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Building human capital must be a business priority for UAE companies


As the UAE approached the ‘Year of the 50’ celebrating 50 years of the union, the national leadership identified 10 ‘Principles of the 50’ to guide government agencies in creating a new cycle of economic, social and political growth for the next 50 years. High among these, the fourth principle, was that ‘the main future driver for growth is human capital’, and that ‘developing the educational system, attracting talents, retaining specialists and continuously building skills are what shall keep the UAE at the top’.

While intended for government entities, we at FAB believe this principle resonates just as strongly in the private sector, and that building human capital is an area where businesses must consider carefully how their own commercial needs can intersect with those of the community. We also recognise that we must lead by example, building partnerships and evolving our approach to identifying and nurturing talent in a way that places national priorities at the forefront.

The ‘Frontiers in Finance’ initiative, which runs for its inaugural 12-week instalment from January 2022, is the latest example of how an active approach to talent development can work not just within our organisation, but also for the wider community.

Designed by Yale School of Management Executive Education and the International Center for Finance at Yale School of Management for First Abu Dhabi Bank, and in a collaboration with the Emirates Foundation and ICON Training & Coaching, this unique programme aims to build capacity in the UAE’s financial and investment sectors. Importantly, it’s not just for our employees, but is offered by invitation to middle management at several key UAE entities, promoting a deeper understanding of investment management, decision making and strategy, as well as advanced concepts such as the application of data science and quantitative techniques in investment decisions.

At an individual level, it offers participants an opportunity to elevate their knowledge and perform at a higher level in their current and future roles, while also contributing to the realisation of a knowledge-based economy.

For mid-career professionals, “Frontiers in Finance” reflects the example of our ‘FAB Scholars’ programme for younger Emiratis. Launched in 2020, FAB Scholars provides scholarships for a group of highly talented Emirati students enrolled in the Paris II University Bachelor of Laws programme at DIFC Academy. Their undergraduate studies encompass core domestic, comparative and international legal issues, including common law, French legal system, and the underpinnings of shari’a and law. Again, FAB’s own business needs are not the priority. Indeed, studies are not even directly linked to banking and finance, although ours is clearly an industry where law is important. Instead, the scholarships take a broader perspective on nurturing talent, supporting capacity building and contributing to a knowledge-based economy, while recognising that we do benefit from creating a more robust skills ecosystem.

While distinctive for their outward-looking perspective, these projects stand among a growing portfolio of FAB initiatives to support Emiratis and others in achieving their full potential – whatever point they are at in their careers. In 2020, we partnered with the Human Resources Agency and ADGM Academy to launch ‘The Bankers Programme’, a six-month accelerator for recent Emirati graduates entering the banking sector. And helping achieve greater gender equality in business, we are supporting some of the very highest-achieving women in business as a partner in ‘Pathway20’, a project to increase female participation on the boards of UAE listed companies. It provides participants with peer-to-peer learning, network development with existing board members, and building the skills necessary for a board career.

For businesses, initiatives such as these make a sensible investment, building a talent pool to meet future business needs. More than that, however, they recognise that every business has a part to play in achieving national ambitions. Our success lies not just in fulfilling the UAE’s economic goals, but also in helping achieve its human potential, and supporting talented individuals to grow for the ‘next 50’ years.


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First Abu Dhabi Bank

First Abu Dhabi Bank P.J.S.C

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