Whereas Saudi Telecom is bringing in executives to broaden the perspectives of young managers, QPI is sending those managers out. CEO Al-Jaidah began his own career in the training program at Shell; today, QPI’s engineers rotate positions within the international oil companies that operate in Qatar, gaining hands-on experience with a wide range of approaches to problems. This background will inform their decisions when they reach the management level.
Formal programs are also in place at Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia, where new managers begin in-house training in Saudi Arabia and progress to training in London or New York. Saudi offices also bring in expats from Europe and the U.S. to train their Saudi compatriots and give them insight into how Morgan Stanley works globally. But continuous learning is not just for new managers. “We should always learn from other emerging countries and developed countries,” Almubarak says. “Many of the challenges we face in Saudi Arabia have been faced by other countries. And therefore, we need to learn how they have been solved — not to copy [the solution] and bring it here, but to learn from those lessons.”
Etisalat has gone even further with the Etisalat Academy. Established in 2000, it offers classroom and online courses to not only its own people but also the employees of companies and government organizations throughout the UAE. Although it began with a focus on telecommunications and information technology, it now offers coursework in leadership, management, accounting, human resources, and quality as well. The classes are free for Etisalat employees, who are also offered training in a number of international programs.
Governments, too, are investing in their future leaders. In addition to offering centralized training programs and funds for GCC nationals to study abroad, organizations like the RTA have launched tailored programs for their people with leadership potential. The RTA’s Qiyadi (from the Arabic word for leader) program immerses 40 handpicked midlevel leaders in a curriculum that includes case studies, role-playing, discussion sessions, and continuing education.
In many respects, however, the most compelling way to develop new leaders is by example. Unlike leaders in Western corporate cultures, which have a long history of codifying and disseminating information and thus allowing executives to share their messages from a remove, leaders in the GCC have historically had close and communicative relationships with their constituents. Public-sector and private-sector leaders today carry on this tradition, modeling the values that have led to their success and helping others instill them in their own approaches to leadership. By acting as role models for the next generation, today’s leaders can help their organizations — and their region — stay on the fast track they have enjoyed in recent years.
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- Joe Saddi is the chairman of the board of directors of Booz & Company and the managing director of the firm’s business in the Middle East. His work covers multifunctional assignments in the oil, gas, mining, water, steel, automotive, consumer goods, and petrochemical sectors.
- Karim Sabbagh is a Booz & Company partner based in Dubai. He leads the firm’s work for global communications, media, and technology clients, and is a member of the firm’s Marketing Advisory Council and the chairman of the Ideation Center, the firm’s think tank in the Middle East.
- Richard Shediac is a partner with Booz & Company based in Abu Dhabi, where he leads the firm’s Middle East work for public-sector and health clients. He has led and participated in strategy, operations improvement, and organization projects in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
- Also contributing to this article was s+b contributing editor Melissa Master Cavanaugh.