INTERVIEWERS: HEBA HASSAN & MAHMOUD MANSI
About Jane Whitby: Principal of ELM International School. She is an active member of The Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National College of School Leadership in the UK for over 10 years and have consistently attended courses, alongside other leading Head teachers and Principals, exploring research and strategies and therefore enabling schools to become schools suitable for children of the 21st Century. Specialisms include Leading English, Leading Mathematics, Religious Education and Special Educational Needs – all for ages 3-18.
Jane is currently also writing 3 books. One is related to Assessing Pupils Progress to enable each child to reach their best in all areas of education, another is to do with living in Alexandria – something she has done for 4 years, and the last one is a book of modern day proverbs which have a spiritual basis. Jane loves writing and has also had poetry published.
Jane has had a variety of jobs and has run her own businesses but settled on education as her calling in life. Her main focus is improving and ensuring life chances for children and raising leaders from within the Egyptian community.
About ELM School: It comprises both the IPC Program and the Seedlings Montessori Program, located in Kafr Abdu, Alexandria.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: You have worked for more than twenty years in the field of Education, both in the UK and Egypt. What is the most significant difference regarding the work environment?
Jane Whitby: The main difference between the UK and here is the ability to get things done the first time you ask for it and for things to be done exactly as you ask. In the UK, especially in a school environment, you do not need to follow anyone to do their job. Everyone knows what is expected of them and they do their job to the maximum; knowing they are contributing to the whole school environment not matter what their job is. In Egypt, things are very different right across the board although I must say in our school, ELM International School, we have a really happy working environment where we find we don’t have to follow people as much and people do make an extra effort without being asked.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: How is managing teachers different than managing employees?
Jane Whitby: I have worked in a variety of fields: Limousine services, Wedding events, different management roles and the CEO of my own business BUT working with teachers is a totally different game. You have to connect with them on many levels, personal, social, spiritual etc. to get the best from them. How they feel will affect how the children behave so it is important to look after teachers. I have worked with over 10 Head Teachers and the 2 that were the most powerful were the ones who genuinely cared about staff and helped them to give their best. I prefer this strategy: to love and care for people and then they will do the same for the children. Other strategies that work are: 1 – Being willing to do what you expect others to do, if not more. 2 – Work phenomenally hard to support your teachers knowing that a teacher never has enough hours in a day to do what they need to do. 3 – Use more ‘carrot’ and praise than anything else and firmly discipline when someone is blatantly breaking the rules or damaging the ethos of a class/team or school.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Teaching is a very challenging mission, how do you manage to keep your teachers motivated in order to always keep their high spirits while teaching the students?
Jane Whitby: We laugh a lot in my school so spirits are high. There is no time for laziness so teachers are always operating on raw energy. I expect the best from and for my staff and this in turn makes them have the same attitude towards the children. I provide proper Professional Development and run the school as if it was an excellent school in the UK so the teachers appreciate such an environment especially in Egypt where schools are often very poor in management and Professional Development. My staff get weeks of training throughout the year which is all certificated and they know they will not get this anywhere else. I know all the children in my school and know their strengths and weaknesses academically. Therefore, we all work as a team to make sure that the children develop at an individual pace which makes teaching and learning more meaningful and the teachers see great results which makes them very motivated.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Apart from the educational programme the children are attaining, as a parent how can I help my child develop his/her skills, how can I help him/her establish their future goals and become good employees and leaders?
Jane Whitby: Wow – that’s a big question. We do an awful lot here to ensure we are making our children into Leaders. So how can this be translated from school to parents?
1 – To help children achieve their best – parents must at least know the real academic levels of children compared to children in the UK – only then can you then make sure their own teacher helps them towards the correct levels for a child of their age.
2 – Make them punctual, polite and self – organized – the basic skills of any leader.
3 – Be involved with their homework! Do not send them out for private tuition – do the work with them so that you learn together and so that they see you are interested in your own children.
4 – READ, READ, READ and read with your children, to your children and let them see you reading.
5 -Limit the TV or IPad to an hour and a half per day. Turn it on for specific purposes only do not let it drown out the ‘noise of life’. By having this limited time, you can spend more time with your child, engage in conversations and find out about them as they continue to grow and change.
6 – Don’t make excuses for your child when they are wrong. Let them understand the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ and help them accept the consequences of wrong actions.
7 – Make them eat healthily and well! Make them drink lots of water! Make them sleep at least 12 hours per day for a 3 year old and adjust that appropriately for each age.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Would you advise a CEO or a manager to attain a Montessori Teaching Diploma? How would this add benefit to their work, managing their employees and organisation?
Jane Whitby: I think you can never be over-qualified 🙂 I have always sought extra learning and often engage in courses with the NCSL in the UK (National College of School Leadership). Anyone saying they are a Montessori Nursery who only uses resources but are not properly trained should enhance their provision by being trained and then the trainer can train others – this is the minimum and is a must We have a teacher in EY1; Mrs Marta, and she is an outstanding Montessori practitioner as she had training with us from a specialist who came to the school. There is a massive difference between saying you ‘do’ Montessori and actually being Montessori trained. The benefits of having a professional Montessori Teaching diploma, according to Mrs Marta are:
1: To understand the purpose and the learning for each activity not just get the child to do an activity – this is so you can redirect, strengthen and enhance the learning per child as well as develop basic skills.
2: To be able to enable a child to move from one level of learning to another using the same equipment according to the age and development of each child. This is because all Montessori materials are divided by specific sensory/practical skills.
3: A Montessori Teaching Diploma is absolutely necessary for anyone working with young children as without it they cannot train staff properly and therefore the children will not use the resources properly and their learning will be low.
4: Lastly, anyone on a Montessori Teaching Diploma will begin to understand the importance of the ethos of Montessori and this will therefore enhance the independent and free spirited classroom learning environment.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: From your life and work in Egypt, what do you think Egyptian employees suffer from the most?
Jane Whitby: I see many Egyptians, in a variety of fields, do not find pleasure or purpose in their work – this may be for many reasons. Maybe they do not see that there are opportunities for development, maybe it is because wages are low, maybe it’s because they feel trapped – I think it is a mixture but I also know many Egyptians who are self-motivated, hardworking, forward thinking and very creative despite wages etc. I think, therefore, that the same problems exist all over the world for all people.
For me, I have always believed that if something needs doing, you should do it yourself. Do everything unto God so that whether or not you are given recognition or not – God still sees. Do what you believe you should be doing, no matter who else thinks otherwise and work HARD. Always improve your work environment, the business you are in and the people around you. This is the minimum.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: From your point of view and experience, what are the possible solutions to handle unemployment in Egypt?
Jane Whitby: People need to be entrepreneurial and stop expecting others to fix their problems. Our children age 8 started 2 of their own business recently after studying a project about Entrepreneurism. They made a service for cars and an ice cream make with their own branding and everything – if 8 year olds can do it, with no financial outlay in the first instance, and then there is hope for many. Some of my Seedlings teachers, many of whom are Egyptian, state that the reason people don’t work are because they don’t want. They quoted the fact that other nationalities come to Egypt and find work quickly and in some instances I see that this is right. I also notice that when people come to interview – they don’t really want a job or they just want to sit and do nothing, therefore I go through about 60 CV’s before I employ 1 person. I cannot stand lazy people and therefore only employ those who really want to make a difference. In Egypt – I find the number of people few.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: What are the criteria upon which you choose your staff members in ELM? How do you filter the applicants’ CVs and what are the key questions you ask in the interviews?
Jane Whitby: 1: Foreigners – They must know and love Egypt – this is important as it is not an easy country to live in at all. I usually do not employ anyone who has only experienced Sharm El-Sheik or Hurghada. They must truly love children, be properly qualified and be really hardworking. They must have been in their last couple of work places for a few years – I don’t trust job hoppers. References are always taken up before interview so that I don’t waste my time. They must be very energetic, creative in their thoughts and be coming to Egypt to make a difference to the lives of children. Anyone not wanting or showing this, gets their CV put in the bin.
2: Egyptians – the same applies actually except the love Egypt bit – although of course if they are miserable about being in their own country they do not get past interview stage point 1.
Questions I ask in an interview are:
1: What 3 words would your last colleague use to describe you?
2: What difficult situation did you experience at work and how did you deal with it?
3: Tell me a time you were very creative in a lesson and what was the learning outcomes for your children?
4: How do you differentiate for all the children in your class so that children get an individual and personalised learning experience?
5: What is the most recent training you received and how did you put it into practice?
6: Why are you really leaving your last job?
7: What changes did you make to your last school that have been long lasting?
8: What are your personal and academic areas for development?
9: Why do you want to come and work in Egypt as opposed to all the other countries in the world?
10? Why should I give you the job and not the others who are applying?
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: How do you describe the market of private education in Egypt?
Jane Whitby: Personally, I think it’s quite poor compared to the governmental schools in the UK. I think the testing, assessment, personalised learning, creative planning, meaningful education experiences for children that is fit for the 21Century – is lacking in Alexandria. I wish all schools would really change curriculums, change and develop IT, equip teachers with constant International standard training, use proper assessment techniques etc. and therefore really make a difference to the life success of children being educated in school.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: ELM is a new educational facility providing exceptional services to the Alexandrian community. How do you manage to train your staff members to stand out?
Jane Whitby: I make full and comprehensive training packages for all staff no matter how long they have been teaching and no matter where they have come from. They are trained and monitored in everything to make sure that the skills and techniques are being used correctly. We have a bank of trainers (both at ELM and in the UK) and we make sure we are totally up to date with all new developments. It’s exciting. They manage to stand out by being the best so that they may provide the best. I am proud of the attitude of my staff.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: What are the biggest challenges that face your HR department? And your school as a whole?
Jane Whitby: To be honest, we don’t face many challenges, which has surprised me. We get tons of CV’s and the reputation of the school has grown enormously so lots of people apply here as they know what we offer the staff. The HR department is now efficient and we have a full set of procedures that are followed per CV or when people leave the school. Our school is overstaffed to make sure the children do not suffer in any unusual event. As for the school – on reflection I can see we have done well: we are very well resourced, very happy, hardworking and the children achieve high levels as if they are in a school in England. We even have a new healthy school canteen so that staff did not eat unhealthy food or no food at all. I think the biggest challenge is TIME. This is in all schools – there just isn’t enough time 🙂
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and time.
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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