People-centric approach underpins SABIC’s work culture

Abdulaziz Al-Oudan, EVP, Corporate Human Resources, SABIC, discusses the initiatives that make SABIC an employer of choice.
By: | January 12, 2023

Economic challenges, geopolitical tensions, climate change, resource scarcity, new disruptive technologies, demographics and social change, and increasing urbanisation are just some of the trends, or “megatrends” that are transforming both internal industry conditions and our external operating environment.

To thrive, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) aims to remain agile, proactive, and visionary – and this, in turn, requires a leadership ethos that is embedded in our values throughout the organisation. In 2022, our leaders at all levels stepped up their strategic engagement, focusing on transparent communication, authenticity, and our employees’ wellbeing.

To allow leaders at all levels, individually and collectively, to reach their peak collective potential, we emphasised culture transformation through our overarching leadership framework, the SABIC Leadership Way (SLW).

To support SLW, we refreshed our in-person core leadership offerings in 2022. The new curricula were delivered for the first time in a hybrid format to more than 140 future leaders in partnership with world-class business schools. Alternatives to formal classroom training have also accelerated development including self-assessments, detailed talent review processes – including 360-degree reviews where employees are encouraged to seek feedback from peers, juniors, seniors, and their line managers – and strengthening talent pipeline through cross-functional talent communities.

Our success as a company starts with our employees; they drive our performance and set us on the path for sustainable growth. To build and engage the multi-generational workforce, we need to support our growth ambitions, offer a consistent employee value proposition and maintain our standing as an employer of choice. SABIC’s Corporate Human Resources is dedicated to creating a work culture that encourages continuous learning, provides exceptional career opportunities, and offers attractive rewards and recognition for performance.

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“Our success as a company starts with our employees; they drive our performance and set us on the path for sustainable growth.” – Abdulaziz Al-Oudan, Executive Vice President, Corporate Human Resources, SABIC.

We place a strong emphasis on growing internal talent through the continuation of our mentoring programme and the development of in-house coaching capability. The Global Mentoring programme grew in 2022 with over 650 formal relations being tracked while an additional 14 professional ‘in-house’ coaches were accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

2022 also saw our dedicated Asia Leadership Acceleration Programme (ALAP), a two-year programme in the Rest of Asia region, become SABIC’s flagship leadership development programme. This year, the second cohort of enrollees will graduate from the programme.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the emerging “post-pandemic” context have pressed home the importance of the intangible elements of a working life – aspects like employee happiness and morale, health and wellbeing, a sense of engagement and connection with our work and organisation. SABIC has placed increasing importance on these aspects, and with our ‘New Norm’ Initiative, which was launched in October 2020, we have been transforming the way we work to prepare ourselves for a more global and collaborative future.

We also instituted several initiatives that promote employee wellbeing on an individual level. In Asia, SABIC launched an internal campaign in China in April to help ease anxiety and lift morale of our employees during the prolonged lockdown in Shanghai. We also created a website for our global employees that provides access to all information on available benefits in health, wealth, wellness, and work-life balance.

Listening and responding to our employees is an essential component of our approach. Continuous engagement with our employees helps us maintain trust and a feeling of family. We do so through a variety of methods such as the annual Global Employee Town Hall, held in-person in Riyadh and virtually for employees from all regions.

The capabilities of our people are a textbook example of mutual interest: for SABIC, it determines the level of innovation and creativity within our organisation; for our employees, it creates pathways for professional development and career advancement. Our approach to capability and capacity building also goes beyond our employees to reach stakeholders in the communities in which we work.

Our activities in 2022 include training SABIC scholarship students (future potential employees) on safety, honouring the Saudi team that won at the International Science and Engineering Fair 2022, and signing a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Regional Center of Quality and Excellence in Education (RCQE), which works under the auspices of the UNESCO, to collaborate on developing human capabilities in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, SABIC signed a memorandum of cooperation with the High Commission for Industrial Security (HCIS) to provide a framework for the exchange of experiences and develop a mechanism for collaboration in areas related to industrial security.

Today, SABIC’s Young Leadership Council (SYLC) empowers SABIC’s future global leaders and young talent to engage with SABIC’s executive leadership team, influence future business decisions, create and drive a diverse organisational culture, and deliver business value. SYLC maintains a diverse and inclusive culture by annually changing the council’s six members. This year, SYLC priorities were updated (and endorsed by the CEO) to include People Engagement, Organisation Behaviours, and Business and Industry Engagement.

About the author: Abdulaziz Al-Oudan is Executive Vice President, Corporate Human Resources, at the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC).