February Spotlight Kiran Bade Young MENA REGION HR manager of the year.

  1. Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East?

I’ve been in the Middle East for almost  2 years, I find the Middle East to be a huge opportunity for any passionate individual to learn and contribute. Being at the centre of the world and nurturing various businesses that are multinational, these opportunities come in the face of challenges of diversity of workforce, different needs of talents and the need for processes  while being  sensitive to diverse talent, There is also a rational to view performance at an organisational level. Being in the Middle East is for mtruly one of the most enriching experience.

2. How would you describe the culture of your business?

Distribution as a business is majorly relationship driven. Trust is the foundation on which the business is built. having a presence in multiple geographies adds diversity not only to the population but also to the way we engage with the ecosystem. This makes the  culture of our organisation very accommodating, caring and inclusive

3. What are the biggest challenges in the next 5 years?

As I reckon,

  1. Automation and rampant growth of Artificial Intelligence in HR Functions – and preparing the ecosystem for it./ Competency enhancement for the roles to avoid redundancy
  2. Multiple generations working together who are very different in their approaches
  3. Reinventing and creating Business models that are agile
  4. The speed of invention and the ability to choose, learn and implement the latest technology, staying updated throughout.
  5. Creating a customized individual growth path for individuals for uncertain times.

4. What are the skills and competencies that you would need to train to meet the region’s talent requirements?

This region is blessed with visionary leaders who set the course of direction. To create a big difference and to stay ahead in the race, every link of the chain needs to add strength. The regions’ talent needs to develop the Right Brain Skills. Creativity, Empathy, Design Thinking (balancing between Analytical and Creative thinking), thinking lean, are some areas that will need focus. As experts would say, Artificial Intelligence is the future, but the skills that would be irreplaceable and might need honing now would be the right brain skills (Being more Human

5. What is your Philosophy?

I believe that Learning and Development, and for that matter, the entire HR function, can no more be a support function responding reactively to the changing needs of the business. It’s high time where we get into the driving seat, supporting the business to identify and deliver value as a proactive partner. HR for that matter can no more be a fulfillment agent that caters to the requirement that are raised by Business. HR needs to be consulting partners, be it offering proactive hiring for future business of the organisation. or for Talent Acquisition; proactively upgrading the skill sets of current talent to avoid the redundancy of Talent Pool in the future; pr, proactively driving a culture of innovation through engaging in Talent development, rewarding innovative practices; creating programs that would drive innovation and therefore support sustainability. There is no paucity of opportunities to engage.

I believe and practice being a partner to Business, adding value in making them future ready, driving engagements that realigns the focus of Talent from challenges of today, to creating opportunities for the future and then solving challenges for  today. As I always end my mails … Look forward to creating a difference!


February Spotlight : Younes Procter Etihad Rail

younes procter





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

I am originally from New York USA, yet have spent most of my career in the Arab Gulf region, first in Saudi Arabia and then in the UAE During this time I have taken on a very diverse range of jobs centered around Learning and Development. These include teaching courses in English, customer service, problem solving and MBTI, serving as a head of training departments across five different business sectors, developing training curricula, training event management, corporate induction programs, and designing and implementing knowledge-sharing programs between senior expatriate staff and Emirati new joiners.

Before coming to the Gulf region, I had worked in Morocco as an electrical instructor. Since my students did not know either French or English, I had to learn the Moroccan Arabic dialect in order to communicate with them. During my tenure abroad I have obtained two MSc degrees from UK universities, the first in Teaching English for Specific Purposes, and the second in Human Resources and Training. Currently I am in the last stages of doing my doctorate in Social Sciences from Leicester University. I have already submitted my thesis (on Emiratization in the public sector) and am awaiting to defend the thesis in March 2016.

2. How would you describe the culture of your business?

The culture of my business is best characterized as patriarchal with decision making taking place top down. Further, each department has its own sub-culture, which is often a result of people’s professions coupled with the expression of their own national cultures. As in most UAE companies, the workforce is diverse comprising people from many different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds.

3. How easy is it for you to get direct access to the decision makers in your company

Unfortunately, it is not easy. To reach a major decision maker, you usually need to have a key business point to make, or to be courageous, take the initiative and ask for a meeting bearing in mind that an agenda needs to be forwarded beforehand.

4. What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?

Aside from reaching my financial goals, my biggest challenges are to top off my career by writing articles for scholarly journals and national newspapers on my experiences and lessons learned from my work and studies. In particular, I believe there is a huge need to write about the complex and multidimensional topic of Emiratization.

5. What is your philosophy?

My philosophy is to approach life with an open mind, to continuously and passionately seek knowledge, and simply put – to treat people as people.

To contact Younes:


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February Spotlight: Sandrine Bardot – Compensation Insider

Sandrine Bardot - highdef




February’s Spotlight is provided by Sandrine Bardot of compensationinsider.com a training dedicated to training professionals in Compensation and Benefits.

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

My name is Sandrine Bardot, I am French, and I am a trainer and consultant in Compensation & Benefits.

I have worked for almost 20 years in the corporate world, first based in Europe for companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Fiat and more. Then in 2007 I became the global Head of C&B for Majid Al Futtaim in Dubai. It was my first permanent job in the UAE, although I’d been traveling and working extensively in the region before as the MEA region was a big part of my focus in my multinational roles.

Later on, I became the Head of Performance & Reward for Mubadala in Abu Dhabi, overseeing their 100%-owned assets as well as C&B for the HQ, and advising the HR Business Partners on the set up of new companies and revision of existing Rewards policies in the companies that were already in place.

In March 2013, after 2.5 years in Mubadala, I resigned to pursue my dream of setting up my own training and consulting company. Two years later, I still have no regrets !

I’ve been here for a little over 7 years now, and the Middle East has been nothing but a land of opportunity for me, whether in-house or on my own. I love the mix of people and cultures that we all encounter every day, and feel blessed to have been welcome so nicely in this region.

2.     How would you describe the culture of your business?

Well, I work on my own so all I can say is that I love the boss 😉 !

More seriously, I try to focus my business on truly bringing value to my clients, and am definitely picky when it comes to the projects I work on. I don’t take the jobs that can be done better by someone else (for example, when a whole team of experts with legal and actuarial background is needed), or where I feel I may not be the best provider.

Overall, my unique point is a mix of advice based on my experience in multiple industries and countries, combined with a “hands in the dirt” perspective coming from my years of actually doing the job in-house. This ensures my clients will be able to actually implement the solutions that are designed.

I think it gives them reassurance that a truly experienced person is looking after their best interest, and they also appreciate that I know how to push back from time to time, for the sake of ensuring the best end result for the project.

All in all this can be quite a different experience than the one you get from the larger consultancies, and most of my clients actually appreciate the sense that I bring them a unique solution, not some copy-paste from a past project or client.

3.     How easy is it for you to get direct access to the decision makers in your company?

I will respond in terms of getting access to the decision-makers at my clients’ companies.

I usually am hired for projects by the HR Director and/or CEO of the client company. Having access to them is crucial in my area of specialisation, as I am often asked to audit incentives including those of senior management, or I prepare documents that need to be presented to and agreed by the Remuneration Committee and/or Board.

However, I also never forget that in many cases relating to Performance & Reward, many other stakeholders need to be involved, including line managers and employees. I always make sure that I am granted access to all, so that the project can unfold properly.

4.     What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?

As an independent trainer, consultant, speaker and blogger, my biggest challenge for the next 5 years will be to continue to address the needs of my audience.

Many Rewards professionals feel trapped in the most basic aspects of C&B such as performing job descriptions and evaluations, or calculating salary increases. I want to continue help them grow their skills, become better professionals, and get the support they need from their management in order to move on, design, propose, and ultimately, implement new solutions and plans for their own organisations.

These challenges are widely felt in our field, and I recently wrote an article on that topic on my blog Compensation Insider, with some tips for C&B specialists. Through the ups and downs of our markets (Expo 2020, the oil prices falling, political instability in the wider region, population growth, infrastructure needs and nationalisation programs), I look forward to helping them think in new ways that will be beneficial to them as well as to their companies.

5.     What is your philosophy?

I want to have spent my life learning, helping, sharing and smiling. So far, I think I’m on track 🙂
Sandrine Bardot Managing Director, The Bardot Group
Mobile: +971 526 414 388
sandrine@compensationinsider.com | http://compensationinsider.com

February Spotlight: Simon Bucknall Renowned Public Speaking Expert






This Months spotlight is Simon Bucknall. Brought up in the Middle East. Simon is a renowned Public Speaking Expert, twice winner of the Toastmasters UK & Ireland Championship of Public Speaking and 2008 winner of the JCI Europe Public Speaking Championship, and 2011 finalist of Business Speaker of the year.




1. Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.
The call to prayer, desert mountain peaks and the skyscrapers of Jeddah – these are some of my earliest childhood memories, having spent much of the 1980s living in Saudi Arabia.

Since 2002, my parents have lived in Dubai, where my father is a doctor at one of the hospitals, so the Middle East has been part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. Even in the years since my parents moved to Dubai, the pace and scale of change is simply staggering…

2. Give us a brief snapshot of your business

Too many audience wish they were somewhere else – especially when I comes to business presentations. We held our clients to be more influential and inspiring through the spoken word.

2. How would you describe the culture of your business?

Entrepreneurial! We founded the business in August 2008 – right at the point in which the ‘Credit Crunch’ bit – so it’s been quite a ride. For any new venture, adaptability is key. You often hear people talk about the importance of having a clear plan and then executing that strategy. But in my experience, there’s a lot to be said for a strategy of: ‘shoot, ready, aim!’ In other words, take action and try things without getting too caught up in the strategy. Strategies can always be adapted but there’s no substitute for actually making something happen – especially when it comes to growing a business.

For that reason, we’ve experimented by working with a very broad range of clients – from corporate executives to politicians, from Best Men at weddings, to MBAs and PhD engineers at university.

3. What are your biggest challenges in the next 5 years?

Striking the right balance between continuing to scale the business while preserving the quality of service for our clients – especially for our live events where everything depends on the connection between the audience/group and the speaker/facilitator/coach.

5. What skills and competencies do you feel are important in meeting the region’s talent requirements?

In this region, personal relationships count for a great deal. And if you think about it, face-to-face encounters – be it in the form of a conversation, a business meeting or a presentation – are a vital ingredient in developing those relationships. After all, we have to talk to each other!

Yet despite this, from a professional point of view, an individual’s ability to speak is too often taken for granted. In other words, we assume that an individual’s existing quality of spoken communication is fixed. We label people as being engaging… or not; charismatic… or not; clear-thinking… or not; succinct… or not.

In my experience, a person’s capacity to be engaging, influential or inspiring is a skill like any other – and it can be developed and improved. You might expect me to say this, but it’s true!

In this region, information is a commodity. What is at a premium is an individual’s ability to process that information and convey it in a meaningful and high-value way to other people. Those people may be colleagues, clients, customers or even members of the public.

But for the Gulf Region to fulfil its potential – in employment, leadership and through inter-dependency with the global economy – confident, quality spoken communication is key.