In this interview with Naukrigulf.com, Dr. Salim Al Flaiti-Director- HR, Oman Convention & Exhibition Center, talks about company culture, employment trends and working in the Oman. Here’s what he had to share:
Please tell us a little about your academic background.
I did my undergraduate studies in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, USA in the field Health Management with a concentration on Human Resources. I started my career in the US in part-time and grant work, such as my work with the National Libraries of Medicine. I was working on a grant to educate senior citizens on how to use health care facilities provided through the Internet. The program allowed them to source and utilize free online services to make better healthcare decisions.
Within a year from graduating from my bachelor’s degree, I obtained my Masters degree. Both my masters and bachelors degree are from the university Duquesne in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I returned to Oman where I worked in the Ministry of Health in the Department of Planning and Evaluation that overlooked the five year planning for the country. Soon thereafter, I was promoted to the a Director of Human Resources at the Royal Hospital which is the largest specialty hospital in the country.
As education and learning are lifetime endeavors for me, I was simultaneously pursuing my Ph.D. via online correspondence part time from University of Phoenix, which I completed in 2015.
My career progression included moving into Assistant Director General of Education and Training before moving into the private sector where I moved into a Director General position with an international company based in Oman. My current role is with The Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre where I am (Senior Executive) Director of Human Resources. I still find time to blog on LinkedIn and teach part-time in the field of Human Resources at local colleges.
So that is me in a nutshell!
What does your typical work day look like?
The highlight would be the seven cups of coffee! That aside, the first thing I do on a typical work day is checking my schedule list on a daily basis. I look at anything pending from the day or week before, and plan the rest of the day. After that I start prioritizing the activities for the day. A good chunk of my time is spent on attending meetings and on reports. Now with the year end, there’s lots of work on planning for next year’s activities. Currently, I’m concentrating on training and education for the team and putting forward a detailed training project.
What’s your favorite way to de-stress after a long day at work?
Definitely and without any question, picking up a couple of pages of blank paper, pens and colors and sitting with my daughter and son doodling and spending a good evening playing Pictionary or any other game. That’s definitely the most useful de-stressor of all time.
What’s the best part about working in your company?
The best part about working for Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre is being part of an iconic pillar project for the country which is not only going to put Oman on the map of the world but also put the spotlight on Oman. It is a privilege to be one of the first people to actually start the project. We are building a company from scratch. A company that is to alter the economic structure and add to the diversity of the economy in the country. I’m proud to be part of this spectacular team and exciting project.
What are your predictions for trends and hiring in Oman in the next few years?
From the employment perspective, we will certainly start seeing more flexibility in the type of employment. We’ll start seeing people in companies veering towards temporary employment, casual employment, employment per event, instead of full time employment. I think that’s going to be huge. There will be more companies wanting to adapt to the Omanization levels and spend a little bit more on Omanis because with expats there is continued stringent clause being in place with regards to visas and clearances. It is in the companies’ interest to start investigating how they can employ Omani nationals into better positions to sustain their employment trackers, and reduce their turnover.
From the training perspective, we will certainly see people who are interested in on the job training instead of full five days or what have you, as a result of budget cuts and unavailability of liquidity. People will be going into half days. On the job training that’s very detailed and drawn to their needs, rather than a generic training program. There will be more people interested in coaching and mentoring. People are going be really thoughtful about where they spend their dollars.
What are the top three things you look for in candidates when making a hiring decision?
I don’t look just at qualifications. Qualifications may open doors but I look for a rounded candidate who is very articulate and can talk to customers, vendors, and employees. I will look at a candidate with experience, but if the experience is not extensive I look for someone who has a drive, is able to articulate, and show they have certain skills and capabilities. It’s not education and ten years of experience that strikes the bell for me. For me to consider them for employment, I prefer to talk to them and understand their actual potential. Team Fit is another important factor for me. To get someone that are great at what they do, but if they do not fit into my team, the culture of my organization, then they will not be taken into my organization, because the challenges they will put to the culture, will outweigh their importance and their efficiency.
Do you live by any particular motto in life?
Ever since high school, I’ve lived by the saying “It’s more blessed to give than to receive”, “What goes around comes around”.
Can you tell us about your experience with Naukrigulf.com?
I have met with a couple of managers from Naukrigulf and what I can describe of the Naukrigulf experience is that it’s definitely attending to clients needs, it caters to a changing environment, its adaptive to requirements that are imposed by technology , change in professions, changes in the way of doing business and very receptive to feedback.
This is what pleases me as a customer. About two years ago, I spoke to one of the managers with Naukrigulf as they provided CV databases that were more accustomed to the requirements of the customer. This manager was very enthusiastic to get a feedback from my side. I gave him all the feedback which I thought can put Naukrigulf on a competitive level. Two years later, while looking again for a CV database and recruitment solution, I went back to Naukrigulf just to see if there’s anything new. I think as a result of lots of feedback from many other customers, Naukrigulf has now been transformed. It’s gotten a face lift, with services that are amazing. Once we signed with Naukrigulf, we started receiving services like assisted recruitment, our personal work page, employee portal, and just the time that is spent from the team on the other side, is very appreciated.
We know that India has a holiday on Sundays, but there is a team working with us on Sunday, as it’s the first day of work in Oman. That’s caring for your customers.
How important is it for the employee to be bilingual in Arabic & English right now in your hiring scenario in Oman?
It depends on positions. For administrative positions, bilingual is almost a standard now. But in the government sector, Arabic is the main language. They are still depending on people who are very fluent in Arabic. All their work will be in Arabic and some English. Ninety percent of the private companies depend on English as the main medium for communication. In my opinion, for a couple of years to come, English would still dominate the professional language. But as more Omani’s enter the field, that’s when bilingual access will become to be a value. But now, let’s say for Marketing & Communication Manager, or Customer Services, bilingual is certainly important. On the other hand an engineer, or an oil rig technician, as long as they know their technical area, bilingual skills are not a necessity.