I was thrilled when I was selected to attend the EMEA Human Capital Conference. I was even happier when I learned that it will take place in Deloitte University’s campus in Brussels, Belgium. DU EMEA’s curriculum is tailored to the region’s needs to deliver cutting-edge learning that will develop the next generation of international business leaders and advisers. Located in Belgium as one of the regional hubs to serve Europe and the Middle East, the university builds on the success of Deloitte University (DU) launched two years ago in Westlake, Texas, USA, which has been attended by more than 50,000 people from over 70 countries.

This year’s theme was “taking leadership”. When I hear “leadership” I am usually disappointed because of the amount of literature around the subject. In the past decade or so, it has become such a cliché that I was wondering how the organizers intended to make a difference and retain the attention of 260 Deloitte representatives for three consecutive days. I guess Einstein got it right when he said “creativity is intelligence having fun”!

The event was different in many ways as it consisted of its 10th anniversary; 10 years ago it took place in Brussels as well. On June the 30th, 2014, we were 260 representatives from 33 countries in a spectacular venue and green scenery. The objectives of the EMEA Human Capital Conference were basically to have the 33 countries represented achieve a shared purpose, collaborate As One across boundaries, strengthen and expand our regional community, share expertise and experiences and most importantly build our capabilities.

I spent three exceptional days mainly marked by networking, coaching with people from various Deloitte member firms including Deloitte UK and Deloitte US, having dinners, and watching a football game. The EMEA Human Capital Conference consisted primarily of training courses spanning various areas such as Human Resource Transformation, Organization Transformation and Talent, Rewards and Analytics, etc. It also included meetings with country leaders tackling common challenges, targets and goals for 2020 and client events for public sector and life sciences; furthermore, there were other internal and external speakers- speakers who, often inspirational, summarized in a few minutes the best of their experience, and linked it to the event’s theme (“taking leadership”) while making an impact.

What I found interesting as well was to learn that many of the challenges and trends we encounter with our clients in Deloitte Middle East are common to other member firms, even the largest ones. For instance, HR benchmarking is a door opener across the globe. All clients want to know what HR to FTE ratio is and they all prefer it instead of a high level trend analysis. Additionally, HR analytics is another topic that is gaining increasing attention internationally. It is a relatively recent trend. Clients are looking to benefit from historical trends and behaviors without necessarily knowing that it falls under HR analytics. In fact, Deloitte Human Capital trends identified HR analytics in 2014 as an exciting and fast growing area for Human Resources where organizations are lagging in areas such as workforce, rewards, learning, etc.

I come back from this wonderful experience with a few thoughts and a wish:

As a consultant. Suspend your judgment and do not fall into the trap of “I know it all”.
On taking leadership. Focus on who you are rather than on what you have.
As a woman in the Middle East. You should take things into your own hands. Often, things will not be given to you.
On coaching. Take time to reflect; if you have a good question, it will often be answered.

I hope to see all the people I met next year in Norway!

by: Joana Abou Jaoude, manager, Consulting-Human Capital, Deloitte Middle East