As the countdown to the BizPro Awards 2012, to be held on May
20, 2012, gets underway OER catches up with a couple of winners
of yesteryears to get a ring side view on the awards and its
salience in promoting and encouraging young Omani’s. A report
Abdulnasir N Al Raisi, Assistant General Manager, Corporate
Credit & Marketing, BankMuscat and the recipient of the Young
Achiever Award in 2009, shares his thoughts on winning the
Award. Excerpts from an interview with Mayank Singh.
You were one of the winners in the Young Achievers category at
BizPro Awards in 2009, and since then you have gone onto excel
in your job and related areas. Looking back, what were the
attributes that enabled you to win this coveted recognition?
have always believed in doing the best that one can. A person
should look around to see what others are doing and then try to
better that, because if you are not doing anything differently
then it is difficult to stand out in a crowd. I am lucky to be
associated with a bank which stresses on local talent, but going
up the corporate ladder requires hard work. Success is also the
combination of a number of other things like good colleagues,
encouraging superiors etc. But it is important to get your
priorities straight. Winning the BizPro Young Achiever Award was
an achievement for me and a step in the right direction. The
testing that you go through makes you aware and think about
things differently. The process is pretty intense as there is a
written exam and a series of presentations and going through the
process opens your eyes to things that you take for granted. It
is a good confidence booster and encouragement for people to try
and achieve more.
For a young person it is a part of one’s development process. As
a recipient of the BizPro Award, NTI funds a training course for
you and I used it go to the Creative Learning Centre in
Singapore, which was a great opportunity as they put you through
an extensive leadership course over a week’s time.
Tell us something about your educational and professional
After graduating from high school I went to the US for a
Bachelor’s degree in accounting and management from the
University of South Carolina. On coming back to Oman I joined
BankMuscat in September 1999. I started off as a management
trainee in the bank and was put on rotation in various
departments. After this I was given a choice to join any
department and I choose corporate banking. I have enjoyed
working at the bank and have worked in different positions. I
have a lot of respect and gratitude for my superiors from whom I
have learnt so many things. BankMuscat has grown tremendously in
these last 12 years and I along with some of my colleagues have
grown with the bank. In between, I also went for a few higher
education courses which were supported by the bank. I got a
Chevening Scholarship and did a Master’s in banking, which
helped broaden my knowledge and horizons regarding the banking
At the end of the day one’s career is not just about titles or
economic gain but it is also about self satisfaction, if you are
happy and feel that you are contributing to your organisation,
family and country then you are leading a good career.
There is a lot of stress on building local national talent in
Oman. What would your advice be to young Omanis who are
embarking on a career?
My advice to young Omanis is that you should not expect a
lot before giving all you can. If you can do your best, think
out of the box, be creative and contribute to the organisation
that you work for with all your force then rewards and
recognition is bound to follow. Most people can do much more
than what they think they are capable of. If you can push the
envelope then things will look bright automatically for you, but
if you sit and wait for things to happen or if you want the
company, government or the organisation that you work for to
give you everything without reciprocation then you will not be
achieving much. First be valuable to the organisation and then
value will come to you. Education is very important but it is
just a qualification, it only proves your ability to learn, once
you are at a work place then you learn everyday and this
translates into real experience and value. If you work hard and
try to give more than the person next to you, then only will you
Apart from education and intellect, there is a lot of stress
on soft skills in today’s management studies. How important is
the softer side of business?
Soft skills are extremely important as working in teams and
meeting and interacting with customers, suppliers, superiors,
peers and colleagues are part of the job. How you use these
networks and people in your day to day work is very important. A
lot of people think that your job finishes once you reach home
at five, but in my view it continues till your day finishes,
because after work you network and socialise and at the end of
the day it all counts.
Looking at Oman do you feel that there are a lot of
opportunities for youngsters who have the right education and
are ready to work hard?
Sky is the limit in places like the Gulf, as ours are new
economies and there are a lot of opportunities. Our
infrastructure is new and there is much more to be built by
Omanis and the locals. We need expatriates and appreciate the
knowledge and skills that they bring to the table as these are
not present locally, but it is the nationals and Omanis who will
be taking things forward, by leading and building. No city or
country was built overnight, it takes hundreds of years, as a
country we are relatively a young nation and there are
tremendous opportunities for young Omanis as they are the people
who will be building our future.
What do you think about the BizPro Awards and in what ways is
it beneficial in promoting national talent?
BizPro Awards is a very good initiative and being a part of it I
appreciate the efforts that goes into putting up such an
initiative. There is a need for more such initiatives; it is
also a friendly competition amongst the young and it encourages
them to push and do more. It’s a recognition for people, who
need to be recognised in different ways. There is probably a
need to grow such an initiative by adding different categories,
or different things and probably it is time that other
organisations started doing something on similar lines. I also
feel that BizPro Awards should not be limited just to the
private sector but should also include the government and semi
government companies. I think some public sector companies like
PDO, Oman LNG etc are participating but I am not sure about the
participation of the ministry staff which is important.
Push yourself to the limits
M Al Barwani, Team Leader –General Trading, Corporate Banking,
ahlibank and one of the winner of BizPro Awards Young Achiever
Award in 2011, speaks to OER.
You were one of the winners in the Young Achievers category
at BizPro Awards 2011. What were the factors that helped you win
It is nothing magical, but the result of hard work,
commitment and endeavouring to do my best. Education helps us
having a good foundation and academic background sets you off on
a sound footing. At the end of the day, you are as good as the
work that you put in.
You have done very well at a young age, what would you
suggest or advise young Omanis who are looking at embarking on a
It’s more or less the same as I have done in the beginning
of my career. Apart from that try and push yourself to the
limits and do not be afraid of taking risks. Never stop learning
and educating yourself as this is very important.
What do you think about the BizPro Awards and in what ways is
it beneficial in promoting national talent?
Definitely the BizPro Awards is a good programme to promote
young Omani talent. NTI should continue and expand BizPro Awards
and there should be more such initiatives in Oman. There are a
lot of talented Omani youth who should be recognised and
highlighted, sometimes by their own organisations but BizPro is
one step above and it provides motivation and encouragement for
recipients to do more and similarly it encourages other
youngsters to strive harder and to get recognised. I used the
scholarship given by BizPro to attend an Executive Development
Programme in Dubai and it has helped me. The process of
selecting the BizPro winners is quite enriching itself as it
gives you a chance to challenge yourself, as one competes
against many talented people. One is taken through various
assessments like a written test where your language and
quantitative skills are tested followed by a check of one’s
logical reasoning. After this you are put through various
scenarios where your leadership skills and ability to work in
teams is analysed. Finally, there is an interview and a
presentation on a given topic in front of a KPMG panel and based
on these tests the winners are chosen.
What do organisations or companies expect from fresh
graduates in today’s working environment and how can youngsters
equip themselves with the requisite skillsets?
Organisations expect people to have a lot of soft skills
like an ability to work in a team, attitude, willingness to
learn and develop. Constant learning is crucial and this can be
done in various ways like keeping oneself upto date with your
area of expertise and global events and happenings. Part of this
is also based on an organisation’s willingness to support its
staff by providing them with training and development
opportunities, but the willingness and initiative needs to come
from the individual.
How important is training for someone to get acquainted with
global cross currents and to grow, and are there enough training
opportunities in Oman?
It depends on the industry, in banking there are enough
opportunities as the College of Banking and Financial Studies (CBFS)
setup a few years ago provides a range of courses and training
related to the sector at various levels. CBFS also has tie-ups
with external universities and third parties who come in and
conduct training. There are a lot of conferences and seminars
that happen, but more can be done as there is always room for
improvement and programmes like BizPro can help in highlighting
such needs and giving it more significance.
In today’s demanding corporate culture how can executives
strike a work-life balance?
Time management is extremely important. At the end of the
day we work to live and do not live to work. So striking a
balance and getting the right support from one’s family members
is important as there are times when you may have to stay back
late at work or not get that intended leave. But at the end of
the day one needs to devote time and attention to one’s family.
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