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OER Summit discusses new HR, Finance imperatives

OER Finance & HR Summit 2017 and Top 20 Award  held at Sheraton Oman on May 24, under the auspices of His Excellency Dr Rasheed bin Al Safi Huraibi, Chairman, Oman Tender Board, discussed the new HR and Finance imperatives in the Sultanate and across the region. The Summit discussed a range of business solutions related to cash flow management, disruptive technology, performance measurement and improving efficiencies.

Organised by the Sultanate’s leading business magazine, Oman Economic Review (OER) and its publisher, United Media Services, the second edition of OER Finance & HR Summit was  an ideal platform for CEOs, CFOs and senior HR executives to learn from industry experts, to network and to discuss with peers facing similar challenges. The Summit  provided an enriching experience with key note address/paper presentations from international and GCC based industry experts, panel discussions and sharing of current trends and best practices.

The OER Top 20 Awards for year 2016, based on a survey done by OER of the largest listed companies on the Muscat Securities Market were  presented at the event by His Excellency Dr Rasheed bin Al Safi Huraibi, Chairman, Oman Tender Board. Modelled on the Fortune 500, the OER Top 20 is Oman Economic Review’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 are the Associate Partners. Times of Oman & Al Shabiba are the Media Partners. The Summit is powered by RAB-MPower HR as the Knowledge Partner and The Talent Enterprises as the Survey Partner.
BIG is the Light and Sound Partner and Oman Printers & Stationers is the print partner. The Summit is also supported by Omani Society for Human Resource Management (OSHRM).

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 and Chetlur S. Prasad, Senior Manager – Employee Development, Al Madina Takaful and Venkatesh P V, Principal Consultant & Business Head, Reem al Bawadi, who will moderate 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 key findings from the ‘GCC performance management practices survey & sharing of best practices’,  a specially instituted survey in Oman, were presented by Radhika Punshi, Managing Director and Organisational Psychologist, The Talent Enterprise, Dubai.

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 ‘Technology and Finance’ by Mohamed Nayaz, Partner, Advisory Services, EY Oman.

“The classic mistake companies make is cut staffing costs during a recession. This is rather a time of opportunities that would’ve never been available during a time of continuous economic growth,” Khalid Ansari, from KPMG Oman said during his speech at the conference.

“This is a time to renew a sense of urgency to be more productive and to make fundamental changes. 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 that you were producing than cutting staff.”

Oman, along with other oil dependent Gulf Cooperation Council economies has been hit by a downturn due to low oil prices since 2015. Government projects that were a major economy and job driver fell, while payments stalled and in a direct response; companies froze recruitment that was followed by restructuring in companies and staff numbers declining significantly.

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,” Venkatesh P.V., principal consultant and business head at Reem Al Rawadi, said.

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