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Students enjoyed an engaging tailor-made program at the biggest chemical event of the year delivered by senior industry leaders from across the Arabian Gulf

The 15th edition of Leaders of Tomorrow, an initiative launched by GPCA with the support of its members to build local human capital in the region, concluded successfully at the Annual GPCA Forum held on 7-9 December at the Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. The dedicated, student-only seminar attracted young talent from across the Arabian Gulf region for an insightful program aimed at building the participants’ skills and prepare them for a career in the petrochemical and chemical industry. The seminar held on day zero, 7 December, at the Annual GPCA Forum kicked off with a welcome note by Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA, who gave the students an overview about the association and shared key facts and figures about the regional chemical industry in 2020.

Naser Aldousari, President and CEO, EQUATE, delivered the first keynote address of the day entitled ‘Youth and the chemical industry: What role can YOU play’. He shared important insights about the sector, which generates USD 54 billion of sales revenue, and what role regional youth can play in advancing the industry and shaping its future. Speaking to the young leaders in the room, Aldousari began with a sobering statement. “It is an exciting, yet challenging time to enter industry,” he told participants. As the chemical industry continues to grapple with disruptions from the global pandemic, new opportunities are being created to transform the present and emerge more resilient onto the other side, and young industry leaders have a special place to take in the transition towards a brighter, more innovative future. Another key megatrend that’s here to stay is a heightened focus on sustainability, as Aldousari explained. It will require investment, innovation, collaboration and nurturing the future talent for sustainability to grow from an imperative to reality in the decades to come.

In line with the theme about sustainability, the EQUATE CEO went on to highlight the petrochemical industry’s contribution towards a healthier, safer, more sustainable, more efficient, more comfortable and more convenient life. The chemical industry in the region is a purpose driven industry. It is a significant contributor to economic diversification. It is a leading job creator which provides vast entrepreneurial opportunities and has a positive impact on Gulf states’ economies, commerce and quality of life. Therefore, the industry can offer a bright future for the region’s youth of which they can be a key part.

In the second keynote address of the day, Ashraf Al Mamari, Chief – People, Technology and Culture, OQ, discussed the key catalysts to accelerate young leaders’ career development. He provided answers to a number of key questions which may be high on the mind of young learners:

  • Do I need to plan my career?
  • Who is accountable for my career development?
  • Where do I start?
  • How do I measure my success?
  • Do I need a coach or mentor?

And gave OQ’s Liwa Plastics Industries Complex as an interesting case study example. Particularly, he highlighted the 60% Omanization rate associated with the LPIC Project which involves 159 fresh graduates in different batches; 84 internal experienced staff; and 162 external hiring. As part of the project, Al Mamari explained, 221 job competency profiles were developed, 621 individual development plans were created, and 159 employees were certified through a program called ItQan.

What followed was a panel discussion with the participation of Ashraf Al Mamari and Maitha Al Marashi, VP, Sustainability, Borouge, which was moderated by Sami I. Sarhan, Head, Industry Engagement, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The discussion focused on the topic ‘Taking advantage of the changing tide’ and provided tips and tricks on how to build your career in the new reality.

On day one, 8 December, participants in the Leaders of Tomorrow program attended a workshop entitled ‘Mock company: Lead the change’. The workshop led by BCG, saw the students address one of the real-life challenges facing the world today and create a solution that the chemical industry can offer. They were also assigned managerial roles within the group and created a mock company to then showcase and sell their solutions to the rest of the audience and the jury.

After creating their solution for a real-life challenge, the students went to the exhibition area, and tried to sell their mock product and strike a fictional deal for its production or distribution. They also presented their mock products to a jury and provided details about their fictional “orders” from GPCA exhibitor companies.

Thank you to the workshop presenters Hasan Alkabeer, Partner, BCG; Stefano Castoldi, Principal, BCG; and Salim Tamari, Consultant, BCG, for their valuable time and input into this engaging part of the program.