MENA Region HR Managers: Are we 30 Years Behind the Industry?

Ebrahim K Ebrahim

Pension Researcher & Chairman of the Annual MENA Pensions Conference


A growing majority of HR managers and professionals in the MENA region can be described as generalists. If this trend continues, major potential will be wasted and we will be additional decades behind the global HR industry. Additionally, HR managers will not be able to improve their personal career prospects, and their employers will continue to need the expertise of HR specialists in various fields—mainly expats and Westerners—to do key HR projects and foster innovation.

Where are the HR benefits experts who were born and bred in our region? Where are the employee engagement gurus? Where are the retention specialists?

In developed markets the employee-benefit industry is huge, comprising hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of specialist members, and several associations and trade unions. These HR specialist professionals work as consultants or for companies that provide third-party administration and management of employee-benefit plans including health and wellness, pensions, bonus schemes, workers' compensation and health and safety. Within this industry itself have evolved a number of specializations and roles such as employee-benefit communicators, plan administrators, plan design consultants, defined-contribution consultants and analysts, pension and health-benefit advocates, actuaries, and compliance and legal officers. With such specializations, HR professionals offer a higher value propositions to employers and clients. If the MENA region moves in the direction of HR specialisation, unemployment amongst HR graduates will be reduced and the HR industry within our region will be poised for maturity. Do you agree?