The winning leadership formula for a successful culture transformation in your organisation

Leadership courses for leadership development and director training in Dubai and internationally.

As a leader, you must know what truly inspires your team to enthusiastically perform at a high level consistently. It is your responsibility to increase employee and workplace engagement in your organisation. The key to achieving this is fostering a culture of empowerment, open communication, and care in your organisation. However, strong leaders are needed to build the engagement levels of the workforce to achieve this cultural transformation.

What are the qualities that such leaders possess? They are aware of their strengths and can leverage them to support and empower their teams or workers. This allows their employees or workforce to come to work each day with a motivated mindset. If you lack these leadership qualities, then you can build them through leadership courses and leadership development programs.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has an insatiable appetite to disrupt the best laid plans of business leaders.”

These programs are specifically designed to coach and mentor leaders in an organisation such as directors, senior executives, and company secretaries to get the best out of their employees. Additionally, they train these leaders to successfully fill in the key roles that ensure a successful cultural transformation in their organisations.

Some of the key roles that leaders need to nurture

1. Vision Creator

The first step in building an inspiring work culture is determining where you want to go. This means creating a vision that gives team members a sense of purpose, value, and meaning. If you don’t have the end in mind, then you and your team members would just be wandering around and could end up anywhere. A vision must be supported with a mission, the way you will achieve your business objectives and should be backed by core values, the way you and your workforce are expected to behave.

Aligning all your efforts with strategic objectives will provide much-needed direction to team members. Having set objectives will galvanize their ambition, enthusiasm, and commitment.  If you are lost on how to approach this, then you can enrol in leadership courses and leadership development programs for guidance.

2. Motivator

From lower management to board advisory, building a company culture is the responsibility of everyone in the organisation. However, the focus and inspiration for it must come from the leadership, such as directors, senior executives, and company secretaries. Building a company culture needs to be high on the agenda of these leaders.

As a leader, you must reinforce the importance of a successful culture transformation from the very beginning by engaging, focusing and inspiring the entire team towards agreed objectives. Director training can come in handy here as it focuses leaders on how to get the best from their workforce. Do you have a training plan for leadership courses for leadership development and director training in Dubai and internationally?

3. Priority setter

Each organisation has unique values, structure, and objectives. It is the responsibility of leaders in an organisation, such as the board advisory, to review progress and decide on what’s important for the organisation. They also need to motivate employees towards these organisational priorities

Leaders needing help with the process should seek focused leadership courses, director training, or leadership development programs that provide relevant knowledge and training.

4. Role Model

To ensure a successful culture transformation, leaders in an organisation, namely the board of directors and senior executive team must understand the importance of their work and behave accordingly.

Additionally, they must recognise and encourage the behaviour of employees, even when they make mistakes or miss the target. This doesn’t mean that employees are not held to account but that the working environment is a safe place to take calculated risks and occasionally make mistakes. Mistakes should form part of the business transformation improvement process driving the organisation to business excellence.

When people take new actions, mistakes are bound to happen. However, the quality of good leaders is that they make risk-taking safe for employees, demonstrating through their own words and actions that mistakes are an opportunity to learn, improve, and grow. If you don’t have this skill, then you can develop it with director training or executive coaching. Employees work better when their role and responsibilities are clearly defined. Everyone also needs to be held accountable for their actions and the way they achieve individual and corporate objectives.

5. Innovator and trend setter

Successful organisations must evolve and change in order to stay relevant and continue to provide products and services their customers want and need. organisations need to provide an environment which encourages creativity, collaboration and idea development at all levels of the business. If we think of some of the most successful companies; Microsoft, Apple and Samsung they have developed products and services to meet the growing demands of diverse customers and business users through innovative design, functionality and fulfilling the business needs of organisations.

The board of director and the senior management team of an organisation must be able to predict the future trends and set strategies and business objectives to focus on current customers and how to attract new customers and increase brand loyalty. The 4th industrial revolution is forcing established businesses to readdress their strategies, services and products to maintain and grow their market share and avoid disruption from new entrants and competitors. Think of the traditional taxi services and how the likes of Uber, Grab and Lyft have disrupted this industry. Even when we think of the automotive and financial services sectors, these industries are facing challenges through alternative solutions provided through electric and hybrid vehicles and virtual assets and digitalisation respectively. The world is evolving much quicker through technology and digital solutions and organisations must invest in novel and innovative products and services to remain relevant.   

6. Implementer

There is no point setting a strategy, business objectives or a business plan if you are not going to manage your corporate culture effectively.  Peter Drucker was credited for coining the phrase that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” but I would go further to say, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has an insatiable appetite to disrupt the best laid plans of business leaders’. Corporate culture is almost intangible, but it is exhibited through behaviours, employee engagement and how employees are rewarded or penalised. If you think of an organisation with a culture of ‘fear’ versus a culture of ‘empowerment’, the way employees operate will be totally different. Each organisation has its own corporate culture, and this can change if not managed successfully.

I have worked with some very successful businesses who faced issues through neglecting their corporate culture or by adopting the incorrect leadership style. One such business changed their leader in a division and the new leader tried to impose a very different management style which quickly resulted in a lack of employee engagement, reduced productivity and a massive drop in profitability as employees were treated as mere resources rather than stakeholders.

7. Planning for cultural transformation through leadership

Whenever we are planning a change, we need to consider the implications of the proposed change or transformation. By gaining buy-in and identify ‘change agents’ who will work with us, we stand a better change to implement the desired change or transformation.

The board of directors sets the strategy and oversee the implementation of that strategy, but it is the CEO and their team who manage the implementation, operational matters and cultural tone of the organisation. Having the right team, with the necessary experience is vital to successful implementation and execution of the directives from the directors. The key aspect of corporate culture centres around people and how we as leaders communicate with individuals and teams to keep them involved in the change and fully engaged throughout the transformation.

8. Mental fortitude and resilience

Being a leader and driving change is never easy and it requires mental fortitude and resilience to work through blockages, setbacks and a loss of momentum. During more complex transformation projects employee buy-in fluctuates and engagement can wane. Sometimes it may feel like you are alone but remember you have a team. Encourage your executive team and trusted employees to remind you of some of the successes along the transformation journey.

It is during these times leaders need to keep faith in the transformation project and continue to drive forward with enthusiasm and find ways to reinvigorate employees and change agents. People need to be reminded why the the cultural change is needed and what the benefits are to the organisation and to employees for long-term success and sustainability. Anyone can lead during good times but it takes a special leader to remain positive and committed to driving change even when all about them are negative or doubtful.

“It may feel like you are alone but remember you have a team. Encourage your executive team and trusted employees to remind you of some of the successes along the transformation journey.”

Remember no matter how hard things get during any project eventually the pain, fear and resistance will fade away and you’ll gain employee acceptance. Try to think back to a time when you were facing difficulties or hardship and how you pulled through, these hard times build our character and prepare us for bigger things. This mindfulness will help focus you on the end goal to achieve the cultural transformation project set at the outset of the project.

Get in touch for bespoke leadership courses for leadership development and director training in Dubai and internationally.

At Governance Gurus, we provide effective leadership development and training that equips corporate leaders in Dubai and internationally with the knowledge and skills needed to bring about a successful cultural transformation in their organisation and encourage innovation. If you want to know more about our training solutions or executive coaching programs click here. We create bespoke in-house leadership training solutions and consulting services to help your organisation remain sustainable, success and profitable through accredited CPD training.

Strategic Governance – roadmap to Board Development Excellence

Strategic corporate governance your roadmap to Board Development Excellence – Governance Gurus tells you more on the subject. Strategic governance combines corporate governance, leadership and culture theories and practices to provide directors and senior executives with the toolkit for success. Leaders and managers are required to develop strategic governance thinking to better lead their organisation to sustainable growth and excellence. Our executive director Robert L. Ford is facilitating a four-day advanced masterclass workshop series on corporate governance and board performance excellence in Malaysia 1-4 July and Dubai 15 – 18 July. If you and your colleagues are looking for world-class strategic governance training for your directors, executive management, future leaders and your company secretary this training is for you. Contact us for early bird discounts and group discounts by providing your details here.  

The main things that sets aside successful businesses from those that fail are ‘leadership’, ‘corporate culture’ and the implementation of a ‘robust governance framework’ that is embedded. Some describe corporate governance as an elixir which magically turns around failing companies instantly through the adoption of a new governance framework and the rollout of new policies and procedures. This would be like saying that all corporates could take a magic pill and all their corporate culture and internal controls issues could be solved without any input from the leadership of the board and senior executive team. Culture really does eats strategy and the best laid corporate governance plans of organisations. By the end of this masterclass, all delegates will be equipped to better lead their organisation and help align corporate culture and strategy under a robust governance framework of excellence.

We will explore various case studies, scenarios and role play exercises to better bring to life corporate governance, risk management and leadership excellence through strategy and culture development.

All delegates will receive a certificate for 24 hours of continued professional development (CPD) after completing the four days of training.   

Who should attend this strategic governance masterclass?

This masterclass is designed for board members, leadership teams, C-Suite executives, Company Secretaries and future. It will be useful to anyone who is responsible for designing and developing their corporate governance strategy, rolling out change management projects and for future Leaders. Delegates will receive the tools to enable them to develop their corporate governance excellence and leadership skills. The sessions over the four days will focus delegates on how to think outside the box and also how to stress-test strategy and look at change management as the vehicle for successful and sustainable growth under a robust corporate governance framework.

Course benefits

  • Insights on leadership, strategy and corporate culture.
  • The tools to effectively design or enhance your corporate governance strategy and framework.
  • The tools to remain agile and formulate the strategy and culture to manage change on your corporate journey of excellence.
  • Explanation of the link between good governance, corporate culture, diversity and strategy.
  • Why Boards need to consider effective leadership, strategic thinking and transformational change by embedding a culture of ‘good governance’.
  • Business Excellence and long-term sustainability.
  • Board and senior management effectiveness and performance through leadership.
  • Transformational change and the need to manage organizational and business changes effectively – most change initiatives fail 70 -90% are unsuccessful.

Masterclass agenda

Day 1 – Setting a foundation for corporate growth and success

Session 1: Making sense of corporate governance and how it connects to laws, regulations and business success

•             The corporate world is changing but has governance really moved on since the 1992 Cadbury report?

•             International corporate governance standards – can one size ever fit all?

•             Enhancing your corporate governance framework and embedding a culture of integrity

•             Why is tone from the top so important?

•             The four Cs – your true power team for developing culture

Networking and refreshments break

Session 2: The changing face of business and the need for a dynamic board

•             Digitalisation, AI and machine learning

•             Disrupted or disruptor?

•             Having a robust IT roadmap and strategy

•             Working smarter and not harder – technology

•             The risks of technological change and

Session 3: Developing the tools to ensure culture doesn’t eats strategy for breakfast – the elephant in the room – Case study and delegate group exercise to design a strategy, business objectives, culture and people

•             Strategy and strategic direction

•             Business objectives and the business plan

•             Measuring performance and risk management

•             Cultural aspects

•             People and change

Networking and lunch break

Session 4: Sustainability and succession – building the leaders of tomorrow

•             Succession planning – part of sustainability and board excellence

•             What’s the role of the nomination and remuneration committee?

•             Aligning board performance, company objectives and senior executive remuneration/bonuses

•             Gender diversity, board composition and at the C-suite, developing leaders for the future

•             Planning for success and maintaining employee engagement

Networking and refreshments break

Session 5: Aligning short, medium and long-term objectives – Open mic session and chance for delegates to share

•             Decision making, agility, dealing with crisis and staying the right side of the law

•             Action trackers, oversight of senior management, working together

•             Winning the respect and confidence of the Senior Executive team for better collaboration, transparency and better performance

•             Discussion on how to get the best out of the board, senior management and the company secretary

Day 2 Current trends and developments internationally governance and business best practice

Session 1: What is diversity and does it even matter?

•             Group think, why upset the apple cart?

•             You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours

•             Diverse thinking and experience

•             Board dynamics – are you high performing just because there isn’t any conflict or debate?

•             Why diversity matters – building power teams

•             Managing board refreshment and why it matters

Networking and refreshments break

Session 2: Communication, transparency and feedback – high performing organisations do it better! – Breakout session with scenarios – delegates to work together on different plans and present to each other 

•             Effective communication – mission, vision and core values

•             Corporate objectives and individual performance

•             Creating a culture of excellence and good ethics – lessons from around the world 

•             When relationships breakdown – Mediation and finding solutions

•             Understanding what drives directors, senior executives and management – setting the right tone from the top – agility, decision making and

Session 3: Corporate social responsibilities and Environment, Social and Governance – increased share prices

•             Stakeholders

•             Shareholders (institutional)

•             Company performance, sustainability and innovation

•             Investment mandate of fund managers

Networking and lunch break

Session 4: Preparing for transformation – part of your corporate lifecycle – A case study and planning exercise getting delegates to think about transformation change

•             Leading with confidence and authenticity

•             Developing a structured plan for transformation – is it part of your strategy?

•             Getting buy-in

•             Handling resistance and bad apples!

•             Transformation team and tracking progress

•             Maintaining momentum

•             Getting quick wins

•             Celebrate successes

•             Reward individuals and teams

•             Embedding the changes – revising your governance framework

Networking and refreshments break

Session 5: A deep dive on why some transformations fail and how to achieve a successful multi-jurisdictional transformation change management project

•             Why change? Cases for and against change

•             The wrong team composition or skillsets

•             Bad apples and flies in the ointment – you will have objectors

•             Keeping momentum and motivation high

•             What if you fail? Maybe the timing, circumstances or team weren’t right

Day 3 – Empowerment, accountability and understanding roles and responsibilities

Session 1: Who is responsible for risk management, governance and culture development?

•             An organisation’s governance framework – what does it look like and is it part of your culture?

•             Risk management and oversight

•             How does compliance tie into strategy and the culture of an organisation?

•             The importance of collaboration, sharing information and ‘one view of the truth’

•             Who is the Chief Risk Taker of your organisation?

•             Well defined roles, responsibilities and accountability

Networking and refreshments break

Session 2: Developing group and entity delegations of authority, empowerment and leading teams – Looking at delegation of authorities

•             Delegations of authority explained – working within your authority

•             Empowering, delegating and allowing employees to grow

•             Fraud management and controls

•             Coaching and mentoring

•             Independent Whistleblowing process

•             Accessibility to the Board

Session 3: The correlation between the shareholders, board and the senior executive team for excellence

•             Growing from strength to strength and maintaining market prominence

•             Driving change from within and staying agile

•             What happens when businesses merge and must adopt the overriding corporate culture?

•             Keep a sustainable business model in the face of a changing economic environment – weathering the storm

•             Reporting, monitoring and revising actions and the business plan – when is it advisable to change the objectives and targets?

Networking and lunch break

Session 4: Developing the soft skills – including empathy, emotional intelligence and social awareness – Leadership and management skills explained and exploring techniques to improve engagement and impact. A chance for delegates to look at their skillsets and areas of development to become more influential 

Networking and refreshments break

Session 5: Employee engagement, corporate branding and building a resilient environment

•             Developing your corporate brand – what is your purpose and how do employees align with it?

•             Internal and external customers – mindfulness and inclusion

•             Fiduciary duties and providing a safe environment which nurtures innovation and creativity

•             Wellness, resilience and work-life balance – getting the best without compromise

Day 4 – Staying ahead of competitors in a challenging economic environment

Session 1: Looking within and without

•             Managing the business and staying competitive – invest or divest?

•             Organisational design and remaining agile and lean – don’t cut too deep!

•             Maintain employee engagement and morale

•             Staff retention but refreshing low performers

•             Measuring corporate performance and individual performance alignment

•             Communication, feedback and periodic performance review

•             Market intelligence and acquiring high performers 

Networking and refreshments break

Session 2: Operating to the optimal even during a downturn – Breakout session and exercise for delegates to consider different scenarios regarding operating model and how to remain competitive

The adage ‘adapt or die’ what are you doing to stay relevant? 

1 + 1 = 5 How is your business model?

Session 3: Board excellence and the pathway to high performance – are the senior executive team important?

•             Should directors be evaluated?

•             If they should how should they be evaluated?

•             How should this fit within the organisation’s HR policy and performance management process?

•             Building a model of excellence and high performance – we don’t operate double standards

•             What does the board need and want?

•             How can the Senior Executive team provide the board the right information for effective decision making?

Networking and lunch break

Session 4: Setting the KPIs of the CEO and the executive team for sustainable success? Don’t look for short-term gains!

•             Why CEO objectives should be realistic and what happens when the goals are not obtainable through normal channels?

•             Does the balanced scorecard work?

•             What is usually measured? Can financial measure secure the sustainable growth of a business?

•             What should happen when silos arise or where collusion arises?

•             How can you limit the chances of fraud, collusion and misappropriation of assets and funds?

Networking and refreshments break

Session 5: Reading the future trends through analysing the past and present to predict the future – stay ahead of others

•             Let’s look at the past, what does it tell us?

•             What is the current corporate governance climate?

•             Should we only do the minimum when it comes to implementing a corporate governance model?

•             Why invest in corporate governance during times of growth and expansion?

•             Should we be knee-jerk organisations?

•             Pioneer or follower?

•             Where is your value and competitive advantage?

We will show you how to successfully manage wholesale change across your organisation and enhance employee engagement, the overall integrity of doing business and embedding strategic thinking at multiple levels across your business.

Robert trains senior management teams and board of directors across the Middle East, Asia and Europe. He is an investor and on the Board of two UAE businesses. He is also a senior consultant with a leading regional Corporate Governance Institute which brings together some of the leading thought leaders on corporate governance, risk management, compliance and company secretarial best practice. Governance Gurus are a registered tuition partner with the ICSA – The Governance Institute and partnered with Hawkamah – the Dubai based Corporate Governance Institute to provide the ICSA Foundation Programme material and tuition.

Robert holds a master’s degree in Leading Innovation & Change from York St John University and is also a qualified Chartered Governance Professional (FCGP) and Chartered Secretary (FCIS) and member of the UK Institute of Directors (for over 12 years) and a member of STEP – the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners. Robert is at final stage of completing a master’s Degree in HRM & Training with the University of Leicester.

Course Leader

Robert L. Ford is the Executive Director of Governance Gurus, a governance consulting and training organisation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The company provides strategic business consulting and corporate training to businesses across the region and internationally. Robert worked with the board of Dubai Properties Group (DPG), a member of Dubai Holding to enhance the strategic thinking and embed corporate governance excellence across the senior management team. DPG is one of the largest privately owned, fully integrated real estate and community development businesses in UAE with an annual turnover of almost 10 Billion dollars. He worked closely with the Chairman and the Group CEO to review and enhance the Corporate Governance Framework across DPG and its subsidiaries. He also designed policies and conducted enhanced training to senior management and their teams to enhance business excellence and collaboration.

Robert trains senior management teams and board of directors across the Middle East, Asia and Europe. He is an investor and on the Board of two UAE businesses. He is also a senior consultant with a leading regional Corporate Governance Institute which brings together some of the leading thought leaders on corporate governance, risk management, compliance and company secretarial best practice. Governance Gurus are a registered tuition partner with the ICSA – The Governance Institute and partnered with Hawkamah – the Dubai based Corporate Governance Institute to provide the ICSA Foundation Programme material and tuition.

Robert holds a master’s degree in Leading Innovation & Change from York St John University and is also a qualified Chartered Governance Professional (FCGP) and Chartered Secretary (FCIS) and member of the UK Institute of Directors (for over 12 years) and a member of STEP – the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners. Robert is at final stage of completing a master’s Degree in HRM & Training with the University of Leicester.

He is an international thought leader on corporate governance, leadership and strategy, enterprise risk management, change management matters and regularly speaks or trains on these subjects.

Some of Robert’s accomplishments:

  • Led three large international service provider teams who managed and maintained numerous portfolios of multinational clients and advised on their corporate governance and statutory compliance requirements.
  • Designed and implemented two largescale transformation and governance projects, one project spanned 13 countries.
  • Working with local SMEs to enhance their governance model and embed ‘best practice and practical polices and procedures’ for enhanced employee engagement and business excellence.
  • Drafted and implemented corporate governance and Board and Shareholder relationship policies for one of the largest private businesses in the UAE.
  • Developing and conducting different types of Board and Director evaluations for better board performance and business excellence.
  • Advised a regional Government Agency on Corporate Governance best practice, Board composition and strategy (confidential assignment). Advised numerous businesses on setting up internationally and on structuring and joint ventures in the oil & gas, agricultural, manufacturing, financial Services and IT sectors.
  • Managed the Boards of multinational companies and provided the directors with training and advice on their legal and fiduciary duties.
  • Provided root and branch analysis on governance and compliance matters for multinational businesses operating locally and internationally and provided strategic thinking and advice on transformational change projects.
  • Designed and facilitated various Director, Senior Management and Company Secretary workshops and masterclasses internationally.
What’s your leadership development plan? Can Corporate Leaders in Dubai leverage off the Power of Mind, Body, and Soul to Build a Trusting, Healthy Work Environment

What’s your leadership development plan? Can Corporate Leaders in Dubai leverage off the Power of Mind, Body, and Soul to Build a Trusting, Healthy Work Environment

Having a leadership development plan is essential to focus our minds and help us set realistic goals ethically. It is essential we work in a corporate environment which allows us to align our values and ethics with those of our organisation. Many people are conflicted when it comes to balancing their personal values whilst achieving their corporate objectives. These organisations have an undercurrent which isn’t easily seen where executives are put under pressure to achieve corporate objectives at any cost. If we think back to corporate governance scandals in Wells Fargo, Siemens and Toshiba the tone from the top put pressure on employees to commit fraud, act unethically or collude to mis-state financial results. Today, leaders are placed under a lot of stress and pressures, which affects their ability to achieve harmony between mind, body, and soul. However, leading with mind, body, and soul is one of the key qualities that makes a visionary and inspirational leader, one who inspires their team or followers to go above and beyond the call of duty to achieve a common vision. If you are not born with this quality, then you can build it through leadership courses and leadership development programs.

What’s going on in our minds and bodies impacts the way we act, and a new piece of scientific research is published every week that supports such claims. Unfortunately, most leaders, which includes the corporate leadership in Dubai and those in board advisory roles, haven’t come to terms with the implications of all this. Instead, many choose to stick with what they know and trust. Do old ways open new doors? Can corporate leaders get their mind, body and soul aligned? During this holy month of Ramadan we should spend some time to reflect on what drives us and our core values.

Development Leadership Plans should help executives align their Mind, Body and Soul

Albert Einstein believed that the purpose of ‘time’ was to make sure that everything didn’t happen at once. While you are free to disagree with Einstein, his statement should serve as a good reminder that everything must not occur at once, but gradually and in moderation. Director training, leadership courses, and leadership development programs put great emphasis on this.

While no leader, including the board advisory, can argue that time is precious, getting ahead of it can get overwhelming. In such times, it is critical for attaining a balance between mind, body, and soul. This can help any leader, including you, to re-energize yourself and avoid burning out. If this balance does not come naturally to you, then you can learn how to attain it through director training, leadership courses, or leadership development programs.

In these leadership training and programs, emphasis will be on the three ways that research proves can help all leaders, including board advisory, to stay healthy in mind, body, and spirit and ensure the same for their teams:

1. Understanding the Basics of Treating the Human Body

As a leader, you need to understand and practice some of the proven basics of treating your own body. You can positively impact performance at work by advocating for regular exercise, good hydration, healthy nutrition, sufficient sleep, and deep breathing to oxygenate the brain. Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol and/or caffeine helps too. We need to look after our physical well being to perform optimally.

Additionally, you must create a work environment that encourages people to take time out to do a few stretches, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. This can be incredibly useful in improving productivity at work provided your team members don’t overdo the aforementioned- things.

2. Recognising All ‘Three’ Brains

According to research, we have three full functioning neural networks. These three neural networks reside in the head, heart, and belly. This means that contrary to what we had been originally told, we have not one, but three, independent neural centers to serve us. All of them are capable of learning and remembering and can affect our sensations and actions.

Therefore, taking care of all ‘three’ brains is needed to perform well. As a leader, you need to be aware of the three neural networks residing in the head, heart, and belly and provide the appropriate support to keep them thriving.

In an organisation and team environment, this would mean making sense of the things around you, building a climate a trust and engagement, and emphasizing on the importance of ‘reflection’ time. This can be critical in a high-pressure setting. Remember, achieving a healthy alignment between the head, the heart, and the belly is one of the keys for making both the body and spirit thrive. Think when you are stressed and how it impacts your body, some people get headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, sweating or increased heart rate. Stress and moral dilemma can have a considerable adverse impact on our bodies and mental well being.

3. Understanding How the Soul Works

The ‘vehicle’ for the spirit, our soul expresses our moral values through our beliefs, actions, words, intuition, and conscience. Put simply, our core values come from our soul. Therefore, until the time our soul is suppressed, we can never experience ‘true’ happiness. On the other hand, inner bliss and profound peace are attained when the mind nourishes the soul. The result is feeling happy and motivated both inside and outside.

At Governance Gurus, we provide effective leadership development plans and leadership training that help director, senior executives and future leaders leverage the power of mind, body, and soul to build healthy work environments and enable successful organisations.

How continuing professional development (CPD) training is helping corporate leaders to broaden their skills and be more effective

How continuing professional development (CPD) training is helping corporate leaders to broaden their skills and be more effective

We live in a rapidly changing world where advancements in technology dictate how we work. Our work environment is constantly affected by social, economic, and legislative developments. To keep abreast of these changes and prevent new technology from overwhelming us, you need the right knowledge and tools. Continuing Professional Development or CPD training in Dubai and internationally provides directors, senior executives and company secretaries the knowledge and leadership tools to equip them for the future. CPD training can provide you the necessary tools to keep you abreast of the changes in your industry, broadening your skillsets, and enabling you to be more effective at your job.

Understanding Continuing Professional Development

If you want to make progress in your career, you need to improve and broaden your knowledge and skills. There’s no better way to achieve it than through accredited CPD training. The idea behind this professional development program/training is to enable people in different fields to effectively apply theoretical knowledge in the real world to formulate innovative solutions that serve as a benchmark or standard operating procedure (SOP) for others to follow. Professional training provides corporate leaders and aspiring leaders to develop their knowledge through case studies, practical learning exercises and facilitated sessions.

Formal training masterclasses and in-house training workshops enable professionals to manage their own development on an ongoing basis. CPD training helps professionals to learn how to perform a specific activity or enhance skills they already have. It teaches them the competences and skills required to perform with authenticity and excellence. Examples of professional programs include leadership, risk management and corporate governance training in Dubai.

Having a wider application than training, development with this program provides professionals with several tools relating to competency and capability. The development starts with the basics and then progresses to more advanced, complex processes. Additionally, it can provide training such as governance and risk management training to equip you with important skills such as project management, developing organisation capacity, and leadership qualities.

What Is Structured CPD?

This is learning through interaction and participation. A proactive form of learning, this active learning can include a lecture, conference, training courses, e-learning course, workshop or certified events. This form of learning is also applicable to assessments and exams that are career-oriented. Examples of this would be accredited director training or leadership training on corporate governance in Dubai or international training on risk management, corporate governance or business excellence.

Accredited Training

This accredited training involves learning activity that is up to the highest standards and benchmarks required by Continuing Professional Development. The training ensures the quality and integrity of the learning value by scrutinising it heavily. The accredited training is in line with the global requirements for development training and programs.

The Benefits of the Training and Development

The above-mentioned training and development have a lot of benefits for the professionals undertaking it. With this training and development, professionals in every field can keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Additionally, it can provide them with the management and leadership skills they need for driving their organisations forward.

At Governance Gurus, we deliver interactive and engaging CPD accredited training. Professionals receive CPD hours when they attend our accredited CPD training workshops and masterclasses.

Net Neutrality Ruling

Net Neutrality – Is regulation really the answer to protect consumers and businesses from bandwidth throttling and broadband manipulation of internet protocols?

net neutrality ruling

An extract of this article is available from Gulf News online (at bottom of page) and was published in full in hard copy.

Back in 2003, Tim Wu coined a new phrase “net neutrality”, when he identified the discrimination by broadband and telecommunication companies who used to practice biased services to consumers and corporates based on the type of data being transferred from the host to the user.  Net neutrality is the unbiased delivery of packets of data over IPv4, being the main internet protocol (IP) for the transfer of information through the web. In 2015, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was authorised by Congress to regulate internet rules to ensure that all web traffic and information transmitted by broadband providers is treated equally for all users, as per set policies. The FCC ruled in favour of the reclassification of broadband services in the same way utilities are regulated on a common carrier basis. Internet Service Providers are restricted in the practice of bandwidth throttling, being the limiting of user bandwidth for users for video streaming, peer to peer file sharing through Bit Torrents, FaceTime and VoIP (the transmission of voice and media over IP networks).

The new Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, wants to roll back the internet rules of net neutrality, which are set out under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and Section 706 of the Telecommunications act of 1996. The FCC has put forward a proposal entitled “Restoring Internet Freedom” to remove the net neutrality regulations for the internet. You may ask yourself, ‘why is this important to me and how will such regulation affect you?’.  In short, there are mixed views on what the relaxing of such regulations may have on commerce, consumers and innovation of the broadband ecosystem.  If these regulations are relaxed or removed there could be restrictions levied on consumers through higher charges, to access social media, online services, independent news content and video streaming services. Some of the on-line companies such as Facebook, Netflix, eBay, Amazon, Twitter and Tumblr could be adversely affected under the new FCC proposal. Additional charges for quality services and high data transmissions, through premium pipelines for fast data transfer, would likely be passed on to businesses and consumers alike. This in turn may create a hierarchy of internet services and fees for corporates and consumers. The whole purpose of the internet was to provide everyone with unfettered access to online information and the transmission of information and data.  The Internet Association encourages innovation, economic growth and empowerment of people through the free and open internet. Any internet restrictions or controls of internet data package transmission speeds in the US would likely impact us all as many the social media, online or cloud services have their servers based there.

My view of the FCC’s proposal is mixed, on the one hand I see that they want broadband and telecommunication companies to self-regulate and on the other hand they want to encourage further investment and development of internet infrastructure, through the funding of premium internet services, which could provide a competitive edge and raise additional taxes for the US economy. Unfortunately the proposal could negatively affect the ability of low income families and students to access information and connect with others through free VoIP services, both in the US and globally.  I am for regulation, as long as it is in the best interest of society and economies. The FCC’s proposal for the reversal of the net neutrality is likely to be more advantageous to the larger corporates, whilst impacting smaller innovative web content producers and lower income consumers. A level playing field would allow an equal opportunity for businesses succeed or fail based on the quality of their websites and services.

My suggestion for small technology businesses and online retailers would be to try and mitigate their IT risk and stay abreast of the proposed US changes. The first round of public comments is now closed and the FCC will provide their formal response by August 16th. If you want to have your voice heard make your public comment on the FCC’s website where over 8.7 million comments have been left already.

Note on the author:

Robert Ford is currently the managing partner of Governance Gurus, which is a UAE entity providing Business and IT Consulting services and training masterclasses and workshops in corporate governance, director duties, the role of the company secretary, change management, corporate culture and leadership development. Robert is passionate about change management and the use of information technology for innovation and to protect the privacy of individuals, see out blog on GDPR and impact on GCC corporate governance practices. He holds a master’s degree in Leading Innovation and Change and whilst in the UAE he has helped an international law firm and big 4 consulting firm to use technology to improve efficiency and quality through cloud-based software for multi-jurisdictional and virtual team co-ordination and provision of services.

The impacts of the GDPR on Corporate Governance practices in the GCC

The impacts of the GDPR on Corporate Governance practices in the GCC


The European Parliament and Council passed regulation (EU) 2016/679 to refresh the data and privacy protection laws for European Union states.  The new regulations are commonly known as the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and came into effect on May 25, 2018. GDPR has defined the rights of EU individuals relating to how their personal data is collected, stored, processed and used by organisations. Any organisation that handles the data of any EU citizen is bound by the provisions of the GDPR, these regulations are applicable globally and fines of up to 4% of worldwide turnover or 20 million euros (whichever is greater) will be levied on businesses breaching them. GCC organisations and businesses need to consider whether they collect, store, process or control any data for EU citizens and revise their own corporate governance framework and enterprise risk management frameworks to comply with the GDPR provisions.

A robust Corporate Governance framework as the foundation for business excellence and compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

On May 25, 2018 the new European Euro (EU) data protection regulations came into effect and are known as the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).  Due to increased concerns of breaches of privacy and misuse of personal data for individuals the European Union repealed Directive 95/46/EC (the old data protection directive) and replaced it with Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 (GDPR or the Regulations). The Regulations have an international reach and cover any organisation worldwide that collects, controls, processes or uses the information (data) of any EU citizen. The Regulations are available in multiple languages here:

The UK’s largest data protection agency the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has aligned the updated UK data protection regulations 2018 with those of GDPR and they have also issued extensive guidance to assist organisations become compliant.

The below are some useful tools and guides provided by the ICO to prepare and explain what is required to be GDPR compliant and remain within the provisions.

Data Protection Self-Assessment

Getting ready for the GDPR

Case studies

Many organisations do not fully understand the impact of GDPR and how it will affect their business operations going forward. Some key points covered by the Regulations:

  • Fines of 4% of revenue or 20 Million Euros (serious operational failures)
  • 72 hours to disclose any material data breaches
  • Covers all European Union citizens worldwide
  • Some organisations now require a Data Protection Officer
  • Board of Directors have a fiduciary duty to set the IT strategy – covering security, data and controls
  • Greater need to understand what data organisation holds, where it is stored, processed and controlled
  • Individuals have the right to access their data, request corrections and even be forgotten
  • Fines of 2% of revenue or 10 Million Euros (minor/technical breaches)

GDPR – the beginning of the data protection and privacy journey for many GCC businesses

GCC businesses should review whether they hold data or information for any EU citizens and also consider whether the data is sufficiently minimised as per the Regulations requirements. If GCC organisations hold data for EU citizens and have not already implemented procedures on how they collect, store, process and control that data then they should urgently look at their IT policies, internal control procedures and enterprise risk management framework. A general review and update of their overall governance framework is likely to be required to integrate and simplify who is accountable for making decisions and how breaches may be reported internally and escalated.

Organisations can follow the below roll-out plan to review and prepare to comply with the Regulations. Preparation and educate staff, roll-out and provide guidance, regularly audit and perform a gap analysis, improve controls, processes and procedures and repeat the cycle all over again.

All businesses that store and process data of EU citizens should review their processes, IT systems, internal controls, hardware, software and applications to be GDPR compliant and to conduct data risk impact assessments for new projects where personal data is collected, stored, processed and controlled.

Article 5 of the GDPR sets out seven key principles which lie at the heart of the general data protection regime:

Article 5(1) requires that personal data shall be:

“(a) processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals (‘lawfulness, fairness and transparency’);

(b) collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes; further processing for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes shall not be considered to be incompatible with the initial purposes (‘purpose limitation’);

(c) adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed (‘data minimisation’);

(d) accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date; every reasonable step must be taken to ensure that personal data that are inaccurate, having regard to the purposes for which they are processed, are erased or rectified without delay (‘accuracy’);

(e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed; personal data may be stored for longer periods insofar as the personal data will be processed solely for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes subject to implementation of the appropriate technical and organisational measures required by the GDPR in order to safeguard the rights and freedoms of individuals (‘storage limitation’);

(f) processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage, using appropriate technical or organisational measures (‘integrity and confidentiality’).”

The ICO provides a 12-point guide and checklist for organisations to consider when preparing to comply with GDPR:

  1. Ensure senior/key people are aware of GDPR and appreciate its impact.
  2. Document any personal data you hold, where it came from and who you share it with. Conduct an information audit if needed.
  3. Review your privacy notices and plan for necessary changes before GDPR comes into force.
  4. Check your procedures cover all individuals’ rights under the legislation – for example, how you would delete personal data or provide data electronically in a commonly used format.
  5. Plan how you will handle subject access requests within the new timescales and provide any additional information.
  6. Identify and document your legal basis for the various types of personal data processing you do.
  7. Review how you seek, obtain and record consent. Do you need to make any changes?
  8. Put systems in place to verify individuals’ ages and, if users are children (likely to be defined in the UK as those under 13), gather parental consent for data processing activity.
  9. Make sure you have the right procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.
  10. Adopt a “privacy by design” and “data minimisation” approach, as part of which you’ll need to understand how and when to implement Privacy Impact Assessments.
  11. Designate a Data Protection Officer or someone responsible for data protection compliance; assess where this role will sit within in your organisation’s structure/governance arrangements.
  12. If you operate internationally, determine which data protection supervisory authority you come under.

Click here for the full paper from the ICO:

Organisations handle risk management in different ways, the GDPR offers guidance on the risks that organisations should formally identify, namely: emerging privacy risks, this should include new projects. A register should be maintained of the processing activities and internal inventories created. Any organisation planning on conducting any high-risk data processing activities must complete a data protection impact assessment. Under certain criterion it will be compulsory to appoint a Data Protection Officer.

The protection of natural persons should apply to the processing of personal data by automated means, as well as to manual processing and Regulations includes the following rights for individuals:

  1. the right to be informed
  2. the right of access
  3. the right to rectification
  4. the right to erasure
  5. the right to restrict processing
  6. the right to data portability
  7. the right to object; and
  8. the right not to be subject to automated decision-making including profiling.

Governance Framework and GDPR

A robust Corporate Governance Framework can effectively manage risk, including the requirements of GDPR and other laws and regulations.

Corporate Governance definitions

“Corporate governance involves a set of relationships between a company’s management, its board, its shareholders and other stakeholders. Corporate governance also provides the structure through which the objectives of the company are set, and the means of attaining those objectives and monitoring performance are determined.”  The OECD Principles of Corporate Governance

“Corporate Governance refers to the way in which companies are governed and to what purpose. It identifies who has power and accountability, and who makes decisions. It is, in essence, a toolkit that enables management and the board to deal more effectively with the challenges of running a company. Corporate governance ensures that businesses have appropriate decision-making processes and controls in place so that the interests of all stakeholders (shareholders, employees, suppliers, customers and the community) are balanced.”- ICSA, The Governance Institute

Governance overview for GCC organisations and GDPR considerations to mitigate risks to the directors for breach of their fiduciary duties

The board of directors of an organisation is tasked with the control, oversight and setting the risk appetite and tolerance for the company in-line with the mission, vision, values and the strategic plan for the business. One major concern for directors internationally and in the GCC is the increasing risk of cybercrime, IT security and unauthorised access to data and information. With the GDPR we are seeing an amplified focus on developing the safeguards around IT systems, security, encryption, backups and control of data and information.

The GDPR has a global reach and any organisation which controls, processes or uses the data and information of EU citizens is required to protect the privacy and freedoms of these individuals. Organisations need to demonstrate they have the requisite enterprise risk management solution in place to identify the current and emerging risks concerning the privacy and freedoms of individuals and have effective procedures to mitigate risks, inform and report data breaches to the supervisory body, the ICO or other relevant organisation regarding any material breach or break down of operational controls, and continually monitor and improve controls. Risks should be treated appropriately, either eliminated, mitigated, transferred or accepted.

Boards’ are ultimately responsible for implementing a robust corporate governance framework which should include an enterprise risk management framework. Usually the audit or risk committee consider the risks which will now include the requirements under GDPR. In order to establish sufficient procedures, systems and controls an IT steering committee can do a lot of the leg work for the audit or risk committee to identify, monitor and improve any gaps in the risk management for data and information storage, processing and control. GDPR provide guidance on how organisations can implement risk impact assessments for projects which involve personal data and information of individuals, especially for EU citizens.

GDPR – reaffirms that individuals have the right to privacy and freedom, the regulations provide mandates on how organisations should safeguard and use personal data, what data should be stored (only relevant information and what is necessary), how data is processed and ultimately controlled. Data security should be by design and by default. The aim of GDPR is to ensure that the personal data of individuals is secured globally for EU citizens. Data protection and security is about processes, IT infrastructure and the people who have authorised access to use or transfer that data. GDPR highlights three main elements for the security and protection of data. Organisations must evaluate the data they hold, they need to safeguard and secure that data and monitor to detect any gaps or breaches. End to end encryption is seen as a necessary safeguard to ensure that data even if obtained unlawfully will not be accessible or usable by the perpetrator. Other safeguards can be used such as smart cards, two level authentication, token encryption and controlled user access to operating systems, software and applications. IT hardware. Organisations can limit their IT risk by minimising the number of access points or vectors and by using virtual machines and hypervisors – the process that separates a computer’s operating system and applications from the underlying physical hardware to minimise vulnerabilities.

Technology, IT security, IT systems and the future

The speed of technological advances has caught many organisations unawares. If we think about some of the recent major issues with data breaches, data crypto viruses and hacking, too many businesses have failed to develop their IT infrastructure, systems and software at the same pace as vulnerabilities were being exploited.  From a governance point of view, an organisation should consider scenarios and plan to mitigate and have contingencies and business continuity plans in place. They should also consider disaster recovery and complete systems failures; all plans and mitigations should be tested to see if they work in practice.

Organisations may consider implementing or integrating the following standards to minimise data privacy risks ISO 27000, ISO 27001 and BS-10012 “Information Governance”. As part of these standards, organisations should endeavour to gain certification and continually improve their systems, applications and policies. As businesses move towards artificial intelligence (AI), automation and the use of Blockchain technologies, it is even more important to adopt internationally recognised standards for IT security, information governance, privacy and confidentiality. With the use of AI and automation, organisations need to consider the impacts of the GDPR on the personal rights of privacy and freedoms of EU citizens. The Regulation speaks to the use of AI and how organisations need to balance the benefits of AI and automation with the rights and freedoms for EU citizens and other customers.

Most international organisations are still coming to grips with the GDPR requirements and how they will impact them. It is likely that the Regulation will become the international standard on data privacy and protection for individuals. There is a pressing need for GCC organisations and businesses that handle the data for EU citizens to embrace the principles of the GDPR and implement policies and procedures to safeguard all the data and information they store, process, control and transfer as the reputational risk for loss or breach of data is high.

About the author

Robert is the Managing Partner of a governance consulting enterprise called Governance Gurus FZE. The company provides strategic consulting and CPD accredited workshops and training to businesses across the region and internationally.

He is a regional thought leader and subject matter expert and is regularly asked to speak on corporate governance, compliance, enterprise risk management and change management matters and provides his clients with training and workshops too.

Robert advises the Senior Management teams and Boards of numerous organisation across the Middle East, Asia and Europe. He is also an investor and on the Board of two UAE businesses. He is also the Vice-Chairman of a Gulf Forum which brings together some of the leading thought leaders on corporate governance, risk management, compliance and company secretarial best practice.

Robert provided corporate governance advisory services to the Board and Committees of the Dubai Properties Group (DPG), a member of Dubai Holding. DPG is one of the largest fully integrated real estate and community development businesses in Dubai. He worked closely with the Chairman and the Group CEO to enhance the Corporate Governance Framework across DPG and its verticals and helped develop their Risk Appetite Compliance Assessment.

He holds a master’s degree in Leading Innovation & Change from York St John University and is also a qualified Governance Professional and Chartered Secretary (FCIS) and member of the UK Institute of Directors (for over 10 years) and a member of STEP – the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners. Robert is also part way through a Master’s Degree in HRM & Training with the University of Leicester.

Some Middle East Accomplishments

Designed and implemented two largescale transformation and governance projects, one for a big 4 firm whose project spanned 13 countries and resulted in annual savings of over $2,000,000 and increased profits.

Drafted and implemented corporate governance and Board and Shareholder relationship policies for one of the largest master developers in the UAE.

Advised a regional Government Agency on Corporate Governance best practice and Board composition (confidential assignment).

Provided a root and branch analysis for an international law firm to improve the quality, efficiency and profitability for corporate services to their clients across all regional offices. The project focused on governance and compliance matters and improvements to processes, systems, policies and procedures. This resulted in annual revenue of over $3.5 million and profits increased by 30%.

Various change management and business improvement projects.

About Governance Gurus FZE

Governance Gurus has brought together some of the leading minds on corporate governance, change management, human resource management and corporate culture. The team are passionate about designing, implementing and embedding governance frameworks, internal controls and policies to improve processes, systems and business performance.

Corporate culture and an organisation’s risk appetite and tolerances set the tone for employees, senior management and the Board. Organisations also need to manage relations with their stakeholders and shareholders. This can be successfully achieved through human resource management, employee engagement and performance measurement and rewards. Change management and business transformation projects can only be successful through sufficient planning, effective communication and by getting buy-in at all levels of the organisation. Most change initiatives fail due to a lack of urgency, reduced momentum or ineffective planning and communication.

Whether you need to change your corporate culture or the perceptions of your stakeholders with respect of your core values and business objectives, we can add fresh perspectives and ideas to help design and implement sustained cultural business strategy.

Change management is the thread which engages and empowers employees to apply human capital policies and procedures as part of the overall all corporate governance framework. Client centric and engaged employees, who are socially responsible are valuable human capital assets who help an organisation achieve their objectives uniquely.

Our team of professionally qualified and experienced advisors would be delighted to work with your organisation, department or team.

E-mail: [email protected]

Office: +971 (0) 4387 3554

Mobile: +971 (0) 55 8034 055





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