Tell us about your background and your rise to founder and CEO of HNI.
I was born and raised in Egypt. After I got my university degree, I moved to the UAE for a better career opportunity and to get international experience, I accidentally stumbled upon training and development in my company and before I knew it I found myself enjoying the design and delivery of small workshops. I decided to pursue my career in HR and ended up with a CIPD level 7 master’s degree in human resources management. I started training, public speaking and had my own TV show for a while but the highlight of my 20s was receiving the Dubai Government Excellence Award from HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in the HR field.
What made you launch HNI?
I found a gap in the market for a learning and development provider who could offer quality service with international standards yet understand the local culture, speak the language, and still be reasonably priced. That motivated me to start Human Network International known as HNI. In a short span of time, HNI Training & Coaching has become one of the leading regional players in training and development.
How do you define leadership?
In my opinion, it is the ability to get desired positive outcomes through people who choose to follow you because of who you are, not because of a title. One can be a CXO and very good technically but not necessarily able to get people around or under him/her to be inspired enough to follow because they want to. When the will to follow is there, miracles happen. Employees give their absolute best to achieve the common goals and feel proud to be working under and with that leader. On the contrary, sometimes you see people who don’t hold fancy titles in organisations, yet they lead teams and achieve amazing results effortlessly.
Why should all business leaders invest in leadership for both themselves and their teams?
All studies show that a motivated and inspired workforce with good leadership can get better business results than their counterpart with bureaucratic or weak leadership. Investing in enhancing your top managers’ and leaders’ skills is a must not an option if you want your business to grow.
How do you see the impact of leadership in the achievement of the UAE and its vision?
Leadership is one of the key factors which directly impact the success and failure of any organization. People are directed and motivated by a leader to achieve organizational goals through their unique leadership skills. The leaders here in the UAE adopt an inspirational leadership style. They set big visions, get everyone involved so they exert every effort to achieve the big dreams and they do. The visionary leaders have focused on strengthening unity and solidity among the people of the UAE and promoting a united, and strong Emirati society, paving up the way to become one of the world’s most innovative nations. This unique leadership in the UAE inspired leaders around the world and changed the ideas and perceptions about the role of governments and rulers. Look around, nothing is impossible in the UAE.
Which client projects have been a success?
We work with almost all the big names in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and around the GCC. One of the biggest contracts we have had is to train and develop mid-level managers and future leaders for one of the biggest companies in the world in the oil and gas sector. This project has been going on successfully for four years now and we have trained almost 2000 managers for that company alone. The program is linked to the employees’ career paths.
What is next for HNI?
We have been focusing heavily the past two years on digital and blended learning, covid-19 surely expedited the process. We are now building a library of online learning games and simulations to use in both our virtual and face-to-face training workshops. We have embedded VR and AR in many courses. I believe blended learning is the future.