Takeaways from the HR Leaders Conference in Saudi Arabia

North Highland recently sponsored the HR Leaders Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where senior HR professionals across all industry sectors came together for engaging seminars, excellent networking and rich thought leadership discussions about the key issues and trends shaping the industry now and in the future.  

Vice President Craig Spence was on site at the conference. Craig is North Highland’s leader responsible for the Middle East with a focus on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He oversees client value creation and growth in the region and shared the key takeaways from the event – including how leaders should be thinking of workforce opportunities in this area – in this quick-fire Q&A below. Take a read: 

HR Leaders Conference in Saudi Arabia

Tell us why North Highland sponsored this event and what the firm specializes in as it relates to the workforce space? 

North Highland is the market leader in change and transformation, and people are unquestionably at the heart of every transformation success story. 

In terms of workforce, we help our clients with end-to-end transformation services. Especially in the HR space, we cover everything from people strategy, operating model, strategic workforce planning, change management, and process design, through to people technology and analytics. The conference in Riyadh was an obvious place for us to not only showcase North Highland, but also to network with some of the outstanding people leaders at the heart of transformation in the Middle East. 

Saudi Arabia has changed significantly in recent years. Tell us about the opportunities you see for clients? 

Vision 2030 and the ongoing growth are having a profound impact. Our clients are transforming across multiple areas, including healthcare development through to transport and infrastructure, as well as media, entertainment and communications. We're a partner to clients in all these endeavors.  

With so much change and transformation in The Kingdom, we see need from clients to prioritize their strategic initiatives and demonstrate the value across the complex programs they are leading. With platforms like NH360, our Gartner-recognized platform for strategic portfolio management we’ll be helping make this happen. 

Building on the content discussed in the conference, what is your take on the key trends shaping the future of HR?

I’d call out five key trends clients should strongly consider, including: 

  • The Future of Work. We see the Chief People Officer holding a prominent seat within the boardroom, playing a critical role in helping organizations define the future of work, the right organizational strategy and most importantly, the skills and capabilities required for the future. In response to the rise in hybrid and remote working, HR is also taking a lead role in digital onboarding and decentralized company culture management. 

  • Being made for change. Businesses need to be made for constant change and transformation. Agile operating models and ongoing organizational resilience are key. Strategic workforce planning is of paramount importance to get the right skills and capabilities as and when required. 

  • Leveraging AI. There is a huge amount of focus on setting organizations up to leverage AI, including how to best deploy it and, once live, how to measure its value. During the conference, we discussed use cases for AI from recruitment to off-boarding, as well as considerations around the use of data. 

  • People analytics capabilities. We have been discussing this topic for several years, yet we still see many HR functions struggle to build high-quality people analytics capabilities. Effective people analytics is essential to performance measurement, retention and engagement. 

  • Individual well-being: Given the pace of change, there is more focus than ever on individual employee well-being, mental health and holistic benefits packages.  

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