Q&A: Gareth Powell: “What matters is an individual’s engagement, aspiration and capability”

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 15 Mar 2016

FGB's head of HR explains why he welcomes the recruitment challenges of Emiratisation

Gareth PowellFinding, training and keeping talented employees is a challenge for every modern-day HR department. People Management spoke to Gareth Powell, head of HR at First Gulf Bank (FGB) to find out how the organisation’s employee value proposition helps to achieve this, and how FGB has adapted its recruitment plans to meet the UAE’s goal of Emiratisation.

FGB recently won HR awards for its employee value proposition. What do you hope to achieve with this new framework?
Our employee value proposition (EVP) was launched to communicate our unique culture and to clearly set out our expectations from our employees. We need to differentiate ourselves from our competitors to ensure our existing employees have clear reasons to work with us so we can retain talented people, as well as attract new talent to the bank. We do this in the belief that a compelling employer brand enables us to achieve and sustain our competitive and corporate success.
Have the UAE's initiatives to nationalise the workforce presented any challenges to your recruitment strategy?
Challenges can arise in the UAE labour market due to the competition in various sectors for talented Emiratis. But this is a challenge we welcome. Firstly, it is good for the UAE that organisations want to hire and develop talented Emiratis, and, secondly, it challenges us to be better at attracting and developing this demographic.
We have created a number of successful programmes to attract talent to FGB by developing relationships with leading universities to offer summer placements and internships to undergraduates and management development programmes (Nujoom) to graduates. We've also initiated part-time opportunities in our branch network.
What are the biggest recruitment trends in the banking sector?
Currently there's a ‘wait and see’ approach to hiring in the UAE banking sector. Employers are focused on talent and capability and will take time to search and assess before moving to the offer stage. Candidates are also becoming more averse to moving organisations.
There's also a shift in traditional resourcing approaches – high-calibre candidate attraction is moving to proactive online sourcing, supplemented through social media by networking and referrals.
How do you make sure women are getting the chance to aim for high-level roles?
We believe that the success of our organisation comes from continuous investment in our employees and their growth – regardless of gender. What matters is an individual’s engagement, aspiration and capability. Our talent management framework actively seeks out people who display these elements, and we build and support structured personal and professional development.