they target, candidates need to master HR concepts, understandings and practices rather than memorizing definitions for the sake of an exam or certificate. Candidates who take an exam preparation training program are recommended to take the certification exam within a month or two after that training is completed so that the knowledge and concepts acquired remain fresh. The longer the candidates wait to take the exam the more they find themselves spending longer time reviewing the materials. HRCI has a large global network of Certification Preparation Providers (CPP) that are selected for the quality of their training for HRCI certifications. Another important advice that I would like to highlight is that it is better and more efficient to be trained by an HR professional who is already an HRCI certification holder than by a practitioner who is not. That advantage helps aligns the training with the mind-set of the trainer and HRCI certification exams. For example, at UBT Executive Education we only recruit expert trainers who are both active practitioners in the field and are holders of the SPHRi certification. Those two assets are very important for our candidates in terms of trainer competence, qualification and quality standards.     

5- HR Revolution Middle East: The Middle East is one of the most important markets, the HRCI has been supporting for years now. As Member of the HRCI CEO Advisory Council, can you please let us know how did the HRCI expand lately its role in the Middle East? Are you planning to offer especially tailored products for the ME in the coming period?

Dr. Amir Dhia:

HRCI has devoted a lot of effort in recent years on its international development, particularly in the Middle East. In terms of exposure, HRCI is more visible in the region than ever before thanks to its participation in forums and events, along with its active communication and interaction on social media platforms. The fruit of all that is becoming increasingly obvious as more companies and professionals rely on HRCI certifications as a reference of quality and competence. With 93% of Fortune 500 companies employing HRCI certification holders, that is a testimony to the standards and reliability of HRCI certifications inspiring other companies and professionals, both in the Middle East and elsewhere. Also, thanks to the coordination between HRCI and UBT Executive Education, as of 2019, both aPHRi and PHRi certifications are approved and subsidized by the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) in Saudi Arabia. There has been a growing demand for candidates with aPHRi. HRCI is working on launching the certification exam in Arabic language to encourage a wider audience of HR professionals from the Middle East region.    

6- HR Revolution Middle East: Do you believe that the industry trends in the Middle East are different from that of Europe & America, and thus the HR professionals in the region have to nurture special set of skills and knowledge more related to the region?

Dr. Amir Dhia:

The fundamentals and functions of any profession are essentially the same regardless of the industry or country. However, HR has a certain level of legal and cultural particularities that need to be taken into consideration per country specifications. For instance, there are HR laws and practices that are unique to Europe, North America and the Middle East region. As much as HR professionals need to adjust to their companies, they also need to adapt to their respective countries and cultures. This is what makes them global in their mind-set and culturally adaptive in their local practices. HRCI has reflected on that notion through three of its certifications (aPHRi, PHRi, SPHRi) that clearly highlight the knowledge HR practitioners need in both a regional and global context regardless of country or business industry, while encouraging them to be creative, flexible and dynamic, as needed locally.

7- HR Revolution Middle East: We are extremely amazed by the idea that the HRCI has a special “Advisory Council” acting as a resource to the HRCI CEO by offering advice, insight into industry trends and market needs.  Do you believe that this special set-up shall be adapted in other businesses as well? How will this help businesses to advance & grow more in the market with a more “customer-need based” approach?

Dr. Amir Dhia:

The newly established HRCI CEO Advisory Council brings unique knowledge and skills. HRCI’s mission is to enable people and organizations to discover, develop and demonstrate their fullest potential through innovative learning and certification in the ever-evolving world of HR. Therefore, our role as CEO Advisory Council Members is to offer advice, insights and a different perspective into industry trends. The CEO Advisory Council is a model for other industries as they play a role in connecting the lines between the labour market needs and the professional job industries. I am proud and pleased to serve as a Member of the CEO Advisory Council along with other colleagues who are specialists and experts in HR.

8- HR Revolution Middle East: Finally, we would like to ask you to give an advice for professionals especially in the Middle East, about how they can support their businesses? How does the various technological/ environmental/ physical disruptions nowadays require them to develop their skills/knowledge/competencies in a different way?

Dr. Amir Dhia:

The whole world, including the Middle East, has been going through unprecedented challenges as a result of the pandemic. While many businesses have either closed their doors temporarily or are at the risk of permanent closure, many other companies and industries have sustained, emerged and even grown. We should look ahead and adapt to the dynamics of global businesses and industries by exploring opportunities and alternatives. A lot of professionals have made use of the recent circumstances and environment by reflecting on their careers and potentials. Many others spent quality time developing skills and new competencies. While the economy at-large may take some time to recover, let’s move forward constructively, positively and distinctively. 

THANK YOU

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