Building Skills and
for the Future

In-Person | 9 – 10 May 2024
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Day 1: 09.00 – 17.00 GST
Day 2: 08:00 – 14.00 GST


Building future skills and talent in organisations in the Gulf region is a pressing challenge and opportunity. While there are numerous initiatives and efforts underway, organisations need to continually adapt their strategies to stay competitive in the evolving landscape of the Gulf region’s business environment.

Over the course of two-days, and underpinned by CRF’s research Reskilling for Sustainable Growth, this conference will explore the multi-faceted challenge through the lens of:

  • how to develop emerging local talent
  • the digital skills required for the future
  • how technology can be utilised to leverage existing talent
  • creating an inclusive culture
  • the collaboration required between Government, education and the private sector

Blending insights from a range of perspectives the event will ensure learning, knowledge sharing and practical application supported by numerous networking opportunities where approaches can be discussed.

Who is this event for?

Senior HR and business leaders in the Gulf with interest and responsibility for talent development, acquisition, learning, career paths and future skills.

Please note: the event is aimed at in-house HR and business professionals. Unfortunately we will not be accepting registrations for agencies, consultants or vendors.

IN-PERSON: Thursday 9 – Friday 10 May 2024 (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

If you are interested to attend this event, please contact

If you would like to amend or cancel your booking please contact


Ali Abdulla

UAE Country Chair, Petrofac

Ali Abdulla been working for IOC and service providers for more than 37 years, started his career with American Oil Company in 1987 until 1998, he joined BP in 1998 until 2010 as integrity Manager, Y2K Manager, Marine LPG and condensate terminal Manager and finally as HSSE Manager. as a corporate HSSEIA Manager he worked For Petrofac Middle East North Africa and Commonwealth Independent States. Since 2010 his journey with Petrofac began with Engineering and Production Services (EPS) East as HSSIA Director, then Regional VP HSSEIA managing HSSEIA and support Petrofac to secure projects in the Gulf Region and globally including Iraq, in 2018 heading Petrofac global Engineering & Construction as SVP of HSSEIA. In June 2020 as UAE Country Chair, he was tasked to manage and support all Petrofac teams in current and new EPC projects, new energy service for renewable projects and supporting Petrofac operation/maintenance service provider team. Ali has been exposed to a wide range of Health, Safety & Environmental Systems Management along with Operation & Maintenance, Engineering, Projects, Integrity, and Marine.

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Mohammed Al Jasser

Former Assistant Minister, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development

His Excellency. Mohammed Al Jasser is an experienced globally-oriented leader with a proven record of accomplishment through positive influence and meaningful impact. He is currently the Chairman of Cipher, a cybersecurity firm in Saudi Arabia. Previously, he served for four years as the Assistant Minister, at the Ministry of Human Resources & Social Development. As the Chief Transformation and Operating Officer of the Ministry, he led Branch Network, Customer Experience, Shared Services, HR, Digital Transformation as well as Privatisation and Outsourcing Programme. Al Jasser is a member of several steering Committees including Digital Transformation, Customer Experience, and Internal Audit. He also chairs several Ministry wide Committees including GRC, Cyber Security, and Data Strategy and Management.

Before joining the Ministry, HE Al Jasser held many positions in his 22 years of private sector career including Managing Director for Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Saudi Arabia. Managing Director (CEO) of Inma Technologies, a fully-owned subsidiary of AlTurki Holding. Vice President for Enterprise Business Unit at Saudi Telecommunication Company (STC) and he was a Board Member and Chairman of NRC Committee at Awal, an STC subsidiary, currently branded as STC Solutions Company. HE worked with STC, for more than 6 years, after a career of 10 years with multinational companies in the ICT industry such as Motorola, Ericsson, and Cisco.

HE obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Minor in Mathematics from Seattle University, USA, in 1997, an Executive MBA in 2011 from University of Leicester, UK. HE is currently seeking an executive master’s degree in change at Instead Business School where has been an alumnus via executive education since 2003, he is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School (HBS) since 2015. Al Jasser has been a YPO member since July 2021, and IMD Business School alumnus since December 2021. HE Al Jasser is an Eisenhower Fellow since May 2009, and currently serves as Chairman of Eisenhower Fellowship Nominating Committee in Saudi Arabia. In addition, he served as a board member and Chairman for National E-Learning Center and National Business Center.

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Mohammad Almarzooqi

Head of Talent, Group Finance, Mubadala

Mohammad joined Mubadala in June 2019 and is currently Head of Talent within Group Finance. With 18 years experience, including 14 years leading teams and being part of Executive Leadership teams. Prior to joining Mubadala, Mohammad was with Dubai Petroleum Company (formerly ConocoPhillips) where he led a number of strategic initiatives as a Petroleum Engineer, Special Projects Manager and was instrumental to the build out of its HR Function. He later joined First Abu Dhabi Bank where he established the Bank’s Org Design function and was then seconded to their financial services company – Dubai First, where he independently led the HR function. Mohammad graduated with an MBA from the University of Dubai and Undergraduate B.Sc in Petroleum Engineering and Economics from Colorado School of Mines.

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Alia Al Serkal

Head of People Learning and Growth, du

Dr. Alia Al Serkal is a seasoned professional who has been with Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company – du since 2007. As a key leader, she spearheads talent development initiatives, cultivates leadership capabilities, identifies and nurtures successors for pivotal roles, and champions Emiratisation efforts. Moreover, she plays a pivotal role in driving cultural transformation within the organisation. Prior to this tenure, Dr. Al Serkal served as a Senior Psychologist at Emirates Airline, where she meticulously assessed airline staff during recruitment and promotion processes, alongside conducting psychological evaluations in disciplinary and performance-related cases. With a solid foundation in psychology, Dr. Al Serkal transitioned into the role of Director of Talent Acquisition upon joining du, where she revolutionised recruitment processes by introducing psychometric testing and assessment centres. She held various HR responsibilities before assuming her current position in 2018, where she continues to drive impactful initiatives.

Among Dr. Al Serkal’s notable career achievements is her pioneering effort in transitioning traditional learning methods to digital platforms, democratising access to learning resources and empowering employees to drive their own career growth. She holds a PhD in Psychology from the University of Leeds, along with degrees from esteemed institutions such as the University of Stirling, University of Barcelona, and University of Wales, Bangor. Dr. Al Serkal is a Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society, an Associate Certified Coach, and a member of the International Coaching Federation. Additionally, she is a founding committee member of the International Psychology Conference Dubai.

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Bev Cunningham

Chief People Officer, Europe, Ricoh

With over 15 years operating at C-level in Global organisations, Bev prides bringing energy, dynamism and a sharp focus to all she does. Bev’s background is in Human Resources with a particular emphasis on Strategic Workforce Planning, Talent Development and Employee Engagement. Her experience spans multiple sectors including IT Services, Technology, FMCG and Manufacturing. Her achievements are based on her having a clear vision; that creating the right culture and leadership style enables people to grow and develop as their organisation transforms, helping to ensure they remain relevant, engaged and successful.

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Richard Hargreaves

Managing Director, CRF

Richard is responsible for the sustainable growth of CRF through delivering world-class HR content, facilitating knowledge exchange between HR professionals, focussing on future ventures and developing a great team. Prior to this role Richard was Commercial Director across CRF and PARC and previously the EMEA Sponsorship Director at The Economist Group.

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John Whelan MBE

Director, CRF

John Whelan is a Director at Corporate Research Forum. Formerly UK HR Director of BAE Systems, the FTSE 100 defence, security, and aerospace company, John’s experience and strengths lie in business and HR Transformation, Organisation Development and Employee Relations. Prior to joining BAE, he held a variety of HR roles in engineering, technology and manufacturing businesses across the telecommunications and semi-conductor industries including Matra-Marconi Space where he was HR Director for the UK and, latterly, Group HRD.

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Prof. Patrick Wright

Chair, Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina

Patrick Wright is Thomas C. Vandiver Bicentennial Chair in the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, the Founder and former Director of the Center for Executive Succession, and the Chair of the Department of Management. Prior to joining USC he has served on the faculties at Cornell University, Texas A&M University and the University of Notre Dame. Professor Wright teaches, conducts research, and consults in the area of Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM), particularly focusing on how firms use people as a source of competitive advantage, the changing nature of the Chief HR Officer role, and the challenges and best practices in CEO succession. According to Google Scholar he is the fourth most cited faculty member at USC. He is the past Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Management.

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8.30 | Registration Open, Networking and Coffee
9.00 | Conference Introduction, Richard Hargreaves, Managing Director, CRF
9.15 | In Conversation with His Excellency Mohammed Al Jasser, former Asst Minister, Ministry of HR and Social Development, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with Richard Hargreaves, Managing Director, CRF
10.00 | The Business Imperative to Reskill, CRF Research, John Whelan, Director, CRF
10.50 | Reskilling: From Legacy Manufacturing to Future-Focussed Tech Business Ricoh Case Study, Bev Cunningham, Chief People Officer, Ricoh
11.20 | Break
11.40 | The Impact of AI and Emerging Technologies on Reskilling, Prof. Patrick Wright, Thomas C. Vandiver Bicentennial Chair, University of South Carolina
12.40 | Lunch
13.45 | Masterclass Session 1 (see below)
14.45 | Break
15.00 | Masterclass Session 2 (see below)
16.10 | Day One Closing Keynote, Ali Abdulla, UAE Country Chair, Petrofac
16.45 | Drinks and Canapé Reception
8.30 | Networking and Coffee
9.00 | Welcome Back and Day 1 Recap
9.25 | Shaping the Skills for the Future, Mohammad Almarzooqi, Head of Talent, Group Finance, Mubadala
9.55 | Creating a Culture of Learning du Case Study, Alia Al Serkal, Head of People Learning and Growth, People Learning and Growth, du
11.00 | Break
11.20 | Critical HR Capabilities for the Future, Prof. Patrick Wright, Thomas C. Vandiver Bicentennial Chair, University of South Carolina
11.50 | The Lost Art of Strategic Workforce Planning: A Tool for Success, John Whelan, Director, CRF
12.20 | Summary and Conference Close, Richard Hargreaves, Managing Director and Rosanna Neary, Member Engagement Manager, CRF
12.30 | Lunch
13.30 | End

Conference Masterclasses

These masterclasses, hosted by CRF Partners are included within the conference on the afternoon of Day 1. Attendees should attend TWO masterclasses. When registering your attendance, please indicate which TWO masterclasses you would like to attend.

Choose from:

Building Talent from Within to Deliver Tomorrow’s Strategic Vision

AI Demystified – Shaping the Near Future of Work

A Seat at the Table: Elevating Influence and the Strategic Role of HR and L&D

Choose from:

5 Conversations – How to Transform Trust, Engagement and Performance

AI-driven Solutions for the Workplace – Balancing Opportunities and Risks

Assessing and Selecting HR’s Future Leaders


Fairmont Bab Al Bahr
Khor Al Maqta, PO Box 114304
Abu Dhabi, UAE

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