Richard Whale, Managing Director at Randstad MENA, gives us an exclusive look into the strategies that he and his team have implemented to tackle the tough conditions in the Oil & Gas sector and the rise of Emiratisation.
What are your thoughts regarding overall growth in the UAE recruitment industry for this year?
2017 is definitely going to be more prosperous than 2016. I think – and hope! – that the latter half of 2016 was the lowest point in the market. We are already finding that Q1 in 2017 is shaping up to be better than any other quarter from last year, and we think it will only get better from here.
A lot of companies are attempting to do most of their recruitment in-house, but I think they will likely experience much of the same challenges and obstacles that the UK experienced about seven years ago when they tried this approach. ‘Post-recession’ recruitment usually works in cycles, and from what I have experienced, I believe that this is about to happen over here in the MENA region as well.
Looking at the current vacancies on the Randstad MENA website, it seems that the busiest sector is Oil & Gas at the moment. We were interested to find out the reasons for this, given the impact we have seen on low oil prices, but also the Randstad track record in the Property and Construction sectors. What are your thoughts on sector growth in MENA for 2017 and beyond?
Even though the oil price has dropped, MENA is still the capital of the world for the Oil & Gas sector. While prices are low at the moment, this region will always be the hub for Oil & Gas, so there is always business going on here.
The construction sector was hit really hard in 2016 when we were in the period of projects finishing, but with no new projects starting to offset this. We have heard from our client base, however, that there are a number of fresh new projects being awarded this year. Regardless of the economy, there is also still demand for construction work to be delivered for the Expo in 2020.
I took over the Randstad MENA operation almost two years ago, and my arrival coincided with the tumbling oil price. One of the strategies that we had born out of this was to take the reliance away from oil and construction. With this in mind, we have been building up very strong teams to cover other sectors including FMCG, automotive, life sciences and technology. Now we have a situation where all five sectors are delivering, and we have less risk without the need to be so dependent on construction and oil.
Has Randstad developed specific strategies to tackle the challenge of Emiratisation?
We have. We are liaising heavily with both global and local clients to come up with individual strategies to attract Emiratis into the workplace. This is an ongoing process and we are currently working on an initiative with one of our biggest clients to facilitate this. For example, we are hosting a ‘skill set’ workshop, whereby we will be training the Emirati workforce personally, exposing them to various different tips and tricks on how to succeed in the recruitment workplace.
Your recruitment career began with Hill McGlynn which, together with Beresford Blake Thomas (BBT), were merged under Randstad ownership and branding. This means that you have been with Randstad in the UK and Middle East for over 10 years, working your way up from a consultant to MD in that time. Does Randstad actively encourage and promote internal career development within the business?
Yes, definitely. There are people I used to work with at Hill McGlynn at the beginning of my journey who are currently still working for Randstad all over the world, in places such as Canada, the Far East and Australia. I hope my career highlights that Randstad can and does offer opportunities to progress and to see different parts of the world, if that is what you aspire to do. Even though I have been with Randstad for eleven years, I am still not classed in the ‘long term’ bracket, as some of my colleagues have been part of the company for more than 20 years!
Would you recommend Dubai as a good base for recruiters looking to experience different and exciting locations?
Dubai is a very cosmopolitan place. Even within our Randstad MENA office, we have people from every different home nation of the UK, all across the subcontinent, North Africa and locals. This multi-cultural environment is reflective of most workplaces over here, so it is definitely a great place to gain exposure to new things and experience new cultures. I have been here for two years now, and it still never gets boring when you drive past the Burj Khalifa.
What does a typical weekend look like for you in Dubai, given your passion for sports? Are you able to manage a good work/lifestyle balance?
The weather over here certainly helps me lead a more balanced lifestyle. I play tennis and golf actively, and it’s nice to know that nothing ever gets cancelled due to rain!
To find out more about Randstad, visit their website: https://www.randstadmena.com/