OER Summit explores new imperatives in HR and finance. HE Dr Rasheed bin Al Safi Huraibi, Chairman, Oman Tender Board, presents OER Top20 and Excellence Awards at the Summit
CEOs, CFOs, senior HR executives and international and GCC-based industry experts discussed a range of business solutions related to cash flow management, disruptive technology, performance measurement and improving efficiencies, at OER Finance and HR Summit 2017 & OER Top20 and Excellence Awards, held at Sheraton Oman on May 24. Organised by the sultanate’s leading business magazine, Oman Economic Review (OER) and its publisher, United Media Services, the summit provided an enriching experience with paper presentations, panel discussions and sharing of current trends and best practices.
The second edition of the summit was held under the auspices of HE Dr Rasheed bin Al Safi Huraibi, chairman, Oman Tender Board, who also presented OER Top20 and Excellence Awards. Modelled on the Fortune 500, the OER Top 20 is OER’s annual ranking of the Sultanate’s Top 20 listed companies. Companies have been evaluated and ranked on the basis of their revenue, as derived from the published accounts submitted to the Muscat Securities Market.
Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and Bank of Beirut were the strategic partners of the Summit while BMW and Takatuf were the associate partners. The summit was supported by Haya Water and Omani Society for Human Resource Management (OSHRM). Al Omaniya Financial Services was the banner sponsor. Times of Oman & Al Shabiba were the media partners. The summit was also powered by RAB-MPower HR as the knowledge partner and The Talent Enterprises as the survey partner. BIG was the light and sound partner and Oman Printers & Stationers, the print partner.
The panel discussion on – ‘Managing performance in Oman – ground realities’ brought together senior executives and HR professionals to ideate and arrive at breakthrough solutions on various issues. The participants in the panel discussion included Dr. Ghalib Saif Al Hosni, chief people’s officer-HR unit, Omantel; Hilal al Jadidi, director of consulting services: Takatuf Oman; Nofal al Saidi, general manager, HR, Orpic; Satish Moorjani, group CEO, Mustafa Sultan Enterprises, Chetlur S Prasad, senior manager – employee development, Al Madina Takaful and Venkatesh PV, principal consultant & business head, Reem al Bawadi, who moderated the discussion.
The second panel discussion on ‘New financial imperatives in a challenging business environment’ discussed and confronted the issues facing the CEOs/CFOs today, focussing on themes such as – managing cash flow efficiently and enhancing revenue streams; building business models to thrive in a changing business environment; unlocking value and enabling business and finance transformation and leadership, the CFO and the future workplace. The panel discussion moderated by Chandrasekr Parameswaran, group general manager, Jawad Sultan Group, featured an august body of panellists including Ghaniya Al Rashdi, business finance Manager, PDO; Gerard Hutchinson, CFO, Galfar Engineering & Contracting; Ashok Hariharan, partner, head of tax, Lower Gulf, KPMG; Sanjay Kawatra, partner, assurance, EY and Shahid Rasool, chief investment officer, Ominvest.
The panel discussions were interspersed with paper presentations by industry experts on key aspects of HR and finance, which include ‘New Macroeconomic Realities’ by Khalid Ansari, KPMG Oman; ‘Leveraging performance in challenging times’ by Venkatesh PV, principal consultant and business head, Reem Al Bawadi; ‘PDO’s Lean Journey and what the larger business community can learn from these measures’ by Wayne Bryant, lean deployment lead, Petroleum Development Oman; ‘Global HR trends and the implications for Oman’ by Hilal Al Jadidi, director of consulting services, Takatuf Oman; ‘The secrets, signposts and science of assessing potential’ by Inga Pioro, principal consultant, Korn Ferry Hay Group, Abu Dhabi; and ‘IFRS9 for banks and the implications for corporate borrowers’ by Karl Jackson, director, financial services advisory – risk, Ernst & Young.
Lay-off is counterproductive
Setting the stage for the discussions with an insightful presentation, Khalid Ansari said that companies should look at the opportunities during a recession instead of panicking. “Focusing on business sustainability is very important during the crisis time. The classic mistake companies make during a recession is cutting their staffing costs. A lay-off strategy is counterproductive. It decreases trust in employees when it is paramount to keeping the company up in difficult times. Looking for opportunities and eliminating waste are more important than cutting staff,” he averred. “Most managers look for golden opportunities when the good times are rolling. This is mistake, the best opportunities often arise during downturns. Managers can harness a downturn to renew a sense of urgency, justify unpopular decisions and overcome complacency. This is rather a time of opportunities that would’ve never been available during a time of continuous economic growth. This is a time to renew a sense of urgency to be more productive and to make fundamental changes.” Ansari advised that companies focus on cash flow and cost management, use lean techniques and their existing staff to help them diversify and innovate.
Experts suggested that the focus must be on productivity and companies must launch productivity management programmes that access employee productivity and give them the right incentives for their performance.
“We need to make use of the staff we currently have. They have been in the business for a long time and know it well. If we sack them in a rush, we may find ourselves left with a void that will be hard to fill by a new staff later. They would be expensive to bring and will take time to reach optimal performance. We need to manage our existing employees effectively and create a good work culture,” said Venkatesh PV in his presentation. He added, “Talent pool within nationals is limited in highly skilled and semi-skilled jobs. In the current economic situation, hiring qualified and experienced professionals is getting increasingly difficult.”
In his presentation, Wayne Bryant opined that lean thinking was all about continuous waste elimination. “There are seven key phases in PDO’s lean CI journey. It is a story of eight years with ups and downs but learning every day. We are proud but humble – this is just the beginning. Having started our lean journey in 2009, through successful execution of many lean improvement projects and kaizen events, it was demonstrated that Lean business improvement principles and methodologies work in PDO.” he said.
“As result of careful examination of Lean deployment in many successful companies, the lean deployment was translated into a PDO specific lean transformation model”, Bryant added.
In his presentation on HR trends and implications in Oman’s market, Hilal Al Jadidi touched on the changing concept of career and employee lifecycle, and new learning paradigms. “The employee lifecycle changes reflecting the need of ongoing learning and enriching career opportunities. One of the main challenges facing the organisation is to provide learning opportunities for their employees through micro-learning, courses, classrooms, and groups and new learning channels. There is a need to revisit the jobs architecture to ensure more meaningful career,” he said.
Talking about the secrets, signposts and science of measuring potential, Inga Pioro stressed the importance of rating employees’ level of potential, having an agreed definition of what potential is and adopting a systematic way of measuring potential. “Not having agreed definition of what ‘potential’ means, using ambiguous factors when talking about potential and subjective methods for measuring potential are the problems with identifying potential,” she said.
In his presentation on IFRS9 for banks and the implications for corporate borrowers, Karl Jackson said, “In Oman and the GCC region, existing IAS39 provisions are heavily influenced by the regulators, unlike Europe. Most Oman and GCC banks do not expect significant increases in provisions. But poorer rated borrowers and/or segments may be targeted.”
The key findings from the ‘GCC performance management practices survey and sharing of best practices’, a specially instituted survey in Oman, were presented by Radhika Punshi, managing director and organisational psychologist, The Talent Enterprise, Dubai.
LIST OF THE WINNERS
OER Top 20 Awards
Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel)
Oman Oil Marketing Company
Al Maha Petroleum Products and Marketing Company
Shell Oman Marketing Company
Galfar Engineering and Contracting
Omani Qatari Telecommunications Company (Ooredoo Oman)
Oman Cables Industry
National Bank of Oman
Phoenix Power Company
Raysut Cement Company
Al Hassan Engineering Company
SMN Power Holding
Ahli Bank Oman
HSBC Bank Oman
Oman Flour Mills Company
OER Excellence Awards
Corporate Leadership: Mohammed Redha A. Jawad, CEO, Taageer Finance Company
Global Omani of the Year for Export Promotion: Salem Nasser Al-Bortmany, Executive Director, Areej Vegetable Oils & Derivatives
Business Personality of the Year: Adeeb Ahamed, Managing Director, Lulu Financial Group and Twenty14 Holdings.
Environment Conservation: Haya Water
Transformation Leadership: Omantel