Creating opportunities for today’s youth
By Nabil Habayeb. This also appeared in Trends magazine supplement
It is that time of the year when people are back from vacations, schools and colleges are starting again, and life is back in full gear. In the past weeks, I did a bit of college visits myself – in preparation for my son going to university next year. I visited several universities in the region and the US. These tours made me reflect on the challenges that our new generation faces – the strong global competition, the need for differentiation, leadership, confidence, community service and value-add to the university. All these are critical for them to secure a place at college and also to keep them going, as they aim for a rewarding career.
It prompted me to think about the role that we, the corporate entities, play in supporting our youth. Where does our responsibility begin? How can we better the growth opportunities that we offer to young graduates? How can we enable them to be forces of positive change?
At an internal meeting, I raised these questions to my team. I asked for proof points from every member on how GE, which has a rich history of over 80 years in the Arab world, could continue to add societal value and be an integral part of the region’s socio-economic fabric in the decades to come.
It was not surprising that one aspect resonated across all their responses. It was about GE’s ability to identify, nurture and shape business leaders, who are drawn from the local community and work tirelessly to solve challenges that the ‘everyman in everyday situations’ faces.
I believe that GE’s success in the past eight decades was not in merely being a technology provider. Yes, our innovative competencies had the power to significantly enhance operational efficiencies, relevant especially to the Middle East, which has been embarking on ambitious development programmes, led by energy-led infrastructure investments.
Our primary objectives was to try and align our technologies in energy, oil & gas, water, healthcare, aviation and transport to the overall development goals outlined by the policy makers in the region. It was our technology doing its job.
The game-changer for GE, I believe, has been our ability to focus on the young minds of the Arab world. Initiatives such as the Leadership Accelerating Business, a learning development center modelled on GE’s Crotonville executive education program, introduced in the UAE; our partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Technical & Vocational Training Corporation to expand the GE joint technical program; the new GE Energy Manufacturing Technology Center in Dammam, and the Advanced Technology Research Center at the Qatar Science & Technology Park are proof points of our long-term commitment to the region’s youth.
Today, the Arab youth is stepping forward to overcome the challenges and catalyse the region’s social and economic growth.
We understand the need for quality education and we hope that GE with its size and scale in multiple sectors can be an ideal place for the young, bright minds to make a difference to their societies. That can be achieved through meaningful and rewarding careers, addressing social challenges effectively and adding value.
At GE, we look at integrating the region’s bright minds as part of our workforce, and in training them to help them achieve their goals.
This is a rational extension of what GE has always been doing in the past. We invest in youth talent, and supported by the strength of our advanced technologies, work to address regional requirements, in turn, leading to all-round progress.
Looking ahead, GE is confident of the future of the Middle East. Yes, there are challenges to be dealt with at every level. The Middle East of today is not the region that hesitatingly entered the global market with its first reserves of oil, discovered and tapped in the early decades of the last century. The infrastructure and skills deficit that were once associated with the region has made great leaps.
The Middle East markets are now at the most vibrant – led by some 200 million young people who are below the age of 25 years. Powered by social networking and information technology – that has broken down knowledge barriers – they are keen to contribute in making their world a better place.
New challenges lie ahead and goals cannot be achieved without wider grassroots collaboration and the involvement of the region’s youth. That is what GE focuses on today for tomorrow.