SOCIETY

 
REPORT OF GEO PAKISTAN HUMAN RESOURCE STRATEGY FORUM 2005
 
 
 


Aug 22 - 28, 2005

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Nutshell Forum is a small but unique organization committed to creating opportunities for both sectors of our corporate society to have dialogue for making policies, setting goals, and developing strategies for the enhancement of the National Human Resource Management. It is working for organizational and corporate transformation to achieve unprecedented results.

Pakistan Human Resource Strategy Forum has become an event of the year for our corporate sector. This year's forum created a rainbow of experienced and seasoned professionals with the dominant color of "Emerging Issues in Human Resource Management" as a theme of the discussions.

English Biscuit Manufacturers (Pvt) Limited participated in the conference as the Headline Sponsor. GEO TV contributed its role in the event as the Strategic Partner. Habib Bank Limited was the Co-sponsor, whereas Air Blue performed as the Official Carrier. National Commission for Human Development, Government of Pakistan, and The British Council endorsed the contents of the conference.

The discourses, analyses, and debates were divided into four diversified topics, including the inaugural session. The stars shining on the sky of head table were Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman (Federal Minister & Chairman, Higher Education Commission), Sadia Naveed (Director Operations, English Biscuit Manufacturers), Barrister Shahida Jamil (former Federal Minister for Law & Parliamentary Affairs,) Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali (former Federal Minister for Education and Special Adviser to Prime Minister), Aziz Memon (Chairman, Kings Group of Companies and Adviser, Nutshell Forum), Dr. Mirza Ikhtiar Baig (Chairman, SITE Association of Trade & Industry), Sohail Ahmed (Group Director HR, Jang Group) and Navaid M. Khan (Senior Associate, Nutshell Forum).

After recitation from Holy Quran, Muhammad Azfar Ahsan, CEO, Nutshell Forum, started the proceedings of the day by his opening address. "The purpose of the conference is to nurture our available human and natural resources in tandem so as to convert them into our development resources for achieving harmonized economic development to make our significant place in the world to enter the domain of globalization," he said.

He further added: "All we need is to create an environment where our available manpower in skilled and unskilled sectors can be provided with a platform where they can utilize their skills and talents in a positive way which is beneficial to them as well as to the country".

The first session was devoted to the theme of "Moving from Operational Manager to Strategic Thinker." The learning objectives before us were to provide the participants basic guidelines for creating changes in their organizational role to direct their team to greater readiness and competitiveness, add value to their organization by understanding the needs of their customers. How they can anticipate, innovate, and initiate strategies to move them closer to their vision, recognize opportunities to influence and create strategic alliances, identify the strengths and weaknesses in their work unit, learn to develop an important/priority matrix, and to take risks with confidence.

Charlie Walker, Director, British Council, was the curtain raiser of the first day's show. He made his presentation about the main theme of the session focusing The British Council as a case study by relating his own experience with the institution, which created a strategic frame of reference for the audience. He described the key components of a strategic frame of reference, defined the key outputs at each level, and then developed a strategic thinker's approach for work environments. Mr. Walker provided the basic tools to understand one's current operational mission with three words phrase - team, customer, and competitors. He clarified the purpose of work group in the context of organization.

Some of the slides were about developing a strategic vision: moving from what is to what if. He elaborated how to assess customers' needs, wants, and expectations, to determine optimal approaches for developing customer data and input, to learn to use an importance/performance matrix to set priorities for work group, understand the power of vision, and to prepare an initial draft vision statement to move work unit toward the future. In short, he exposed the key value of a strategic thinker that how operational managers can make their vision a reality by influencing key stakeholders.

Rakesh Gupta, Chairman, Astra Netcom, India, was the keynote speaker. Expressing his views in the conference optimistically he mentioned that CBMs introduced by the governments of Pakistan and India would play a pivotal role in boosting confidence of the people residing in these two countries. He very skillfully demonstrated his experience regarding developing and balancing operational and strategic management skills. He started by establishing a working definition of operational management, explored the key attributes of today's strategic thinkers, disclosed how one can find the balance between those core competencies, and reflected on currency use of operational management and strategic thinking in work thinking in work settings. He, in an excellent manner, did justice to his assignment by quoting various examples from his mother country and from rest of the world.

"We have abundance of talent in all the sectors but the need of the hour is to nurture this human resource in such a way that these people can play their due role in the social and economic development in their respective countries," Mr. Rakesh Gupta said.

Federal Minister and Chairman Higher Education Commission, Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman, in his presidential address, laid emphasis on the abundance of talented human resource and the need for proper research and training facilities to groom them for the advantage of the country. He underlined the need for human resource development to achieve desired socio-economic goals, saying the government was spending Rs. 1.7. billion on promoting higher education in the country.

Prof. Atta-ur-Rehman recalled that Pakistan has a massive force of 90 million youths and priority should be given to resolve all educational problems, in this regard, he said a program is being chalked out to send 10,000 students abroad annually for higher education and specialization.

After tea break, the first panel discussion regarding "Transforming Training Investment into Performance" was relished by the participants. Paul Keijzer (Director HR Unilever Pakistan Limited), Uzma Basher (Group Chief Organization Development & Training, NBP), Tariq Razvi, Deputy General Manager, Pakistan State Oil Company Limited) and Javed Ahmed (Chairman, Dept. of Management & HR, College of Business Management) constituted the panel.

Wali Zahid (Country Director, British Council MDS, moderated the rhetorical course very skillfully. The diversity of panelists is obvious by the above list. All the panelists took part from their respective organizational perspectives and the multiplicity of points of views ultimately made a beautiful blend of conclusion.

Calculating the return on investment for training programs makes sense only insofar as success criteria are available that can be quantified and for which a monetary value can be calculated with reasonable effort and confidence. As long as "hard" criteria for success are available, such as:

. the number of units produced/sold,
. the time required for manufacturing a product or
. the time required for providing a service,

this appears feasible. However, in case only "soft" criteria for success are available, such as:

. the motivation of employees and their commitment to the company.
. the service orientation of employees or
. the creativity of employees,
this becomes much more difficult.

 

 

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that sales trainings are popular examples of model calculations of the return on investment of training programs. Calculating the ROI for training programs whose effects do not show short term but only after longer periods of time (e.g. management development) is much more difficult to achieve with a reasonable effort and with reasonable confidence. What is more, the calculation of the ROI for a training program does not provide any indication as to what needs to be done to improve such a program in order to make it more successful.

After prayer and lunch break, our second panel discussion captivated the participants by not only the attraction of its topic "Human Communication within Organization" but also by the dynamic comparing of moderator Ramiz Allawala and diversified scholarly conversation of all the panelists.

The panel was composed of John R. Stoney (Chief Executive, ICI Pakistan Limited), Nadeem Karamat (Country Manager, American Express Bank Limited), Badruddin Fakhri (Advisor, SAFA and CFO, Pioneer Cement Limited), Mansoor Farooqui (Divisional Director HR, Siemens Pakistan Engineering Company Ltd) and Brig. (R) Aga Gul (General Manager HR, SSGC).

In humans, there may be neurological or physiological disorders, which interrupt or prevent the free flow of messages to and from the various parts of the body. Whatever its cause, any obstacle to proper communication within the body usually has negative consequences. Problems of the human nervous system always require prompt and vigorous treatment. Communication problems within the organization need to be treated in the same manner.

The human communication within organization is a process of creating and exchanging messages within a network of interdependent relationships to cope with environmental uncertainties.

The panelists sought to expand our understanding of the processes, prospects, and challenges of communicating and organizing in a global society. Our scholarship articulates concepts and theories to better understand these processes, develop the tools needed to investigate them, and help to implement the social practices to improve them.

They examined how communication shapes and is shaped by organizing across a range of contexts. They also studied a variety of multi-level phenomena including discourse and discursive practices, communication of emotions, leader-follower communication, and democratic communicative practices. They elaborated the significance of negotiation and bargaining, group processes and decision-making, socialization, power and influence, organizational culture, organizational language and symbolism, communication and conflict, identity and identification, adoption and appropriation of communication technologies, emergence of organizational and inter-organizational networks, and new organizational forms.

As with any concept, idea, or research, there are always discussions, disagreements, and contrarian viewpoints. It was the case in our last technical session. Jehan Ara (President, Pakistan Software Houses Association) spoke first regarding the use of technology in our corporate sector specifically and in our common life generally. Adnan Kehar (Director, Bearing Point) presented his presentation about technological restructuring of corporate institutions for gaining rapid practical results as compared to the conventional procedures.

In considering the theme, "Technology and Human Resource Culture", it might be interesting to examine what we mean by the human part of the future that we share with technology. Such an inquiry does not imply that the human dimension is separate from or in some significant sense in opposition to technology rather its aim is to ask about the nature of human identity and its crisis during technological development.

What of human identity? If it is an artifact, and thereby in some sense artificial, in what sense do we identify the self as human and part of nature. If it is an artifact, then is the self merely a product of our own reflective creation, of technological advance, of history, or a by-product of the latest cultural trends. On the other hand, if the self is not an artifact, are we committed to positing an underlying ontology of self which much contemporary philosophy is loathe to defend. Perhaps the self cannot adequately be located within the realms of artifice or nature and the integrity of persons necessarily defies and eludes these categories. Finally, is the natural or created self primarily a separate and atomistic entity, or is its history and community constitutive of the self's identity.

Whether all economic and technological systems will eventually converge, given the incentives, is still not clear. If we assume convergence is likely, then what of human identity. If human identity is structured by technological convergence, what about the role of human agency in creating, fashioning, and shaping one's own identity.

These very important questions were left without discussion in this session, may be for keeping the participants free to discover their own respective perspectives to shape their opinions of for any other myriad reasons.

The dictionary defines culture as "the act of developing intellectual and moral faculties, especially through education." We may use a slightly different definition of culture: "the moral, social, and behavioral norms of a society based on the beliefs, attitudes, and priorities of its members." The terms "advanced culture" or "primitive culture" could apply to the first definition, but not the latter.

Every organization has its own unique culture or value set. Most organizations do not consciously try to create a certain culture. The culture of the organization is typically created unconsciously, based on the values of the top management or the founders of an organization.

Well, first, it starts with hiring. We are zealous about hiring. We are looking for a particular type of person, regardless of which job category it is. We are looking for positive attitudes and for people who can lend themselves to causes. We want folks who have a good sense of humor and people who are interested in performing as a team and take joy in team results instead of individual accomplishments.

Another important thing is to spend a lot of time with your people and to communicate with them in a variety of ways. Moreover, a large part of it is demeanor. Sometimes we tend to lose sight of the fact that demeanor - the way you appear and the way you act- is a form of communication.

In both of these examples, the top managements of the companies were vigilant about maintaining their cultures. The behavior rules and boundaries are relatively clear and communicated often. However, this is not typical. Most organizations operate with a diversity of cultures. This is especially true considering the increasing worldwide mobility of people and cultures and values.

The next day of the conference was dedicated to the theme of "Cultural Mindset Challenges" and perhaps for the first time in Pakistan a daylong workshop was complimented with a conference. The workshop was uniquely developed and designed in three modules conducted by three distinguished and experienced trainers.

Module I-

. The Culture
. The Mind set
. The Barriers

Module II-

Leaders' Role in Shaping Performance Culture

Module III-

. The Change
. Principles for Managing Cultural Change
. Role of Human Resource & Individual

Hassan M. Jaffry (Senior Associate, Nutshell Forum) started the session by highlighting the significance of the workshop. He gave a brief introduction of the trainers.

Shakeel Mapara (Head of HR, American Express Bank Limited & TRS), a very diversified and renowned human resource consultant, facilitated the first module of the workshop. Shakeel dealt with concept, dimensions, and significance of cultural mindset in very interesting and skillful manner. He practically succeeded in capturing the full attention of the participants and, in fact, he laid down the foundation of the daylong proceeding of the workshop with a scholarly sprit.

Uzma Bashir (Group Chief Organization Development & Training, NBP) carried the theme to its most important dimension i.e. the role of leadership in shaping the cultural mindset of an organization. Uzma is a seasoned and versatile human resource trainer. She has to her credit a wide range of training experiences and the number of her trained and benefited persons in thousands.

Rukhsana Asghar (Human Resource Consultant), who in her own person is a personification of human resource management, took the session to its peak. She apprised the participants about the role of HR and the individuals in bringing changes in the corporate cultural mindset. In an absorbing trainer like style, Rukhsana also provided the audience the summation of the whole day proceedings in a nutshell.

All the three expert trainers not only opened new avenues of strategic thinking in the minds of the participants but also provided the tips to travel to reach the destination.

Syed Masoud Ali Naqvi (Senior Partner, Taseer Hadi Khalid & Company), distinguished Chartered Accountant and a well-versed rhetorician, was the Chief Gust of the workshop day. Mr. Naqvi, in his knowledgeable address, conveyed his feelings and opinions about the topic and contents of the workshop in a very scholarly style. He talked regarding the philanthropical measures to be taken by the both sectors of our corporate society and gave example of some unknown persons involved in the service of humanity.

Hassan M. Jaffry ended the Conference Workshop with a vote of thanks.

Nutshell Forum organized a National Human Resource Conference. The theme of this conference is "Emerging Issues in Human Resource Management". Seen in the photograph Ms. Sadia Naveed, Director Operations English Biscuit Manufacturers, presenting a memento to Federal Minister & Chairman Higher Education Commission Dr. Attaur Rehman at the inaugural session of the conference.