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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!

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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Corporate

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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