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Interview with Beshoy Beshara ~ Project Management Expert

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Interviewer: Tarek Hassan Refaat

Edited by: Mona Timor Shehata

“When I see a certificate on a candidate’s CV, I translate it that this candidate knows the vocabulary, and we have a common ground in our discussions, but it does not mean he/she is a good project manager, nor a bad one…”

Beshoy Beshara

Project Management Expert

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE

Bishoy Beshara, is an experienced professional in project management who worked for various companies in Egypt before moving to Canada to partner with a group of entrepreneurs and started their own company Aurora Solutions Canada.

THE INTERVIEW

  1. HR Revolution ME: First of all, Bishoy, thank you for taking the time to be with us and share with us your insights! So, let us begin, can you tell us a bit more about Bishoy Beshara?

Bishoy Beshara: Hi Tarek, it is always a pleasure talking to you.Tough question to start with, but I can give you some quick facts:

  • I was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt where I spent 34 of my 37earthly years.
  • I have a Bachelor’sin Computer Engineering from Cairo University,class of 2003.
  • For the past 16 years, I worked mainly in Business Analysis and Project/Program/Portfolio management, bounced between multiple employers from mini startups to large multinationals, and delivered projects to private, government and banking sectors pretty much all over the globe, except Australia and Latin America – still on my bucket listJ
  • I am a father to 2 children; a 12 year old boy and a 7 yearold girl.
  • I am also a bass guitar player, been actively playing in 3 bands for the last decade in Egypt (Enraged, Yorka and Musiphoria) – those were the days my friend.
  • I flirted a lot with photography, published few photo essays and I have a few shots that I hold very dear.
  • Cooking! Did I mention cooking? I love that Zen when I am cooking and experimenting with ingredients.
  1. HR Revolution ME: Being a project management professional is quite the job, could you give us a brief about it?

Bishoy Beshara: Well.. there are two ways to look at it: The responsibility, stress and day to day insanity can crumble the toughest shoulders that is for sure, but the impact a project manager has on the success of their projects is rewarding indeed; that signoff moment where you deliver successfully to a happy customer, happy employer and a happy team is what we work for day and night.

It is one of these jobs that you cannot get initiated in, nor follow a certain set of rules and expect success. Think of it as music. Yes, studying, training and accumulative experience can take you a long way, but you can never make it without a God-given talent.

  1. HR Revolution ME: Certifications are one of the most advertised matters nowadays in various fields as well as project management, how do you view the impact of certifications on an individual?

Bishoy Beshara: It completely depends on the individual, if they are there for the certificate stamp, then that is all what they will get: a stamp on their CV, if they are there to understand and learn then that is what they will get.

For me, when I see a certificate on a candidate’s CV, I translate it that this candidate knows the vocabulary, and we have a common ground in our discussions, but it does not mean he/she is a good project manager, nor a bad one.

If I see too many certificates on a certain profile, I translate that in my head that I am getting to know an academic person, which can be a goodfit or a bad one, depending on what I want tos add to my team.

  1. HR Revolution ME: Having worked in the Egyptian market, and now you work abroad could you shed some light on what you think are the pros and cons of the Egyptian market?

Bishoy Beshara: Size and Chaos are the main differences as far as I can see.

With our massive population of 100 million souls there is always a market share that is enough to kick-start any business or idea…a big plus for any entrepreneur. Quick MVP, Quick Market Test and higher chances of finding a good niche, that is the impact of the size part.

Then comes the real thing about the Egyptian market, the chaos of it…from an old complicated culture to the governing laws and regulations that can change overnight. As much of a risk in this chaos to any sound planning, as much italways gives birth to creativity in individuals and organizations alike. Our culture has this built in attitude to work around problems, the “good fahlawa” as we call it, which is the biggest thing I see in the market, it can always backfire, but when it works it is amazing!

  1. HR Revolution ME: From an experienced professional to entrepreneur, could you walk us through the transition?

Bishoy Beshara: I really and honestly do not see myself as an Entrepreneur, I think it is one heavily overused word. To me, an Entrepreneur is someone like the annoyingly magnificent Elon Musk, single handedly changing life as we know it.

I am more of a Field Marshall, as all work psychology tests resulted, I know how to lead a team from point A to point B, regardless of the road, hardships and complications.But Entrepreneur? I wish my friend. I wish.

With that out of the way, let me tell you how we started Aurora Solutions.

Basically a group of managers got together, after so many years serving the Enterprise and Government sectors, and thought that we can bring all this experience to a quicker market, where our beliefs in MVP, Lean Development and Continuous Organic Growth can be put to the test – that is the formal story at least.

In reality, my current partner and co-founder of Aurora Solutions, Mohammed Gomaa, was an old work colleague with a previous employerbefore we parted ways. He was visiting Egypt late in 2015 and we decided to take a drink for good old times sake, that is when he told me about what he is trying to kickoff and what Aurora Solutions is all about, we finalized our partnership agreement in 30 minutes, and a couple of months after I packed a bag and went to Canada, and here we are.

  1. HR Revolution ME: How do you view the experience of starting up a company in Canada?

Bishoy Beshara: I must say that we were lucky to start Aurora Solutions in Canada, especially at a time of economic recession in the province we are in, beautiful Alberta.

With the oil prices dropping, the economy took a big hit, but it was impressive to see how federal and provincial functional governments act. There was a conscious decision to shift the economy to small businesses, and right away you could see the programs set in place to help business owners, in the form of loans, ease of procedures, training programs…etc.

All it takes is few minutes in a registry office to initiate a company, but on the other side, the amount of control and precision work required to keep a business running is really challenging, and when it comes to laws and regulations concerning financial control, liabilities as well as work ethics and privacy regulations, no one is joking here.

  1. HR Revolution ME: Would you tell us more about Aurora? Its services? And how can people reach you?

Bishoy Beshara:

  • In a nutshell, Aurora is a Lean, Agile, Transparent, 24/7 up and running gorgeous lady.
  • Those pillars are what control every decision we take, every day.
  • From keeping our workforce small and agile, to how we break down our customers’ vision into small milestones and minimum viable products that can be tested in the market. From the flat organization and open channels to the work flexibility allowing teams scattered between Calgary, Cairo and AbuDhabi to remain in contact and basically flowing 24/7.

We tore down everything we hated while working for large scale enterprises; no working hours, no time sheets, no 2 months notices before vacation, and even no excuses needed when someone wakes up in a bad mood and does not feel like working the day. It was risky, and forced us to be extremely meticulous about who we hire, but the end resultis stunning.

Imagine a Skype business call between a manager in his bathrobe in Canada, another manager in a café in Abu Dhabi, a developer on the beach in Spain, another in his apartment den in Ismailia, a third in our office in Cairo and a Graphics Designer in a Caféin downtown Cairo, all delivering to a customer in the United States for a project to be launched in Cairo. Everyone is relaxed, able to plan their lives while efficiently delivering amazing quality outcome. It all feels like a sweet dream to be honest.

Aurora Serves mainly the SMB sector in Canada, providing end to end portfolio. Think of it as SaaS on steroids. We Provide Branding, Digital Marketing, Websites Development, Selective Custom development web and mobile apps, core business applications for collaboration, CRM, POS, Accounting…etc. and we tie it all up together.

Our assumption is that in their core, all SMBs are similar in a way, and we tap on this similarity to deliver to a large number of customers using a small team. Because we understand the journey, being part of it ourselves, we end up developing long terms partnerships with our customers, one project after the other.

Want to play? Make contact through our website www.aurorasolutions.ca or email me: b.beshara@auorasolutions.ca

  1. HR Revolution ME: How do you view a resume, what are the first three things that attract your attention in a CV?

Bishoy Beshara: Tough to put that in words, when you see a resume you kind of get a feeling about the person who wrote it, their character and so on. When hiring, I seek more of a certain character for a certain role rather than a set of skills.

Mistakes, either in language and formatting are an immediate disqualifier of course, while I can work with so many different characters, I cannot work with lack of quality.

A rule of thumb, if I spend more than 1.5 minutes on a CV, then probably there will be an interview.

  1. HR Revolution ME: KPIs, Scorecard are the keywords of the working market today, how do you set your own KPIs or Scorecards for your teams?

Bishoy Beshara: Here is where we go back again to thinking and acting Lean. Before setting any KPI of any sort, the question we always ask ourselves is why are we measuring that? What do we do if it is in the green? What do we do if it is in the red?

If those answers are not available, then the KPI itself is more fat that needs to be removed from the system.

  1. HR Revolution ME: How would you describe the most challenging aspect of your business?

Bishoy Beshara:

Market penetration would be the hardest aspect.

The Canadian Market is not tempted by technology by itself. No bells and whistles will land you a deal.If what you are offering is not providing a real, tangible, measurable business value then it will not fly.

Compare that to the north African and Gulf regions, where you can easily position a cutting-edge technology and close the deal just because the technology itself is sexy.

Another aspect is the size of our customers. We work mainly with the SMB sector, meaning less bureaucracy and red tape and easier access to decision makers, but it means that the number of leads you need to nurture, and the number of customers you need to keep giving ongoing attention and superb service to, increases exponentially.

  1. HR Revolution ME: Would you walk us through your regular day?

Bishoy Beshara:

  • First alarm at 8:00 AM for a soft nudge, followed by the second alarm at 8:15AM
  • I walk my dog, Sokkar, while coffee is brewing
  • 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM: I drink mycoffee, attending to urgent matters and planning the day’s to do list
  • 10:00AM to 4:00 PM Emails, calls, backend, issues, designs, team, customers…etc.
  • 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM: Food time, I switch to the cook in me, preparing, experimenting and cooking.
  • 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM: Finishing off the actions I can do by myself, no meetings in this slot.
  • 9:00 PM to 1:00 AM is my me time; reading, editing my photography, exploring new music, maybe a drink or two and catching up with a show, a documentary or a movie.
  • 1:30 AM bed time.

I do not exist on Saturdays. I am still keeping that blissful habit of 100% disconnection from the world on Saturdays. You should give it a try 🙂

  1. HR Revolution ME: If we do the comparison between Egypt and Canada, from your point of view, how do you view the differences between entrepreneurs in Canada and in Egypt?

Bishoy Beshara: Canada is a stable country, rules and regulations are clear, fixed, reasonable, and relatively easy to master. Making all the administrative work take no less than 5-10% of one’s effort, with no potential for corruption, or a crazy intervention by someone in power to cut you out of business or at least take their “share”.

The Market is not as huge as the Egyptian market though. To get some numbers in perspective, Calgary, our HQ city and main playground of operation has a population of 1.3 million as per the 2016 census. That is it! That is everyone in your city!Imagine that you are positioning a new product and reaching out for potential customers where all your market is just 3 streets in Nasr City 😀

That massively affects entrepreneurs and business owners, positioning and pitching an idea becomes ridiculously harder, ROI calculations are much more brutal and merciless.

Yet an Entrepreneur here has a support network of government and private sector initiatives for help, training, support and facilitation.

  1. HR Revolution ME: Where would you like to see Aurora, in 2 years from now?

Bishoy Beshara: I would love to see her still small in number of employees, still agile, still fast paced, able to serve a large number of customers in an automated yet personalized touch points. And maybe with an office somewhere warmer I can escape to in the brutal winter months 😀

  1. HR Revolution ME:It’s been quite a pleasure having you with us, would you care to share your favorite quote that inspires you?

Bishoy Beshara: “If you do not like where you are, move! You are not a tree”

  1. HR Revolution ME: If there’s one advice that you would give to the youth, what would it be?

Bishoy Beshara: A tiny little bit of being humble and open will take you a long way…I interviewed so many bright young minds that had their cups full already, making possible growth and maturity nearly impossible.

Plan your retirement NOW! With your first job, with your first paycheck…after 20 years building a career, believe me you will look back and wish you had started your retirement planning earlier.

  1. HR Revolution ME: In the end, we’ve come to the end of our interview, is there something you would like to say or share?

Bishoy Beshara: It has been a pleasure Tarek, and my apologiesit took so long to make this interview happen. I enjoyed every bit of it, and I hope I was not very much out of line.

HR Revolution ME: Beshoy, it has been indeed quite the pleasure in having you with us as part of this interview!

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Interview with Mr. Vijay Gandhi, Regional Director of Korn Ferry Digital

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“2021 is here and there has been never a tipping point like this before for governments and organizations to transform how they work, engage the employees and service their clients.  It is this mix of internal and external challenges that will also create opportunities for leaders to make a difference as we embark upon a new calendar year.” Mr. Vijay Gandhi

Interviewer: Mariham Magdy

Brief Biography about the Interviewee:

Mr. Vijay Gandhi has worked with human resource teams for over 20 years to provide them with tools, benchmarks, insights and data to help them design high level global HR frameworks and make decisions for local executive teams, remuneration committees and board of directors in public and privately owned companies across different sectors. He oversees the commercial activities of Reward & Benefits in KF Digital across Europe, Middle East and Africa.  

Vijay has an MBA from Durham University (UK) and BBA in Finance & International Business from University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA). He joined Korn Ferry in 2001 in Dubai and has worked in EMEA and Asia region. In May 2018, he was honored with Forbes “Top 50 Indian Executives in Arab World”

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

As the Regional Director for Korn Ferry Digital, we are keen to learn from you more about KF Digital, how do Korn Ferry’s digital applications help organizations to transform or enhance their organizational strategy?

Mr. Vijay Gandhi:

Through the Korn Ferry Digital platform, our clients gain direct access to our data, insights, analytics and digital solutions – enabling them to drive performance in their organizations in a scalable way through their people, using one enterprise-wide framework and language of talent.  Our digital solutions cover the whole talent journey. So, whether it’s developing a new talent strategy or reward program, making informed decisions about hiring or developing talent from within the organization, getting the right people on board, or even collecting feedback on how engaged employees really are, right across the organization – Korn Ferry Digital provides the answers.

Our solutions serve as an integrated platform that gives clients direct access to the data, insights and analytics. Clients benefit from one enterprise-wide talent framework and language that helps drive organizational performance through people.

2- HR Revolution Middle East: To what extent can we trust the results of the digital assessments? How can organizations use the data that Korn Ferry collects to make intelligent hiring, reward, development decisions?

Mr. Vijay Gandhi:

Korn Ferry Digital is fueled by the most comprehensive and up-to-date people and organization databases.  This data provides the DNA for our digital solutions, bringing a research-based foundation to underpin quality and consistency in your HR practices.  Over 4 billion data points have been collected, including: 

  • Over 69 million assessment results
  • 8 million employee engagement survey responses
  • Rewards data for 20 million employees across 25,000 organizations and 130+ countries

We’ve pulled the data together into a comprehensive set of actionable and dynamic Success Profiles.  Success Profiles define “what good looks like” and include data around three dimensions – the accountabilities of a role, the associated capabilities to perform these responsibilities, and the traits and drivers that are characteristic of a person who will thrive in this role.

Organizations have access to over 4,000 individual Success Profiles across 30,000 job titles – and we are continually updating and adding new profiles, so you get to leverage the latest thinking on emerging roles.  The results are therefore based on deep insight and research.

3- HR Revolution Middle East: Mr. Vijay, we are eager to learn from you more about the success story behind honoring you as one of the Top 50 Indian Leaders in Arab World by Forbes Middle East in 2018 Region’s greatest success stories as Regional Director at Korn Ferry Digital.

Mr. Vijay Gandhi:

I am a long-time resident of the Arab region, where my family roots go back 60 years, before the UAE federation was formed.  Knowing the culture, people and dynamics of working in the Arab world has been natural as this has been home to our family where my kids are the 5th generation.  For more than 20 years, I have worked closely with human resource teams in the Arab world to execute their talent strategy.  A lot has changed in this period in HR function itself which was regarded as a payroll function few decades ago.  Today, HR and People strategy are board room discussions where HR plays a strategic role in driving workforce performance.

In these positively growing and changing times, my focus was on leveraging tools, benchmarks, insights and data to design high-level global HR frameworks for senior executives in the region – helping them more effectively manage their talent.  We have built successful client partnerships in the region which has made Korn Ferry as a go to organizational consulting firm. 

4- HR Revolution Middle East: For over 20 years, you have overseen the activities of pay, talent, surveys and listening products across Europe, Middle East and Africa. What are the unique characteristics of the Middle East organizations especially in talent and pay management? How does we differ from other regions as Europe & Africa?

Mr. Vijay Gandhi:

Change is taking place rapidly in the world of work with any organizations taking unprecedented steps to remain relevant and connected to their people , their customers and society. In the Middle East we have seen many companies implement temporary pay-cuts. Diversified conglomerates have shifted their employees from one division to another to balance the demand and supply.  There is no denial that the way we work is changing and organizations have had to prepare a blueprint for the unexpected.  This year it’s coronavirus.  Next time, and there will be a next time, it could be a natural calamity, a recession, talent flight or something else unforeseen. 

  1. Redefining the nature of work:  Even today most organizations in the Gulf region are measuring success or performance using the metric of attendance.  There is a mismatch between modern, flexible ways of working and traditional ways of organizing and rewarding work. To close this gap, organizations need new approaches that fit today and can flex for the future. New and evolving technologies allow organizations to operate more effectively and more efficiently. They do this by preparing people to work more productively and by introducing virtual ways of doing things that previously required physical presence.   Some organizations in the region have started tocreate “flexible teams” for specific projects, and then dismantling  them once the project is complete.
  2. Moving towards a liquid workforce:  HR laws in the Middle East region have undergone change in the last 3 years to allow for part-time employees, internships and with the spring of an independent freelance community offering specialized professional services which were rare to find few years ago.   In the future, we will see more organizations tailoring their resource requirements to the needs of the labor market. Organizations will move towards a liquid workforce to capture the best talent regardless of source or nature of contract which may not be employed full-time.
  3. Splitting time and skills:  A few global companies are making use of employees’ skills and motivation within the confines of a traditional role.  They have developed a SharePoint platform where employees can give up to 20% of their time to projects outside of their core role. The 80/20 approach allows for flexibility without the contractual implications of making significant changes to roles and functions. The projects range from large, like supporting big corporate initiatives, to small, like moderating a series of workshops. These smaller projects may last just a few weeks and take up less than 20% of a person’s working time. Trainees, called ‘Start-up’ participants, also work according to the 80/20 principle. That means they follow a set rotation programme for four days of the week and meet on Fridays to work on joint projects.
  4. Rethinking Reward:  Even after right-sizing in many Middle East companies, there has been a significant impact of grade/title inflation on performance. In the short-term it is important to preserve operating capacity in the event demand returns to normal sooner than expected by managing leaves and cutting pay for a limited time.  In the medium-term, organizations will have to adjust individual performance incentives as conditions normalize and consider crisis-related spot awards where applicable.  In the long-term, organizations will have to not only maintain awards for top-performers but also consider tying bonuses and incentives to crisis-related health and-safety metrics.

With no ‘rules of the game’, and such rapid evolution, it’s not surprising that many companies feel they don’t know where or how to start. They need fresh thinking and new approaches on a whole range of topics – including how to create a ‘new deal’ that works for their people.

5- HR Revolution Middle East: The digital transformation has changed totally the way businesses make decisions.  Given that almost every organization has been forced into a new way of working, how can they navigate through a new normal?  

Mr. Vijay Gandhi:

The positive new is that, apart from solving immediate effects of the crisis, we have seen a resilience to operate from home by employees and employers moving from “no flexible hours” to “you can work remotely if the job doesn’t require you to come to the office”.

Whilst it’s great to move to more flexibility, we may be going over the top to think that this will be the norm for all employee segments.  Let me share some of the discussions with HR professionals in last few months in the region.

  1. Leadership matters and they want to be visible with the workforce.  Ask any leader when do they have the most impact? It’s when they are spending time with their people to engage with them and enable them by listening to their concerns. 
  2. There were aspects of our lives – work, family, friends – which were separate but now happening all in one physical space.  The self-complexity theory shows that individuals become vulnerable to negative feelings when these social activities and goals aren’t differentiated.
  3. Certain roles in healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality sectors cannot work remotely, and fantastic efforts have been made to make the workplace safe.
  4. Sales and Business development were areas identified as most dependent on face-to-face meetings.  According to Harvard Business research, in-person meetings were seen as most effective for:
    1. Negotiating important contracts (82%)
    2. Interviewing senior staff for key positions (81%)
    3. Understanding and listening to important customers (69%)

Although there are many reasons why video conferencing works well to stay connected in isolation and keep dispersed teams connected and aligned, latest research shows they wear on the psyche in complicated ways.  Psychologists say a new phenomenon “video call fatigue” is emerging.  It describes the feeling of being worn out by back-to-back virtual meetings and having to perform for the camera by over-scheduling ourselves.

So, whilst working from home since March 2020 was considered as a great move from being non-flexible to trusting people, it’s now time to rationalize our thinking.  The answer lies somewhere in the middle by being flexible and not drifting like nomads too. We cannot take all home and it won’t be forever. 

6- HR Revolution Middle East: How did all the twists and turns occurred in 2020 changed the traditional way organizations used to manage pay? Do you expect that businesses would return to the normal management of pay in 2021?

Mr. Vijay Gandhi:

Shifting to “people” priorities in 2021

2020 will be a fable for us to share with generations to come.  It is a year which has revolutionized the way we work and adapt to uncertainty.  A year which started with negativity around jobs and pay cuts. Life came to a stand-still.  Organizations who have survived the pandemic have shown tremendous resilience and agility to adapt to tough times.  As costs were taken out of the business in the first half of the year, we have seen higher productivity and the drive to restore profitability.  It was also a year where there remained no doubt that that the most critical driver for any organization was its workforce.

2021 is here and there has been never a tipping point like this before for governments and organizations to transform how they work, engage the employees and service their clients.  It is this mix of internal and external challenges that will also create opportunities for leaders to make a difference as we embark upon a new calendar year.

Reforms

Transformation in business set-up and labour reforms were on top of the agenda in 2020.  The Labour Reform Initiative (LRI) brought into action by MHRSD in Saudi under the National Transformation Program (NTP) has swung the focus back onto shared services and their significance in the Saudi business world. This initiative has not only set a strong precedent for the future of workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) but also carved a structured model for businesses looking to hire personnel. Similarly, there were 2 landmark moves in United Arab Emirates (UAE)

  • allowing foreign investors to own local companies without the need for an Emirati sponsor will open doors for more FDI and greater business opportunities.
  • allowing professionals to reside and work in Dubai residency rule was a big boon for professionals in workplaces where they are delivering or leading teams remotely.  

The road ahead for employees working in this region looks bright as these reforms would strengthen labour competencies, enrich the work environment, and put together an inviting job market.  The flexibility will help employers in 2021 to drive innovations, provide access to more talent, drive performance and results regardless of where the team is located in the region.

Empathy

Leaders will have to go beyond showing interest in the development of everyone and be empathetic towards employees who survived the crisis with them in 2020.  In fact, the ‘Global Workplace Study 2020’ by ADP Research Institute shows that employees are approximately 13 times more likely to be resilient when more workplace disruption occurs. Empathy was shown by employees in many ways e.g.  working from home in different circumstances or taking a pay cut to help companies save further job cuts. 

Technology innovation is here to stay

Organizations in both the public and private sectors had to make a change in the way they work and move to digitization.  Another conundrum we are presently facing is the real-estate impacts of employees desiring greater work-life flexibility. It’s unlikely that office spaces will disappear overnight, but rather a greater integration of virtual and in-person work is right around the corner. The recent decision by Dubai Government to work-from-home comes at the back of flexible working hours announced in April 2020. Workplace flexibility works best when implemented to address both the organization’s need to for a leaner workforce and employees’ need for work/life support.

Balancing wellness

The social element of your workplace has likely taken on a much different look in 2021. You may have employees in a social distance-friendly environment, employees working from home, or a mix of both.  Organizations will have to find ways to encourage them to stay connected while being physically disconnected.  Even before the pandemic COVID-19 had entered our vocabulary, burnout, stress and anxiety were significant issues in the workplace, and society generally.  Once we throw the mental health impact into the mix, and work-related stress is likely to reach staggering levels.  Going into 2021, leaders must promote the mental wellbeing and invest into benefits which will bring people together in a different way.

7- HR Revolution Middle East: What final tips would you give to business leaders at the beginning of 2021 with all the apprehensions and fears they have for the new wave of covid-19?

Mr. Vijay Gandhi:

Technology will continue to dominate the workplace and improve efficiencies.  However, the most valuable services in the marketplace will always be done better by humans. In an era defined by crisis, where emotional intelligence, compassion, resilience, and morality may prove more important than ever before, the future of work is human. If business is about humans, the future of work must be too.

One thing to look forward to in 2021 from job and career perspective is slow change.  Disruption has already happened.  However, more often and less discussed are the small changes occurring each day that eventually add up to huge impacts. The present moment is worthy of your attention.

THANK YOU

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Q&A with Yasmine Yehia | MEA Employer Branding Manager at Schneider Electric, Life Coach & Consultant

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Interviewer: Mahmoud Mansi

“To be able to have a strong brand, you need to start from within – you need to have an attractive story to tell so if this is not there, it won’t be the right time for employer branding. I always tell the people I teach employer branding – fix internally first and then you will have something to say externally.”

Yasmine yehia

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How would you introduce yourself to the audience?

Yasmine Yehia: I am an Employer Branding expert, a certified life and career coach from the ICF, a public speaker and a certified trainer!

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How do you define Employer Branding in your own words?

Yasmine Yehia: Employer Branding is the art of story-telling, each employer has a story to tell, and this story is very useful for those who are interested in the company. A story about values, a story about culture, a story about care – a story about authenticity and uniqueness.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What does an Employer Branding Manager do?

Yasmine Yehia: An Employer Branding Manager is someone who is an expert in storytelling, someone who is also an expert in the employer strategy and people vision and who is talented in showing what differs the employer from any others in the market.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Employer Branding is one of the new global trends in HR, yet still not implemented in several countries and among many organizations. Why do you think some organizations have concerns regarding implementing Employer Branding as a comprehensive initiative?

Yasmine Yehia: I don’t think it is a matter of a concern at all – I think it is a matter of time and maturity. To be able to have a strong brand, you need to start from within – you need to have an attractive story to tell so if this is not there, it won’t be the right time for employer branding. I always tell the people I teach employer branding – fix internally first and then you will have something to say externally.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How do you measure the ROI of your Employer Branding initiatives?

Yasmine Yehia: Oh God, there are zillions of ways to measure the ROI of our initiatives and campaigns, as sophisticated as a brand awareness analysis to as simple as the quality of CVs we’re receiving for open vacancies. Measuring the pride and engagement of employees, measuring engagements and reach on our employer branding social media posts.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Who are your main stakeholders and partners in the Employer Branding process?

Yasmine Yehia: And like I teach in my workshop – Employer Branding is never an independent function, actually we cannot even function or deliver alone, it is a collaborative work between us, HR and Marcom.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Can you share with us one of the challenges you have faced in your current job and how you overcame it?

Yasmine Yehia: Managing a complex region like MEA is quite tough and I think the deep knowledge of each country in the region was my main challenge – what is it that my target audience in each country look for in an employer? I overcame it with loads of study and education and also with using the help of specialized agencies to provide me with the needed reports.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What pieces of advice would you give to organizations who want to empower their employer brand?

Yasmine Yehia: Be authentic! Start from within and have an authentic story to tell. You will reach the hearts of your target audiences effortlessly.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Jessie (if we may call you with your nickname), we are curious what is the first job you ever had and what is the most valuable lesson you have learnt from it?

Yasmine Yehia: My very first job was an IT Recruiter for fortune 1000 companies in USA – I learned the art of assessing and dealing with people, if there is one thing recruitment has given me, it is the strong people skills!

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You are also a certified Life Coach, how does this help you in your role in HR?

Yasmine Yehia: In both HR and Employer Branding your main customer and target audience is people, right? A life coach listens to so many people, to their issues and struggles, it makes you a people person by heart – it gives you the perfect listening skills and it strengthens the way you interact and communicate with people, and this is exactly what you need as an HRian!

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: As a Life Coach, what advices do you have to professionals who want to sustain a work-life balance? Do we all need to have a work-life balance?

Yasmine Yehia: YES, we all need a work life balance definitely – you need time for yourself, to recharge, reflect and develop. I’d tell them, make the time for yourself a priority – do not miss it, this time is actually good for your work too because you will always have the right energy to continue. If there is a learning lesson from 2020, it is the importance of our mental health. Have a routine and this routine must include time for yourself!

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: As a Career Coach, how do you think Covid-19 impacted the employment market?

Yasmine Yehia: Well, from what I see from my clients – so many people are thinking to shift careers post covid-19. Some of them must because they lost their jobs and some of them realized the importance of mental health, so they decided to leave a very stressful career. I think moving forward companies will have to learn to be flexible in their hiring process and start accepting candidates having the right skills for a job rather than a big number of years of experience! It is hiring for talents not years! People also need to be more resilient and smart in using their skills.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Finally, as a Trainer – why do you think personal branding is very important? We know you teach the topic.

Yasmine Yehia: In a world that has gone totally virtual – people need to learn how to build a strong personal brand online, it is how you will smartly use your skills and get paid for it! You no longer have the big chance to meet your recruiters face to face, following the new ways of working, we are heading towards working from home and flexible hours more, your personal brand is the only thing that will differentiate you in the market and open doors for you.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Thank you for your time, would you like to say anything?

Yasmine Yehia: Thank you for having me – I hope I continue inspiring those interested in the employer branding career!

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Civil Work

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

Published

on

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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