“ Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation ”

Dean Kamen

A lot has changed in the space of human resources over the past several decades. Gone, in large part, are the personnel departments whose focus was solely processing of employee pay and benefits. The more pressing question for HR professionals is no longer how to get a seat at the table, it is how best to use that seat at the table to be a competitive advantage for the organization beyond the traditions of staffing and talent management.

To achieve this, HR needs to embrace innovative thinking that takes the skill team outside of traditional areas of “expertise,” and into areas of the business where their skills can be stretched, challenged, and impactful to the bottom line. Why do we need to call for change now more than ever?

An exclusive insight on change & innovation in HR with some of the top HRSE (HR Summit & Expo) speakers. We have:

Abdulla Al-Harbi, Manager, Youth Development Department, ADNOC


Mahmoud Mansi, Founder & CEO, HR Revolution Middle East Magazine


Ashirvad Lobo, Author, Facilitator & Coach at fulloflifebooks.com

How has HR and learning changed in today’s digital world?

Abdulla: In today’s VUCA World, The Learning & Development domain have been highly adaptive and lived up to the challenge by being dynamic through new concepts of Flipped Classrooms, Many to Many Learning and evolved into various philosophies earlier unheard of for instance Micro learning, Reverse Mentoring etc. as well as utilising new technologies of Mobile Learning, Artificial Intelligence and so on. For the future of Corporate Learning I feel needs to be Open Minded, Social, Personalised, utilizing Immersive Technologies, Gamified, promoting Creativity & transformative in nature. While the traditional methods of Collective, Visual, Reflective, Experiential would still have to continue. The ideal scenario would be to achieve a hybrid model based on business needs.

Mahmoud: HR is reinventing its mission and vision. One of the new values to contemporary HR is to empower employees. Empowering employees includes coaching them into becoming independent, able to craft their own learning journey and decide what is best for them. The employees’ learning journey is a pilot that shows reflection on their role in the organization, their ability to plan, lead, develop, innovate, cooperate and make decisions.

Ashirvad: The digital revolution changed the world, business and people – it affects what we do and how we do it, both privately and professionally. The accelerated rate of change, relentless innovation requires a more flexible approach to employment and self-development. Having multiple careers in a lifetime is no longer impossible but becoming a requirement. Reinventing oneself, the search for job and life fulfilment drives employees to self-engagement and a journey of self-development and personal satisfaction.

What are the top 3 success factors for leading and driving transformational change?


  1. External Market forces

  2. Internal Business Dynamics

  3. Automation and incorporation of new Technology


  1. Applying employee engagement on an emotional and intellectual level, as employees and team members should be involved in setting the annual plan, doing the SWOT analysis, building the strategy, and therefore they will be eligible for support in decision making and implementation.

  2. HR as a business partner should initiate HR & non-HR initiatives which involves stakeholders from different departments across the organization. Different departments should work on common strategic projects which impacts the organizational KRA’s.

  3. Success should be documented in form of knowledge management and copyrighted by the employees who took part in it, as form of recognition. This success is communicated to the customers as employer branding.


  1. People need to know the organization’s identity. HR and leaders need to establish and communicate with employees who the organization is, what it stands for and what it is trying to achieve. Employees need to be self-aware and find the position where they can deliver and use their strengths and passion.

  2. Driving transformational change requires a self-motivated and self-engaged workforce. During our research for the book “Full of Life” we found that people need to be given the flexibility and autonomy to deliver results. Flexible agile teams are ones where individuals can use their talents to deliver results which are aligned to the organization’s identity and purpose. Keeping each other and themselves accountable for the success of the organization as a whole.

  3. People need to be challenged, given opportunities to learn, develop and experiment. They will drive innovation and creativity, trying new methods, processes and practices. A key aspect is training on process monitoring and improvements that will help drive change in a structured manner.

What are the latest 3 trends you are seeing in how organisations are developing and managing their talent?


  1. Gearing towards Learning Centers of Excellence (ISO accreditations, Awards etc.)

  2. More into Certification Courses & Workshops with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points

  3. Transformation of systems smarter versions by incorporating Artificial Intelligence, smart searches, Machine Learning etc.


  1. Organizations are trying to “utilize” the talents of their employees however, what many organizations do not understand is that people are “multi-talented” and the diversity of talents is in each and every one of us. That’s why career shifting has become a trend now. Organizations should utilize the multi-talents of each employee to serve in his/her own department and act as internal consultant for other departments.

  2. Organizations started to hire based on talent, ideas and project management skills instead of (academic degree, certificate, years of experience, etc), which gives a fair chance to everyone in the market without being discriminated or stereotyped based on education and experience.

  3. Self-learning becomes a KPI to every employee where it reflects upon their performance appraisal based on their amount of self-learning, it’s impact on work and productivity, and knowledge sharing with colleagues.


  1. Organization are beginning to challenge their understanding of the word ‘Talent’. Some organizations are moving away from the 9-Blocker and traditional talent assessments. Virtual Reality Assessments and Assessments backed by data scientists who can analyse and predict potential are being used by progressive organizations.

  2. The flipped classroom is a trend in talent development with organizations and employees questioning the real value of long term education program that are traditionally provided to Top Talent in partnership with universities. Many of these High Cost classroom led, theoretical programs have neither led to Talent Engagement or Business Impact. Organizations are moving to a blended approach to develop their talent by using Job Rotation, Enlargement and Enrichment coupled with Mobile learning.

  3. High Potential talent usually demands development and growth or will find an organization that provides it. A new trend is using real time engagement and social collaboration apps to listen to and understand the pulse of the organization. Through genuine involvement by HR and Business Leaders these apps assist the organization to listen to what’s happening within and to understand employee motivators. Organizations that are able to analyse and act on this data are better able to identify, manage and develop talent.

How will AI, machine learning and new workplace technologies shape the future of HR in the Middle East?

Abdulla: The Middle East could be on the cusp of renovation journey to incorporate New Age Technologies considering the young demographic profile of learners as well as skewed ratio of residents (citizens vis a vis expatriates) as well as the thirst to implement best practices elsewhere.

Mahmoud: I believe that technology will solve the problem of unemployment, and this is through respecting the human talent and ability to generate ideas. The workplace will embrace innovation, and shall solve the common problems of every employee which is “feeling un utilized, having ideas that are not brought to light, talent unappreciated, etc.”

We will not need to work 8 hours a day, with AI and full automation and RPA we will be focused on innovation, brain storming, change management, collaboration, where our time will not be wasted in operations and routine. This will help us grow a work-life balance, increase our wellbeing, and therefore our minds will have more capacity for innovation.

Ashirvad: AI begins with big data. Applying algorithms, patterns as well as anomalies to vast pools of data, can prompt leaders to better understand, act and work with their teams. This applies to management based on past scenarios, current trends and accurate predictions. Analyzing workforce data, AI can flag employees who display signs of discontent and those who did extremely well. Based on such alerts, leaders can take action to keep valuable people onboard. AI can assist with uncovering hidden talents and match talent with the work they love to do. Many leaders currently do not know or just do not have the time for a lunch invitation, a deep discussion, a pep talk or a simple thank you. With prompts from AI, we can all make sure that these actions become an integral part of the way we work.

Why are you speaking at the HR Summit & Expo in Dubai, and why would you recommend that your peers attend?

Abdulla: The summit is to be considered a networking platform for Subject Matter Experts & Learning professionals eager to take away key technologies that can be benchmarked with their own Organization’s practices. This would inculcate a spirit of continuous improvement that is the need of the hour as we cannot afford to rest on our past laurels. I always believed that the biggest room in the world is the “Room for Improvement”

Mahmoud: The summit is to be considered a networking platform for Subject Matter Experts & Learning professionals eager to take away key technologies that can be benchmarked with their own Organization’s practices. This would inculcate a spirit of continuous improvement that is the need of the hour as we cannot afford to rest on our past laurels. I always believed that the biggest room in the world is the “Room for Improvement”

Ashirvad: After nearly 3 years of research and development, we are launching our book Full of Life – Discover the Path to Success in your Life, Career and Business. Having attended the HR Summit for the past 6 years as Delegate, Exhibitor, and Speaker we see the potential to get our message out to key players in HR and Business in the Middle-East. With over 5000+ attendees across levels and departments the HR Summit is a great platform to talk about living a life which delivers personal satisfaction, fulfilment and enjoyment. This message is applicable to individual employees as well as business leaders. We expect to speak with HR, OD and Learning Professionals about how they can create an organization that is Full of Life. We want to challenge the paradigm of traditional engagement that is employer led. We want to introduce a new way to drive engagement that is a partnership between an organization and its people. We wish to champion change through this innovative concept of Self-Engagement and Transform HR, employees, departments and organization around the world.

Meet Abdulla, Mahmoud and Ashirvad at HRSE (HR Summit & Expo) on 4-6 November in Dubai