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October 2012
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TD Magazine

Learning Is a Journey

Throughout his career, Saud Al-Omair has focused on developing core business skills and gaining credibility through ongoing professional education.

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Saud AL-Omair

Global Learning Manager, Sales and Marketing, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC)

At SABIC, Saud Al-Omair identifies training needs for global sales and marketing staff, works with training providers to develop and monitor training programs, and delivers leadership development programs. Throughout his career, Al-Omair has acquired experience in a variety of specialties such as learning and development, talent management, recruitment and selection, competency-based HR, and succession planning.

Q: What steps did you take to rise in your learning and development (L&D) career, and what lessons did you learn along the way?

Developing a career is like building a facility—you need to start with the foundation. I began my career by first developing my core business skills, and then understanding the principles of adult learning and remaining up-to-date with recent trends in the L&D profession. The most critical aspect is how individual performance contributes to an organization's total performance. I have learned that the workplace learning and performance (WLP) profession requires full dedication, commitment, and business understanding. It takes many years to build this credibility and capability.

Q: You are an avid learner, having completed 25 professional education courses and earning six certifications to date. How has this ongoing development helped you in your career?

I have a strong passion for L&D. Once I gave up an excellent job to gain more time to develop my training capabilities and acquire some certifications. Attending such a variety of courses and achieving these certifications gave me the credibility to help individuals and organizations meet their business goals. Above all, this development has helped me as a WLP professional. Learning is a journey, and I'm still on track.

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Q: What are you most excited about in the profession in Saudi Arabia?

Around 45 percent of the Saudi population is less than 25 years old—it is a young country. For this reason, the Saudi government recently allocated a large portion of its budget for education and training, and the growth was tremendous. For example, the number of government universities grew in only a few years, from eight to 26. Currently more than 110,000 students are studying abroad as part of the King Abdullah Scholarships Program.

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Specialized technical and vocational training institutions also have witnessed a dramatic growth. This profession enables me to benefit from these resources and contribute to developing our nation's human capital, especially the youth.

Q: You have extensive experience in instructional systems design and training facilitation. How have you seen these practices change during the past two decades?

Today's generations in the workforce have different learning needs and preferences. Therefore, blended learning solutions have become an important trend. It's essential for any WLP professional to understand all learning delivery methodologies. Successful organizations now put equal efforts into various methods to meet business, time, location, and employee challenges. E-learning, distance learning, social learning, and other technology-based solutions should be employed, especially for teaching rote skills, while in-class interactive instruction is critical for skills building and learner interactions.

Q: What are your go-to sources for professional inspiration and development?

Internally, I always share best practices with my SABIC colleagues throughout the world. I work within a global team, which gives me access to an abundance of resources.

Externally, I'm keen on attending international events (such as the annual ASTD conference) to learn and network with global L&D professionals and leaders. Above all, I'm an avid reader. I read a lot about leadership, for personal development, and by business gurus such as Jim Collins, Marshall Goldsmith, and Ken Blanchard.

Q: What advice would you give a young L&D professional on how to successfully climb the career ladder?

Work on developing your core business skills. Ensure that you are aware of all new trends by attending global L&D events and networking with WLP professionals. Build credibility and trust within your organization by understanding the business challenges and linking learning initiatives to business goals. Additionally, understand the organization's business culture (values, history, and brand). And remember that learning is a journey, not a destination, so enjoy the ride!

About the Author
The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.
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