Promoting entrepreneurship, mentoring SMEs, enabling private sector and implementing structural reforms are the building blocks of future economic growth
Focusing on the productivity of workforce and leveraging the talent capital are essential for building an efficient organization and a sustainable economy, opined experts at OER Finance and HR summit, held at InterContinental Muscat, on Wednesday. The companies were called for listening to their employees and setting realistic goals instead of taking kneejerk reactions in the name of cost cutting. The right way to respond to an economic downturn is by implementing structural changes, instilling better practices and systematically identifying and eliminating waste on an ongoing basis, they said.
HR professionals were asked to adopt technology-oriented learning and keep abreast of the latest disruptive technologies like machine learning and Artificial intelligence. Don’t be intimidated by technology and encourage your employees to learn and have a structured learning programmes, they said. HR experts at the summit highlighted the necessity of taking some serious and radical measures to bridge the skill gap in the country.
Comprised of two thought-provoking panel discussions interspersed with various paper presentation by industry experts, the Summit saw CEOs, CFOs, senior HR executives and international and GCC-based industry experts discuss the new imperatives on the interface between finance and HR.
HE Sayyid Salim bin Musallam Al Busaidi, Under Secretary for Administrative Development at the Ministry of Civil Services was the chief guest at the second edition of the summit, while HE Dr Muna Al Jardaniy, Under Secretary, Ministry of Manpower for Technical Education and Vocational Training and Sheikh Mohammed bin Ghalib Al Hinai, the Advisor to the Minister of Manpower for human resources planning were the guests of honor.
Organised by Oman Economic Review, the Sultanate’s premium business magazine, the summit highlighted the shifting dynamics in Finance and HR with panelist and presenters delving into the multiple aspects of the topics. The summit was followed by a workshop on the use of Psychometrics in learning and development by N Martis, Director, KornFerry Hay Group. Another highlight of the event was the presentation of OER’s Awards of Excellence in Finance and HR for the year 2018.
Bank of Beirut and Oman Arab Bank were the Strategic Partners of OER Finance & HR Summit while BMW was the Automobile Partner and Takatuf Oman, the HR Knowledge Partner. Other Partners included United Securities and Taageer Finance (Support Partners), Takaful Oman Insurance (Islamic Insurance Partner), Arabia Falcon Insurance (Insurance Partner), RAB and Zobble Solutions (Knowledge Partners). Times of Oman and Al Shabiba were the Media Partners. Oman Printers and Stationers was the Print Partner while Yalla Wa’offer was the Digital Advertising Partner.
Reflecting on “New Economic Realities – one year later”, Khalid Ansari of KPMG said the oil price increase since last year did not reflect on the performance of the listed companies at MSM companies in 2017. He said while companies were able to hold their employment costs, they failed to keep their other costs at bay. “When the profit is under pressure, companies often resort to some quick reactions such as cost cutting. The focus on productivity and efficiency of the workforce as well as on cash and working capital management is essential to run a lean and efficient organization”, he added.
In his presentation on “UAE’s experience in implementing VAT and learnings for Oman’, Deepak Agarwal, Director, PwC, UAE; touched upon the opportunities and practical challenges of implementing VAT. A presentation on “The Changing Insurance landscape” by A R Srinivasan, CEO, Arabian Falcon Insurance, highlighted the new trends and changing dynamics in the insurance sector such as automation, artificial intelligence, robotic call centres etc. In her presentation, Ghadeer Hassan, Portfolio Manager-Asset Management, United Securities spoke about the Initial Public Offerings-Contribution to Muscat Securities Market.
The Finance panel discussion brought together CFOs and finance experts from the various sectors to discuss “Financial preparedness for harnessing growth”. The panelists in this session included Mohammed Sadek Sulaiman, General-Manager Corporate Planning, Orpic; Vishal Goenka, Group CFO, Renaissance Services; Loai Batainah, CEO, U-Capital; FlavioSimonutti, CFO, Omran; Sanjay Kawatra, Partner, Assurance, EY; Rajesh Khanna and CFO, Voltamp Group, and Nat Vora, CFO, Gulf Energy, who moderated the session. The panelists opined that promoting entrepreneurship among the youngsters, mentoring SMEs by enabling them to take up bigger challenges, engaging the private sector, economic diversification, implementing structural reforms such as subsidies, labor market and capital market reforms are the building blocks of future economic growth.
Modern trends in learning
Exciting areas of focus on HR included how to create a supportive environment for continuous learning, modern trends in learning, how to use machine learning and artificial intelligence in learning and the use of psychometrics.
In his presentation on “HR on Building a Learning Organisation”, Venkatesh Palakkad, Principal Consultant and Business Head, RAB, highlighted the importance of acquiring new knowledge and skills to help drive success and keep abreast of new work methods and innovations. “Organisations and employees today need to have lifelong learning as an integral part of their activity. Companies need to reinvent themselves to respond to emerging business opportunities and competitive landscape and most critical to that corporate reinvention is employee development,” he said.
Other presentations included “The role of The Takatuf Scholars Programme in promoting Omani talent” by Dr. Ammar Al Ojaili, Associate Director – The Takatuf Scholars Programme; “How Artificial intelligence and Machine learning are changing the learning landscape” by Steven Atkins, Alliances Manager, UK, Nordics & APJ at Saba Software, UK; and “How are organisations engaging their Z generation work force through game based learning” by Gunjan Gupta, Founder & Director, Zobble Solutions.
This was followed by an engaging panel discussion under the topic “Managing the Skill Gap – What organisations need to do?” which explored the rise and responsibility of talent development in the days ahead. The panelists attending this session were Prof. Kathryn Bindon, Director, The TakatufScholars Programme; Adil A Al. Rahbi, Head of Human Resources, Oman Arab Bank; Khaled Al Turki, Principal Consultant and Managing Director – Marifa Digital, Saudi Arabia; Dr. Khalid Al Hamadani, Head of Performance Academy, Bank Dhofar; AR Srinivasan, CEO, Arabian Falcon Insurance; Nuno Neeves, Cluster General Manager, Radisson Hotels Group and Venkatesh Palakkad, Principal Consultant and Business Head, RAB HR who moderated the session.