Generations Y and Z dominate Saudi Arabia’s 34 million population, and this month, Aramco named its 16 employees — from across its different organizations and all aged under 35 — chosen to serve on the company’s seventh Young Leaders Advisory Board (YLAB).
Aramco — the world’s largest integrated oil and gas company — recognized in 2011 that it operates from a country with a rising younger citizenship. With this in mind, it founded YLAB to capitalize on incorporating “youth” into its corporate strategy. Through its workstreams of youth engagement, deep dive studies, and advisory services, YLAB serves as a bridge between Aramco’s management and our younger workers.
YLAB has driven change, accelerated transformation, and incorporated a youth perspective by supporting initiatives such as HR transformation, the Downstream retail project, and digital transformation. Significantly, YLAB has facilitated support and communication of Aramco’s corporate strategic messaging to its younger employees. The new cohort of four full-timer and 12 part-time members will serve voluntarily in addition to their work roles for the YLAB’s coming 18-month term. Outgoing board member Abdulgader A. Alalli, a geophysicist in the Geophysical Imaging Department, said Aramco has a clear vision for its future.
“YLAB advises Aramco’s Strategy Council and organization on strategy, innovation, people and policies, as well as training and development,” said Alalli. “Aramco ensures its future horizon includes the voices of its young professionals.”
A sense of competition
Every 18 months, from hundreds of employees under age 35 who applied to be YLAB members, 60 attend a multi-day academy where they work in teams to present to a panel of judges and discuss solutions on some of the company’s biggest management matters. Judging on both days, Strategic Planning Department director Khalil H. Arnaout described today’s “no one size fits all” leadership needs.
“Like any organization, we look for traits such as insightful thinking, proactive team players, and adherence to our values. However, Aramco is a large global company and needs a broad range of talented leaders,” said Arnaout.
We need leaders to bring success to all areas of our business, which equates to fitting the best type of knowledge and skills to different business needs.
— Khalil H. Arnaout
Also sitting on one of this year’s judging panels was HR Systems Support director Haithem A. Al Balawi, Diversity and Inclusion Division administrator Reema H. Siyam, and Portfolio and Decision Support Department consultant Haytham A. Saati.
The second judging panel included assistant treasurer Nawaf K. Aldabal, Wisayah Holding general manager Sheila O. Ruwaily, and HR planning and performance management specialist Razan Jandali.
Gen Y and Z workplace
Workplaces around the globe are being increasingly joined by Generation Y — those born during the 1980s and early 1990s, and also known as millennials — and older members of Generation Z, those born from 1995 onward. International studies find both these generations share much in common, such as less predictable job markets.
Generation Z grew up in the digital age, and are therefore regarded as true digital natives. This generation is also known to be truly dynamic, agile, and driven by impact. There are, however, distinct differences between Saudi youth and their peers in other countries; a 2014 study in-Kingdom found family is central to a young Saudi’s life.
Younger Saudis also tend to regard economic models for the Kingdom as those countries maintaining traditional culture, such as Japan. With YLAB members all under 35, they fall within both generations Y and Z, and outgoing YLAB member Strategy Planning Department analyst Sarah H. Shabib said these generations often have a different perspective on careers and how to define success in life, and success in the workforce.
“All over the world, but perhaps in Saudi Arabia even more so, younger generations have a more positive attitude toward technology integration in the workplace and flexible working arrangements,” said Shabib. “It is potentially why these younger generations were more comfortable with the disruptions in work culture that was caused by COVID-19,” she added.
Top Page Photo Caption: A technical program team from the Khurais Producing Department delivered a one-day presentation to the World Economic Forum judging panel on how Khurais has optimized IR 4.0 initiatives throughout its operations by embracing IR 4.0 solutions across the entire chain, from the oil field’s subsurface to the oil facilities