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Interview with Mohamed Faisal Al-Nizami, Country Manager at Mercer Egypt

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“Nowadays, Reward in specific is one of the hottest topics that keeps execs busy, in a world that is shifting to “pay for skill” instead of the traditional “pay by job or grade”. Total Rewards professionals are expected to be always up-to-date and informed on the latest trends and come up with innovative ideas to help execs take informed decisions.” Mohamed Faisal Al-Nizami

Interviewer: Mariham Magdy

Brief Biography about the Interviewee:

Mohamed is a Senior Associate in the Career practice and leads Mercer’s business in Egypt. He joined Mercer in early 2019. Mohamed is an experienced consultant who specializes in advising companies on issues related to people management, rewards, executive rewards, talent retention and organizational change. 

Mohamed began his career at AmCham Egypt in the Operations department; he joined then Hay Group (now KornFerry) where he spent more than 8 years growing their presence in Egypt and other parts of the region.  Mohamed holds a BA in Business and International Trade with a focus on Economics- from Misr International University (MIU). In his free time, Mohamed enjoys traveling, diving, and mountain biking. 

1.HR Revolution Middle East: Mohamed, welcome to HR Revolution Middle East Magazine. It’s our pleasure to make this interview with you.  We are keen to learn from you and acquaint our readers about Mercer’s growth in the past couple of years, especially in the Middle East?

Mohamed Faisal Al-Nizami: Thank you, the pleasure is all mine.

Mercer has been in the Middle East region since 2007 when we opened our first office in Dubai. 14 years later, we have 300 people working across two offices in the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai), two in Saudi Arabia (Riyadh and Jeddah), one in Cairo, Egypt and most recently we opened a regional hub in Amman, Jordan to support our Middle East business. We also have operations in Turkey and North Africa.

We have been expanding our Middle East footprint as we always felt a strong regional demand from the public and private sectors driven by the key social and economic trends reshaping human resources and wealth management practices. Our different offices across the region aligned with our expertise and ability to apply data-driven research, analysis and insights, allow us to bring greater value to our clients.

2- HR Revolution Middle East: What special role has Mercer played through the critical period of covid-19 in 2020 to help support Companies & Total Reward professionals during this phase?

Mohamed Faisal Al-Nizami: 2020 was a challenging year, probably one of the most challenging years in our lives, not only from a professional, but also from a personal point of view. In times of crisis, and particularly during this critical period, our business partners turned to us for guidance and support on how to navigate and respond to the unprecedented challenges they faced as a result of COVID-19.

From day one, we developed survey reports of the COVID-19 outbreak that included status of COVID-19 planning, expatriate-specific and business-traveller concerns and issues, as well as details on post-travel quarantine or self-imposed isolation procedures, among others.

For instance, in Mercer’s first global survey of company responses, 45 percent of organizations in the Middle East and Africa region reported that their business continuity plan was currently under development, while another 10 percent admitted to not having one at all. This meant that more than one in every two organizations were unprepared for such an occurrence, leaving millions of employees without an adequate action plan should they need to take containment and recovery actions, such as remote working or repatriation. The result of this lack of planning could increase response times during crises, dampen staff morale, and negatively impact customer service.

These surveys and data kept evolving, making sure that our clients were well informed on the developments of the event and its possible effects on the labour market, as well as helping companies understand what would and would not work in a market like Egypt.  

Another key priority for Mercer was to stay very close to the business and HR community, sharing insights and fostering networking. We conducted over 50 client events across the Middle East region, including 2 (?) specifically for Egypt, with the intent to drive knowledge sharing in diverse topics relevant to the pandemic, such as employee experience, remote working, compensation, performance management, wellbeing, organization agility, etc. 

3- HR Revolution Middle East: In 2020 Mercer’s Egypt webinar, you announced that you are planning to unleash the Wealth Management Business in Egypt. Can you share more details about the “Wealth Mgmt.” support you provide to companies and how do you aim to strengthen this business in the coming period?

Mohamed Faisal Al-Nizami: In addition to our consulting and human resources arm, at Mercer, we have helped millions of people globally to live a more secure future and organizations build a more secure business. We help our clients making more informed investment decisions that can result in brighter outcomes for their business and their employees. Additionally, and as a leader in retirement and investment strategies, we offer a full spectrum of actuarial, administration and investment solutions and consulting services. This is also what we have been doing in the region.

For instance, I would like to give an example of some work that we have been doing in the UAE in partnership with The Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and their employee workplace savings scheme that has been hailed a huge success, assisting expat employees prepare for their long-term financial security.

Mercer has been partnering with DIFC for almost one year now, as an Investment Advisor in the launch of the DIFC Employees Workplace Savings Plan (DEWS) introducing a progressive end-of-service benefits plan to restructure the currently defined employee benefit plan into a funded and professionally managed, defined contribution plan. The initiative also offers a voluntary savings plan, allowing employees working in the DIFC to secure their financial future with ease.

4-HR Revolution Middle East: For the first time in 2020 you managed to add Egypt to the regional survey for the energy & oil and gas industries. Moreover, despite all the twists and turns that occurred in 2020, Mercer was able to increase her companies’ database by 22% and its incumbents by 111%, which is not an easy achievement in such a year. Tell us more about the efforts exerted in the background of such achievement.

Mohamed Faisal Al-Nizami: Yes, 2020 was definitely a challenging year on many levels, but we also had some reasons to celebrate, particularly, at Mercer Egypt. Due to our efforts and meticulous planning and comparing to 2018, we successfully added in 2020, 85 new companies to our database (43% increase), 77,000 new employee data (208% increase), and 518 new jobs (78% increase).

As for the Energy sector survey, this was another milestone as Mercer Egypt witnessed notable breakthroughs with the public, telecom, FMCG and construction sectors as well.

Our approach is simple though, but effective: it’s about supporting our clients with insights and helping them make the best use of the data for their specific business, it’s not about the data in itself. I believe that added value is highly recognized by our client base in Egypt.

5- HR Revolution Middle East: I believe that the traditional way Companies used to receive the reports of salary surveys, has changed, and now through Mercer WIN®, you are shaping the industry by allowing companies to custom statistics tailored to their needs. Tell us more please about this special feature you offer to your Clients.

Mohamed Faisal Al-Nizami: Yes, you are right. At Mercer our survey results are delivered in Mercer WIN®, which is an online platform that consolidates data and analytics, as well as intelligence from other sources, to give our clients the comprehensive data needed for them to confidently make compensation decisions.

This allows our clients to customize the data by geography, industry, company size, etc.; compare job descriptions side-by-side; change pay elements to support the right level of analysis; perform function and career-level analysis as well as export the data for integration into other systems and run presentation-quality detailed or summary reports, just to highlight a few.

6- HR Revolution Middle East: Mohamed, to what extent do you believe that the surveys of the coming years would continue to include the novel elements added to the survey past year such as the salary reductions and the remote working arrangements?

Mohamed Faisal Al-Nizami: Salary reductions are very specific and unique to the current situation, and we shouldn’t say that this is going to be a “trend”. Remote working, on the other hand, is definitely on the rise. If we look at it right before the pandemic, remote working was unique to certain industries and jobs, nowadays, every single company we know has a plan for flexible working and remote working. 

Looking at the broader picture and what to look for in the near future, Mercer is now leading the reinvention of the new shape of work which will result in a big change in the future of jobs, as well as the reskilling and upskilling of the workforce. The new shape of work is focused on three main imperatives:

  • Value. What people value and how value is created is shifting. This requires a rethink of the benefits, what inspires, and how the EVP needs to evolve for a more diverse and inclusive work model.
  • Flexibility. COVID-19 has tested our ability to flex how and where we work, to rapidly adjust capacity, and accelerate digital transformation. The new shape of work is flexible and skills-based and
  • Sustainability. How companies and investors behave is in sharp focus as they reset priorities and take collective responsibility for the futures of multiple stakeholders.

7- HR Revolution Middle East: Debates around the best JE Methodology to use will continue forever. What special considerations would you love to highlight to companies about Mercer’s International Position Evaluation (IPE) Methodology, and how much does it guarantee the fair differentiation between positions?

Mohamed Faisal Al-Nizami: Mercer IPE (International Position Evaluation) is a proprietary job evaluation methodology based on a series of business-related factors and dimensions that represent core job attributes and it reflects current thinking on how many successful companies view and value jobs.

The consistent application of these factors during the evaluation process can enhance business understanding, support the assessment of relationships between jobs and job families, and fairly align jobs between levels, among business segments, and across borders. The 5 main factors that are considered when evaluating a job using IPE methodology are: Impact, Communication, Innovation, Knowledge and Risk.  Looking at all this, ensures a fair comparison of jobs vs. each other internally as well externally.

Equally important in the current times of change we are witnessing is the agility of the methodology and enhancements taking into consideration relevant factors of job evaluation in the near future. Mercer is currently developing solutions that will increase the focus of job evaluation as well as benchmarking on skills rather than just jobs. The future of work, and corporate infrastructure, is anticipated to shift towards the value of skills as organizations become more agile and project based, where hierarchical levels and rigid job accountabilities will become less prevalent.

8- HR Revolution Middle East: We are happy to learn about the eLearning platform launched by Mercer, providing access to training in different fields (Reward – Global Mobility – Strategic Partnering, …. etc). From your experience, what special tips would you share with Total Reward professionals, especially in the Middle East in order to keep updated about the latest techniques and science practice in managing pay?

Mohamed Faisal Al-Nizami: Mercer Learning Online was established with one goal in mind – enhancing the capability of our client’s human resource employees by providing access to HR architecture that will allow organizations to form and implement a successful framework. Why? Because companies are constantly challenged to meet aggressive business goals and as a result, HR’s role in driving success is more important than ever, and yet most organizations do not have a systematic approach in developing the capabilities of the HR team.

In Egypt, HR as a practice, and Reward in specific, came a long way from being perceived as a function that is only responsible for “personnel” and “payroll”, to a “science” that is concerned with the companies’ greatest asset, its people. This would have never been possible if it wasn’t for those HR professionals who are always eager to learn, explore and are not afraid to try and implement new ideas.

I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as “best practice”, but there are many “good practices” that HR professional need to study and explore in order to pick the right one for their organisation.

Nowadays, Reward in specific is one of the hottest topics that keeps execs busy, in a world that is shifting to “pay for skill” instead of the traditional “pay by job or grade”. Total Rewards professionals are expected to be always up-to-date and informed on the latest trends and come up with innovative ideas to help execs take informed decisions.

THANK YOU

Articles

The Wellbeing @ Work virtual Summit Middle East returns for its 5th annual event on 22-24 February 2021

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The summit provides an innovative and experiential virtual learning opportunity for our audience of CEOs, benefit and reward business leaders and senior HR professionals. The information and knowledge gained from attending this event allow the opportunity to make strategic wellbeing and mental health decisions within an organization, supporting our mission to create more flourishing and thriving workplaces. Never before has the mental health and wellbeing of your employees been so important. The Wellbeing @ Work Summit includes keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and fireside chats alongside unrivaled networking with leaders across the Middle East using our AI-enabled matchmaking platform. This is far more than a webinar! An engaging 3-day event providing you invaluable insight and tools to create thriving workplaces.

Key Reasons to Attend:

  • An engaging AI-enabled matchmaking platform to make invaluable connections & host virtual meetings up to 2 weeks before the three-day festival
  • Learn how multinational organizations are creating workplaces where employees thrive in the new world
  • Campfire panel discussions informing workplace change & mental health solutions
  • Middle East-based employer case studies providing the secrets to employee wellbeing success
  • International experts bringing best-practice from across the globe
  • Invaluable networking with business leaders from across the Middle East

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. The design and implementation of a holistic wellbeing and mental health programme that delivers healthy outcomes and a more productive organization is paramount right now. 

In addition, the results of the extensive Middle East region-wide survey on wellbeing and mental fitness in organizations across the region made in partnership with Cognomie will be presented during the event.

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Interviews

Interview with Dr. Sanjay Batheja, the Co-Founder and Director of Capital University College

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“Capital University College believes in fostering young talent by giving students an international perspective and ideology to the industry. With internationally-acclaimed programmes, we allow students to analyse the major factors that influence human resource management such as cultural, political, economic, labour costs, and industrial relations.” Dr. Sanjay Batheja

Interviewer: Mariham Magdy 

Brief Biography about the Interviewee: 

Dr Sanjay Batheja is the Co-Founder and Director of Capital University College. He ventured into the education industry in 1998 with a vision to offer affordable, flexible and quality assured education to the UAE students. In line with this vision, Dr Batheja has successfully developed structured programs in the field of business, management HR, tourism and design and has guided students to win awards and ignite their entrepreneurial journey.  

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

Dr Batheja, as the Co-Founder and Director of Capital University College, would you please share with our readers how does Capital College offer unique programs as one of the distinct educational institutions in UAE?

Dr. Sanjay Batheja: 

Thank you so much Ms. Magdy. It is indeed a pleasure to be part of this feature. Capital has been in the UAE’s education industry since 1998. Our humble beginnings saw us serving niche audiences such as women and young girls with programmes that were simply not present at that stage. Programmes such as Fashion Design, Interior Design and Makeup were not even close to popular. It was all about C++, Java and Ms Office. That’s where we started and saw a budding generation of proud, successful and confident women graduate from our facility. That’s where our journey began. 

With almost 22 years in the education space, we have formed prestigious partnerships with international schools – North Wales Business School Glyndwr University UK, Westcliff University based in California and Italy’s Rome Business School that has the world’s 59th ranked MBA and its highly demanded Professional Master in Human Resource Management programmes. We also have a technical collaboration with London College of Arts, UK which has been a creative hub for over several students flocking in from over 42 countries. One of the reasons for partnering with these universities was to introduce international programs to our UAE students that have high accreditation and allow them to earn dual and triple qualification along with points from WES that can be beneficial when students plan to migrate to other countries. 

2- HR Revolution Middle East: Dr. Batheja, you have trained over 1500 managers in the field of Human Resources and currently you run medium-sized colleges as well. How do you see technology impact the future of HR and L&D as well?

Dr. Sanjay Batheja: 

Training individuals the traditional way means restricting oneself to a much narrower audience, maybe for those who can fit in the training room and repeating the same task again and again. Tech has and will continue to dramatically change the HR and L&D division. With some not so high-end equipment, some exceptionally talented trainers with clear criteria and outcomes, one can create a very solid training programme. With the modern LMS systems, the student can be exposed to drip learning and be assessed as they move along the modules of study and finally achieve all the outcomes to be certified. The best part is ‘economies of scale.’ There is no end to the number of learners who can go through the same course over a long period. ‘Consistency of outcomes’ is another huge benefit – even learners enrolled at different times will have the same experience every single time. 

Case in point, Capital being a college, our Classrooms too have moved to flipped models instead of traditional models; where the new content is introduced online using video and students meet in class for Q&A and discussions. This increases ‘Student-Centred learning’ and in effect ‘student engagement’, ‘collaboration’ and ‘self-discovery’. 

3- HR Revolution Middle East: Considering the challenges faced in 2020 due to covid-19; how has the pandemic shaped the HR industry? What positive aspects can we focus on from the lessons learnt from covid-19?

Dr. Sanjay Batheja:

During the pandemic, people moved away from the 9-5 grind and replaced workspace with home offices which surprisingly increased productivity as they were in the comfort zones rather than being in constant fear in their respective work stations. Although different companies have had diverse experiences on how the covid-19 impacted the HR industry, this is the time when professionals and experts of the industry were challenged to introduce strategies and new blueprint that will not compromise the quality of work and neither turns a deaf ear to employee management and satisfaction. Also, I believe this was truly a testing time where many corporations took this as an opportunity to show how much they believed, trusted and cared for their employees which in turn only increased employee happiness, reflecting directly in the company’s revenues. 

On the flip side, the pandemic has given HR a new perspective on how to look at their valuable assets and how its priorities on importance changed. First, from HR as a profit centre, it moved to the health and safety of its employees as its prime importance. Second, the realisation has set in that remote work was possible and in fact, all KPIs ranked higher, so now they know they never really needed to ‘parent’ their employees. They also discovered that employees could come up with intelligent decisions, especially when they were on reduced or no monitoring. Third, the need for innovation was identified as a priority. And finally having an agile workforce that could move at pace was seen as very important by the HR. 

4- HR Revolution Middle East: What expectations do you have for the return of Human Resource Management – post-pandemic in 2021?

Dr. Sanjay Batheja: 

My expectation is that the HR in post-pandemic incorporates the new normal in its day-to-day. Some of the ideas and strategies implemented during the pandemic may be chosen to carry forward due to its positive results. According to a survey released by Bayt.com, it was revealed that employees preferred to work from home and over 50% of the companies have a contingency plan as a precautionary measure in case a second wave of the pandemic hits the Middle Eastern region. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising to see companies take this ahead into the post-pandemic world. 

Considering that uncertainty is prevailing irrespective of the industry one is in, there is a high possibility of HR teams to resort to temporary or short-contract workers rather than committing to full-time employment. Also, I believe the industry is rapidly advancing by adopting and adapting to tech-tools. It would be safe to say that the industry will be hugely dominated by digitization used for communication, coordination, recruitment that can potentially even replace business travel. Overall, HR is successfully embracing technology to improve the industry and its supporting aspects. 

5- HR Revolution Middle East: How does Capital University College consider offering an updated HR Programs curriculum including the latest trends in the HR sector due to the recent challenges?

Dr. Sanjay Batheja: 

With the HR industry revolutionizing towards adapting tech-tools to enhance its performance, build accuracy and flexibility, our programmes are well-rounded with the right blend of academia and professional experience. Along with having professors who have a strong academic background, we also invite industry experts who have contributed significantly to the industry. This way, students bank on academic data as well get a corporate angle into their postgraduate studies. Along with this, we have included industry visits and tours for students to get real-time experience and knowledge of the industry which we are hoping to resume once things slowly settle down. Although obsolescence cannot be completely surpassed, these are some effective ways that can give students relevant knowledge and help them develop the necessary skills that will make them future HR assets of leading organizations and the overall HR sector.  

6- HR Revolution Middle-East: To what extent do you believe HR professionals nowadays must consider the international perspective of their studies? How does Capital University College strengthen international exposure for her students?

Dr. Sanjay Batheja:

Capital University College believes in fostering young talent by giving students an international perspective and ideology to the industry. With internationally-acclaimed programmes, we allow students to analyse the major factors that influence human resource management such as cultural, political, economic, labour costs, and industrial relations. 

Through our partnership with Rome Business School, we offer a Professional Master in Human Resource Management which is a one-year rigorous programme where students delve-deeper into the finite specialisations. Students are exposed to real-time topics, nuances and challenges with relevant case studies and are expected to suggest potential solutions, thereby, making them job-ready. Our programmes have the right balance of theory and practice which is an essential element in an industry like Human Resource. Students after the successful completion of the programme are eligible for triple qualification – a Master in HRM from Rome Business School, one from Valencia International University and a postgraduate diploma in HR from the UK, making this a truly international and valued qualification. Students get to learn both the British as well as European context of Human Resources. 

Additionally, Capital University College hosts the #guruTalks where we invite senior leaders in HR to speak on pressing topics to the students. Also once the pandemic is settled, we will be taking the students to Rome for a week-long trip hosted by the RBS where the school takes them across companies in Rome and gets them to experience the European HR market. 

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

Dr. Sanjay Batheja: 

Pandemic has given us a new vision and sensibility. The focus of HR should be to develop an agile workforce with an adaptable skill set. Recruitment should be divided with focus on independent contract workers and outsource day-to-day HR tasks to electronic means than in person. Focus on developing more apt technology that would assist the workforce in time of a possible new wave. L&D team should focus on upskilling the team with new technology and more importantly developing communication skills between remote teams or workers. 

THANK YOU

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Interview with Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji, Founder & Senior Consultant at IMA Consultancy

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The ROI methodology can be used for not only measuring the impact and ROI, but also for planning for better results, outputs, and tangible impact of talent development endeavors in the public sector or any other sector” Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji

Interviewer: Nourhan Badr El-Din

Brief Biography about the Interviewee:

Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji is an expert in the fields of talent development, leadership training, assessment & psychometric testing, organizational development, and return on investment (ROI). He was one of the winners of the best ROI study by ROI Institute in 2019. Ishaq is a certified behavioral assessor and familiar with psychometric tests such as Talent Q, Saville Wave, and 15FQ+. His last post was the Executive Director for Learning & Development (CLO) in BIPA. BIPA is the government arm for training and developing employees in the public sector in Bahrain. His tenure as a CLO was between March 2009 and November 2019. He had major contributions in establishing BIPA as a national and international organization and focused on the learning and development function in building an image for BIPA locally and internationally.

 Ishaq has undertaken key role strategically and operationally in leadership development of senior government officials in the public sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain covering more than 50 government entities and more than 55,000 employees in the public sector.

As an assessor, he has been professionally trained to design, implement and evaluate assessment centers for government senior staff. He received his training and certification from Hay Group International (currently Korn Ferry).

Ishaq holds a master degree in Training and HRM from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom (2005) and a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from the King Fahad University for Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (1990).

1.HR Revolution Middle East: Can you share with us more about your role and experience as a member of the management board in the international association of schools and institutes of public administration?

Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji:

The International Association of Schools and Institutes of Public Administration (IASIA) is one of the oldest organizations in the world which is concerned with public administration function. Most IASIA members are national entities that work directly with public administration in their countries. Till the end of 2020, there were more than 178 members (entities) within IASIA. These entities represent most of the countries around the world covering all the continents. IASIA key role is to act as a hub for these global entities, creating a wide network of experts and scholars who meet regularly in different forms of gatherings for the purpose of exchanging knowledge, experience, and practices that leads to the development of the public administration function among all entities working in the field. Gatherings happen in the form of conferences, forums, seminars, publications, etc.…These events are organized in different countries and continents to give the global flavor for participants and for the interactions all the time. Due to the wide range of entities and professionals within IASIA, the outcomes of scientific gatherings, interactions, etc. The impact is usually significant on those who participate and work with IASIA.   

2.HR Revolution Middle East: Mr. Ishaq, you won the ROI Institute Award for the best ROI study in 2019, can you tell us more about your study and the inspirations behind the scenes? How did this Award impact your career later on?

Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji:

As far as I know, the ROI Institute is the leader in the field in the United States and around the world. I am proud to be among the winners of the ROI annual award in 2019. Actually, we worked as a team in BIPA, the former organization that I worked in, and at the time, we decided to take two of our long programs to measure their impact and ROI. These programs were very successful in terms of customer satisfaction and impact according to our internal measures. However, we wanted to gauge the success using a more comprehensive and global measure of achievement and hence we took it as a challenge for us. Our study was comprehensive and a role model. We were very happy to be one of the winners. Of course, winning a prestigious award such as the ROI Award was a milestone for the team and has been since that a driving force to further proceed with leadership development programs. In IMA consultancy, we specialize in both leadership development programs and measuring the return on investment of such programs. Needless to mention that designing a leadership program to impact is a key factor in achieving the goals of any development program.

3.HR Revolution Middle East: How does the ROI methodology support the public sector non-capital investments in learning and development?

Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji:

There is an erroneous conception that the impact of programs and return on investment can only be measured in profit-making organizations and this is absolutely wrong. The ROI methodology and probably other tested and approved methodologies can make a difference. They can be used as tools for not only measuring the impact and ROI, but also as tools for planning for better results, outputs, and impact of talent development endeavors in the public sector or any other sector. It does not really matter if you are making a profit or not. ROI methodology can be applied to any kind of organization.

4.HR Revolution Middle East: Can you tell us more about your role in establishing BIPA: Institute of public administration as a “national and international organization”? What lessons can inspire young Arab leaders with?

Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji:

BIPA was a newly established government body when I joined BIPA in early in 2009. There was an urgent need to deliver results for BIPA. The mission I received when I joined was as follows: “Create a prestigious Leadership program to develop leaders in the public sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain”. Hence, there was an urgent need for a leadership development program that aims at preparing future leaders in the government sector. Accordingly, I took a position to make a long-term solution instead of a short-term one. Hence, a program with a systematic methodology and implemented according to a clear plan and established criteria was the option I took to handle the mission I received. The mission was closely monitored by the EDB (Economic Development Board) at the time. EDB was the custodian of the vision 2030 at the time. Hence the overall target was that graduate leaders would be capable to handle all duties and responsibilities in their roles within the Bahrain Government, to enable them to contribute to achieving the national vision of the government of Bahrain vision 2030. Beside the endeavor to build leadership development programs, there was a need to build BIPA as an organization that can stand up and meet organizational requirements such as internal systems, building relationships and networks nationally and internationally, building a reputation, etc…. one of the key lessons that could be conveyed to the young Arab leaders is that a systematic and persistence approach will be a prerequisite in pursuing strategic goals. Strategic goals could only be achieved if tackled systematically and results are achieved gradually but persistently.  

5.HR Revolution Middle East: Mr. Ishaq, through your inspiring career journey, how has your engineering background and work experience in the Petroleum industry been reflected successfully in talent management in this field?

Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji:

“Engineering is discipline, accuracy, and delivery of result”. This is one of the key lessons which I learned as part of my engineering life. I worked as an engineer for 18 years in one of the most sophisticated sectors which are oil and gas. This sector is one of the most well-established sectors in the world. I learned a lot from these 18 years and I made a clear plan to make my career shift and worked over 8 years before I fully shift from engineering to learning and development function. My engineering background has assisted my L&D life in many ways. Among these are being disciplined, accurate, and able to deliver concrete results. Here I would like to emphasize that merging two disciplines is a good strategy for any professional and enhancing self-qualities from any two disciplines would be a great advantage. For me, the merge was between engineering and training (learning and development). I used my abilities in the design side to design new programs, especially in leadership development programs. The good mix between Engineering background and knowledge in training plus the passion for my new discipline i.e. training was the recipe for the good outcomes I could achieve in my training life. 

6.HR Revolution Middle East: How can HR professionals benefit from the digitalization tools and services in advancing the impact of HRM “human resources management”?

Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji:

I believe digitalization shall be an inherent part of the HR function from now on. The current Covid-19 and Covid-20 pandemics have accelerated and strengthened the need for digitalization. The during and post-Covid era makes many policies and procedures obsolete and hence more updated policies, procedures and strategies are necessary. New concepts and methodologies are evolving and hence HR professionals must cope with them and utilize them for the benefit of the HR function. Artificial intelligence for example is rising and its implications on HR and training must be explored and employed as soon as possible.     

7.HR Revolution Middle East: How does being exposed to different cultures, industries, and learning experiences impact your vision and career?

Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji:

There is saying which I like and believe in, it says: try to live in more than one country, or travel to many countries, or try to learn more than one language. I think those three options in life if could be afforded or achieved would have a great impact on the person. Of course you can add diversity option such as different industries, different experiences and so on. That’s why diversity has become one of the skills or abilities or attitudes that people need to embrace if they want to succeed professionally especially if they are targeting global scale. Exposing to diverse cultures makes your vision wider and clearer, makes your solutions more comprehensive and probably more durable. Vision and long-term thinking is a leadership ability which makes the person unique among others.    

8.HR Revolution Middle East: As we see the need for mentoring is increasing for young professionals, to what extent can mentoring guide, develop, or maybe reshape the future of young adults and the job market? And how?

Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji:

I believe mentoring should be given greater emphasis and concern by organizations. I believe mentoring is the most important learning and development branch which can have a higher impact. However, mentoring should be done systematically and following a clear strategy and a system. Mentoring could be the most impactful strategy for building capacity, knowledge, and talent, especially among young people. Yet, I have not seen much systematic mentoring happening within organizations except within very few organizations which are usually large-size organizations. The 70-20-10 rule which came as a result of research says that 70% of learning happens as hands-on experience on the job and directed by the individual’s manager or superior, while 20% of learning usually takes place through interactions with others which some professionals call it social learning. 10% is usually learned through formal learning. That’s why mentoring could be a great element in shaping the future of young adults and the job market.

9.HR Revolution Middle East: What is your advice for business owners in developing their training and development strategies for 2021 with all the ups and downs of the business die to covid-19?

Mr. Ishaq Ameen Alkooheji:

I would say that learning and development of the workforce shall always be a priority for business owners. L&D does not mean only sending people outside the job place or a taught course in a nice hotel or a course via the zoom application or teams or whatever tool you have. Providing the learning and development opportunities should be part of the internal system of the company. It does necessarily mean expensive courses or solutions. L&D can happen with simple and cost-effective solutions. However, to achieve that, you need to have effective L&D function within your organization. This function could be achieved in a way that fits with your financial status, whether you are a small, medium or a large organization. I always say that those organizations with L&D function are most of the time in a better shape than those who are without and you can make your own judgement on this.    

THANK YOU

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