Uplifting the next generation of talent
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Albert Einstein’s message more than 60 years ago, emphasising the importance of the younger generation, remains remarkably relevant today. As the business world evolves faster than any previous era in human history, the role of the younger generations is becoming increasingly vital.
As the world of business undergoes profound change, steered by advances in technology, changing consumer behavior, and a global emphasis on sustainability, Gen Z and Gen Alpha emerge as pivotal players. These digital natives represent the future, not only as consumers, but as the next innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders who will mold the business sphere.
But to truly harness their potential, businesses must create an environment that nurtures and supports these burgeoning talents.
As part of mentl’s partnership with General Motors on ‘The Road to Equity’ we sat down with Monica Hernandez, Director of Human Resources GM AMEO and Basant Osman, Human Resources Director GM Egypt, to discuss how a culture that not only appreciates diversity but actively cultivates it, is integral to innovation.
Monica Hernandez – Director of Human Resources GM AMEO
How important is the next generation of talent to the world of business, and to GM in particular?
Incoming talent brings in fresh thinking, new perspectives, and a renewed sense of energy to the workplace that is invaluable. In today’s dynamic work environment, it is crucial for leaders to foster a workplace that accommodates diversity in thought through promoting a culture of inclusion and equity, that benefits the next generation of the workforce.
At General Motors – through immersive learning programs, mentorship opportunities, and professional development, we welcome new talent, tapping into their full potential. Ultimately, we are building a stronger and more engaged team to uplift young team members with the shared aim of propelling us closer to realising our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.
What initiatives has General Motors put in place to support the professional development of young talent interested in mobility solutions?
We have engaged in multiple partnerships with academic and governmental organizations to nurture STEM and wider professional capabilities across the region’s youth. Contributions span our senior leadership offering industry insights, creating platforms for discussion and learning, as well as providing driven individuals on-ground experience at our African and Middle Eastern operations to support career opportunities in the fields of technology and mobility.
This focus has seen us work alongside the Arab Youth Centre (AYC) where our senior leadership hosted discussions and webinars on diversity, equity and inclusion, future mobility, connectivity, manufacturing, and safety.
Can you describe the culture at General Motors and how it contributes to uplifting the next generation of talent?
At General Motors, we pride ourselves on our One Team mentality, which I feel is a much-needed cultural shift within a traditionally male-dominated industry. We recognise that when individuals feel psychologically safe to bring their full selves at work, we think outside the box. It has been proven, repeatedly, that fostering an inclusive workspace drives greater business success and innovation – leaving people healthier and happier as a result.
We recognise the importance of developing and maintaining a diverse, gender-balanced and multi-generational employee base, and are laser-focused on accelerating women in leadership, as emphasised by our pledge to the UAE Gender Balance Council’s efforts toward SDG 5.
Moreover, bringing in external insight to drive best practice is also key in this space, which we saw come to life through our collaboration with Stanford University, enabling us to introduce the Women in Data Science virtual event to the UAE for the first time. This offered a platform for women in STEM roles across our operations, to share their experiences, uplift and upskill one another irrespective of age.
How does GM ensure a diverse range of perspectives and ideas in developing future mobility solutions?
We are challenging the foundations of our industry through our world-class vehicles, cutting-edge tech, and wholly reimagined customer experiences, underpinned by the understanding that innovation is a team sport. While at General Motors we have the skill, will and scale that has driven our progress towards our vision, the power of partnering with startups is undeniable.
Examples of this are plentiful. In the UAE, we signed an MoU with the local start-up, Al Wegdaniya Transport, to serve the demand for electric vehicle (EV) leasing spanning their government and corporate clientele. In addition to this, we are working with Emirates Post Group via another MoU with BrightDrop Solutions LLC, a new business from General Motors, to aid in reimagining the commercial delivery and logistics industry for an all-electric future. In Egypt, we announced a MOU with our distributor, Al Mansour, to explore how to industrialize EVs, as well as support the future mobility entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Broadening our industry lens are our ongoing public-private partnerships with the likes of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and the Sharjah Advanced Industry Accelerator programme in the UAE by Sharjah Research and Technology Innovation Park, that facilitate partnerships between start-ups and its industry partners, including us at General Motors. It is through these diverse channels of cross-industry work that we can remain agile, and bring in wider insights that will champion a shift in regional mobility.
Basant Osman – Human Resources Director GM Egypt
Can you share some success stories of young talents who have significantly contributed to GM’s progress in mobility solutions in Egypt?
Representation in the industry comes with a diverse array of talent being given an equal say in setting and achieving the future of mobility. Looking inwards, our push towards inclusivity is driven from the very top in Egypt, with Sharon Nishi taking the helm, as Chair and Managing Director in the market.
Further to this, we bring in, both, young graduates to take on positions across our retail and maintenance operations, while also seeking out quality young female talents to showcase their prowess within the engineering departments in a bid to drive further inclusivity, while sourcing candidates from the Gen Z cohort. Additionally, we launched a Women in Manufacturing support group to further empower young and female employees to continue pursuing and developing their STEM careers, accelerating us forward towards realizing our vision of the future of mobility.
How are the leadership strategies of leaders being adapted to engage, motivate, and retain Gen Z talent?
We want to grow our thriving workforce in the market, as well as nurture and retain the skillset brought to the table by our Gen Z employees. To keep them engaged and curate a cross-functional understanding of our business, we have launched job rotational programs, stretch assignments and set up job shadowing opportunities. In doing so, we hope to motivate our newest generation of employees as they connect with different team members and take on insights from a broad spectrum of team members. We also make it a point to welcome a diverse spectrum of candidates for consideration for open roles, barring preference based on age or ability.
Can you share any successful initiatives, programs and partnerships at GM that have effectively bridged the gap between Gen Z talent and senior leadership?
To encourage seamless communication despite potential age gaps within our employees, we have in place multiple internal programs that serve as a platform for heighted understanding and collaboration within our teams. Amongst these initiatives are the women in development program, unconscious bias behavior trainings, regular surveys to keep a finger on the pulse of our team sentiment and regular meetings with senior leaders and various cohorts to encourage open dialogue. We have also appointed dedicated GM Culture Ambassadors to uphold the One Team spirit across all workstreams.
In fact, GM Egypt was recently recognised by LinkedIn, ranked amongst the Top 10 Best Workplaces to grow a career in Egypt. The annual list utilizes LinkedIn data to measure career progression, and features companies that prioritize their employees’ long-term success and offer ample opportunities for professional growth. This recognition is a testament to our dedication towards fostering an environment where employees can thrive in their careers.
Signing a pledge with the AMCHAM in Egypt “Climate to Equal”, sees us focusing on closing the gap of the gender diversity, adding more emphasis on green talents and green jobs, while walking the talk, when it comes to the DEI pillar GM is focusing on.
In addition to these efforts, GM Egypt created a committee for “WiM” Women in Manufacturing that works toward a world in which a diverse and inclusive manufacturing sector offers equitable opportunities and rewarding careers for all employees. It welcomes recently hired women, within manufacturing and engineering roles, as well as those who directly work in the material handling teams, to provide support to each other.
WiM is committed to a culture of inclusion that acknowledges and respects our differences while fostering a genuinely welcoming community where everyone can feel that they belong. It also allows members to bring a new perspective to the industry and ensures career development for women in the organisation, while working to elevate their psychological safety in a male dominant environment.