CEO for a Day at your company ?

United Arab EmiratesI caught an interview of Essa Al Mulla, Executive Director of the Emirates National Development Programme (ENDP) on Dubai One’s Emirates 24/7 on Sunday.

Mr Al Mulla was explaining the importance of the “CEO for a Day” campaign.

As part of emiratisation efforts, the ENDP is targeting some Zayed University undergraduates to make them shadow the CEOs of some of the most prominent private companies in the UAE, in the sectors of banking and finance, retail, hospitality, logistics, technology, aviation, and telecommunications.

The campaign is an attempt to make young UAE Nationals more interested in working in the “non-traditional sector”, as Essa Al Mulla put it. He mentioned that in the coming years, 20 000 young Nationals will enter the workforce every year.

And obviously, not all of them can work for the government, even though this is usually the first employment option that comes to their mind.

A shocking statistic for me was to hear that only 0.5% of the private sector employees are Nationals. Even though in the GCC, and UAE in particular, local citizens are only a fraction of the overall population, this balance is seriously wrongly tipped ! Mr Al Mulla talked about the numerous examples of UAE Nationals who started from scratch in the private sector and are now in very senior positions.

The CEO for a Day campaign will help motivate more young graduates in considering other options than government jobs and becoming ambassadors of their country in what will become a primary source of employment for them, the private sector.

80 companies are expected to participate in the campaign, but as you know, I believe that HR can have a lot of influence on emiratisation in the organisation, so I thought “What can we learn and adapt from this campaign ?”.

The concept of shadowing is an interesting one, which can be implemented by any company and for positions at any level. So you can have your own “Director for a day” or “Vice-President for a day” event in your company.

Take your young, promising UAE Nationals, and once or twice a year, make them spend a day shadowing a more senior employee. National or expat, in the same division or not, it doesn’t matter. The aim is for the young talent to attend meetings, see the kind of choices required, the challenge as well good moments of being a decision-maker in the organisation, and how it impacts the company beyond the manager and his or her direct team.

I have been enrolled in such schemes in the early stages of my career, and from experience, I know it is very important that the day be as normal as possible. It should contain the regular meetings, the normal interruptions, the emergencies, the staff interactions and informal gatherings with peers where startegic decisions sometimes happen to be made, and relationships are consolidated.

This glimpse into real executive life will give the right young talent an exciting view into senior level positions in the private sector. And as a bonus, by motivating them to remain and grow in the organisation, they will act as role models to other young Nationals.

So don’t hesitate and set your “Executive for a day” campaign !

 

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