Interview with Dr. Tarek Hassan ~ HR Consultant, Certified Facilitator, Trainer, Assessor and Coach

Edited by: Yara Mohamed, Mona Timor Shehata

Publisher: Amira Haytham

Interviewer: Dina Marei

“I am not looking for quick wins and profits, but long-term relationships. Such a relationship is built with trust and transparency. I consider myself a true strategic partner to each of my clients…”

Dr. Tarek Hassan

Dr. Tarek Hassan is currently a freelancer Trainer, Facilitator, HR Consultant and certified Personality Assessor and Coach. He used to chair globally Corporate HR directorate for over 25 years. He has thirty years of progressive experiences, covering Strategic and Operational Human Resources functions and initiatives. He was deeply involved in international recruitment for both blue and white collars up to the C-grades in over 28 countries. His core specialties are corporate performance, change management, leadership and management, organizational development, organizational re-structuring, start-up operations, learning organizations, career management, interpersonal development, coaching, personality profile assessment, succession planning, and motivation schemes.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Kindly tell us about the transformation from being an HR director for one company to overseeing the HR functions in different companies in different industries.

Dr. Tarek Hassan: The starting point was when I was promoted to be the Corporate HR Director for a giant regional group consisting of 21 sister companies. I was overseeing the whole HR functions group-wise across many borders. Of course, it was very challenging, but very stimulating, as well. I believe that if you want to be a strong leader, you have to select strong assistants, as well, which I did. To be successful in such a role, I had discipline and a very strict schedule. I also delegated authorities and I used Balanced Score Cards to monitor different functions.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: As a freelancer HR Consultant, Assessor and Coach, how do you establish “long-term relationships” with your clients?

Dr. Tarek Hassan: I am not looking for quick wins and profits, but long-term relationships. Such a relationship is built with trust and transparency. I consider myself a true strategic partner to each of my clients. I do root-cause analysis for any challenge they face, and I offer recommendations without considering what is in it for me. Even after my projects end, I keep customer relationship management, to maintain the deliverables of the project and ensure the sustainability of business, thus maintaining consultant-client relationship.

HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: From your profession, what are the qualifications of a professional trainer? And with the increasing number of trainers, how can one determine who is a fraud?

Dr. Tarek Hassan: Your question is twofold. Firstly, the qualifications of a professional trainer are many. Among which are the following:

  • Subject expert
  • Hands-on experience in the business—not theoretical
  • Knowledgeable
  • Insightful
  • Mature
  • Awareness of different learning styles
  • Master of the classroom
  • Understanding of human dimensions
  • Communication skills, including body language
  • Continuously up-to-date
  • Is able to customize topics based on the targeted trainees
  • Masters the “action learning techniques”, where the trainer is working as a facilitator not a presenter
  • Well-prepared and well-rehearsed before each training, even if he masters the subject, and has given it several times

Secondly, how to know who is a fraud? The answer is the following: Lies are short-lived. At our training industry, it is much of a circle. Good or bad reputation is like a snowball; it becomes bigger and bigger as it rolls. Our profession is about “Word of Mouth”; a trainee tells another about his/her experience with a trainer.

Fraud trainers are shortsighted and also short-lived in our industry.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Each industry has its own challenges. What are the challenges of an HR department inside hospitals business? And why most of the best hospitals are managed by doctors?

Dr. Tarek Hassan: The answer to the first part of your question: The main challenge HR Professionals are facing is the big guy himself; the chairman/CEO or COO himself. The perception of the HR as a cost center is misleading and dominant. We partially bear the fault, as HR professionals, because we fail to realize our importance. To overcome this issue, and for any HR professional to be different and unique, four skills have to be acquired:

  • Knowing his industry business acronym
  • Dealing with numbers and mastering HR analytics; what you cannot measure you cannot manage.
  • IT savvy
  • Excellent communication skills

As for the second part of your question: Actually, it is only in Egypt that most of the GM of hospitals are doctors. I lived for several years in the Gulf and I found that most of the GM/COO are non-medical professionals, and usually have a finance background, while the second position in the hierarchy is a doctor acting as Medical Director, or Chief Medical Officer; CMO.

I do not like to generalize, but it is usually a success when the COO of a hospital is a non-medical professional.

 HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Please advise HR professionals with other fields to study aside from human resources.

Dr. Tarek Hassan: Each HR professional has to know a bit about all other disciplines: Marketing and Sales, TQM, Operations, Finance, and others. It will give him/her insight into the interrelated different functions of any business. Also, he/she needs to know about human dimensions and personalities, in addition to coaching and mentoring.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How far do you think Human Resources Management processes can go as to be flexible with the millennial and the new digital era?

Dr. Tarek Hassan: It can go to an extreme, as long as the HR Professional acquires knowledge in the following fields: Numbers, IT, Business, and Communication. HR is always there to help the market progress, and create a sustainable competitive advantage.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Many employees and professionals consider career shifting. What do you think about this? And from your opinion, why do you think is the reason behind this increase in career shifting?

Dr. Tarek Hassan: Firstly: I support such career shift if any person finds himself/herself reached a plateau or hit a brick wall. I have done so myself. I started as a translator, and worked as one for seven years, then made a complete shift to HR. I advise HR professionals to read a book called “The Career Anchor” by E. Schein.

Secondly: The increase in career shifting is due to the vast, dynamic labor market. Moreover, the new generations are extremely ambitious and have lot of competencies they want to show. Therefore, if they feel that they are stagnant, they look for a career shift.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Being an HR director many years, what advice would you like to give out to employees; and how do you think employees can be encouraged to be more productive and satisfied at work?

 Dr. Tarek Hassan: I need to deliver the message to both the employees and the employers:

Employees: Work smart not hard, and do not strive for quick wins and look under your feet only. You have to be persistent and consider your workplace as your own business.

Employers: Please delegate authorities and treat your employees as your real assets. You will gain much higher profits if employees feel that you genuinely care for them.

Thank you very much for your time, warm hospitality and your very well-crafted questions. I wish for you and your esteemed organization all the best.