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We encourage our people to explore creativity and try new ideas: Mohamed Mohey, CHRO, ArabyAds Share via

In an interview with Varun Jain, Mohamed Mohey, the chief human resource officer at ArabyAds, talks about the importance of creating a people-centric organization, the need to take care of your employees, and the importance of giving back to the community. He also points out the factors that make ArabyAds a truly people-focus organization and how people are its greatest assets. Edited excerpts.

 What is your idea of a thriving people-first organization?

We want our people to spearhead all our activities. In other words, everything we do in terms of growth, expansion, and footprint depends on our people. Our industry does not rely on machines, production, or raw materials but on people. They are our main assets. Hence, it will not be wise if we’re not focusing on them. And at the same time, we want to grow our business. So that’s the philosophy of ArabyAds, and that’s why we focus on bringing the best and nourishing the culture of people first organization.

Can you tell us the key ingredients to create a people-centric company?

It should be taking the extra effort to onboard the best talent. Not only that, train the talent and keep nurturing them throughout their employment journey within the organization. And that’s what ArabyAds has been doing for the past eight years. You’ll find that most of the entire leadership team comes from the early days when the company started. So that’s the testimony that the company is focusing on growing its people to continue growing as a business.

What employee value proposition does ArabyAds provide to its people?

EVP is basically what you offer as an employer to your people in terms of value. This is reflected in so many ways. The first thing is the financial part because you need to be competitive with the market to attract people, and we are keen to do this. The other thing is the development opportunities you allow for your people. So the more opportunities you have, the better it is. Because people will always have something to look up to, they want to reach a certain place in the organization. So that’s the second thing. The third thing is, in my view, the environment itself. ArabyAds provides its people with an environment that allows people to explore their creativity and try new ideas. So it’s an exciting environment for people for whom the sky is the limit. So there is a lot of room for creativity which is not necessarily the case in other organizations.

At ArabyAds, we also empower our people. If you come up with an idea, we encourage our people to try it. So you take it, own it, implement it. If it works fine, we go ahead; if it doesn’t, we try something else. This is something unique. You will not find many organizations allowing people to be that creative and affording them the luxury to fail. So I would say the financial part of competitiveness, the space to be creative, the career progression and career development, and the opportunity to learn that either through formal training or even people learning from one another are some of the value propositions we provide to our people.

What factors do you take into consideration while devising a people policy?

First and foremost, the policy has to enable our people. In other words, it’s not meant to cripple people or hinder progress in the organization but rather work as an enabler to allow people to operate within some sort of standard framework. So we are consistent and fair to each other, the whole organization, and all locations. So that’s the first thing; the second thing is that it needs to make people’s lives easier. I’m not creating a policy to make people hate the organization eventually. But instead, I want them to operate within a framework that makes sense and, at the same time, serves their interest and the interest of the organization. The third thing for me is alignment. I will not create a policy where everybody is expected to resist. So there has to be some effort to ensure that people will be aligned with the new policy so that when you roll it out, it is implemented seamlessly.

What best HR practices have you encountered throughout your professional journey?

There are plenty of things.   It’s a key enabler in the organization. You can get great results based on how you use it and what you make out of it. In addition, HR automation gives you a lot of data and visualization of data in the form of charts. So your entire HR process is reflected in the HR information system and linked. So performance management is linked to the reward system and talent development, which is further linked to succession planning. So the whole HR process is interconnected under this HR information system framework. And this is what we’ll also be looking at to roll out in ArabyAds.

How do you create policies for people when they come from such diverse cultures?

I was privileged to have the opportunity to work across multiple countries, geographies, and different cultures and backgrounds. And I believe this shaped me to become an inclusive leader. So there are challenges if we are not prepared to accept others or deal without bias. That is one of the things larger organizations face if they don’t have a strong culture in place where inclusion is one of the critical values of the organization in terms of opportunities. So in terms of opportunity, indeed, this is a unique opportunity where you are an organization that has two or three nationalities versus an organization that has 20, 30, or even 40 nationalities, which enriches the organization very much. Two heads are better than one. And definitely, this expansion or diversity in backgrounds in terms of culture, education, habits, or values enriches the organization more and more.

Tell us about the CSR activities undertaken by ArabyAds

I have always said that you cannot operate in isolation from your surroundings as an organization. You operate in a community – your business benefits from the community, and that’s why it is crucial that you also have a positive impact on the community. CSR is the core philosophy of ArabyAds and its leadership which the CEO himself inspires. We have been supporting charities, education for kids in less privileged areas, and supporting our own people in difficult times. We want to allow our employees to donate – not just financially but part of their time and efforts – to support kids who are benefiting from our education initiatives. There is another dimension as well. As an organization, we have received funds from funding organizations with a mandate related to corporate social responsibility, which fits very well in our scheme of things.

What has been the biggest learning in your professional journey regarding HR practice?

My biggest learning is that you cannot expect people to be the same – to think the same way, act the same way, or behave the same way. There is no way you’d expect everybody to be a duplicate of your values and the way you think. People are unique in their approaches, what they do, and how they behave. And it can also create, I don’t want to say, chaos, but certain levels of differences,  are too much; it can come to a situation where it is almost chaos. So the trick is to be able to make use of this diversity,  different backgrounds, mentalities, behaviors, and so on for the interests of the organization or the community where you are. So, I would say that it helped me a lot when I had this kind of mindset after moving from one country and one geography to another, and it became my conviction that you cannot expect people to be the same as you. It made my job easier or less challenging and allowed me to focus my energy where it makes more sense and adds more value to the organization.

Can you throw some light on the main objectives of the HR function at ArabyAds?

So the first objective is to help the company to become a performance-driven organization. This means that everybody has clear objectives with clearly-defined KPIs, which are linked to the organization’s goals. They cannot be isolated from where we’re heading as an organization. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is people development. That’s an important priority for me and an essential objective of the HR function at ArabyAds. The development needs to feed from performance management. So if there are gaps in how you perform, the development initiatives come with the right tools and methods to help you bridge this gap. The third thing is the general reward policy, which is to pay people for performance and competitively reward people so that you can attract and retain the best talent.