I am late with the February E-News as I have been travelling. Since January 29th, I have been travelling in the United States, Europe and in Asia - South Korea and the Middle East - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, and Bahrain. Couple of days of seeing customers, consulting or training in a city and then moving to another one has been a tiring but satisfying one.

It is difficult to describe in words the hospitality and friendships I gain with these visits. My South Korean host Sun-Bay from the Korean Management Association took me for a vegetarian lunch but could never just manage the lunch himself without any meat. Nevertheless, he was careful to ensure I ate well. The Arab hosts were also equally hospitable; I have gained about five kilos with all the food they gave me.

Can we compete with their hospitality is indeed a question? More so is the other question of the economic growth. With the current oil prices, it is estimated in the Arab Business magazine that the combined GCC countries earn US$ 1.5 billion a day fuelling the construction boom.

On another note, elections seem to be happening everywhere; in Spain, Malaysia and in the United States. The incumbent retained power in Spain, in Malaysia there was shock as the ruling coalition lost 5 states. In the United States, while Barack Obama did not knock out Hilary Clinton in Texas and Ohio, he still is in the lead on delegates count. Interesting times!

I get home this evening - with three hours for my next flight, I suppose this is a good time to write the E-News from the Bahrain airport.

Now to the E-News:
The Economy - powerhouses of the Middle East
Learning - IFTDO, Dubai
Competency & Performance - the connection
Change starts with you - Rainbow Creators
SMR Group News
The Economy - powerhouses of the Middle East

It is three years since I had been to Qatar. The city of Doha is completely different. To me it looked like I had landed in a Western city - lots of green and flowers all over. It did not give even a hint of a desert country. The Qatar Foundation Education City boasts of most of the top universities in the world. Old buildings maintained extremely well. There were lots of new skyscrapers and a hive of economic activity.

Abu Dhabi was another good example. The new construction boom and opening up of property sales to foreigners which include a permanent residence is fuelling the growth.

Dubai was an amazing spectacle. While the traffic jams were horrendous, Dubai’s growth just can’t be expressed by words. The new Dubai land project will host Universal studios and a host of other theme attractions - a total of three billion built up square feet. My university mate, Imitiaz Baig, who is the Organisation Development Specialist, took us around to show us the massive plans, and, of course two Bengal tigers at the reception. Don’t believe me, check it out with Imitiaz.

Bahrain is no exception too. While the buildings are there Bahrain also seems to be focusing on the talent factor.

Recognising well that the threats will not come from running out of oil in the region but running out of talent, there seems to be concentrated focus on labor market reforms, building the competency of the local workforce and creating positive attitudes.
Learning - IFTDO, Dubai

The 37th International Federation of Training & Development Conference & Expo was held in Dubai. The Dubai Police who hosted the event took great care of the delegates. The Arab hospitality was evident everywhere. We were taken to the Jumeirah Beach Resort just next to the Burj Al Arab. The keynote by the Chief of the Dubai Police was very interesting one - the transformation of the force into a knowledge based one was a great case study. I spoke on the subject: Talent Management - the importance of B Players.

SMR Group was well represented. Actually, we had five of us in Dubai at the same time; Rizal from our Consulting division who was on a consulting project, Jim Kirkpatrick from SMR USA who was running an evaluation of training programme, Robert and Vinesh on a business development trip and myself.

Unfortunately, the organisation of the event outsourced to an events company was not to expectations. While the participant traffic was extremely low and organisation of the event was below expectations of most participants and exhibitors, we met some great friends and the ever hospitable IFTDO board.
Competency & Performance - the connection

I like to take this back to the Competency and Performance connection. Competencies are key to success. The reason why outsourcing takes place is to get expert resources when needed without the burden of overheads. However, outsourcing itself has to be a careful choice. Does the outsourcing agency have the competency to deliver? Is there a service level agreement?

The Competency - Performance factor was emphasized in every meeting that I went to. The government initiatives in these countries are very strong in establishing competency frameworks, qualifications systems and a productive workforce.

We will be running an Accredited Competency Professional programme in Dubai in June. For more details, email grace@smrhrd.com.
Change starts with you - Rainbow Creators

Most of you know how positive my experiences have been with Singapore Airlines. I think with the exception of one flight, I have always thought of them as a great way to fly. As a trainer and consultant, I enjoyed working with them too.

As I took a break a few years ago working with airlines leaving it to my colleagues at SMR Group, I never imagined I will be working with another airline. I have now on the request of a dynamic human resource professional Ahmed Albana who left his senior position in government to help the nation. The President and Chief Executive Bjorn Naaf is a truly outstanding person committed to making Gulf Air an outstanding airline. I have had the pleasure of working with Gulf Air Senior Management team and I truly think they are on the path of becoming Rainbow Creators. The message Change starts with you truly resonates at Gulf Air. Talking about change I can’t forget Barack Obama’s call - Yes, we can!
SMR Group News

The Asia HRD Congress 2008 is all set for Jakarta in partnership with PPM, Indonesia. The Asia HRD Congress team welcomes partner delegations and nominations for awards. We now have a new VP Events, Terance Chan Kok Yue.

We will be running the Accredited Training Professional as well in Dubai and the International Certificate in Training Practice in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

For more information of our activities, please email gaik@smrhrd.com.

I hear the final boarding call and yes, they are announcing my name now. I better go. Take care and will be in touch next month.

Best wishes,
Palan
March 2008
Trainers Meet Trainers Going Places
Asia HRD Congress 2008

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