“For me, I am happy as long as I can see that the work we do has an impact on individuals and organizations and especially on society and advances development in the Middle-East” George Karam
Interviewer: Mariham Magdy
Brief Biography about the Interviewee:
George Karam is Managing Partner – Advisory Middle East and Africa for Korn Ferry, based in Dubai. Mr. Karam’s career of 31 years is split between management consulting, primarily with Hay Group / Korn Ferry in the USA and the Middle East and in several leadership roles at the World Bank in Washington, DC including global head of compensation, benefits, insurance and pension. He has worked in over 35 countries and across many sectors advising over 100 clients on strategy implementation, organization effectiveness, compensation, and human capital management
He is passionate about human, organization, and society development. Mr. Karam is an expert in building effective organizations and human capital management systems. His strength is in client engagement and integrated solution design and implementation.
Mr. Karam holds a Master’s of Business Administration in Management from Lincoln U. in San Francisco, CA and a Bachelor’s of Art in Business Administration from the American University of Beirut. He also completed the Executive Education Program at the Harvard Business School. He is also a Certified Compensation Professional (CCP) and works interchangeably in English, French and Arabic.
He is a member of the Advisory Council of the Human Resources Management Program at Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut.
1- HR Revolution Middle East: Can you take me to through your career journey and your current role at Korn Ferry?
Firstly, thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak to you and your esteemed online magazine.
It is a pleasure to be speaking to a magazine published in Egypt where a lot of knowledge about human development came from and where a lot of transformation has been happening
About me, as a child I did not necessarily grow up thinking that I wanted to be a management consultant, I wanted to be a car designer. Not only because I like cars but because I thought it’s where one can mix science and art: the car has a lot of science, data, components, a lot of processes to be built (science) but it can also be aesthetically pretty and artistic. There’s a mix of science and art that creates movement, progress… and consulting is something like that!
I finished my MBA in Management in 1988 and I was hired into management consulting. I believed that it can be interesting because of the direct exposure to different clients and their business challenges that I will be resolving. Also, in different parts of the world.
I started with a strategy firm that did a lot of work processes re-engineering based on Statistical Process Control and Total Quality Management and that taught me a lot about how organizations function and the difference between high performing ones and the not so high performing ones. This signaled to me the notion that ‘yes you can put a lot of emphasis on the science of the organization, but the highest performing ones have its people at the center of their success’. Their people are aligned to their strategies, trained, motivated, etc. I then moved to Hay Group, also in the USA where I honed my skills on the ‘people’ side of organizational effectiveness. I started out as a compensation consultant. Hay Group at the time was predominantly a Compensation consulting firm. I learnt not only the science of Compensation Management but more importantly how compensation can be one of the key motivators for high performing people and as a result, organizations.
My work was a perfect mix of art and science and it allowed me to work in many countries, across many sectors, and on several variations of client issues.
I became increasingly interested in the concept of progress; going back to the car example; I wanted science, I wanted art, but I also wanted to see movement and progress.
Through one of my projects I was introduced to the World Bank in Washington, DC where I was living at that point in time. I learnt a lot about development and the mission of the Bank. Having grown up in a small and not so well-developed country, it appealed to me that I could work for the number one global development organization. I took the offer. At first, I worked on organizational decentralization and on Compensation and Benefits issues in the Middle East & Africa and I believe that my work had a profound impact on people and the organization.
At the World Bank, I played several roles, mostly in compensation, benefits, insurance, pension, but I also became involved with policy reform and a lot of work that focused on policies related to social development and people.
Then I went back to Hay Group for 2 years to lead the launch of the organization design practice. This was an arranged career deviation which allowed me to maintain my commercial instincts and to move to the Middle East as an adult. This was another eye-opener on how much development work is needed in the Middle East. The launch of the practice was very successful and now it holds the largest share of Korn Ferry’s Middle East business.
Two years later I was back in Washington, DC at the World Bank for another 4 years to lead an HR reform agenda. After that, I came back to Hay Group with the mandate to boost the business of the Middle East.
We implemented a strategy that really paid off and have more than doubled the business in five years. We have taken the Hay Group business to a totally different level with the type and size of work we do. Hay Group was acquired by Korn Ferry almost 4 years ago and this was a marriage made in heaven. It could not have been a better match because now we can cover the whole spectrum of organization consulting.
2- HR Revolution Middle East: Korn Ferry is known as the largest human capital consultancy in the Middle East and North Africa – can you tell me how this represents a special responsibility on your burden to be the leader of such great firm?
It’s certainly not a burden, it’s a responsibility. For me, I am happy as long as I can see that the work we do has an impact on individuals and organizations and especially on society and advances development in the Middle-East.
I have a primary responsibility to our clients; whether that client is a company, an individual or a country. That is my number one accountability. I am also responsible for growing the business profitably and this feeds into two areas: the responsibility towards shareholders, and towards our employees and their families. In the Middle East we have 200 employees. The better we do as a business, the better our employees and their families live. I personally feel that I have the responsibility for making this happen.
3- HR Revolution Middle East: As a firm that focuses on people and unleashing their strength, how do you recruit, retain and develop your people? What competencies are you looking for at Korn Ferry?
We recruit mostly by references. Those tend to be the most successful. Those with consulting experience tend to ‘hit the ground running’.
We have permanent recruitment drives to keep a pipeline of candidates regionally and internationally.
New partners sometimes bring people with them.
From a process perspective once we have candidates, we use our tools of course to assess them like the TalentQ suite for psychometrics, Behavioral Event Interviews to assess competencies, and case studies to assess business acumen and consulting skills. We need people that can connect the dots between business issues, business problems, and figure out how to resolve them using our IP and methodologies.
These assessments are not only for selection but also for feedback and for helping new hires succeed. Sometimes we hire people and we know they are low on certain elements like for example ‘decision making’ so we develop them to be better at it through training and coaching but more importantly in real situations.
We seek expertise: We always want compensation specialists, organization design specialists, leadership development specialists. We also like the people that have worked in more than one specialty area because solving client issues often requires a mix of solutions.
Most development takes place on-the-job in real client situations. We expose our juniors to real business cases and invite them into client meetings even with top executives, so they get a full understanding and practical exposure in the discussion, the problem definition, the solutioning of issues, the communications, etc. We also give our juniors exposure to the commercial side of our business: They participate in sales calls, proposal writing, pricing techniques, negotiations and closing.
We want people that are courageous, that can face clients, can hear a ‘no’ and stay strong; those that are happy and willing to deal with difficult issues, not necessarily on their own, we want them to be team players, curious learners… those will do well with us.
4- HR Revolution Middle East: Many companies around the world use the Korn Ferry Hay Job Evaluation Methodology (formerly known Hay Methodology), can you tell us a bit more about its application in today’s economic environment and in the future? How would you compare its use in the past vs the future?
I would be the first to admit that I spend a lot of time thinking about it. It’s a responsibility for any firm to think about what it offers in the market and make sure that it is relevant.
The Hay Group Methodology, formerly known as Hay Group Guide Charts Job Evaluation Methodology, goes back to the mid-1940s. It has accompanied many changes in the ways work is conducted, new jobs that have been created, new technologies that were introduced, and it is still in use.
It is the only methodology for work measurement that is acceptable in the US court of law, so it must be very solid. But like everything else in life, you should always revisit it, adapt it, even doubt it, because that is how you improve it and keep it relevant.
The methodology is based on three key factors which include eight elements. Any job, past, current, or future will require certain knowledge, will require to solve problems or create new things; and every job in any organization has a set of accountabilities. This is true in any work; white or blue collar, automated or creative that you can think of.
This does not change; it was even there when the Pharaohs built the pyramids way before Hay Group and is still applicable.
The application of the Methodology will continue to change.
At first, the Methodology enabled us to measure work content, then to develop classification structures, then grading structures, then compensation structures, then job pricing. As it evolved more in its application, specialists started using the accountability factor to design variable pay plans and link accountabilities to developing KPIs, then develop performance management systems, etc. Then specialists started using it for organization design, organization cascading; job design, and RACI matrices. Specialists also use it when merging organizations (M&A) to compare between jobs and identify and eliminate any overlaps between jobs in a merger.
I believe that the Methodology in its process, factors and elements will prevail in the future. Newer and more applications may emerge. The evolution will be a reaction to how job and people management change. Specialists will also explore new uses.
I think that the Methodology we will be more cutting edge in the way it will be used. I can imagine it connecting directly into global databases to draw much more than pay data; perhaps the user will be challenged by artificial intelligence to help get the evaluations right.
In the Middle East, most of the use of the Methodology has been somehow related to pay. It has been evolving rapidly into other uses. It is now more connected to finding solutions to issues of organization design, mergers, acquisition, efficiencies, and streamlining.
5- HR Revolution Middle East: In your experience, what do you believe to be the biggest challenges facing companies today? How are you helping your clients be better prepared for the future?
I see that the biggest challenges facing our clients now is the rapid transformation caused by the digital disruption and the need for speed as far as innovation is concerned; the integration of more youth and women into the workforce and into leadership, people development generally; and having to be more efficient, effective, and impactful.
We have a talent crunch in the region. That’s a serious issue. By 2030 Saudi Arabia alone will have a shortage of 660,000 people which has a serious economic effect on its output. Our research shows that the unrealized economic output will be as high as $207 Billion if this issue is not resolved. The UAE will have a shortage of110,000 skilled professionals.
6- HR Revolution Middle East: Finally, I would love to congratulate you that Korn Ferry was named a Top Leader in ALM Intelligence’s Talent and Leadership Consulting Vanguard Report, Ranking No. 1 in Depth Capability. How was Korn Ferry able to achieve such great achievement? What are the main success factors that really enabled Korn Ferry to be in such ranking and how can other organizations learn from such an inspiring success journey?
It goes back to the power of the Korn Ferry’s vision of bringing organization and people together.
Other firms focus on one thing and they are doing well. Mackenzie is a great strategy house, if you read the ALM Report, you see why they are ranked high on all things, but then what? you can have a great strategy but if you cannot implement it at the organization and people levels, it remains only a good strategy. I believe that this is the edge Korn Ferry has today. It can implement strategy and make it successful.
The acquisition of several brands, such as the acquisition of Hay Group, and our latest acquisitions (Strategy Execution, Miller Heiman, Achieve Forum) which I’m sure you’ve read about recently will bring more into our methodologies, approaches, toolboxes and to resolve issues of organizations.
We have all our IP and people working together. We are not a house of brands under different leaderships and strategies.
Today when a compensation consultant goes to a client, she/he is not only going as a compensation consultant but is going as a consultant who will help resolve interrelated business issues. This may mean some compensation adjustments, some organization design, or the recruitment of a top person, or putting the right leadership in place, so you’re really creating an integrated solution and you are doing it in very close partnership
We brought Executive Search, Professional Search, Compensation and Benefits, Talent Management, Development, Organization Design all together serving clients in account teams with great knowledge of the sector too.
That’s why we were ranked number 1, we were ranked number one on depth of capability, but also ranked number two on Client Impact, so it is not theoretical, it is very practical, and I trust that the future is even brighter.
If I may, I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that we have been listed in the top 50 companies for the Working Mother 100 Best Companies for working parents. We’re very proud of this achievement and hope to continue giving our employees and clients the best possible care and service we can provide.
Interview with Mr. Vijay Gandhi, Regional Director of Korn Ferry Digital
“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?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Certain roles in healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality sectors cannot work remotely, and fantastic efforts have been made to make the workplace safe.
- 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:
- Negotiating important contracts (82%)
- Interviewing senior staff for key positions (81%)
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
Q&A with Yasmine Yehia | MEA Employer Branding Manager at Schneider Electric, Life Coach & Consultant
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!
Q&A with Sherihan Elkamash; Researcher at the Center of Strategic Studies, Bibliotheca Alexandrina & Charity Activist
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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