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Working Strategically With Talent In The UAE

Lindsey Masson, Ashridge Business School Associate

Myths Debunked By New Research To Be Revealed At Business Briefing Event 9th May, Dubai

April 29, 2013 2:48 by

How to best manage talent remains a critical challenge in an increasingly global and fast-moving world. But many HR and talent practitioners both in the Middle East and internationally are finding the approaches that have been successful in the past are no longer fit for purpose in today’s business context. Ashridge Business School experts Lindsey Masson and Howard Aitkins will identify and address the enduring myths revealed by Ashridge research at the business briefing event “Working strategically with talent – challenging myths to deliver business success” in Dubai on 9th May 2013.

The Talent Management Landscape

A new global landscape has emerged from world events including the Arab Spring and the unprecedented scale of the financial crisis in the West, with emerging markets now seen by many businesses as the main, if not the only, place where growth will occur. Advances in technology continue to create new ways of doing business, meaning that yesterday’s skills are not necessarily those required for today, let alone tomorrow. The relationships between individuals and organisations are also changing beyond recognition. Baby-boomers are reaching retirement age but often choosing to carry on being economically active. Meanwhile, digitally-savvy and ambitious Generation Y are entering the workforce in significant numbers and shaking up notions of how work and careers should be managed.

Even in the Middle East where family businesses still make up a significant part of the economy, the days where a typical employee was long serving, full-time, loyal and salaried are rapidly vanishing as more varied relationships are negotiated between organisations and individuals.

It is clear that organisations need to rethink the way to identify and develop leaders of the future if they are to remain competitive.

The 6 Myths

Research undertaken by Ashridge with talent management professionals in various sectors across the Middle East and the Europe identified 6 underlying myths which need to be addressed. In the complex talent management landscape of the UAE, with it’s diverse make up of expats and Emiratis, many subtle differences were identified to other markets and of the six myths identified globally, three were found to have particular resonance:

Myth 1: Current skills and performance give you a good idea of future success

Ashridge Reality: Learning agility and adaptability are true indicators of future success

Myth 2: Focusing in a small elite of ‘talent’ will give you best return on investment

Ashridge Reality: A broad definition of talent is essential in today’s world

Myth 3: Formal process matters more than informal processes

Ashridge Reality: Informal processes will always play a key role in how talent is developed and deployed, particularly in the Middle East

Additionally with both local and global relevance:

Myth 4: Talent management follows strategy

Ashirdge Reality: Talent management informs and shapes strategy

Myth 5: Talent is a commodity like any other

Ashridge Reality: Optimising talent requires a different approach to optimising a commodity

Myth 6: Gen Y will grow up and start behaving like “us” soon

Ashridge Reality: We need to design our organisations and talent processes in a way that takes into account the aspirations and drivers of Gen Y

Commenting on the research that led to these insights Howard Aitkins said “The Middle East is a unique environment with a particularly complex set of Talent Management challenges due to the diverse make up of the work force and a landscape of private, locally owned business, public sector business and global business operating in the region.”

Lindsey Masson adds “At this workshop we will question the three talent management myths most relevant to this environment, provide examples from organizations who have encountered them and engage the audience in identifying impactful actions to address them in their own businesses.”

Event details

Complimentary business workshop “Working Strategically with Talent – challenging myths to deliver business success”

Dusit Thani Hotel, Dubai, 9th May, 09.30 – 13.30 hrs.

RSVP essential, email [email protected] to book a space.



About Ashridge Business School Middle East:

Ashridge was established in 1959 near London and has operated in the Middle East for twenty years. It’s triple accreditation from the AMBA (UK Association of MBAs), EQUIS (the European Quality Improvement System) and AACSB (US Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) places Ashridge in the top 1% of global business schools. As a specialist in delivering completely integrated corporate education solutions for working professionals, Ashridge is consistently ranked highly by the Financial Times for both its customised and open executive education offerings. Activities include openand customised executive educationMBA, MSc & Doctoral  qualificationsorganisation consultingexecutive coaching and mentoringapplied research and virtual learning. For more information or call T: 00971 50 554 0905.

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