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GDA TRANSFORM Virtual Conference: leadership and people development under the spotlight


Rayyan Tayeb, vice-chairman, GDA TRANSFORM Virtual Conference, discusses some of the leadership and people development issues that will be in focus at the event on 22-23 February

What leadership qualities are needed to drive the downstream industry through the current disruptive business environment and prepare it for future advancements? 

I believe there are many leadership qualities that are integral parts of shaping up organisations. They help craft the overall working environment for individuals and organisational performance for companies. One of the main attributes is integrity and honesty – leaders to be seen as honest and sticking to a moral principal. They need to build a reputation of being trustworthy and reliable as opposed to hiding or blaming. 

Another main attribute is business acumen – leaders need to be acquainted not only with the operational mindset but also with the financial aspects where they become financially savvy and understand how their operations contribute to the overall organisational profitability and how and where they can add value to the business. It’s critical that leaders make the transition from the operational mindset alone to operational and financial for the organisation to ensure growth and greater success. 

Also, having diversified experience – in today’s environment, it’s critical that individuals have diversified experiences where they can see a process from different angles and make sound judgements. 

In addition, coaching and developing talent is another critical quality – with the accelerated changes happening in today’s world, the need to develop talent and skills became a never-ending quest. Leaders need to develop capable people to the point that they are actually ready to take their job whenever needed. This can be viewed by some as a threat. The truth is that this is the best way for leaders themselves to actually grow further. When they have made their followers ready to take the leadership roles, they can advance in the organisation faster. 

Other qualities include fostering teams, building relationships, being adaptable, and building trust around their teams.  

How can companies attract new talent and develop the existing workforce for the future? 

Companies can attract talent by building their own culture and work environment around values that make the employees feel safe, trusted, and engaged. It has been found that people leave or stay in a job based on who their manager is. When employees feel safe, they speak their mind, achieve greater potential and even take the extra mile. Experience shows that the same individual working in different organisations may perform differently according to how they are treated by superiors. A trusting and caring manager will translate into highly responsive and engaged employees. I believe it’s the role of every manager to develop the skills to build the trust in the organisation, making their company attractive for talents to join. 

As to the matter of developing the existing workforce, the World Economic Forum has highlighted some of the skills that will be at the centre of attention in the few years. Around 50% of the workforce will need reskilling by 2025 as technology and automation accelerates. Jobs are being transformed as the pandemic has created a faster pace toward automation and the virtual space. As those jobs transform, it’s expected that around 85 million jobs might be displaced to machines and algorithms. But even more jobs, 97 million, are expected to emerge, and that requires upskilling. This includes skills like technology use, monitoring and control in addition to complex problem solving. It is believed that these skills could be acquired on the job using various learning methodologies. Such reports show that the new skills learning will be accessible through the technology. However, individuals will need time and funding to actually acquire those skills. 

What do you hope the GDA virtual event will achieve? 

From the Leadership & People Development Committee perspective, the conference will give us the chance to do a deep dive into the traits that leaders need to show in order to have better performing organisations. We hope the audience will learn more about how to distinguish transformational leaders vs transactional ones, and where those styles of leadership would best fit. 

We also hope the attendees will expand a healthy network of professionals as the virtual conference has dedicated some time to provide an opportunity for members to bond and network. 

We also hope to set the stage and build the momentum for the GDA main conference that is being planned in the future. 

The GDA Transform Virtual event, “The Evolving Future of Leadership and Project Management”, takes place on 22-23 February from 13:00-16:50 (Bahrain time zone). For a full conference agenda, please visit:

Attendance is free. Register here