How HR is leading Saudi Telecom's transformation agenda

Written by
Karam Filfilan

12 Sep 2018

12 Sep 2018 • by Karam Filfilan

The future of HR in the Middle East is all about people as business leaders, says STC VP of HR, Ahmad Al Ghamdi. So how is he helping STC transform its business?

How are you achieving this strategy?

First, by ensuring our HR strategy is aligned with our corporate strategy, called ‘DARE’. To ensure alignment, we came up with ‘DARE’ to ‘CARE’ to support the organisational direction and its overall objectives.

Throughout this journey, we drew a road map that defines our vision and mission; our strategic pillars, objectives and initiatives. We also made KPIs and targets realistic, but are aiming to stretch our people. We want to be ambitious. We’ve identified champions for each strategic pillar and initiative. We have also identified three strategic enablers: HR analytics, integrated technology, and HR capability that will support us in achieving our strategy. 

How is Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 influencing your people decisions and business direction?

Being a leading telecom company in the region, we have a big responsibility to support Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. Our company is committed to providing the highest quality ICT (Information & Communication Technology) services and solutions.

Our HR division is devoted to being a strategic partner to the business and committed to accelerating mission critical skills and building the digital and leadership capabilities of our people to achieve this vision. We have just successfully launched the STC Academy, which will develop the next generation of digital leaders. The academy aims to be the national hub for ICT talent, innovation, and industry challenges across Saudi Arabia and the region.

In addition, Vision 2030 has emphasised increasing female participation in the Saudi workforce. Therefore, we have instilled diversity and inclusion as one of our strategic objectives in our HR strategy. I am proud to state here that we have an amazing pool of female talent in Saudi. We’ve invested heavily in designing development leadership programmes to build local capabilities for the future.

Contributing to this vision, we want to provide equal opportunities for everyone – men and women, young and old, and people with disabilities – or what we prefer to call people with special capabilities.

What is your personal experience of business and leadership – and the most important lesson you’ve learned?

I’ve seen that many companies are struggling to deal with our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world. I think this requires true leadership, which means leading with more agility and resilience than ever before.

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned along the way is that HR is not about HR. It’s about new business realities and how HR professionals create and add business value that impacts external stakeholders.

What advice would you give to fellow HR leaders in Saudi Arabia?

I think HR should be a strategic partner to the business. Be in the driver’s seat and lead change, rather than just being an adviser or a consultant to the business.

As HR professionals, we need to have a thorough understanding of the business context and current capabilities; anticipate external trends and market conditions; and align with external stakeholder expectations. HR should focus on business results and contribute to the bottom line.

In addition, HR should contribute to the knowledge of what is coming next and how to prepare for the future. Therefore, we must look at long-term strategic practices and not only day-to-day administrative processes.

Finally, HR should think of the customers of our customers, in everything we do to meet or even exceed their expectations.