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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

My UAE: AbdulMuttalib Al Hashimi’s Next Level management thinking

A profile of the Emirati management-consultancy entrepreneur AbdulMuttalib Al Hashimi.
AbdulMuttalib Al Hashimi, who helps Emiratis in the workplace through his consultancy. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
AbdulMuttalib Al Hashimi, who helps Emiratis in the workplace through his consultancy. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

When it comes to Emiratisation, ­AbdulMuttalib Al Hashimi has been there and done that.

As a former financial-sector employee in Dubai, he knows the challenges that companies face to recruit and retain Emiratis. Now, he’s bringing his experience to his role as a founder and director of the Next Level Management Consultancy.

“When you work as a financial trader, your life is about numbers and you’re isolated from the outside world,” says Al Hashimi, 37. “I didn’t see myself stuck in front of a laptop. I saw myself, frankly, as someone who really wanted to change the world, and from the cubicle I couldn’t see myself doing that.”

The day after he left his bank job, Al Hashimi set up Next Level. The company has grown into one that looks at all aspects of Emiratisation and nationalisation, including staff retention, training and mediation.

“Being a national at the bank, I was getting a lot of enquiries from UAE nationals, either looking for career advice because they felt stuck or people looking for work. And managers had resorted to asking me to speak to UAE nationals that they couldn’t get through to.”

He now helps businesses and individuals do more than just find what he calls “ghost workers” – employees who exist on paper, but “stay at home during the day”.

He helps public and private companies to attract and retain Emirati staff by relying on more than just a salary. He also works with companies to set up training schemes and ways to engage Emirati youth.

“The first thing we have to accept, and the thing I always say to everyone about Emiratisation, is ‘there’s no other choice but to make this work’. We’re expecting at least 150,000 new joiners in the next 10 years. They have to be absorbed somewhere.”

For more information on Next ­Level, visit www.nextlevel.ae.

Who is your inspiration?

There isn’t one single person. My immediate role model is my father. He passed away in 1994, and he left me with a lot of life lessons in terms of personality and humility. My mother is another role model in terms of patience and determination. She has had a career in oil and gas for 20 years, and now lives in Muscat.

Where do you like to travel?

I have a connection with Spain. I think in another life I was Spanish. When I look at Spain, it’s the colour and how the people live. I liked Madrid, Seville and Alhambra. The place that I connected to spiritually was Kenya, especially Wasini Island. I visited with my wife, Kawther, last year.

Favourite place to eat or drink?

Japengo. I always have the seafood penne or the nasi goreng.

How do you like to relax?

If I want space, I like to sit in a coffee shop reading a book or using my laptop and coming up with ideas. If I want to kick back, I like going to restaurants with my wife or doing sports.

Favourite sport?

I practise Dekiti Tirsia Siradas Kali, an ancient martial art from the Philippines. As a group, we do it every Saturday at 8am in Al Nahda Pond Park [in Dubai] for three hours, twice during the week. My father was a black belt in karate.

What’s your favourite book?

I have two. They came at junctures in my life when I needed to read them. First, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield. This had such a tremendous impact when I was working at the bank. Secondly, while I’m always very sceptical about leadership books, The Heart of Leadership by Mark Miller had a profound impact on me. It gave me a sort of nudge when I didn’t really understand what I was supposed to be doing.

One item you can’t live without?

My home. My work takes me all over the country, but then I come back to my neighbourhood, Rashidiya. It’s like a small, peaceful, sleepy town, and that’s where I find my peace. In the evening, after I’ve had my dinner, I walk around the neighbourhood for a bit. I grew up here, so I still know the barber, who remembers my mum bringing me in when I was 6, and the grocery shop and the local mosque. It’s all here.

Do you listen to music?

I like very soulful R&B, such as Maxwell. I’ve also discovered I can’t work or concentrate without sound in the background, so I’ve been listening to progressive house music lately.

munderwood@thenational.ae

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