Friday, December 27, 2013

Nurturing Young UAE Citizens to Assume Positions of Responsibility

2013 Dedicated to Boost Emiratisation in the Private Sector

The UAE private sector is gearing to face a new challenge: grooming a new generation of UAE nationals to take on positions of responsibility within the organizational ranks. The government has also launched a multi-tiered campaign to boost the employment of UAE nationals within the private sector, encouraging home-grown young talent to leverage on their skills and dynamism to enrich the national economy.

Major oil, energy, finance, insurance, retail companies are drawing up short and long-term HR strategies that will help them to attract local talent and ensure their gainful employment. The idea is not just to recruit UAE nationals but also to ensure that they are effectively trained and that their career ambitions match the organization’s goals.

At the heart of the UAE government’s emiratization efforts is a new charter outlining a nationally recognised code of conduct and values for Emiratis as approved by the Cabinet. It will be used in educational and cultural context to raise “a national generation who are aware of their responsibilities and duties toward the nation, family and community,” according to the state news agency Wam.

The educational system in the region is also being reformed with a renewed focus on innovation and entrepreneurial spirit expected to draw more UAE nationals into the workforce. At present there are about 330,000 nationals within the UAE’s job market, but that figure is projected to rise dramatically.

The UAE private sector spins more than 5 million jobs and can play a crucial role in helping UAE nationals carve out top-notch careers for themselves. Currently, emiratis make up only 0.5 per cent of employees in the private sector, a study has revealed. With higher salaries, greater social security and terminal benefits, the public sector represent a far more lucrative option.

The UAE government has dedicated 2013 as the year to boost emiratisation in the private sector. Plans are afoot to amend labour laws so that compensation packages for UAE nationals in the private sector match their counterparts engaged in the public sector.

By 2020 more than 450,000 nationals are expected to be part of the labour force, and by 2050 , the figure is expected to touch 600,000, according to a recent report examining the talent supply of the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Yet unemployment among emiratis in the UAE have ranged from 13 per cent to 20 per cent annually according to data from the National Human Resource Development & Employment Authority as well as the National Bureau of Statistics.

Female nationals face a higher unemployment rate than their male counterparts. This is surprising when more than 2,000 and 3,000 women graduates from UAE University, compared with less than 500 men. The private sector will do well to offer employment incentives to this largely educated and talented female workforce.

Handy Hints

  • Renewed focus in 2013 on emiratisation in the private sector.
  • Multi-layered campaign launched to encourage UAE nationals to enrich public life and national economy.
  • Excellent opportunities await educated UAE women to enter the workforce.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Make Competition Irrelevant

Blue Ocean Strategy: Learning to Win Without a Fight

In a post-recession economy, when major companies are looking to reinvent the industry and create a whole “new market space” to conquer competition and push profit margins, they are increasingly adopting the “Blue Ocean” mantra advocated by Harvard professors W.Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.

First published in 2005 the Blue Ocean Strategy handbook outlines that the best way to compete is to stop trying to beat the competition. Professionals should learn to create new demand in an uncontested market space, or a “Blue Ocean”, rather than compete with each other in an existing industry.

Markets are typically classified into red oceans (known or existing markets) and blue oceans (non-existent, unknown or untapped markets).

Blue Ocean is an analogy to describe the wider, deeper potential of market space that is not yet explored. In sharp contrast, in the Red Ocean industry boundaries are defined. Here companies try to outperform their rivals to grab a greater share of product or service demand.

As the market space gets crowded, prospects for profits and growth are reduced. Products become commodities or niche, and cut-throat competition turns the ocean red.

The most dazzling example of the Blue Ocean strategy is the performance of the Cirque du Soleil. Created in 1984 by a group of street performers, Cirque productions have been seen by almost 40 million people in 90 cities around the world. What makes this rapid growth all the more remarkable is that it was not achieved in an attractive industry, but rather, in an industry with declining revenue for potential growth.

Cirque du Soleil’s success was not attained by taking customers from the already shrinking circus industry (which had historically catered to children) but instead, they were successful because they created a new marketplace in which to compete. Their offering appealed to a whole new group of customers: adults and corporate clients who were prepared to pay a price several times as great for a show that spelled excellence.

Some of the other shining examples include lightweight footwear company Crocs (fashionable and low-priced), Air Asia (easy booking system), ING Direct banking (superior interest rates on savings with no fees) and Ninetendo electronic games (less complexity, more fun).

  • Create new market space by challenging traditional assumptions.
  • Innovative and reinvent, adding value for customers.
  • Cut costs, not corners.
  • Set your own rules, make competition irrelevant.

Mr. Sathya Menon is Executive Director, Blue Ocean Academy, Dubai.

Be Assertive to Advance in your Career

Don’t Fall Prey to Professional Bullying

In a competitive workplace where multi-tasking, peer pressure and dynamic role plays are often punctuated by conflict, anger and hurt egos, it is important to learn the right assertive techniques to advance in your career.

There is a cliché: “If you don’t stand up for something, you will fall for anything-” and it rings true even more after the global financial crisis, when the fear of losing jobs or being unfairly victimized has pervaded the employee psyche.

Research shows that increasing number of talented employees are falling prey to professional bullying, feeling drained out and are finally quitting their much-need jobs. That is because they lack self-assurance and are unable to assert themselves when they need to.

You are assertive when you have the confidence and the ability to stand up for your own rights without violating others; when you beg to differ with someone you respect while putting forward your own opinion; when you are able to turn down unreasonable requests from a boss, a peer or a friend, firmly yet politely.

It all starts with that all important step –‘saying no’ when it is justified. Here, be soft on the person, but tough on the issue and put forward a clear and concise explanation supported with facts.

Once that is done, accept the consequences. Don’t wait for acceptance or allow the other person to make you feel guilty for being assertive. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Anger at the workplace only leads to a loss of credibility. The moment you get angry, the strength of your argument is lost. Resorting to humour, instead, is a great way to reduce resistance and diffuse tension.

To avoid direct confrontation, and also prevent hurt egos, use techniques like clouding (respond without any logical connection) or camouflage (limited response).The right body language and effective use of eye statement while putting a message forward is another assertive technique that works well with superiors.

Now take the test to see if your assertive skills will work for you: Do you usually have confidence in your judgment? If someone has a better solution do you accept it easily? Do you accept positive criticism and suggestions? Do you ask for assistance when you need them?

If you are ticking all the above boxes, then you have discovered the winner in you. You are as good as anyone else, affirm these thoughts in your mind and you will go places.

Handy Hints
  • While saying ‘no’, put forward a logical explanation supported with facts.
  • Be soft on the person, tough on the issue.
  • Anger leads to a loss of credibility.
  • Resort to humour to reduce resistance.

 Sathya Menon is Executive Director (Academics), Blue Ocean Academy, Dubai.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Unlock the three Secrets of Persuasion

Learn to Influence Without Authority

If you are keen to fast-track your career then learning the science of persuasion can prove to be your biggest asset. Evidently it’s easy for those in authority to be influential but the real challenge lies in influencing others to do what you want without an overt show of power or by making others fearful of consequences.

In today’s competitive environment, mastery of the softer interpersonal skills separates executives who merely survive from those who thrive and grow as leaders. The key is to unlock Aristotle’s three secrets of persuasion — ethos, logos and pathos – and use them in the context of real-world situations.

When a leader has been able to establish his credibility though trust, knowledge and expertise, he is able to persuade and influence his peers much better. He is respected because he is knowledgeable, skillful and innovative –this is when ethos comes into play.

The second mode of persuasion pathos involves emotions or story-building – when a manager narrates stories, creates metaphors to establish a point with his peers or subordinates. Emotions – however unwanted in the workplace – play a powerful role in persuasion and intelligent leaders learn to tap into a person’s emotions to make him conform.

Logos is a mode of persuasion when a leader tries to persuade someone based on pure logic or facts. The Logos appeal also helps in enhancing credibility and trust.

The Harvard Business Review describes this ability to cooperate with and influence peers as lateral leadership among managers. Managers, the world over are being challenged by flattened management structures, outsourcing and virtual teams.

Lateral leadership, counts among a manager’s most essential skills, and comprises a constellation of capabilities—from networking and coalition building to persuading and negotiating.

Though honing these skills takes time and patience, the payoff is worth it. The initiative you’re championing will stand a far better chance of being implemented quickly.

You’ll gain access to the resources you need to carry out the effort. Doors will swing open freely to the key players whose cooperation you need most. And perhaps most important, you’ll achieve the central purpose of managerial work: getting things done through other people—and catalyzing valuable change for your organization.

Handy Hints
  • Establish personal credibility through knowledge and expertise
  • Analyse the workplace to understand equations of power and persuasion
  • Cultivate a broad network of relationships with people who support your initiatives

 Sathya Menon is the Executive Director, Academics, Blue Ocean Academy, Dubai.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Bridging Gaps between Infrastructure and Knowledge

UAE Needs Trained Logistics Professionals

UAE is fast becoming the logistics hub of the world vying with Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Manchester for top honours. What the country needs today is a new generation of logistics leaders: dynamic, skillful, innovative and tech-savvy who can effectively bridge the existing gap between knowledge and infrastructure in the region.

The Dubai World Central Logistics Park is nearing completion near the Jebel Ali Free Zone with a projected logistics turnover of 12 million tonnes of air cargo annually. When the Maktoum International Airport opens its doors, UAE’s logistics handling capacity will also increase manifold.

New jobs are being created every year in the UAE and in other Middle East countries. Challenging opportunities await those who can captain the industry in the future. Trained manpower is needed to match the ongoing boom in infrastructure.

Case studies have revealed that a majority of those working in the logistics sector have no specialized training in logistics or supply chain functions. Instead, they are professionals drawn from different streams of engineering and science and sometimes even humanities –who have learned on the job but lack expertise and awareness of global best practices.

Also with the global supply chain function become increasingly complex, a greater understanding of the international logistics and supply chain industry is needed for specialists.

What with the Logistics infrastructure in the Middle East undergoing massive transformation, and a large number of multinationals shifting base to UAE, there is an urgent need now for logistics professionals who can think globally but act locally.

The Logistics and Supply Chain industry has fashioned lucrative careers for thousands of professionals in the Middle East and with a boost infrastructure and facilities, their career is expected to follow an upward trajectory. An internationally certified logistics professional with considerable experience can demand a monthly salary of Dhs. 30,000 plus. Entry level salaries would range from Dhs. 8-12,000.

Those who are grooming themselves for a senior management role, need to focus on global best practices, breakthrough research and cutting edge technology that has revolutionised the industry in the last decade.

As a logistics professional you need
  • Expertise
  • Awareness of global best practices
  • Ability to think globally but act locally

 Mr. Sathya Menon is the Academic Director of Blue Ocean Academy, Dubai.

When the Mind is Without Fear…. Of Rhetoric and Substance

The Power of Rhetoric and Public Speaking

Public speaking is a powerful professional skill. A master orator not only wins fans but also fast forwards his career. A case in point is the US President Barrack Obama, a master orator who can captivate millions of people with his power-packed speeches.

Yet in the UAE and elsewhere in the Middle East the power of rhetoric and public discourse remains grossly underestimated. Very few educational and professional institutions actually train professionals to speak eloquently and confidently.

A flair for public speaking can actually land a professional in a win-win situation. He not only succeeds in a job interview, but is also regarded by the management as an asset to the company, often called upon to make presentations to clients, and address the audience from the podium during seminars and conferences.

The lack of public speaking skills on the other hand has disrupted careers and resulted in sleepless nights for many professionals. Studies show that the fear of being tongue-tied on stage is the most common of all phobias. Some people dread public speaking even more than death and some live with this fear throughout their lives.

The first step towards overcoming this fear is to go ahead and start speaking in front of others. The longer you wait, the greater your difficulty. So take the bull by its horns and deliver the speech that you have been preparing or give the presentation that your boss wants you to. You will see that it is hardly as difficult as you made it out to be. Better still join a local toastmasters club to hone your skills.

In your professional life, it is always advisable to move out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Similarly you can become a good speaker only if you believe you can. It is always important to shed pre-conceived notions and begin with a fresh mind.

Preparation is the key to success. If you prepare your speech well, your mode of delivery improves, so does you articulation, vocabulary and diction. Along with the speaking cultivating an attitude where you can take the brickbats with the bouquets is very important. People might be critical initially, but be confident and carry on.

Finally learn to catch the pulse of your audience and try to feel at ease with them. Last but not the least is perseverance – the art of public discourse is not cultivated in a day. So prepare, learn and practice and you will prosper soon.

Handy Hints
  • Overcome stage-fright and get started immediately.
  • Prepare your speech well in advance to gain in confidence.
  • Learn to connect with your audience and persevere.

Mr. Sathya Menon is Executive Director, Academics, Blue Ocean Academy, Dubai.

Invest in Employees… It Pays

Employee Return on Investment

“We are a people company” – is a commonly made corporate philosophy statement. Most people would assume that the company is drawing its strength from a large base of satisfied clientele. While this is partially true, a real people company is one that holds on to its “empowered, learned and innovative employees” as its pillars of success.

Indeed in today’s competitive world, people or the workforce make all the difference. Very often the thin line distinguishing companies that are struggling to stay in business and those who are striving is made by a team of efficient and engaged employees. It makes a lot of business sense for a management to invest on its workforce because it will pay rich dividends later.

In the Middle East where private companies depend on a largely mobile and floating expatriate population to drive their profits, managements tend to regard their employees as highly dispensable and are reluctant to invest in their training and development. In most cases this has proved to be counter-productive and the last decade has seen a renewed thrust on employee enrichment and empowerment.

There is a growing understanding and consensus that people are a critical asset that needs to be cultivated and properly managed. Without the right employees, businesses will not grow, become profitable, or generate new ideas. A company’s workforce is not merely a necessary expense, but also an investment in future competitiveness and earnings.

A lot of research studies support the idea that keeping employees engaged and motivated, as well as retaining the best performing employees over the long term, have positive effects on corporate financial results.

Investing in employees affects the bottom line in two ways. First, it reduces employee turnover, sick leave and healthcare costs. Second, investments in employee engagement programs, training, talent management, information and decision support, communication, wellness programs and technology all have a positive effect on workforce performance and productivity.

Empowering employees also augurs well for a company. Involvement and recognition generate positive energy and increase ownership of individual contributions. The freedom to act and take initiative within agreed frameworks motivates employees to reach their full potential and do a better job.

Mr. Sathya Menon is Director –Academics, Blue Ocean Academy, Dubai.

Blue Ocean Touches Oman’s Shores

Inks Deal with Silver Bird Trading to train and empower Omani professionals

Dubai : Blue Ocean, UAE’s leading management training and consulting firm is set to take its professional expertise to Oman’s shores, training private and public sector employees to play a key role in the country’s vibrant development strategy. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect, has been signed by Blue Ocean and Silver Bird Trading LLC (Madinat Sultan Qaboos) recently, to train and empower the local workforce and enrich the country’s fast-paced oil-driven economy.

The Sultanate of Oman is in the midst of an ambitious plan to transform itself into a major, regional air travel gateway between Europe and Asia, by building and expanding a total of six airports including the Muscat and Salalah airports. The country also boasts of one of the most advanced oil recovery programmes in the world recording a high rate of oil production since the year 2000.

As Oman throws its doors open for foreign investment in the private sector, the spotlight is on effective partnership between the public and the private sector that will spur economic growth. “Employees need to be trained and developed to take on the challenges that lie ahead,” explained Mr. Abdul Azeez, Regional Marketing Director, Blue Ocean Academy. “All training programmes are scheduled to start from June 2013 and is expected to foster a culture of creativity and innovation among aspiring professionals,” he added.

Blue Ocean which stands on an enviable reputation built on 15 years of training, a global network of distinguished faculty members, custom-designed and internationally certified professional training courses, will partner the private as well as the private sector to train employees and ensure that they conform to the highest standards of excellence.

Blue Ocean will offer its flagship courses in Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Purchase, Six Sigma Green and Black Belt, Commercial Contracts Management. A total of 70 custom-designed training programmes are on offer for public sector employees as well as private employees to hone their skills and improve profitability for their companies.

Industry experts drawn from different parts of the world will travel to Oman to offer training. There will be local academics and professionals who will participate actively in the corporate training modules. Oman-based companies looking to update their employees skills can be in touch with Silver Bird Training or Blue Ocean Academy headquartered in the UAE.

All training programmes conducted by Blue Ocean Academy and its local partner Silver Bird LLC are supported by international certification and offers individuals a life-time opportunity to gain an internationally acclaimed qualification.

Some of the apex international bodies that have partnered with Blue Ocean are the International Quality Federation (IQF), International Purchase and Supply Chain Management Institute (IPSCMI). American Certification Institute (ACI), American Purchasing Society (APS). All Blue Ocean training programmes are also endorsed and certified by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai.

HR Professionals Learn the Art of Influencing Without Authority

Blue Ocean HR Forum Workshop Draws Popular Response

Dubai : “At a time when leadership requires less emphasis on giving orders and more focus on building consensus, personal persuasiveness and the ability to negotiate effectively have become critical skills for success,” highlighted T. Chendil Kumar at a workshop organized by the HR Forum of Blue Ocean Academy, UAE’s leading management training and consultancy firm.

The workshop titled “Influencing Without Authority” was held at the Park Regis Hotel in Dubai recently and covered a range of interpersonal and inter-group persuasion challenges, focusing on practical skills and immediate application to real-world situations.

The Blue Ocean HR Forum was established in 2012, bringing together HR professionals all over the country to network and brainstorm over contemporary issues. The seminar addressed a persistent issue often encountered by HR professionals in the Middle East : “how to handle responsibility without authority?”

More than 200 participants benefited from discussions ranging from one-on-one negotiations to driving change in an organization’s culture. The focus was on practical skills and immediate application to participants’ professional challenges.

“Harnessing the science of persuasion can be an asset in any business. Obviously, it’s easy for those in authority to be influential. But there’s a real science of persuasion when it comes to the art of influencing without authority,” explained Mr. Kumar, who trained at the Harvard Law school and is an international speaker of repute.

All HR professionals as well as managers need to understand and practise the three pillars of persuasion: structural personal and social. The process starts by building personal credibility through trust and expertise.

This is followed by a thorough analysis of a work situation for key factors related to power, persuasion and influence. All professionals need to determine whether it is best to use a persuasion or influence strategy to get others to change or take action. Stories or metaphors also act as powerful tools of persuasion.

“Many managers think authority and expertise are imperative to influence people but persuasion and influence can also play a significant role. You need to break attention of your listener by not sounding boring. The best way is to tap into emotion,” explained Mr. Kumar.

In today’s competitive environment, mastery of the softer interpersonal skills separates executives who merely survive from those who thrive and grow as leaders.

Headquartered in Dubai with a strong presence in the Middle East, India, Africa and Sri Lanka, Blue Ocean stands on an enviable reputation built on 15 years of training, 40,000 alumni worldwide, global network of certified trainers, prestigious international certifications and multinational partners.

Blue Ocean is a specialist in designing courses that bridge the gap between infrastructure and knowledge, imparting futuristic skills to a new genre of leaders.

Training solutions are accurate, creative and focused. Individual/employee skills are honed through a series of innovative training sessions in a simulated work environment.

The workshop was an initiative of the Blue Ocean HR Forum members and the Blue Ocean alumni and a part of a series of free workshops that will be organized by Blue Ocean to raise the bar of HR professionals in the Middle East.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blue Ocean Convocation

Delegate to Reduce Stress




By Dr. Sathya Menon

Stress is often described as a “state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. --” In today’s highly competitive world, stress at work is almost pandemic and comes with inevitable and fatal consequences.

 Management gurus are of the opinion that it is not always stress that kills us but our reaction to it and there are ways of handling stress at the workplace to create that idyllic state of “work life balance.” Consultants William Oncken Jr and Donald Wass used a metaphor “monkey on the back”, four decades ago, to describe stress and highlight the ways of differentiating and delegating work.

In a nustshell, if you are overwhelmed by work, prioritizing and delegating maybe the key to eliminating stress. The manager’s goal, say Oncken and Wass, is to minimize or eliminate subordinate-imposed work, get control of boss-and system-imposed work, and maximize discretionary time.

It is difficult to ignore tasks set by the manager without immediate consequences. Then there are system-imposed jobs that are imperative, though the penalties for not doing them immediately may not be that swift. Finally the self-imposed tasks are those that are discretionary but mostly imposed by subordinates,

In more cases than one, the monkey or stress starts as a joint problem but ends up on the manager’s back. The manager is overwhelmed by subordinate-imposed tasks that require follow-up.  He takes weeks to get to things, makes his family unhappy by working all weekend, and leaves subordinates spinning their wheels waiting for direction.

A wise manager will call each subordinate in, put the monkey on the table between them, and figure out together how the next move might conceivably be the subordinate’s.

The point, is to develop initiative in subordinates. There are the five degrees of initiative that people can exercise in an organization, from the lowest to the highest: Wait to be told what to do; ask what to do; recommend, then take appropriate action; act, but advise at once. Act on one’s own, then routinely report.

It’s important to remember to get control over the timing and content of what you do. Eliminate subordinate-imposed time. Use the new-found discretionary time to see to it that subordinates take the initiative.


Handy Hints

·         Delegate tasks, reduce stress

·         Develop initiative among subordinates

·         Increase discretionary time


Press Release : Training Creates Relevance at the Wokplace

December 10, 2013


 Training Creates Relevance at the Workplace

Employees perform better when they are supported and trained at work

Dubai : The importance of training and certification as an essential tool to remain relevant at the workplace came under the spotlight at a workshop organized by UAE’s leading executive training and management firm, Blue Ocean Academy, recently.

The workshop titled: “Increasing Measurable Effectiveness of Training” got together heads of training from large corporates worldwide who debated on the different ways of measuring the tangible impact of training on employees. The participants arrived at a consensus that business productivity, profitability and customer loyalty are enhanced when employees are trained and supported at work.

Dr. Samer Parekh, an internationally renowned speaker on the tangible quotient of training said: “What separates sustainable companies from the rest, is the effort of the management in training its employees. The best managers tend to be great motivators and promoters of success and they are clearly seeing the direct impact of training on productivity, translating into profits.”

final ft.jpgHighlighting on the “Pesos” model of training, Dr. Parekh, a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, said “there is an apparent disconnect between what business asks for as a measure of effectiveness of training and what can be actually measured.” Before training a student must develop a readiness to learn and after the training is complete, it should reflect in his behaviour outside the classroom.

final HD.jpgFor corporates as well as individual employees, education and training are all skill-enhancing strategies that are imperative in today’s world to remain relevant at the workplace. Certifications and discipline-specific training programs are focused and help in enhancing career objectives. There are certifications that set the industry-standard and are imperative in a changing employment scenario.

“The growth in certification programs is a reaction to the changing employment market. International certifications are portable, since they do not depend on a company's definition of a certain job,” said Dr. Sathya Menon, Blue Ocean Academy.

Increasingly companies keen to hire certified professionals demonstrating to customers, competitors, suppliers, staff and investors that industry-respected best practices are in use. Blue Ocean also launched its public course calendar 2014 on the occasion.

Headquartered in the UAE with a strong presence in the UK, KSA, Qatar, Oman, Sri Lanka and India, Blue Ocean stands on an enviable reputation built on 16 years of training, an impressive roster of blue-chip clients, a global network of certified trainers and international affiliations.

Blue Ocean specializes in designing courses that bridge the gap between infrastructure and knowledge, imparting futuristic skills to a new genre of industry leaders, shaping them into dynamic professionals in an increasingly competitive world. 


For further clarifications

Pls contact :

Debasree Banerjee

Corporate Communications,

Blue Ocean Academy

P.O. Box 116687, Dubai, U.A.E

Tel : +971-4-396 3968

Mobile : +971-50-1416435



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