LBS logo London experience. World impact.

Search for students

Rakan Kayal

  • Programme: Human Resources Strategy for Transforming Organisations
  • Nationality: Saudi Arabian

With a number of professional qualifications and a BSc in Computer Engineering, Rakan moved into Human Resources in 2005. He worked in various HR roles at the National Commercial Bank before joining Bank Al Jazira in 2007.

Huge transformation

I came to the programme to understand, manage and deliver the huge changes that our bank is going through. One of 12 local banks in Saudi Arabia, Al Jazira is currently changing, with the aim of being recognised as the best Islamic bank in the country for our chosen business segments. It’s an exciting challenge! London Business School is well known as one of the best business schools in the world, and the positive feedback we hear in Saudi Arabia makes it clear that students come away with not only strong theoretical learning but also practical and relevant skills. The HR Strategy in Transforming Organisations was an obvious fit for me.

World-class connections

The faculty and guest speakers were amazing. Being taught by experts who have real experience in the field,and who share their knowledge so effectively, really brought the academic theory to life. I appreciated the wa ywe were encouraged to analyse data from different angles,gaining fresh and eye-opening perspectives. Often, in management training, you are taught to recognise the desired result but are not given any practical guidance in how to get there. I found the programme to be priceless in terms of the sheer quantity and quality of learning conveyed in such a short space of time.It was stimulating to be around such a diverse group of students, and in particular being able to connect with colleagues in the UAE, Kuwait and Oman – we share similar cultures and employment laws and it was extremely valuable to swap ideas on some of the challenges we face. In a country where the talent/expert population is still quite small, competition is fierce when it comes to attracting good staff, developing our human resources and keeping people on. Discussing strategies and best practice around how best to develop, manage and retain staff in this cultural context was very useful.

New generations 

Another key learning I brought home was the thinking on how to manage different generations. Saudi Arabia is a young country where nearly 75 percent of the population is Generation X and Y. In our bank specifically we found that 96 percent of our two thousand employees are Generation X and Y, yet our performance management system caters for Baby Boomers. The HRST programme was very clear about the way that Baby Boomers measure performance and how this doesn’t necessarily speak to younger generations. The use of electronic channels and social media to give feedback, and the frequency of feedback that younger people expect, has changed the concept of performance management drastically. I am now redesigning our system to take into account the priorities of younger staff. Understanding how different generations think means that compromises are reached and solutions are found far more quickly.

Looking forward 

The programme helped me generate fresh ideas. I aim to redevelop our coaching and mentoring programmes and our HR transactions. I also aim to create social media platforms so that employees can communicate more effectively with each other, the HR team and management. HRST genuinely exceeded my expectations.I can’t recommend it highly enough for HR professionals who want to survive, and thrive, in the new world.Learning the most up-to-date thinking around HR helped me see that to achieve things we haven’t achieved before we must do things we haven’t done before. Many people in the Middle East don’t see the magnitude of change that the future is bringing. HRST offers the perfect ground work in how to prepare for the challenges to come.