Investing in national talent

Takatuf is not just a consulting company, but a strategic investor in the human capital requirements for the nation, says Managing Director, Ibrahim Al Harthi. Excerpts from an interview

How is Takatuf transforming human capital development in Oman?

Human Capital is the fundamental requirement for sustained progress of economies. It is the foundation on which growth of businesses, communities and nations are built. People were once seen as manpower or human resources but the idea of people as capital emerged a decade ago. In Oman, Takatuf has been a flagbearer for a new belief system that human capital is not just about investing in people and training them, but seeing them as strategic drivers of change. Takatuf was instituted as a people consulting company five years ago, and in very short time, we have established a reputation for providing sound strategic thinking and effective human capital solutions – from consulting, assessment, coaching, learning & development to training institutes. We have been able to successfully bridge the need for global thinking with a local perspective that is informed by valuable and relevant local insights.

Our breadth of offering spans the entire people value chain which gives us the advantage of arriving at solutions that are scalable and implementable with specific objectives aligned with organisational goals.

Takatuf is not just a consulting company, but a strategic investor in the human capital requirements for the nation. We have partnered with Petrofac, a world-leading oilfield service provider with a 35-year track record in the development of training and competence programmes and facilities to set up TPO, a new purpose-build training center in Oman. Similarly, we have partnered with Schulmberger, another Oil & Gas giant to set up Oman Institute for Oil & Gas (instOG), a premier state-of-the-art institute dedicated to training and development of individuals in the upstream Oil & Gas industry.

Aside of these business focused people development programmes, Takatuf has also established a successful national initiative, the Takatuf Scholars Programme, which is aimed at identifying and building the next generation of young Omani leaders through a global academic enrichment programme. To date, the programme has helped provide close to 350 graduates with over 100 of them receiving international scholarships.

With economic diversification high on agenda, Oman requires highly talented and extremely competitive workforces to take up the new challenges. What is going to be the role of Takatuf in this area?

One of the core themes formulated in the Vision 2020 was the development of human resources and capabilities of Omani nationals to keep pace with technical development, manage the changes therein with efficiency and be prepared for the dynamic domestic and global environment. The government has taken a number of significant steps in that direction and today the results are visible for all to see. Being part of the Oman Oil group, Takatuf shares this vision and national agenda.

The Takatuf Scholars Programme is one of our strategic and visionary initiatives that is aimed at building a steady stream of competitive Omani nationals who are educated at some of the eminent global institutions in diverse fields and are highly capable of taking up strategic management roles across different industries.

Do you think Oman is catching up with the fast-growing global knowledge economy, driven by technology and innovation?

The global knowledge economy is no longer a milestone, but a dynamic, continuous, and evolving journey. Oman has made giant leaps in the last decade to not just catchup but be a torchbearer in the region for scientific research, technology and innovation.

Over the last few years, there has been a focus on developing public-private partnerships, which is expected to support a wider innovation agenda. Initiatives such as Innovation Park Muscat, the campus that hosts instOG, and KOM that houses our other institute TPO are great examples of Oman’s achievements in this regard.

In particular in TPO, we have made major investments in technology enhanced digital and blended learning platforms that cater to, and keep pace with, the modern styles of learning, providing students with an immersive learning experience. This innovative approach to learning is the first of its kind here in Oman. Our integration of eLearning and augmented reality technologies, allows us to actively engage the next generation of young learners, whilst ensuring these new technologies complement the more traditional ‘hands-on’ training methodologies.

What are the key challenges facing HR development in Oman?

With Omanisation high on the agenda, one of the key challenges that companies in Oman face today is to meet the targets whilst being mindful of making it sustainable and effective. Omanisation is not just about numbers, but about finding the right people to the right roles, and adding value to people functions rather than burdening it.

At Takatuf we have identified two distinct types of Omanisation. One, linked to growth and job creation as a result of progress. Second, for organisations that are not looking at an aggressive evolution curve, the challenge is to identify functions and roles that qualified Omani nationals can take replacing existing resources. Companies really need to evaluate their envisaged journey, and carefully balance compliance with sustainability in job creation and hiring.

Can you talk about some of the important programmes/ initiatives you have completed recently, including your survey series, and how impactful have they been?

The introduction of the ‘Takatuf HR Survey Series’ has enabled us to contribute to Oman’s ongoing HR conversation by providing a valuable local perspective while addressing trends and unique correlations that will enable C-Suite executives, HR professionals and their employees to make informed and strategic people, and hence, business decisions. Earlier this year, we published results of a survey that studies the effectiveness of employee relations within an organisation, which provided our clients and the industry with some interesting insights.

Recently, we completed an online survey to identify and share with the industry, a number of insights specific to Performance Management – from the felt need or lack there-in of goal setting processes, to performance appraisals. These have significant impact in the way we approach consulting projects and can also bring new perspectives to management teams and boards on key business decision making.

What are the unique features of your training institutes and scholars programmes?

Takatuf has established two large training institutes in Oman: Takatuf Petrofac Oman (TPO) and Oman Institute for Oil & Gas (instOG). Both these institutes are unique in the fact that they have been setup in partnership with industry leaders. Technologies and methods in this industry are constantly evolving, and our institutes provide state-of-the-art workshops and simulators to replicate specific areas of field operations. Delegates get practical and realistic hands-on training, blended with theory based classroom sessions for an overall approach to learning that is both comprehensive and immersive. What makes the institutes special is their purpose-built infrastructure, location and the accreditation of the courses.

Takatuf Scholars Programme has attracted over 10,000 applications to date with over 3,400 tested. The programme is long-term with students encouraged to apply for an Enrichment Programme during Grade 10 and follows those who are successful through completion of their undergraduate degree. To date, over 340 scholars have graduated from the Enrichment Programme with more than 100 amongst them securing coveted international scholarships to pursue further collegiate education. The Takatuf Scholars Programme office stays in touch with students throughout their university studies, monitoring progress, and whenever possible identifying ways in which they might enrich and add value. The staff of internationally experienced educators also provides advice for those pursuing post-graduate programmes or applied learning opportunities and also facilitates placements.

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