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Intellectual capital most important in Islamic banks


Wednesday 25th, November 2015

The main challenge faced by the Islamic banking in the Sultanate today is building up solid knowledge and experience among bankers about Islamic finance while keeping pace with the demand in the market. "Recruiting potential front-runners in this area and providing the right knowledge dosage at the right time is key success element. Retention is always a challenge in the banking sector and it is rather more intense towards persons who already started working within Sharia-compliant products and practiced Islamic banking", said Mohammed al Balushi, Chief Human Resources Officer at alizz Islamic bank.

With more than 20 years of experience in the banking sector, Al Balushi said it is important for human resources leaders to have a good knowledge about the industry they work in because understanding business requirement is a key success factor in this area. alizz Islamic bank was founded in November 2012 following the Royal Decree No 69/2012 and started operations in September 2013. The bank provides retail and corporate finance through branches, online, and mobile devices. The bank offers customers an enriching banking experience designed for today's modern world and is focused on its investments on the valuable human capital and superior technology.

The bank aims to serve both corporate and retail customers in Oman through transparent processes, innovative Islamic products teamed with exceptional and responsive customer service. While highlighting the human resources strategy at the bank, he said, "alizz Islamic bank believes in strengthening its intellectual capital through specific development programmes, creating a lasting performance culture and introducing best practices to enhance the level of employee's productivity". The human resources division implemented HR policies, procedures and practices at the national and international standard. Furthermore, the bank shows our strong commitment to development of nationals with a high Omanisation ratio since the bank's establishment, he said in an interview to Observer.

"The human resource department of alizz Islamic bank is committed to creating a welcoming work environment within alizz team and being effective business partner", he said. Referring to improving the capability of the bank's human resources, he said, "Well; first-comes-first: Planning. We identify our goals of talent development; for instance, the domain of Islamic banking and compliance to Sharia law. We prioritize our target group based on business need and strategize awareness campaigns and knowledge partaking plans. We also ensure utilizing the available technology in offering the knowledge based content in an attractive and effective manner.

We optimize the use of resources through internal workshops and knowledge sharing session conducted by our internal expertise in Sharia and Islamic finance". When asked about to what extend the human resources in alizz Islamic bank is using the technology to carry-out operations, he said, "the use of information technology in the human resources management has largely changed the way business is conducted. Human intervention and judgement remains the most important element in managing HR, but the use of technology has helped a lot in reducing workload from HR staff when we speak about data management, payroll and benefit, workflow processes... etc.

We use self-services and manager self-service modules to swift our communication and work flow. We are also in process of introducing (e-learning) to leverage our staff training activity". We keep our eyes open to the development in this regard and will always try to utilize technology as far as it provide value addition to the quality of our services, Al Balushi said. Human resources have emerged to become a business partner providing all the necessary aid to the most valuable assets of any organisation "people". The role has changed from being administrative paper pushing to become more strategic and proactive in terms of sourcing the best talents, well planning for the competency development and welfare of staff, and above all, participate in creating a team spirit within the organisation.

According to al Balushi, Human resources professionals have to keep this always in their eye site because this will help embrace a successful career and encourage them to bring-in initiatives. He said that 30 per cent of the workforce in alizz bank is females. Some of them are heading key roles in and, in fact females are present equally in all levels of the organisation from senior management and below. "Some of the significant decisions in the inception of our bank were taken by our female colleagues", he said.

While speaking about the upside and downside of being a chief human resources officer of a new Islamic bank in the Sultanate, he said, "In the upside I get positive energy from the mix of challenging environment, high demand for sourcing and developing and retaining talents, building teams and the high strive to support business to achieve targets; all together, produce energy and make a good derive to work hard. I wouldn't count any downside as I feel challenges make life meaningful and adds up to the joy of life. It won't be interesting without challenges". About the main features of performance management system in alizz Islamic bank, he said, that one of the success factors for any organisation is to create performance culture; of course, management has to put in place the main outline and objective for it.

© Oman Daily Observer 2015

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