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How I got here: Ahmad Waarie, Willis Towers Watson managing consultant

How I got here: Ahmad Waarie, Willis Towers Watson managing consultant

Ahmad Waarie details his journey of working in HR roles across the world

Education

I studied in the United States and Australia where I specialised in economics – a subject I truly enjoyed, especially microeconomics. It gave me a good understanding of how things really work and allowed me to get a grasp of human behaviour and the economic reasons behind it. My interest in the human factor led me to my postgraduate degree in human resources. I always found studying people to be the most fascinating thing in life.

My start

My career in HR started by pure coincidence.

My best friends at college got offers for HR roles in multinational companies and I joined them as I was interested in what they were doing. My biggest influence was my first boss who, despite being 65 years old, had more energy and motivation than any of the young employees around him. To this day, I take my motivation from him.

Prior to coming to the Gulf region, I worked in multinationals across four continents and in all areas of HR. During this time I developed and implemented many high level projects across public and private sector organisations.

When I came to the United Arab Emirates, I worked as the director of strategic human resources at the Executive Office/Council of Dubai. Here I championed the strategic transformation of the Dubai Government through the introduction of high-profile and complex projects and initiatives. I also served as the HR advisor for the UAE Prime Minister’s Office and assisted in the development of high profile strategic projects.

I have been the managing consultant for Willis Towers Watson in the Middle East for seven years, where I have led various strategic HR and transformation projects in the region for key clients across various sectors including oil and gas, financial services, telecoms and the public sector.

Approach

The key to professional success is to overachieve and keep raising the bar, but with a balanced commitment to family and personal life. Striking a work-life balance is critical to being successful in both. We have to assume responsibility for everything we do and leave positive marks both as professionals, but also as human beings.

Having worked across the globe, I adapt easily and approach my work considering the overall political, economic and cultural environment. Working in the Middle East is an
exciting and unique opportunity, due to the international and multinational workforce.

This represents some challenges, but it also offers great opportunities to learn from different cultures and work environments.

Highs and lows

Early in my career, my greatest challenge was to really understand the career options ahead and make the right choice. Today I try to provide this advice and insight to young employees. I have always felt very excited about offering career opportunities for staff. My greatest achievement has always been when I see one of my employees make a leap in their career and exceed my expectations.

Dos and don’ts

The best piece of advice I received was from my mother when I was young: to always be honest. My personal advice to young professionals would be to know your dream, do your homework and never give up. Do not always follow the rules because they kill innovation.

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