Connect with us
Subscribe

Magazine

Q&A with Alan Williamson CEO of Taleem family of Schools

Published

on

“Staff sense of well-being is fostered from the knowledge that we as an organisation are actively engaged with them and strive to recognise their worth” Alan Williamson 

Interviewer:
Chris Cummings, CEO of Sonas Group and the Wellbeing @ Work Events

Brief Biography about the Interviewee:

Alan Williamson graduated from Glasgow University with an honors degree in History and Russian Language and has also attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His teaching career began in the Anderson School in the Shetland Islands and has covered schools across the United Kingdom, progressing from teaching and leading departments in Humanities and Languages to two Headships in the UK. 

Prior to working in Dubai, Alan is particularly proud of work undertaken in the independent sector with Rugby School (in Warwickshire, England) through a partnership with the remarkable Arnold Scholarship Foundation.
Alan became the Principal of Kings’ School Al Barsha in January 2016 after heading up the new Kings’ Secondary in 2015. 

He joined Taaleem, as CEO in July 2019 excited by the incredible opportunity to lead a Schools Group with a diverse curriculum portfolio, schools in the two major cities of the UAE and an ambitious agenda for expansion, further improvement and innovation.

1.Chris Cummings: We’re thrilled that you’ll be joining us at our Well-Being @ Work event on 3 March 2020 in Dubai. Our first and most important question is, how are you doing?

Alan Williamson: I am doing very well, thank you.  It has been an incredibly busy but exciting first year in my new role with Taaleem which has a diverse portfolio of schools, across a variety of curriculum and context. Our Board has ambitious plans, especially in terms of expansion and we are busy building a new, second campus to cater for the overwhelming demand for places at our Raha International School in Abu Dhabi.

The organisation is also playing its part in raising standards locally through partnerships with the authorities where our expertise and experience is being used to develop and administer other groups of government and private schools.  A major priority for us at the moment is to make sure that we have sufficient talent and resources in place for us to play a greater and more prominent role across the education sector in the region. 

2.Chris Cummings: As CEO of the Taaleem family of schools, what challenges does your industry face when it comes to staff well-being at work?

Alan Williamson:The quality of a school never exceeds the quality of its staff, therefore our first challenge in this expansive stage of our growth, is the recruitment of outstanding educators in a very competitive global market. Our staff wellbeing starts at the very early stages of this global search. A proactive, empathetic and engaged HR department is essential to the successful onboarding of new recruits. It is also essential that their many questions and concerns can be anticipated, answered, their fears allayed, and their confidence buoyed for them to make, what most see as a major life decision.

The retention and wellbeing of existing staff is a top priority for any school. We are all acutely aware of the work/life balance challenge. The concerning issues around it must be regularly visited to try to ensure that teacher burn out, disillusionment and despair can be recognised early and remedied effectively.  For all staff, both new and existing, regular progress reviews are calendared where professional, wellbeing and personal issues can be aired and addressed. It is important that I, as a leader, spend as much time as is humanly possible at ‘the chalk face’ actively listening and engaging with our staff.

Through my interactions I have found that our industry leading salary and benefit are important to teachers. However, it is rarely their number one priority; job satisfaction, professional development and the mapping of a progressive career path for them often outweighs pure fiscal gain. Their sense of wellbeing is fostered from the knowledge that we as an organisation are actively engaged with them and strive to recognise their worth. We are fortunate that being a large organisation, we can take a holistic view for and of our staff, to enthusiastically plan with them to achieve their personal and professional goals. We are proud that many of our middle and senior leaders have ‘come up through the ranks’.

3.Chris Cummings: What trends or strategies have you seen developing over the past 12 months when it comes to wellness at work? 

Alan Williamson: Firstly, we have increasingly acknowledged that well being and mental health in the workplace are recognized to be of key strategic importance for a successful business. We also recognize that being a teacher is a stressful vocation. To this end we have embedded in our schools, structured support and guidance through peer support, line management and an external employee counselling service. Taaleem partners with an external employee assistance program provider to ensure the mental health and well-being of our staff is protected. Employees who face immediate, concerning personal or professional difficulties can ultimately contact me personally and in confidence.

4.Chris Cummings: What are you most looking forward to about Well-Being at Work Event this year?

Alan Williamson: I always look forward to listening to inspiring speakers and learning from the panel discussion sessions to hear of what works in organisations and industries different to our own. The latest research on staff engagement, satisfaction and productivity is always fascinating; also, the initiatives that are working well for others. Who wouldn’t want to hear the latest research that shows that ‘Ping Pong is a proven, cost effective approach to wellbeing in the workplace’? 

5.Chris Cummings: What’s your vision for the workplace of the future, in terms of employee engagement, culture and well-being?

Alan Williamson: It is fascinating to speculate what the workplace of the future will look like in terms of employee engagement, culture and wellbeing. We can be certain that there will be many jobs in the future that don’t exist today. We can also be certain that AI will play an increasing part in all of our lives, hopefully to relieve us of the more mundane tasks and robotics of the more physical repetitive tasks.

In terms of employee engagement and as more time is available for critical, reflective and innovative thinking, mental and physical health will be crucial to a positive and productive life. For wellbeing, I hope that in the culture of the future workplace, more and more people will be encouraged to share their feelings and experiences in a positive and supportive work environment. A major future challenge I see is how to facilitate this when increasingly the workspace is not physical and future workforces are engaged remotely on virtual, collaborative projects.

6.Chris Cummings: Any tips on how delegates can get the most out of the Well Being at Work Event?

Alan Williamson: Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people you don’t know or engage with people you find interesting and inspiring. Forge a relationship and keep in contact with them!

7.Chris Cummings: Why do you encourage other professionals to attend Well Being at Work Event this year?

Alan Williamson: The FOW Wellbeing event will be an incredible opportunity to expand your network and knowledge as well as inspiration for new initiatives in your organisation.

Articles

Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 – where balance, resilience and authenticity break the Mental Health Stigma

Published

on

Written by: Cinzia Nitti

Globally, 2020 has been a year like no other. Coronavirus pandemic caused a massive business disruption; transformation has been key in supporting employees and catalyzing workplace changes. There was a rush to adapt and reinvent Business Models. Organizations had to rethink and reconsider how they deliver services and strengthen their Organizations through a forward-thinking Digital strategy. To be more agile and responsive in such uncertain times, we need to respond to challenges and adapt quickly to new scenarios by moving from rigid hierarchies to leaner and more flexible structures.

But what about Mental Health at Work, and why is it essential?

What’s the Office of the Future?

Within the Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021, HR Leaders tried to normalize the conversation about Mental Health by putting the topic first, enabling self-care and professional support, raising awareness, and building knowledge around its related issues. Nowadays, personal and work life are more intertwined than ever, so it becomes vital to create balance: the more employees feel free to talk about Mental Health, the more they can prevent struggle and breakout at the Workplace. HR leaders play a crucial role in making an IMPACT by pushing new solutions, promoting work-life balance, redesign workloads, and supporting their Teams.

In this general frame, Irada Aghamaliyeva (MENA Diversity, Inclusiveness & Wellbeing Leader at EY) affirmed: “Workplaces that are inclusive foster enhanced employee wellbeing; employees with high levels of wellbeing are more inclusive”. How can Organizations increase employees’ resilience and embed sustainable Leadership behaviors in the post-covid reality?

Dr. Irada Aghamaliyeva introduced the Mindfulness practice in the Workplace and highlighted its benefits on a large scale: improved wellbeing and resilience on a physical level; positive emotions, self-regulation, empathy and awareness of social dynamics; learning and innovation thanks to the implementation of flexible thinking, intuition and problem-solving processes. So breaking the stigma is possible, starting from personal wellbeing to sustain positive energy and fuel resilience.

About the Power of Empathetic and Authentic Leadership, Dr. Rima Ghose Chowdhury (EVP & Chief Human Resources Officers at Datamatics Global Services) stresses the importance of Leadership roles today. The virtual environment employees are working in, makes them more vulnerable due to a lack of balance between emotional and authenticity traits. Authenticity is the primary factor in effective leadership, regardless of the leadership style. Putting employees first as a strategic priority and hearing their voices to guide strategy; embracing agility to work more effectively in tumultuous time; including a multigenerational work-force: these are the key concepts within Dr. Rima’s motto “Empowering is to enable”. Through motivation and filling emotional support needs, the Empowering Teams Process leads to employees’ safety, esteem, and self-actualization. 

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. To know more about the FOW Future of Work Insights platform around the world, click here: https://fowinsights.com/

Continue Reading

Articles

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

Published

on

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

Key Reasons to Attend:

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

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

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

Continue Reading

Interviews

Interview with Keith F Watson -Online Tutor ICS Learn

Published

on

“We feature our student success stories in our monthly Student Newsletter, as we know this inspires learners to keep going with their studies, as well as showing them how other students overcame the challenges they faced” Keith F Watson – ICS Learn

INTERVIEWERS: MARIHAM MAGDY & MAHMOUD MANSI

The Interviewee: Keith F Watson, LL.M, Chartered FCIPD, FCMI, FLPI, FITOL

Job Title: Owner 360 HR Solutions and Online Tutor ICS Learn

Keith’s qualifications include LL.M (Employment Law and Practice) and CIPD. A tutor since 2007, Keith worked in the financial services sector from 2006 in a variety of senior HR roles before setting up his consultancy in 2016. He’s actively involved with the CIPD in various capacities, including being a past branch chair, member of Council and a voluntary membership assessor. He is currently a member of the Professional Standards Panel (Chair) and a member of the Qualifications Advisory Group, as well as a member of the Employment Tribunal. Keith is also an Equality Act Assessor in the Sheriff Courts.

1-HR Revolution Middle East: The CIPD has become one of the most important certifications in the HR and the L&D field. Would you please explain to our readers the scientific value of the CIPD Certification, as well as its impact on the professional career progression in those fields?

ICS Learn: HR is an art underpinned by science, and the CIPD qualification benefits individuals and organisations by going beyond the technical aspects of people management and development. 

Whilst the qualification requires a robust technical knowledge across a range of topics, the real strength lies in the requirement to adapt that knowledge to the business environment and become a critical thinker who can devise best-fit solutions.

There is no doubt that the increasing requirement by organisations for their HR teams to have CIPD qualifications is due to those already with these qualifications having demonstrated the effective application of their technical knowledge in the workplace, rather than taking answers from a book and trying to make them fit situations where they simply don’t work


2- HR Revolution Middle East: From your experience, what are the most recurring challenges do learners have in completing their CIPD studies? What recommendations would you give them to help facilitate their time management for study?

ICS Learn: One of the most reoccurring challenges is time management. New learners – especially those studying part-time – do sometimes underestimate the time commitment in undertaking a professional qualification. Whilst we generally recognise the time necessary for classroom attendance, be it in-person or virtually, we often forget about the additional time required for self-study, research, and assignments – all of which are critical to our success.

There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and even in lockdown, there are very few people claiming to have a lot of free time. Therefore, we must decide (ideally in advance) what activities we are going to put aside for the duration of our studies.

We all have different approaches to learning, so it’s important to free up the time when we’re going to be most effective, be that early in the morning, lunchtime, evening or later at night. Some people study better in short bursts, whereas others prefer to set aside a specific day at the weekend. There is no right or wrong way to study, it’s simply a question of when works best for you.  

Another reoccurring challenge for students looking to complete their CIPD qualification is understanding the question set. Whilst it is never the intention of an examiner to confuse a student with a question, it does sometimes happen. For example, it’s often said that businesses working in English are divided by a common language and HR practice is no different. An SME, for instance, can be a “small medium enterprise” or a “subject matter expert”. To avoid confusion, the first step is to read the question not once, not twice but at least three times to understand what has been written. If there is the slightest doubt as to what is being asked, seek clarification from your tutor.

3- HR Revolution Middle East:  To what extent do you believe that the body of knowledge of the CIPD Certifications can be applied to practical work in different countries?

ICS Learn: Whilst the legal aspects of the CIPD qualification are based on UK law, most CIPD qualifications are very general so that they can be applied internationally. Being that culture varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the core elements of HR practice remain the same in that we help support organisations in achieving their objectives through good people management and development practices.

The breadth of learning is a distinct advantage in all jurisdictions, as is knowing about practice and regulations in other jurisdictions. Given that laws and regulations vary over time, being able to identify and apply relevant regulations in an assignment is a valuable skill to have regardless of whether the same regulations apply in the countries we support. I have often joked that if I was ever to become an employee again, I would wish my contract to be based on Indonesian law as in that jurisdiction employees must agree to their dismissal!  

4- HR Revolution Middle East: As an Instructor, how did your journey with ICS start? What makes you most passionate about this role?

ICS Learn: I started my journey with ICS Learn more than 20 years ago as a CIPD student at which time, in addition to assignments, each module was tested by exam. Around 14 years ago, I received an email from one of my former ICS Learn tutors asking if I would be interested in attending an Advanced Employment Law workshop she was running as she was looking to retire from these workshops and she had been asked to look for a potential successor. Having literally that weekend just finished my dissertation for my master’s degree in Employment Law, for the first time in years I had a “free” weekend.

As I always enjoyed such workshops I readily agreed to attend. However, on arrival, I received a message that the tutor was unfortunately unable to attend and I was instead asked to run the workshop! Perhaps it was being thrown in at the deep end with no time to worry about anything, but the workshop was a great success with all the attendees passing their Employment Law exam a few months later and my having fully acquired the tutoring bug.

Over the years much has changed, and I have had the pleasure of running training sessions and workshops on a variety of CIPD and non-CIPD topics both virtually and in numerous countries including Singapore, India, Sudan, Nigeria, and of course in the Middle East both in UAE and KSA.

Whilst HR and the world has evolved, facilitating learning in others whilst learning from students and their personal workplace experiences is as inspiring and exciting today as it was 14 years ago.

5- HR Revolution Middle East: As a learner how did the CIPD qualification change your life?

ICS Learn: Without a doubt, gaining a CIPD qualification has been life-changing and has allowed me to have not only a successful career in HR within financial services but to successfully run my consultancy for the last 5 years. I must admit that being able to work internationally in so many different regions has been a distinct bonus and certainly embeds the learning that no matter what we do in HR there is always more than one way of doing it.

6- HR Revolution Middle East: What special tips would you share with professionals unable to choose the appropriate CIPD Certification Level for them? How does ICS Learn help learners in taking this step?

ICS Learn: Our advice would always be to chat to our CIPD Course Advisors, whether that be through our website, email, or on the phone. Their job is to talk through your experience, ambitions, and previous education to make sure that you choose the right CIPD course for you.

7- HR Revolution Middle East: What are the most common challenges CIPD students face? What pieces of advice do you have for them?

ICS Learn: As detailed in question 2, the most common challenge is time. We must be willing to accept that in taking on a new challenge we must set aside some of our current activities. Short term pain for long term gain!

8- HR Revolution Middle East: What should be the “competencies” of a CIPD student in order to excel and accomplish the degree?

ICS Learn: Self-discipline, commitment, curiosity, an open mindset, and of course an ability to understand and write in business English 

9- HR Revolution Middle East: ICS Learn cares to publish students’ success stories with different certifications and how they got opportunities to progress substantially in their careers. How often do you refer to those stories to encourage reluctant learners to finish their studies?

ICS Learn: We feature our student success stories in our monthly Student Newsletter, as we know this inspires learners to keep going with their studies, as well as showing them how other students overcame the challenges they faced. It’s a great way for students to learn from each other!

THANK YOU

Continue Reading

HRCI

HRCI

Recent Posts

Articles1 week ago

Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 – where balance, resilience and authenticity break the Mental Health Stigma

Written by: Cinzia Nitti Globally, 2020 has been a year like no other. Coronavirus pandemic caused a massive business disruption;...

Articles4 weeks ago

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

The summit provides an innovative and experiential virtual learning opportunity for our audience of CEOs, benefit and reward business leaders...

Interviews1 month ago

Interview with Keith F Watson -Online Tutor ICS Learn

“We feature our student success stories in our monthly Student Newsletter, as we know this inspires learners to keep going...

Press Releases1 month ago

Gulf Sustainability Awards are open for entries

HR Revolution Middle East has been announced as an official media partner of the 2021 Gulf Sustainability Awards. Taking place...

Interviews1 month ago

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

“Nowadays, Reward in specific is one of the hottest topics that keeps execs busy, in a world that is shifting...

Interviews2 months ago

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

“Capital University College believes in fostering young talent by giving students an international perspective and ideology to the industry. With...

Interviews2 months ago

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

“The ROI methodology can be used for not only measuring the impact and ROI, but also for planning for better...

Magazine2 months ago

WELLBEING @ WORK SUMMIT 22-24 FEBRUARY 2021 MIDDLE EAST

Now is the time to make wellbeing & mental health at work a strategic priority The fifth annual Wellbeing @...

Corporate2 months ago

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...

Magazine3 months ago

DECODING FUTURE HR: Global 24 hour virtual event | 19 and 20 January 2021

DECODING FUTURE HR: Today’s challenges are tomorrow’s trends and opportunities Global 24 hour virtual event | 19 and 20 January...

ICS Learn

ICS Learn

Categories

Trending

Hrrevolution News

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter below and never miss the latest News.