Finding the right person for a position is challenging no matter where you live and I am involved in the process of finding my successor. I informed the organization I have worked for during the past four years, that I will be leaving at the end of my contract, which will be the end of September. I have enjoyed the job very much but I wanted to take a different direction in my career so I am starting my own education management-consulting firm. I am leaving on good terms and am very involved in the hiring of my successor.
The UAE is an attractive place to live and work so finding qualified expats is not a big challenge but my CEO and I are in agreement that if we can hire a qualified UAE National that would be ideal.
The process to announce is pretty straightforward; Human Resources posts the position on the university website, as well as LinkedIn, and various career website and the in-box is immediately filled with qualified applications. Sure enough in 72 hours over 40 hopefuls have applied for my job and the majority met the core requirements but one thing was missing; Emiratis applying.
What went wrong? Did we do a poor job of explaining the position, or possibly its not in the right website locations, or maybe this is a job a Emirati wouldn’t want. The last option personally hurt my feelings considering I had been doing this for four years and overall liked the job. So I decided to take a more direct approach and looked at my contacts list as well as my LinkedIn database and make a direct contact. I identified six people I thought would be potential prospects or would pass it on to a qualified candidate. Within 24 hours three of the six contacted me to inquire further.
What I learned surprised me. Two of the people I spoke with were interested but afraid to submit their name for a concern that their boss would find out. They fear their CEO will complain to someone in our organization and accuse them of poaching their personnel. This would end any chance they had of being hired.
The UAE has a population of 8+ million people of which just 1 million are Emirati. It is a young population and as I have posted in the past, most go into government jobs that pay well and having shorter working hours. Less than 7% go into the private sector and the higher education administrative sector has about one in ten who are Emirati. The country has made it a priority that all UAE based organizations hire Emiratis that puts pressure on supervisors not to lose UAE Nationals. In many cases this results in senior level people making it clear to their counterparts not to go after “my people” or there will be consequences.
At some level this is understandable but as a result the unofficial policy in a number of educational institutions of no poaching, inhibits mobility for Emiratis gaining new experiences and responsibilities as well as better salary. This trickles down in some organizations where it is very difficult for people to transfer from one department to another.
The idea of Emirisation is full employment and moving people up the ranks so they can take operational leadership positions, that way the company is not as dependent on expats in the upper ranks. The Emiratis I meet are like all of us, they want a position that pays well, and gives pride and satisfaction in their work. People, if qualified, should not be discouraged to pursue new opportunities if it advances their career goals.
I am very optimistic we will find a great replacement for me, I just hope anyone who wants to be considered my job or any other position is not discouraged to do so.
To learn more about my position at Ankabut click on Director of Marketing and Communications. I especially encourage UAE Nationals to apply and feel free to contact me.