November Spotlight:Expo 2020 – Gaj Ravichandra Managing Partner Kompass Dubai









Q: Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.

A: I have been working here in the Middle East for 5 ½ years in the talent management space.  Throughout my time, I have had the privilege of working with exciting client organizations in one of the fastest growing regions on the planet.  I commenced my studies in psychology in the 1990’s and ever since as a Registered Psychologist have focused on the sourcing, selection, development and retention of talent across both local, Government and private sector organizations.  It was the passion for talent which drove me to the Middle East and ultimately the creation of a locally born business, Kompass – a performance and career consulting practice which I started with two other likeminded professionals.  Throughout the economic cycle in the Middle East, we have delivered projects from Executive, Team and Life Coaching through to Learning Workshops, Assessment and Outplacement & Career Transition.


Q: How different is the Middle East to other parts of the world in which you have worked?

A: After having dealt with clients across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe, United Kingdom and the Americas, the organizations here in the Middle East operate quite differently.  Though being in an emerging part of the world, there are still strong elements and influences from more established markets which are evident here.  Though decisions may take time to work through as it is a very consultative culture, once decisions are made there is a speed to action which I have not seen so consistently demanded upon when compared to other regions.  There is also a genuine desire to see improvement in the calibre of the local employees to maximise learning and increase self-sufficiency which has been clearly highlighted in the strategic vision set out by most of the Middle Eastern countries.  Though some of the Middle East is experiencing some instability, the countries which have demonstrated a clear path ahead for its people have been able to attract the top organizations and talent


Q: What do you believe will be the hardest challenges facing organizations over the next 5 years?

A: From 2014 to 2018, I believe there is going to be a real focus placed on the value of Human Resources and particularly with the return provided through Learning and Development functions within organizations.  As senior management are asked to do more with less across the globe, the same will be expected from HR.  With business rationalization occurring across organizations, HR is certainly not immune to this activity.  HR professionals need to get smarter about how information is presented on their importance and value in the achievement of organizational objectives with clear metric driven reporting.  Those HR Professionals who don’t value this numerical literacy will unfortunately not last the test of time during this changing landscape.  Also, the search for talent who can manage the constantly changing environment, display mental toughness and work effectively in a multicultural workforce will continue.  Talent from regions such as the Middle East will become more in demand and so retaining them will create an immense pressure on organizations here.  I believe this ‘talent snapping’ of Middle East talent from overseas organizations will impact both the top local and expatriate professionals.


Q: What will Dubai Expo 2020 mean for talent and local organizations within the region? 

A: With the spotlight now well and truly on Dubai, the time till the event in 2020 will come around faster than we can imagine.  Though significant infrastructure has been laid down already, there is still lots to do to ensure the bid’s promises are achieved.  To be able to undertake this and produce a world class event (as only Dubai can), the top talent will not only need to feel engaged but also equipped with the right skills and competencies to deliver!  This talent will not only need to work to tight time frames but also interact with a truly global workforce who will be representing their countries.  Though Dubai will be on show, the organizations represented in the Middle East will also have an opportunity to showcase their capabilities with attention from all over the globe.  This will represent one of the best opportunities local organizations will have to truly be in the global view.  For organizations to represent themselves most effectively, the best talent must be nurtured and retained from today.  An organization’s ability to cultivate the right culture along with a healthy employee activism will differentiate them from their competitors also seeking the limelight.  Even with the Expo 2020 ‘implementation team’, it would be a shame to not see local talent represented heavily throughout as they would all have a personal and professional stake in the success of our Expo!

Gaj Ravichandra Reg Psych, MComm – Managing Partner, KOMPASS Dubai


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