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Top employers in the GCC recognised at inaugural CIPD Middle East People Awards



  • Over 200 senior HR leaders gathered at landmark event last week to benchmark their practices and celebrate the profession’s successes.
  • ADNOC, RAKBANK, Abu Dhabi Police and Kerzner International win big at the CIPD Middle East People Awards.

Over 200 business leaders, senior HR practitioners and people professionals gathered at the CIPD Middle East People Conference & Awards, held at the Grosvenor House in Dubai last week.

Organised by the CIPD (the professional body for HR and the people profession), the two-day event explored the future of work through keynote addresses, panel discussions, interactive sessions and workshops. Centred around the theme of “HR now and in the future: Leading the change”, the event witnessed a plethora of discussions across workplace diversity, wellbeing at work, organisation design and the future of learning.

Some of the highlights of the programme include a case study by Mubadala on maintaining high level engagement through their 2017 merger with IPIC; the employer branding story of Tesco and a highly acclaimed keynote by Dubai’s very own Richard Dean, Presenter of The Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye and Author of ‘CROWDPLEASER’.

Although the CIPD has been operating in the Middle East for years, the CIPD Middle East People Conference & Awards is the professional body’s first ever event held outside of Europe in its 130-year history.

The event concluded with the CIPD Middle East People Awards, which honoured individuals, teams and organisations for their commitment to promoting positive work cultures and best practices. Judged anonymously by an independent panel of HR professionals from across the region and beyond, the Awards recognised outstanding achievements across eight categories.

Bahri’s Chief Support Officer Hisham Alkhaldi receives ‘Best Recruitment & Talent Management Strategy’ CIPD Middle East People Awards

The Awards were handed by Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD and Louise Fisher, Chair of the CIPD, before a full audience at the Grosvenor House on Thursday evening.

Nouf A. Al Juaid, Chief HR Officer at Saudi Rotorcraft Support Company, took home the HR Rising Star of the Year Award – the only category singling out an individual. Ms. Al Juaidi’s contribution and leadership across several areas of the business align with the core values of the CIPD and demonstrate high potential. “As the first Saudi woman to take on this role within the aerospace industry in the Kingdom, she is also a role model for many young women across the nation and beyond”, adds Sarah Davis, Head of Partnerships at the CIPD and one of the Award judges.

Abu Dhabi Police won the Award for the “Best Diversity & Inclusion Initiative” thanks to its 360-degree approach to women’s inclusion. In a traditionally male-dominated environment, the winning programme increased female representation by 5% between 2016 and 2018 across decision-making positions and carried out work to change the perception of women within the police forces.

ADNOC was awarded the ‘Best Learning & Development Programme’ award, a category which received over 25 entries – proving that the region is increasingly focused on upskilling its workforce for the future world of work. Competing with Commercial Bank of Dubai, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, WSP, McDermott and AFAQ Leadership in the final round, ADNOC unanimously won. “ADNOC’s L&D programme is truly innovative. The latest learning methods and thinking have been applied to the Learning Academies. With a vast breadth of projects and employees involved, the ROI is impressive”, comments Gill White, Director of Business and Markets Development at the CIPD and one of the Awards judges.

SRSC Chief HR Officer Nouf Al Juaid receives the HR Rising Star award from Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD

One of the run-away winners of the ceremony was RAKBANK, which managed to secure three spots in the top 2 for its strides in modernising the HR and L&D functions. The UAE bank ranked as a runner up in two categories, for its innovative recruitment and talent management strategy and for its digital initiative in HR. But the big win of the night came as they took home the “HR Team of the Year” Award – the most highly anticipated category.  

Ramy Bayyour, General Manager for the Middle East at CIPD, summarised: “For years, our members and partners in the region have asked us to bring our world-renowned awards to the Middle East to recognise the great strides they are making in championing better work and working lives. With over 80 entries from some of the region’s most innovative employers and people functions, the response to our inaugural edition has been overwhelming. This is a clear indication of the need for a platform that helps organisations benchmark their HR and people development practices against international standards.”

Key supporters of the event were online learning platforms AVADO and ICS Learn. Nominations for the CIPD Middle East People Awards 2020 open in September 2019. Details and the full list of winners can be found on

Participants from across the region gathered at CIPD Middle East People Conference & Awards

Full list of winners:

  • HR Rising Star of the Year:
    • Winner: Nouf A. Al Juaid, Saudi Rotorcraft Support Company
    • Highly commended entry: Katie O’Flynn, Taaleem
  • Best Digital Initiative in HR and L&D:
    • Winner: Teleperformance DIBS
    • Highly commended entry: RAKBANK
    •  Best Health & Wellbeing Programme:
    • Winner: WSP
    • Highly commended entry: McDermott
  • Best Recruitment and Talent Management Strategy:
    • Winner: Bahri
    • Highly commended entry: RAKBANK
  • Best Employee Engagement Initiative:
    • Winner: Kerzner International
    • Highly commended entry: Bahrain Credit
  • Best Diversity & Inclusion:
    • Winner: Abu Dhabi Police
    • Highly commended entry: Expo 2020
  • Best Learning & Development Programme:
    • Winner: ADNOC
    • Highly commended entries: WSP, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
  • HR / L&D Team of the Year:
    • Winner: RAKBANK
    • Highly commended entries: Jumeirah Beach Hotel; Dubai Police
Peter Cheese, CEO of the CIPD, announces the winners of the Awards at the ceremony last Thursday
The CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development. The not for profit organisation champions better work and working lives and has been setting the benchmark for excellence in people and organisation development for more than 100 years. It has a community of more than 150,000 members across the world and 3,800 across the Middle East, provides thought leadership through independent research on the world of work, and offers professional training and accreditation for those working in HR and learning and development.


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; 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:

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

Key Reasons to Attend:

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

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

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

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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 2021

The world in 2020 has changed to a ‘new normality’ but what’s that ‘new normality’ everybody talks about? Is it here to stay? How is it affecting us in our daily lives in the different versions of ourselves? As a customer, an entrepreneur, a parent, a friend…a worker…

Our job is a key part of our lives and we are indeed living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs, and changing the skills that organisations are looking for in their people. These momentous changes raise huge organisational, talent and other HR challenges. It has become clear that few organisations are likely to revert to pre-pandemic practices even after a vaccine is found.

Decoding Future HR 2021 is bringing you the ideology of how today’s challenges are becoming tomorrow’s trends and opportunities resulting in HR excellence.

Why you should attend:

  • Learn about the trends and best practices shaping future HR
  • Get valuable insights from expert speakers
  • Share ideas and research to help your organisation reach its goals
  • Understand what do employees want in ‘New Normal’
  • Develop new vision for HRBP and Centre of Expertise
  • Identify, integrate and understand stakeholders to create an intentional employee experience
  • Approaches and elements to leadership development.

Some of our confirmed speakers:

  • Tshepo Yvonne Mosadi , Human Resources Director, The HEINEKEN Company
  • Sarah Tabet, Global HR Director/ D&I Leader | Author for “Inclusion Starts with U”, Schneider Electric
  • Wadah Al Turki, Country Talent Manager KSA and Bahrain, IKEA
  • Lesha Chakraborti, Head of HR – EMEA, Travelex
  • Shaban Butt, Director HR & Administration, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Sajjad Parmar, Head of Rewards – APAC, eBay
  • Katey Howard, VP, Talent Management AMESA, Pepsico
  • Chen Fong Tuan, HR & General Affairs Director, Samsung Electronics
  • Prerna Ajmera, Senior Director, HR Experiences and Solutions, Microsoft
  • Václav Koranda, Vice President Human Resources / Member of the Board of Directors, T-System
  • Amy MacGregor, VP Employee Experience, Global HR, Manulife
  • Adwait Kashalkar, People Analytics and Programme Management Leader, APAC, Mastercard

Click here to view all speakers:

At Wisdom we remain positive that ‘normality’ will soon return and that we will be able to physically meet together once again as speakers, delegates and sponsors at our beautiful venues around the world. But meanwhile, life continues and we need to keep in touch and learn from each other. This 24-hour virtual event will be of great benefit and value to your businesses and its continued development during these challenging times. While this virtual event comes at a lesser cost, it provides for now a wider reach into an international audience, with flexibility of access to content as well as allowing you to have the same opportunity as at a face-to-face session for one-to-one business meetings. We look forward to welcoming you in January.

Date and time: 19-20 January 2021Where: Virtual engaging platform
  Further information and bookings:        Contact:   #WSDM_BI
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