Goodbye HR, Hello People

Topics for 2022 sessions

Topics for 2022 will include:

Future leadership – effective talent management & succession planning
Building an agile & personalised learning culture
Leadership & organisational transformation
Wellbeing & mental health at work
Technology & the future of work
Employee engagement & change
Value driven learning

If you are interested in a speaking opportunity, please contact

2020 Programme

The 2022 programme is still being confirmed, please see below for an insight into our speaker programme in 2020

Debra Corey

Speaker, Author and Chief Pay it Forward Officer

Driving change as an employee engagement rebel
  • Biography

    Debra Corey is a highly experienced and award-winning HR professional, three-time author, world-class speaker, and was recently named one of the top 101 global employee engagement influencers. She’s had a varied and exciting career over the last 20+ years, working for global companies such as Gap Inc., Honeywell, Merlin Entertainments and Reward Gateway to name a few, where she’s developed and delivered HR strategies in a rebellious way, pushing the boundaries and challenging the status quo to truly drive employee engagement.

    Debra's moved into what she calls the 'pay it forward' part of her career. Here she is using her experience to assist and influence others through her writing, as well as by speaking, leading workshops and helping others around the world.

  • Presentation Outline

    The old ways of treating people at work has failed. With only 15% of employees globally engaged in their jobs, we need to start thinking and acting differently if our businesses are going to survive in this fast-paced world. We need to start breaking the rules of traditional HR and bring out our inner rebel when it comes to designing and delivering employee experiences and driving employee engagement.

    This presentation will introduce you to The Engagement Bridge model, a ten-part approach that helps you understand the key drivers of engagement. It will then provide you with practical and actionable tips as well as stories from rebels who have successfully challenged the status quo. You'll leave this session with tools to help you go back and build and maintain strong engagement at your organisation.

Niro Sivanathan

Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour
London Business School
Mobilising others through nudges
  • Biography

    Niro Sivanathan, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour, is an award winning researcher and teacher at the London Business School. He is a sought after speaker for Negotiations, Influence and Leading Change at the London Business School and company and industry conferences.

    Niro Sivanathan graduated with a BA in Psychology (Honours) and an MSc in Management from Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, before earning his PhD in
    Management & Organizations from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Before joining the London Business School in 2008, he was a visiting assistant professor at the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University and a Lecturer at Kellogg School of Management, having won teaching awards at both institutions. In 2014 he was voted the best teacher by the graduating class. In 2016 he was awarded the Excellence in Teaching award by the London Business School – the highest teaching accolade awarded at the London Business School. Most recently, Poets and Quants chose him as one of the top “40 under 40” – a listing of the world’s top 40 business school professors under the age of 40.

    Niro Sivanathan’s internationally recognized and award winning research covers a range of topics including Power and Status, Decision-making, Negotiations and Influence, Reputations and Competition. His work has been presented at leading international conferences and published in the very top international journals in the field of Science, Management and Psychology, such as: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature: Human Behaviour, Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Applied Psychology, and Psychological Science. He has also translated this rigorous work into global practitioner outlets such as the Harvard Business Review.

    Over the past years, Niro has consulted for, acted as an advisor for senior leaders and worked on executive programmes for companies such as IBM, McDonald’s, A.T Kearney, Mars, Nestle, Merck, Petrofac, KPMG, Sanofi, Prudential, GSK, Rabobank, World Economic Forum, Young President’s Organization, P&G, Entrepreneurs Organization, Central Bank of Turkey, Nordea, Lufthansa, Roche, Mashreq Bank, Oman Oil & Deutsche Bank.

  • Presentation Outline

    The aim of this keynote is to leverage Nobel winning science on decision-making to explore avenues by which individuals can influence others within and outside of the organization. Participant’s pattern of answers from a short decision-making quiz will provide the basis for our discussion into how the human mind processes information and makes judgments/decisions with a view towards mobilizing these cognitive quirks to influence others. Understanding the mental structures will enable participants to frame proposals and present information to secure buy in and nudge others towards the vision and outcomes we desire.

Aseem Kapoor

Head of Talent, Emaar Group
Corporate Director of Human Resources
Emaar Hospitality Group
Leveraging Technology to reinvent People Experience
  • Biography

    Aseem Kapoor holds a dual role within Emaar Group – one of the world’s most valuable and admired real estate development companies – which is responsible for developing key world landmarks like Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world.

    In his role as Head of Talent, Aseem is responsible for strategic People & Performance direction and business deliverables of Talent Acquisition, Leadership & Talent Development, Talent Engagement, Succession Planning, Internal Communication and People Experience within Emaar Group with a keen focus to enable the operations and build pipeline of talent for the local and overseas expansion within the Group. In addition, driving a strong and efficient shared services approach within the function whilst keeping the people experience, automation and digital transformation at the forefront are core areas of focus.

    He is one of the original members of the team that was present in the infancy stage of Emaar Hospitality Group and brings with him over 18 years’ experience of managing HR function. With immense knowledge and hands on experience in the hospitality industry, Aseem has had a major influence on structuring the Human Resource function for Emaar Hospitality Group which now operates 17 hotels in Dubai, Milan, Egypt with another 38 hotels in the pipeline.

    Over a span of 20 years, Aseem has worked for companies such as the Oberoi Hotels, Taj Hotels, as well as Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts. Prior to joining Emaar Hospitality Group, Aseem held the position of Director of Human Resources at Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts. In this role, he was responsible for projects in destinations such as the Maldives, Seychelles, Oman and India.

    Aseem’s most recent accolade is being awarded as the HR / Training Professional in the Middle East Hozpitality Excellence Awards, 2018. In addition, along with the support of the team, he has achieved multiple employer brand awards as follows.
    • Winner - Employer of the Year - GCC Best Employer Brand Awards 2018.
    • Winner - Outstanding Change Management Strategy - GCC GOV HR Awards 2018.
    • Mark of Excellence - Employer of the Year - Future Workplace Awards 2018.

  • Presentation Outline

    VUCA world – once considered as something that will shape the dynamics of the future is already here! With markets becoming more volatile, increasing pressures on the bottom line, lack of predictability due to multitude of external factors, the challenges of attracting and retaining talent have peaked. With skills for the future changing considerably than what now exists, People and efficiency will definitely be key differentiating factors as business will need to transform not just to be successful but to survive.

    A combined strategy that pushes People Experience to the next level along with enhancing their productivity is more critical than ever. Digital Transformation - whilst carrying the myth that it takes away the “human from Human Resource” - is more relevant than ever to address this key issue facing all companies across markets. However, the journey can be simple or complicated – based on how one approaches it and finds that balance. As a case study, we will examine some of the key facets of our Digital Transformation Journey that we worked on:
    • Creating a Digital Experience Cycle to support the People Experience Cycle
    • Using automation and digital transformation to remove administrative task focus
    • Incorporating Predictive Analytics to engage better with people
    • Remaining connected with workforce - despite not being "there"
    • Chatbots - do they really add to the People Experience?

Florencio 'Rhency' Padilla

Head of People Experience - Group HR
Chalhoub Group
HR on the driver seat – mapping the experience of employees throughout their life cycle
  • Biography

    Rhency has been working as an HR professional in Asia and Middle East since 2007. He has worked in the Learning & Development Departments of Etihad Airways and the British Embassy Dubai. Currently, he is the Head of People Experience Center of Expertise within Group HR at Chalhoub Group. He specializes in learning and development, employee engagement, organizational effectiveness and employee experience.

    Rhency helps leaders and organisations develop their people capability & enhances people engagement at work, using a wide range of practical interventions. He enables managers and organizations by using people data to understand the challenges of their people. He uses data insights to map and re-design experiences in different touchpoints throughout the employee lifecycle.

  • Presentation Outline

    Key takeaway:
    • Use design thinking as a methodology to map the experience of employees
    • Role of the different stakeholders in an employee journey mapping exercise
    • Putting employee journey mapping exercise in a sprint vs putting it in sprints
    • Create actionable insights through the employee journey mapping exercise
    • Employee journey mapping metrics – who is accountable?
    • Best practice when carrying out an employee journey mapping exercise

Nishi Shetty

People Transformation Strategist

Turnaround business through Performance Culture
  • Biography

    Nishi Shetty is a senior Human Resource professional with more than 23 years of experience working in multi-national businesses across India and the UAE. During this time, she has gained extensive experience in all aspects of Human Resources with an absolute passion for developing people through her professional, interpersonal and management skills.

    Having worked with large corporations such as Saint-Gobain Group, Gulf Agency Company, Al Futtaim Group, Laing O’Rourke, she has considerable cross-industry exposure including trading, construction, manufacturing and logistics.

    She is certified in many people development tools employing them for the people development programs. She has used the tool of MBTI (Myers & Briggs Type Indicator) as an aid to team development, personal insights and learning, and over 400 people have now been trained by her. She is also qualified in the use of the Emotional Intelligence tool EQ2.0i and uses this where individuals and companies are looking for Talent development through a one to one feedback process.

    As well as being a fully qualified Executive Coach from ICF, she is also fully trained and conversant in the application of the HAY 360 Feedback tool as well as a range of Psychometric tests and using them for talent and leadership development. She is also a Master Practitioner in Neuro Linguistic Programming.

  • Presentation Outline

    The aim of the presentation is to highlight that the performance culture is woven into the threads of an organization. It is embedded into the complete employee journey with a big impact on the business performance. Creating performance culture starts early on in employee journey and requires talented leaders and management commitment to develop it. This critical topic in an organization is often limited to annual appraisals and is ignored as a critical focus area. A discussion on this would give the participants an insight to how in everyday work life we either create or sabotage the performance culture.

Marc Roos

Divisional Lead, Oil & Gas, DISCOVERY programme
The Weir Group
How to select a HR Information System that’s right for YOUR organization: Elements to consider
  • Biography

    Dr Roos has been an HR practitioner in major extractive industry organisations in a variety of settings including Mining, Engineering and Oil&Gas, joining multi billion projects in Siberia, Qatar, Mauritania, Cameroon and Iraq, with more than 20 years of practical experience.
    In this period he has been involved in HRIS selections, implementations, and post-implementation rescues including ORACLE, SAP, SAGE, and RAMCO.
    His current assignment includes a global implementation of WorkDay HRIS.

  • Presentation Outline

    Digitizing Human Resources processes is still relatively new in the region despite significant development of systems with increasing sophistication in OECD economies. Some perceived barriers in the region include a continued reliance on physical paper documents (with signatures and stamps) for many processes, multiple language capability requirements, and poor IT infrastructure. Many of these elements are becoming resolved with eg the UAE government increasing digitization (E-Gov) efforts, and the now excellent state of internet accessibility in the region. The offering of SaaS (Software as a Service) removes the need for purchasing and maintaining physical IT hardware in harsh environments.

    Many business and HR leaders are looking for actionable insight on employee data and real time information, to harness the power of Big Data analytics and AI. To take that leap first the base information must be systemized, digitized, accurate and up to date.

    The current generation of HRIS system suppliers are capable of cloud based, multi-language interfaces configurable to cope with multiple groupings of employee and countries at the same time. However one size definitely does not fit all.
    The talk will present a variety of elements to consider and approach to scoping and decision-making in the engagement with stakeholders and suppliers on the road to HR digitization.

Dr. Catherine Baird

SVP Cabin Crew Training
Leadership at Altitude
  • Biography

    Catherine has 40 years experience in learning and development, predominately in the education and aviation sectors. Her career has taken her across the globe including Australia, the UK, Germany and the GCC region. Catherine joined Star Alliance as Director of Training & Development based in Germany in 2001. This role consulted globally with the heads of learning within the member airlines to drive Star Alliance products and services across a combined employee base of over 405,000.
    In 2005 Catherine moved to Dubai and joined Emirates Airline. Emirates is a global airline, operating one of the world’s largest fleets serving 158 destinations in 85 countries. In her current role as Senior Vice President – Cabin Crew Training she is responsible for training and development of all cabin crew across their career journey from initial induction to on-board leadership roles. Since joining Emirates she has led the training team through a time of exponential growth with crew numbers of 6,000 in 2005 to over 21,000 in 2019. Emirates cabin crew community come from over 140 nationalities and speak more than 60 languages

  • Presentation Outline

    It is widely researched and published that we’re due to inhabit a world of work that is fundamentally different than any previous experience. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the face of organisations, job roles, and the place that work has in our lives.

    The WEF Future of Job Roles Report (2018) states that ‘companies expect a significant shift on the frontier between humans and machines when it comes to existing work tasks. There is a growing demand for various forms of technology competence highlighted in the report. This is tempered by optimistic estimates around emerging jobs expected to offset declining jobs. Expected to grow are roles that are distinctively ‘human’ skills. Emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence, as well as service orientation, also see an outsized increase in demand relative to their current prominence and, are cited in the top ten trending skills of the future’.

    This presentation aims to share the journey we are on at Emirates in supporting our on-board leaders to operate in this dynamic and often ambiguous environment. Leading teams that are multi-generational, multicultural and, that are newly formed every trip, yet required to deliver a high quality, consistent and winning service experience every time.

Toneya Sarwar

Head of HR for Middle East & Africa
Cisco Systems
Change and disruption in HR
  • Biography

    Toneya is a senior HR Professional with over 20 years of experience in both Europe and the Middle East. Having had a wide spectrum of HR exposure from Talent Acquisition to Employee Services, she feels that her strengths and passion lie with business partnering. Working with the business to reach desired goals and outcomes within such transformative times has been both challenging and satisfying. Toneya currently partners with the VP of sales at Cisco. Together they manage a workforce of over 5000 employees over 80 countries. Toneya believes that work and life are totally integrated and brings herself to both spheres as authentically as possible. She has 3 children who keep her entertained and she is close to publishing her first poetry book.

  • Presentation Outline

    Businesses, particularly Technology business, is going through unprecedented change and transformation . With customers demanding more yet expecting simpler ways to do business, firms are having to reevaluate their internal organisations to ensure that work can be agile, efficient and cost-effective. This has forced HR organisations to do the same.

    At Cisco we have approached change in multiple areas, this presentation will focus on three areas; Firstly, to build an agile shared services model to help scale as well as align to employee strengths and experience. This focus on services has created a culture of outcomes based HR, with much more of a solutions focused HR team. Secondly how can we digitize HR, not just from a platforms and tools perspective but also with data insights and industry levers and behaviors.

    Knowledge is power, we are increasingly adding value to business discussions and decisions by having a state of the art analytics focused team who is able to provide data accurately and efficiently. Finally we have focused on enablement. How can we help our HR teams to transform and upskill them to what is needed depending on which part of the Organisation the belong? This shift is also enterprise wide, creating the right culture to have open dialogue about skills and capability and empowering employees to take a much more active part in their future development.

Kate Brenton

Senior Talent & Development Manager
Delta Partners
The Digital Detox
  • Biographies

    Kate is an executive-level Talent & Development professional with over 10 years of experience in delivering projects in culture change, HR policy, competency frameworks design, performance management, service quality measures, business strategy and alignment, leadership development, succession planning and employee engagement and wellness strategy. Her work has had huge impact factors on companies and their business effectiveness, and on a personal level she has helped excel employees’ careers and promotion tracks whilst remaining aligned with business strategy. She has held a number of positions in the Talent & Development field across the UK and the UAE and is currently Global Talent & Development Manager at Delta Partners in Dubai, a Management Consulting company specialising in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications industry.

  • Presentation Outline

    Is technology and our multitude of devices a help or a hindrance in terms of productivity and wellness in the workplace? Disconnecting from work now has to be a conscious choice is no longer a given when you leave your office at the end of the day/the weekend/on holiday. And you either feel you have a healthy or unhealthy relationship with your phone, computer, tablet. A recent study conducted in the UK found that over 60% of working adults felt they had an unhealthy relationship with technology not only due to personal use but the ‘always on’ culture of checking emails, messages, taking calls outside of work hours, on the weekends and also usually whilst on leave.

    Technology and constant connectivity has advanced the world of work in leaps and bounds, we’ve all read the articles about machine learning, AI and automation revolutionising the world of work but what has the everyday tech that we have to come to rely on done to our teams wellbeing, stress levels, productivity, focus, concentration and human connection (has anyone ever received/sent an email to/from someone in an office less than a 20 second walk away)? And is there anything we; as managers, directors, HR professionals, can and should do about it?

    From an empirical study conducted at Delta Partner’s measuring: screen time (both for work and personal use), productivity levels and sleep patterns we interviewed participants on their feelings on their stress levels, focus, concentration and human connection over a 2 month Business as usual working period. From the finding we applied digital detox strategies over the following 2 month period with regular measurement and check in points throughout on the same metrics. A positive correlation was discovered between reduced screen time and work life balance and stress levels. This workshop will explore some of the successful digital detox strategies and consider practicalities of implementing them in the workplace.

Debate Mate

Closing Debate
See the debaters here
Understanding lasting culture change
  • Biography

    Debate Mate is an innovative global business that provides leadership and communication training across a wide variety of industry sectors. Responding to demand from the corporate world, we have built a curriculum and teaching methodology to address business-specific communication needs. Our format is based on the fundamentals of competitive debating and our facilitators are experts in their field.

  • Presentation Outline

    How does cultural change happen in a workplace? Does it come from top down directives from senior influential team members? or does it come from the bottom, the engine room of people who shape culture in a company from day to day? Do directives foster sustainable cultural change, or is long term cultural change best developed amongst junior employees?

    For the first time at a Summit Event, the global social business, Debate Mate, will host a dynamic and engaging debate on one of the HR industry’s hottest topics – culture change. The debate is designed to get to the essence of an issue, pulling no punches and using a tried-and-tested format to explore unique perspectives on traditional issues. Two senior executives from the HR industry will be joined by a panel of world champion university debaters and recent graduates to debate the motion:

    “This House believes that cultural change within business must come from the bottom”

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“A very well organized event bringing together switched-on delegates and interesting suppliers. A very personalized experience in contrast to the huge impersonal expos we often have here in Dubai.”

Paul Turner, Regional Director MENA
Havas People

“A summit with a difference. The same focus on delivering a quality event but without the residential element for delegates. We had some really good meetings with both multi-national and local companies.””

David Williams, Founder & CEO
Impact International