A Distinct and Differentiated vision of business and political leadership in UAE

  • Prof Steyn Heckroodt
  • JUN 28 2018
  • Tags Alumni, Business, News

I recently had the opportunity of visiting the Abu Dhabi Louvre Museum. This is part of the Louvre in Paris and a joint project between the Abu Dhabi Emirate, Capital of the UAE, and Paris, France. The aim was to extend the collection of art held by the Louvre in Paris and at the same time, influence the way we view art through the introduction of an Islamic perspective of the world.

It made for a fascinating experience and by all means represents the merging of cultures from across the globe in the most tangible and insightful manner that I have ever observed and experienced.

It begs the question: what is it like to work as a manager or leader in this melting pot of cultures? A world which is home to no less than 218 different nationalities, a plethora of religious and traditional backgrounds and values with the seemingly only common denominator that of wanting a “better” life?

To be honest – at times exciting and awarding, new, different, learning and fresh and at times, frustrating, difficult and hugely challenging.

“This focus on the future, on achievement, on extended and ambitious goals makes for a driven but also exceptionally tolerant working environment.”

If I had to put what I have learnt during the past four years on a balanced scale, I would probably say that the knowledge and experience I gained, far outweighs that which I have brought to this part of the world. Hard to believe, considering that I have, before relocating to Dubai, spent more than 20 years in 17 different countries doing pretty much what I am doing now. So why then the exponential difference in learning acquired and experience gained versus what I already had?

If I can pinpoint one fundamental difference in the current landscape contextualising the world of work that I find myself in versus those from before, it is the vision of the business and political leadership that distinguishes and differentiates them from others.

The country and region focuses almost solely on the future, even in the glorious display of merging worlds through the pathway of arts and history cemented and displayed through the Louvre initiative, understanding history is there to shape the future and not to dabble in the past.

This focus on the future, on achievement, on extended and ambitious goals makes for a driven but also exceptionally tolerant working environment.

To achieve what the country and region is aiming for requires a skills pool from all walks of life, whether it is South Korean engineers building a nuclear power plant, British financial planners setting up banking protocols, Indian Universities prospering here and/or Pilipino and Bangladeshi workers serving the hotel and catering industry, everyone works together, treat one another with respect and focus on achieving the ideal future visualised and communicated by the region’s leaders – business and political.


Find the perfect course for you

Join our community

Keep up to date with the latest news, events and updates from Stellenbosch Business School