Are organizations really focused on learning and developing the talent pool that they have?

For any organization the competitive edge, in today’s business environment, comes down to the culture and the strategy it has. Culture is developed through the employees or talents an organization has and not through its products or services.

In the educational sector one would assume that this aspect of organizational development would be a given based on the premise that the core business of any educational institution is to develop talent that makes a significant impact in business. Yet, is this really taking place?

In the usual for-profit organizations, where profitability is the end objective of all activities, learning is often lost in the daily rush of what needs to get done. Just to clarify learning and training are two different things.  As a result of not having learning in focus organizations end up losing sight of developing its critical asset—people.

Do Islamic finance educational institutions have the same issue?

Having now spent over five years in this sector my opinion is that the Islamic finance educational institutions have the same malaise as their regular educational counterparts as well as their commercial industry counterparts. The malaise is one of continuing to do what has been done and keep hoping the results are different.

The Islamic finance industry now has a fair number of tech based education service providers in addition to the usual brick & mortar institutions. All of which have come about in the last decade and a half due to the growth of this industry. Yet none of these organizations are, as yet, able to showcase the employee learning benefit that is directly co-related to the institutions business. Whilst both education and professional training requirements, in the industry, has grown there still lacks a concise talent development plan based on learning development that comes through the job role. The 2015 report—
The Human Capital Challenge: Shaping the Future—by Simply Sharia
Human Capital
is an eye-opening read on this context.

Is it difficult to have learning-at-work in the educational institutions?

The environment, for educational institutions, has undergone drastic changes in the past six to eight years. Tech adoption has impacted on the behaviour and on the expectations of value in the educational sector. This directly impacts the business models employed by educational institutions and its service offerings that it puts out. On the former probably the existing business models aren’t, anymore, able to deliver to the demands of the environment today. On the latter the Islamic finance industry, as a whole including its ancillary services, of which the education sector is one, has yet to take on board these dynamics.

The net result is that there has been a lack of innovation, in developing and delivering education services that aid the industry in going forward and creating significant developments that in turn become the content input for learning, both at an educational level and in professional development.  This is not to be mistaken with the plethora of technical training programmes available for industry professionals and their educational counterparts. The lack of innovation has created a void in the learning development of professionals in developing innovative idea, services and process that directly have significant societal benefits.

Historically all it has created is employee turnover with the same people moving around within the organizations in the industry in a region. As employees leave one organization and go into another, unfortunately, their skills sets and cultural behaviour remains as it were.  They leave simply due to lack of recognition, adequate reward and self-development. Or they remain and start becoming a drag on the organizations efforts in moving forward.

As employees leave they seek re-employment, within the sector with the same skills and process management and leadership techniques. The recruiting organizations end up filling in their manpower requirement based on archaic functional job requirements and not based on aptitude, attitude and leadership competency which are based on their business strategy. End result is that the employee obtains a slightly higher trades salary and the organization fills in its headcount with the hope that the outputs would be obtained.

Alas in today’s environment is this a sustainable long-term solution?

Have the courage to disrupt the norm

The fear of attempting the new has to be harnessed and the only way to do so is to acknowledge it and collaborate with a win-win end benefit in mind. The commercial organizations of the industry and educational institutions have to combine in order to create a learning environment at both places with the single-minded objective of developing their respective talent pool. Without this they would soon find they are unable to attract quality employee talent.

Perhaps I am being harsh in my assessment.

In my end of the world, as I scan the region for examples of innovative, home-grown, talent focused strategic initiatives that clearly demonstrate a focused business continuity plan in play; I find significant examples in the core STEM sectors. Examples that create strong learning environments for employees and through which innovative initiatives are generated as services for the organizations customers.

But in the Islamic finance education sector there seems to be a bit of vacuum
where such developments are concerned.

Organizations that operate in the higher education and professional development sectors have a significant responsibility in developing and providing a learning environment that clearly aids its employees and customers to provide innovative approaches to their respective businesses.

Without accepting, acknowledging and acting on this responsibility an organization cannot expect to be successful and sustainable in the long run.



Refreshing Education in Islamic Finance

Article By: Daud Vicary Abdullah

Islamic Finance and Education

As some of you may be aware I am making a slight career change starting in the beginning of August.  This involves my running an Institution of Higher Education dedicated solely to Islamic Finance.  As a result of this impending change, I thought that it may be very worthwhile to explore the area of Education once again, to see if I needed to do any recalibration with regard to the ideas that I started sharing with you about six months ago.

I still believe strongly that it is Education that will alter Perceptions about Islamic Finance. I also believe that Education takes place at many levels and needs to speak to the listening of the audience.

You will recall that I indicated three prime levels.

  1. The first at Industry Thought Leader and Scholar level so as to ensure momentum with fresh ideas is maintained.
  2. The second at Industry and Interested Practitioner level so that the ideas may be executed more easily.
  3. The third, at the General Public level, starting with Primary School children, so that as many as possible get the chance to understand the value proposition of Islamic Finance.

My new role will certainly allow me to have a good run at levels one and two as the Institution I will be heading is primarily targeting post-graduate research and producing Chartered professionals who are ready to add value to the industry.

My proposed opening address to both faculty and students will cover the 4 P’s:-

  1. People
  2. Participation
  3. Performance
  4. Process

In particular, I will be highlighting the need to attract and retain the best People,  both students and Faculty.  I will be seeking for a spirit of Partcipation between, students, staff, industry practitioners, regulators and other centres of academia so that the dots can be joined up. I will lay down clear expectations with regard to Performance (I come from the school of thought where “you cannot manage what you cannot measure.” I will also be ensuring that transparent processes are in place to support the first three P’s!

To this end, dear readers, as industry participants, I will need your help and contributions in a couple of areas.
Here are TWO QUESTIONS for you:

  1. Firstly, I would like to hear what your priorities are with regard to producing competent industry professionals who can hit the road running and make an immediate contribution to your business.
    — What skills do they need to possess?
    — What, from your point of view, would  make them really useful?
  2. Secondly, with regard to research, what are the key topics that need to be investigated and researched by Master’s and Doctoral students in order to make a direct contribution to the improvement of the Islamic Finance Industry?

I would really appreciate your input so that you can help me to assess the scale of the job in hand.

As ever, there is much to do and not a moment to lose.