Training Magazine Middle East Q3 2015 - Page 52




COLUMN - Spotlight On Change

I look back over the past 20 years of business in the UAE with great fondness. Any experience should provide growth and personal satisfaction for it to be worthwhile; with that said, my time in the UAE has simply been nothing but growth, and made me such a better person! There have most certainly been some defining moments for me – some better than others, yet all contributing to where I am today!

It is often said that business is the most powerful global institution, and for me there’s absolutely no doubt in that. It has not only contributed to who I am today, yet helped a process of change, one that has brought humility, tolerance, appreciation and connectivity into my business practices seamlessly. You most certainly become what you are surrounded with, and for that I must say thank you to this wonderful country.

Doing business in societies other than the UAE also generates results – undoubtedly true. Yet truth is measured by a specified measure. I have seen more advanced, western business systems prosper financially over and over again, yet continue to experience a dog-eat-dog mentality. The appetite here is different; it’s connection first with the ability to serve and customize being welcomed thereafter, something that seemed a little alien to me upon my arrival.

My business evolution, a world into which I am firmly embedded today has clearly followed Robert Bacal’s ‘change cycle’, incorporating stages of denial, anger and resistance, exploration and acceptance finally morphing into commitment.

When recruited into an organization in the mid 90’s, the following were turning points for me:

1. Denial

My arrival saw me recruited by an up and coming organization. Forever the independent achiever, one with a creative ways of ‘making things happen’, I was shocked when told I had no choice but to catch the management bus home – at 8pm, ensuring I was ‘in attendance’ for a minimum of 12 hours.

My thoughts oscillated between this being an exertion of power and control, genuine care for my safety and wellbeing or down right slave labour. I played with a decision whether I should I stay or quit while I’m ahead, as continued restrictions were bestowed upon me!

2. Anger and resistance

Rules were something I could ‘put up with’ yet my resistance came to the fore when I was told to hand over my passport. Nobody in those days could work without handing in the passport, visibly converting the concept of sponsorship into an administrative functionality, one that could pervade your every moment at any time.

My thoughts festered on a deeper level, concocting stories of becoming trapped, disconnecting from the essence of my birthplace and losing my freedom forever more!