Ian Taylor a long term resident of the UAE with a wealth of experience and a yorkshire temperament, who has penned some thought provoking articles for us is this months spotlight
1. Tell us about you, your experience and time in the Middle East.
I moved to Dubai in 1993, to work for Emirates Airline ! On my first weekend I remember walking along sand from Al Kawakeb apartments near what was then the Defence Roundabout to the Trade Centre apartments with not a single building in between! My only regret was that I didn’t take more photographs .
Emirates was an exciting place to work especially in the relatively early stages . My first boss Charles Wilson was great to work for, probably the best in my career . I’m proud to have been a small part of such a success story . Part way through my time at Emirates, I decided to update my skill set and took number of courses including an MSc in occupational psychology, eventually becoming a full chartered member of the BPS. I moved to Etihad to get more opportunity to use these skills.
The decision to set up on my own last year came as I missed the “hands on” implementation side of designing and running events and working closely with people. Budgeting and strategy meeting talk shops aren’t really my thing !
2. What do you see as the main challenges facing L& D, and wider HR in the region?
HR on the whole has become much more sophisticated since my early days here when, by and large, HR simply dealt with employee administration or ran a few training programmes . Training professionals are now asking how they can demonstrate value and the wish list menu of courses is becoming less common. The days of people just flying in and out for high fees have also largely gone.
Leaving aside the obvious issues of a multi cultural work force and Emiritization, the main challenge for L&D and HR is to be able to stand back and objectively evaluate all the new “must have” initiatives and great new ideas .
The field is characterized by some very woolly thought and ideas that just don’t stand up to any systematic evaluation . I’m thinking here of parts of talent management, engagement, EQ and mission statements amongst others ! This is where I think every company needs an occupational psychologist to ask are we just following the pack here, or is there some real evidence behind this concept? I wanted to scream when the justification for something from a colleague was that Jack Welch did it in GE 20 years ago!
3. There are a lot of players in the L&D space. What is it that you think you can offer that might differentiate you from others?
That’s a tough one ! I think the combination of a strong experience in both the design and delivery of programmes mixed with the objectivity and rigour of psychology is fairly unusual . I can be practical and pragmatic, but also back up what I do with rigour and substance to drive real change. I see quite a bit of glossy packaging but with little behind it . I’d also like to say that if you come to me you get me, not someone with less experience! You also don’t have to pay for a large office or sales team!