This month we are delighted to welcome El Hussein Hafyan CLO of National Bank of Oman one of Oman’s leading banks as our December spotlight.
Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.
I combine expertise in two major and inseparable industries; Banking and HR. I am both a seasoned Banker and a renowned Human Capital Strategist and practitioner with over 23 years of solid experience in the field. I served in both international organizations such as Citibank and regional organizations of repute such as Qatar National Bank, Commercial Bank of Qatar, and National Bank of Oman – all in senior and executive leadership capacities. I have also consulted for numerous organizations in the Middle East in both the Banking and HR domains. So, I’ve been 20 years now in Middle East, more precisely in the GCC.
How would you describe the culture of your business?
As regards the culture of the business, the Banking Industry, where I spent the majority of my career, at a macro level is a highly competitive industry, but rather a cut-throat competition. That is due to a multitude of factors, primarily the high degree of products similarity largely visible in the consumer banking sectors. At a micro level, the culture of the current organization I’m serving at the moment, The National Bank of Oman is a remarkably positive and conducive culture, characterized by respect, trust, goal-orientation, team-working and motivation. We have a refined leadership crew that keeps the “people thing” high in their agenda and hence morale is high, productivity is up and both reflect on the bottom-line.
How easy is it for you to get direct access to the decision makers in your company?
“Contrary to the norm” it is remarkably easy to reach the decision makers at NBO even at the very top. We have a leadership team that is very conscious of the TAT (Turn-Around Time) be it a decision TAT, a process TAT or service delivery TAT, a matter that made my life so easy and helped me significantly to achieve giant leaps in building the learning platform in a record time that would otherwise take ages in other organizations.
What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?
1. To deploy the learning platform effectively in order to achieve the big mission of aligning the whole organization behind the strategy and organizational objectives.
2. To build a robust system of learning transfer that would ensure value for money and return on Investment (ROI). This would involve not only working closely with the line but rather building enduring partnership with the business which requires tremendous amount of trust building in the learning function.
3. Talent retention is definitely a “nightmare” you wake up every morning with the big worry of being part of an exit interview for one of your stars! This is due to the simple fact that no matter how good you perform in the Talent Development front, talent may leave due to other factors completely out of the CLO’s control. Internal issue with motivation on the Job & Competitive pay and external factors such as scarcity of talent and the threat of new market entrants are the key factors responsible for the painful drain.
What are the skills and competencies that you would need to train in order to meet the regions talent requirements.
I believe the single most important competency that is a must-have for the entire region if we are to improve the Talent Management process is “The ability to switch the mindset of “Leaders” and managers from number oriented mindset and process oriented mindset into “people oriented mindset”. Hence the essential realization that by looking after people, numbers are processes will eventually improve. I think the region has an abundance of managers and scarcity of leaders, a typical 80:20! Hence critical is the focus on building a leadership pipeline bottom-up beginning with the grass root in order to reverse the 80:20 ratio. Regional Leaders need to realize that in todays’ highly globalized and borderless market place, the biggest challenge ever is losing their good people. Blaming products, system or processes for loss of market share is an old-fashioned thinking that is not valid anymore. To me, losing your stars is losing your market share; the folk who create new products and reposition existing products, develop and innovates new system, invent and improve current processes. What needs to be done, to my mind, is very simple and straight forward; to adopt Hussein El Hafyan’s “People Centric Model” which is all about keeping people at the heart and building everything else around it.
Hussein El Hafyan ‘People Centric Model’
To me, the “Customer-centric model” is not valid anymore due to the realization that the most important customers for any organization today, are its people! The more you look after them, the more they will take care of your external customers, products, processes and system. More than often, this is easy said than done!! It is customary to see CEOs or Board level executives in the region speaking high of their people in the media and Annual Reports, but in reality they do very little for people in terms of;
- hiring the best (see who sits to interview people at the entry point? either junior, untrained seniors or a mix of both; garbage in-garbage out!!),
- training & developing them (look at the size of training budgets across the region? very shy in the most and always the poor step child at bad times!!),
- motivating them (see the quality of line managers who take charge of the supposedly best hires? They lack the basics of leadership. When Ken Blanchard said people tend to leave managers not organizations, I felt he meant this part of the world!!),
- Retaining them (count how many organizations in the entire region have robust retention and succession planning systems? You count them in the figures I would pet, very reactive in the most!!!)
To wrap it up all, I should point out that this ‘people thing’ does require solid belief in principal following a lot of thinking ‘until in hurts’, significant amount of attention at the strategic level, substantial amount of investment in the troops, and homing in International Best Practice in Talent Management.
Please leave your comments below to start a discussion with Hussein and other CLO-ME members