Posts Tagged ‘private business’

Response to ‘Attract qualified locals to the private sector’

Posted on: May 7th, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

One of the training managers at the EmiratesNBD said in his reference for me: (Tom) “ you are a very fine trainer, plus your dedication and attitude towards Emiratization in UAE is unsurpassed amongst the expatriate population here.”

I have collected literally hundreds of articles and editorials on Emiratization gathered since I arrived in the UAE in August 2006. (I returned to Canada a year ago.) The comments in this article echo the same concerns I first read about six years ago.

In that time innumerable studies, pronouncements, publicity campaigns, and projects have come and gone. I had to dig deep for evidence of the failures.

Those who were tasked by the country’s leaders were well versed in the sycophantic skills required to slither out of accountability. (Indeed, often the very people who initiated the failed project were hired to create another project, and so on.)

My anger stems from my observation that a program that raises a person’s expectation of success, and then has them fail through no fault of their own, is extremely de-motivating. I have then listened to ex-pat professionals who imply publically and claim privately that the program failed because Emiratis are lazy, uneducated, unmotivated or whatever.

Yet even a simple analysis of the proposals of the past six years confirms that the same ideas, suggestions, projects, “pronouncements” are brought back to the public every year. I could criticize those experts, consultants, and leaders who have promulgated these worn-out ideas, but for what purpose.

Rather let me reiterate: Emirati employees ARE NOT lazy!

I have had more than enough of those comments. These comments originate from education administrators and consultants, as well as senior private industry managers, who would rather blame Emiratis rather than acknowledge their personal incompetence. Professional managers, educators, and employment consultants MUST begin to recognize the reality of the present UAE culture. The UAE is not comparable to any country in the world. Period. To apply outmoded and ineffective teaching and management methods and then blame the students and employees for the failure that results is both immoral and unethical.

Motivating the present generation (or allowing them to choose their own motivation) is an international issue. All over the world, the reality is being faced that financial rewards are not motivating. (Money (except for the greed of obsessed senior executives) is NOT the motivator it “perhaps” was.

To understand why please read Drive by Daniel Pink. (And apply the concepts.)

I have had the honor to work with Emirati women as an instructor at the HCT, as a freelance trainer with the Sharjah Museums Department, and the Emirates National Bank of Dubai. (And many other organizations both public and private.)

These women are tremendously motivated. They are very intelligent. They are aware of the world around them – inside and outside the UAE. They know that to work, start a family, be a good spouse and an active and influential citizen is AT PRESENT best facilitated by working in Public Service. It is hard to refute their conclusions.

For five years I worked on a project to demonstrate the viability and benefits a private industry career can bring. I focused on developing a business owned and operated by Emirati women. I have prepared (and would love to conduct) a program to bring Emirati women graduates into the world of private business.

My background as owner of a “Business” Soft Skills Training company in Canada led me to develop a project that would train Emirati women graduates to create and operate a small company similar to mine. (Catalyst Consulting, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 1985 to 1999.)

Remuneration, benefits, services and holidays would be at least equal to those offered by the government. The goal, other than the explicit goal of building a successful business, is to demonstrate a method of bringing Emirati graduates into private industry.

My role as mentor, trainer of the trainers, marketing and sales expert, and entrepreneur (my experience owning and operating Catalyst Consulting in Canada for 14 years) gives me the practical and academic background to bring to the project. Of equal importance is hiring and working with an experienced Emirati business woman to be a liaison with all Emirati stakeholders; family, investors, customers, service providers and participants.

Young women to whom I have explained this project have reacted very positively. They are concerned about how they would be paid until the Training Centre is self-sustaining. Other successful businesswomen have expressed both confidence in the program and the possibility of offering to be the experienced businesswoman I need to work on the project with me.




Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi’s comments

Posted on: May 1st, 2012 by Tom Pattillo No Comments

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi’s comments are insightful. I want to focus on transitioning young women graduates into private business. While instantaneous change would be “nice” (government quotas and executive orders) we all know that those solutions do not last. Unless there is a fundamental shift in the way young women (and their parents and spouses) perceive the reality of private business, long-term change is unlikely to happen. I feel a cultural shift requires small steps to build understanding of, and confidence in, a private business career. My suggestion, using my personal example, is work with a small group of Emirati women graduates, to assist them to create a company to market and conduct Soft Skills Training Programs. Using my expertise in marketing and training, I would both instruct and mentor these women. Of interest are ideas already generated including day care facilities in the training facility and private marketing processes bringing potential clients to the facility to complement the UAE cultural sensitivities. I returned to Canada a year ago after 5 years in the UAE. Although I may be persona non grata in the UAE, I continue to be a passionate believer in the potential of Emirati women graduates. I have created and conducted many programs for Emirati organizations both private and public. I would be honored to have Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi read this comment.

How the UAE’s women flourish even in a man’s world
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE’s Minister for Foreign Trade, holds the distinction of being the first woman to hold a ministerial portfolio in the Gulf. Here she evaluates the prospects for women in the male-dominated financial industry.
Why are so few women attracted to a career in financial services?

There are many factors behind this phenomenon. Some women find that the long hours associated with financial services work prevent them from fulfilling their family duties. Others lament the compensation and career development gaps that they feel favour men. There is also a fear that female-related concerns, such as going on maternity leave, could result in the loss of promotions, pay rises and other opportunities. Moreover, many women are caught up in the stereotype that, like the technical fields, the financial services sector is a world designed exclusively for men.

What can companies do to both attract more women and ensure that they are supported as they progress into senior positions?
Financial services firms should closely review their corporate culture and determine if it fosters equal opportunities for men and women. Any gaps should be addressed via effective measures such as schemes for mentoring, training and supporting women, policies that emphasise equality, and reward schemes that recognise best employees regardless of gender. Companies should clearly send out the message that their organisation encourages, supports and recognises women achievers. Cultivating a corporate mindset that fosters equal opportunities for both sexes will make it easier for women to aspire to and undergo the transition to senior positions. 

Governments, companies, associations and councils are all focusing on advancing women in business, but limited real progress is being made, especially in the private sector. Is there an opportunity for better collaboration, and if so, what could that look like?
Collaboration will need to start from the top. If the government shows a genuine concern for empowering women, then the concerned agencies, the private sector and the general public will follow suit.
Here in the UAE, for example, government has made great strides in improving the representation of women in the public sector and making us a leader in women’s rights in the Arab world. Emirati women, in fact, now account for more than 60 per cent of the government workforce.
This confidence in our abilities has had a spillover effect on the private sector, as our country now has the largest number of businesswomen in the region. A 2011 index of women in business in the Gulf shows UAE women topping the region in terms of business ownership, business and government leadership, workforce participation, regular employment opportunities, and education.
Of course, leading by example is not enough. There should be concrete programs for advancing women’s roles in business. Government should be vocal in encouraging private businesses to enhance the role of women within their ranks and make the workplace as gender-neutral as possible. Private companies in turn could coordinate with Government in reaching out to women through campaigns or sharing women-related information and statistics.
A good collaborative system would be one where communication channels between government and corporations are open, extensive and transparent.
We must also keep in mind that women in the UAE prefer government work due to its working hours, which allows them to both have a career and also focus on their home and children.

International practices include quota systems and reporting requirements for the number and skills held by individuals on boards. Should similar practices be considered in the UAE, or more broadly, GCC?

Women are typically under-represented in the boardrooms of financial services firms. A 2011 census of women executive officers of Fortune 500 companies estimates that women account for around 18.4 [per cent] of executive officers in the finance and insurance industries. Clearly there is a lot of ground to cover as women have more than enough expertise and capability to handle executive responsibilities.