AESC: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions about the United Arab Emirates search market. I’m interested to know what your outlook for the region and especially the United Arab Emirates now we’ve finished the first quarter of the New Year. But, first of all, can you share with us a bit about Vision Executive Search and the work you will do there in your new role?

Vision Executive Search is a locally owned and operated firm in Dubai, UAE, serving the MEA and the CIS region. Founded by Dr. Nairouz Bader, a Middle Easterner raised in Dubai, VES is a recognized local expert in consulting for human talent. VES applies its extensive knowledge of industries, functions and talent to advise select clients ranging from major international firms to regional conglomerates on their leadership and talent management and is dedicated to excellence in service, quality and results.
As part of the executive leadership team my focus is to expand the company throughout the Region, spearhead business development initiatives and identify and implement strategies which will position the company for sustained growth across a range of industry verticals. I am also responsible for ensuring that flexibility, innovation and teamwork characterize the firm’s approach and uncompromising ethics and integrity remain at the core of the firm’s values.
AESC: As mentioned, now that we have begun 2013, how would you describe your outlook for United Arab Emirates for the rest of the year?

We are clearly seeing an uplift in business confidence and a similar uplift in a number of indicators which suggest the Region is entering a period of growth. Time of course will tell, as to whether the growth will be sustained and also sustainable, or whether the continued economic conditions in Europe and the US dampen the early signs of the rebound we are seeing.

AESC: What are the current trends in Executive Search in Dubai you have noticed since you since you started your new role? Are there any sectors that are experiencing strong activity in U.A.E at the moment?

A necessary trend has been the identification of talent which will materially impact a business either via bottom line contribution or in terms of strengthening an existing management structure. We are far too early into the economic uplift to see business merely creating excess capacity from a workforce perspective.

Certainly areas showing consistent, strong and robust growth include aviation, telecommunications and real estate. These sectors continue their expansion apace and with companies such as Etisalat and ADAC taking the Middle East to the world it is certainly exciting to sit on the sidelines, participate in their plans and simply enjoy the ride. As contributors to the Region, we should all be proud of such companies and celebrate their successes.

AESC: What would you say is of greatest concern for senior-level executives working in U.A.E today? Do you think that work-life balance as a bigger challenge compared to other regions? For instance do you think that executives working in U.A.E have longer working hours than other regions?

I am not sure it is correct to assume there is a given subset of pressing issues causing concern amongst executives throughout the Region. Of course on a daily basis, many business issues are addressed by corporate management and absolutely it is a fact that individual industries face particular challenges they must overcome to ensure a return to shareholders in line with expectations. However, I would expect to see such challenges and concerns continue to be met effectively by the vast majority of companies throughout the UAE.

Work-life balance will always be a good discussion point amongst a group of people. And the reason for this is that each person will have a different viewpoint depending upon myriad factors; age, stage of life, their sex, individual career objectives, relative success and status of the company they represent are simply some of the factors that can affect a given employees view on what constitutes a good work-life balance.

Personally, I like the thoughts of Brian Dyson the former CEO of Coca Cola when he said “In life, we all juggle five balls: A health ball, a family ball, a friends ball, a work ball and a spirituality ball. Four out of the five are made out of crystal. If we drop them, they will shatter. Only one ball is made of rubber and always bounces back; the work ball.”

AESC: Of the executive searches that you are seeing, how would you describe the ratio of those executives ending up on short lists or being placed who are native to U.A.E versus expatriates—local talent verses searching outside the region?

The mobility of labour both within the Region and also internationally continues the sharp growth we have seen over the last 15 years. And the mobility is not just one way either, as individuals move into and out of specific Regions multiple times in a career.

From the perspective of such mobile senior executives, the challenge in a role determines their level of interest and they will pursue an exciting opportunity no matter which Region the role is situated. Facilitating this trend, we are also seeing increasing fly-in fly-out options being created for more complex locations worldwide.

Whilst we always see a bias from employers to individuals with Regional experience, it is by no means the case that external parties should not set themselves the objective to continue their personal and professional growth in the UAE, which is currently one of the more dynamic, fast paced and exciting commercial environments in the world.

AESC: Of senior-level executives working in U.A.E today, how would you describe them? Are they male, female, older, younger, and what difference, if any, have you noticed in terms of these demographics compared to previous countries you have worked in?

The first adjective that springs to mind to describe Regional executives is talented. The depth and breadth of commercial expertise in the Region is both remarkable and unremarkable – what more should we expect from the stewards of industry sectors which are globally regarded and some of the largest commercial operation in their segment.

Irrespective of age, sex or other personal discriminators however, perhaps the biggest differentiator of senior executives here compared to outside of the Region is the feeling many of them have that they are helping to shape the future of the Region. That they are part of something special, that they have the chance to make an impact, to leave a mark. So many stewards of industry in the Region are proud of their work and their company’s impact in the UAE and worldwide. It is this sense of pride which will continue to fuel the ongoing rise of the UAE as a Regional Global Hub for a multitude of diverse industries.

AESC: What can executives today do to increase their visibility and get noticed by executive recruiters? Broadly speaking, if someone who is not currently working in U.A.E seeks opportunities in U.A.E, what do they need to know and what skills should they bring to the table to be considered for executive positions in U.A.E?

Search firms use a wide variety of tools to identify outstanding talent for client organisations. A number of these a based around networks in a specific industry, but technology also plays a part. Linkedin is a tool that must be utilised by senior executives. It is an advertising forum where an executive can clearly outline the features and benefits they would bring a role. They can control the environment and the discourse and can demonstrate effective competence by defining their capabilities. Utilising Linkedin to create an outcomes focused overview of their career – rather than just describing generic job responsibilities – is a wonderful way to differentiate their experience and background from others.

Most importantly however, is the need to establish personal links with the Executive Search firms and senior Search Consultants operating in their industry sector. We should all acknowledge that, no matter how technical or professional recruitment processes become in the future, there are only two questions that are ever answered in determining whether one candidate is better than the other.

Those two questions? ‘Is the person nice/do I like them’ and ‘can they do the job’. And we all know which question’s answer is the most significant component of the decision making process.


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