x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Emirati undergraduates become CEOs for a day

The 'CEO for a Day' programme offers Emirati undergraduates a glimpse into what life is like at the helm of a multinational company.

Emirati undergraduates can see what life is like at the helm of a multinational company in a bid to entice more of them into the private sector.

The programme, called CEO for a Day, will give them the chance to shadow the chief executive of a large company.

Hundreds of third and fourth-year undergraduates at Zayed University Dubai were asked on Facebook if they wanted to experience the daily workings and decision-making that goes into making a company successful, and if they would like to climb the corporate ladder.

Applicants will go through a screening process, then an interview to see if they are suitable for the industry they selected.

On December 4, 5 and 6, the students will get to walk the corridors of one of 80 private companies expected to sign up, including those in finance, retail, hospitality, logistics, technology, aviation and telecommunications.

"We are looking for something more mature and definite ways on how to focus the young generation's mindset from choosing from the very traditional sectors to move to the non-traditional sectors," said Essa Al Mulla, executive director of the Emirates Nationals Development Programme (ENDP).

Mr Al Mulla said a high proportion of Emirati jobseekers' first preference was to find a job within the Government. The programme and the Horizon Group launched the programme to help to change that.

"They are not aware of the benefits of joining the private sector," he said. "We are saying it is all there but our campaign will focus more on addressing the awareness with one of the leading universities in Dubai."

The ENDP, which is part of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, has targeted postgraduates in a similar programme for six years and placed more than 10,000 Emiratis in full-time positions in the private sector.

"Most of the undergraduates studying are not 100 per cent aware of the opportunities and so we started to address this," Mr Al Mulla said.

"We want them to think seriously during their final year before they graduate, and want them to apply to the private sector and not the Government. It will be very important for us to start changing their mindset."

Yiannis Vafeas, joint managing director of GolinHarris, part of the Horizon Group, said: "The students will not only get first-hand experience but they will also interact and discuss with the CEO and heads of other departments, and get an insight and certain types of career opportunities for the future."

The students will answer a survey on their perceptions of working in private industry before and after they take part in the programme.

"We will see if we managed to change their perception and this is another way to engage in dialogue," Mr Vafeas added.

eharnan@thenational.ae