- Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.
In early 2008, I was enticed to UAE by the Al-Futtaim Group to head up a 350m AED Business School and Technical College they were planning to build in Dubai Festival City. Unfortunately, the impact of the global financial crisis put paid to most construction at that time and all organisations started working towards improved strategic and performance focusses. This actually worked in my favour as learning and organisational development became a key element in the process.
My time living and working in the Middle East, with Al-Futtaim, and global subject matter experts has been an amazing learning experience. It has offered me a broad range of opportunities to utilise and experience all aspects of the L&D strategy tool kit, from implementing international learning infrastructures, to driving cultural change and establishing talent frameworks and customising a range of best practice resources for implementation into the region
2. How can learning and development professionals enhance their career?
When coaching and working with any industry professionals, we always advise that they develop a subject matter expertise. Even a generalist, General Manager or Operations Manager can over time develop an area of specialism that provides a point of difference from others.
For me, I have always had an interest in performance psychology and performance systems. To gain experience I have worked with a broad range of business executives, professional sports people and disaffected youth. Complimenting this, I have studied at the Australian College of Applied Psychology and gained certification in areas that add value such as Myers Briggs, Corporate Coach and Change Management simulations, building a breadth and depth of expertise.
The best advice for any HR practitioner is to get as much experience in commercial environments and business operations. This will allow them to think more like a business person and not entirely as a HR practitioner providing credibility and influence with stakeholders.
3. What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?
The next 5 years will be the perfect environment for L&D practitioners. Strong growth in an increasingly competitive market, managing complexities of change and a new generation of workers and expats flooding into the workforce will require strategic prioritization and quality execution with a customer centric mind-set.
I deal with a wide variety of organisations who are at different levels of commitment on positioning human capital as a competitive advantage. Those that get Talent Management right and drive leadership and middle management development will accelerate organisational performance and optimise potential opportunities into top and bottom line growth.
Therefore, the challenges confronting us remain somewhat constant but require creativity and thinking more like business people and less like HRM practitioners. They include, evidencing (with numbers) organisational and commercial impact, senior leadership sponsorship and prioritization and blended solutions that are fit for purpose and audience.
4. What are the skills and competencies that you would need to train in order to meet the regions talent requirements.
I believe there are two main categories of competency that will strongly impact organisational & commercial outcomes.
Talent Brand Execution: Employee Value Proposition, Selection, Assessment, Culture and Values integration, Employee Engagement and Career Development practices
The design, development and execution of a Talent Brand positions a company with a point of difference to attract talent. The employee value proposition supports attraction, retention and engagement that establishes customer satisfaction & sales and reduces commercial cost of turnover and compensation effect on bottom line.
Emotional Intelligence: Soft Skills, Performance Psychology, Building Effective Teams, Managing Conflict and Coaching.
Research suggests that emotional intelligence is seven times more predictive of leadership success than raw intelligence. Leaders and managers are having to achieve in environments that are changing rapidly and becoming more competitive. Mid-level managers are accountable for employee and customer engagement whilst reporting up to senior management. There is also a considerable financial investment in this group given their number and compensation expectations.
5. Do you have a favourite quote or philosophy?
For the learning and development field it should be: |The more people you can help get what they want, the more likely you are to get what you want?” I also like Charles Swindolls’ quote on attitude; “Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% about how I react to those things.”
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