Review: HR Summit Lebanon

06 Jul

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      The 2nd HR Summit Lebanon was a great opportunity to share best practice, understand current trends and challenges concerning the people business in Lebanon and further afield in the Levant.

      This window of optimism, aspiration and shared learning looked out over an environment of continued economic uncertainty. The future horizons clouded by a lack of strategic confidence and limited career opportunities for the bountiful and entrepreneurial youthful talent of the country.

      Organised by Careers LLB, the two day programme was launched by Dr Alan Hakim, the Minister of Economy & Trade. Both his speech and that of the master panel that followed, featuring former government ministers and Chairmen/CEOs of pan regional companies, highlighted the key themes of talent retention, capability building and productivity enhancement for local HR professionals to focus their capabilities and time on.

      These themes were built on in the 1st session/keynote by Raed Charafeddine, First Vice-Governor of the Banque de Liban – titled The Missing Link: HR from a Practitioner’s Perspective.

      Raed spoke passionately and coherently about the need for HR to help facilitate, as highly competent and commercially informed business partners, organisational capability development and cultural engagement. He laid out a number of key themes that were enhanced by other speakers over the course of the content rich two days.

      Agility, resilience, simplicity and adaptive were key words in the HR vocabulary needed in the New World of Work (NWOW). Employees in this NWOW were characterised by: having no more barriers between life and work; being hyper-connected to their jobs; and becoming more like customers and partners rather than the traditional employee of the past.

      Business acumen is not the only requirement to help develop mutual credibility between HR and its business partners. Technology tools and internal systems can enhance the provision of real time management information.

      Developing the theme of technology, the conference discussed the social media trends that HR should be educated and confident about, including:

      • Big data which enables candidate to find new jobs before they even know about them
      • Mobile apps are the new job-search frontier. 43% of job candidates research their prospective employer and read the job description on their mobile device and yet, only 20% of Fortune 500 companies have a mobile-optimised career site
      • Re- thinking the performance review process as a survey of 750 senior level HR professionals showed that 60% graded their current performance management system at C or below
      • Corporate Learning & Development through E-learning (MOOC – massive open online courses)

      Day one continued with presentations by Ron Thomas, CEO of Great Places to Work, sharing the recent engagement benchmarking by GPTW in Dubai which highlighted best in category and country companies further illustrated by insights from MENA success case studies. Ron urged the audience to consider the factors that unleashed potential and that culture will beat strategy breakfast, lunch and dinner.

      Day one was bookended by two more presentations – the first: a high energy invocation by Samer Taher on a singular, consistent and simple one page approach to measuring and communicating the impact and value added of HR work.

      The second by Khaled Tayara was on the transformation journey of Quantum, with reflections on how the world of communication is shifting and how we need to become value driven organisations.

      Day two: employer branding, start-ups and values

      Day two was seductively opened by the former global HR director for Zara, Jesus Vega, author of intriguingly titled book The Sensual Company. What makes customers and employees love brands and companies?

      The challenges of a global start up business, including moving from 300 to 1,200 employees in 2014 were coherently and innovatively addressed by Natalie Sejean, CHRO of Vasco Worldwide.

      Takeaways included the importance of embedding strong values to anchor everything you do and real time employee engagement measurement through use of new software.

      The post lunch agenda kicked off with the unusual combination of both levity and gravitas by Tom Young on the topic of executive coaching, who shared the unique challenges of coaching in the Arab world.

      Craig Hiles of Door Consulting closed the summit with accountability, alignment and execution based on “The Oz Principle”. He guided the audience through the steps to accountability: above the line begins with see it, own it , solve it, do it as opposed to below the line – the danger of the blame game.

      Like Beirut itself, the HR Summit 2015 was fast paced and overwhelmingly friendly. Full of stimulating and relevant takeaways for the curious and aspirational HR professional, it was a most worthwhile experience.

      Written by Tim Savage

      Tim has led the Human Resources function for a number of multi-national hospitality companies including Forte Hotels, Marriott UK , Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts and most recently the Jumeirah Group .

      He now helps individuals and teams bring out the best in themselves and each other for mutual and business benefit.

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