Every leader who has coached an intern or mentee will tell you that it's one of the most rewarding things a business person can do. Mark Houghton is the managing partner at Odgers Berndtson, which runs an initiative that offers bright students an insight into the world of leadership.
Odgers Berndtson is an executive search, assessment and development consultancy that helps leading organisations find the boards and executive leadership teams to build and drive their business.
With a network spanning 29 countries, Odgers Berndtson has been delivering results for over 50 years across over 50 sectors. The company started CEOx1Day as a meaningful and memorable experience for leaders that allows them the opportunity to ‘give back’.
Why did you start CEOx1Day?
CEOx1Day, a first for the region, pairs the brightest students in the UAE with the country’s top CEOs in a one-on-one shadowing programme for a day or longer and offers a number of positives to all participants. The obvious benefit is to the student as a golden opportunity to move into the C-suite boardroom to learn about life at the top of the ladder in some of the region’s biggest brands. Conversely the initiative gives CEOs a chance to spend time with future leaders and gain insights into the mindsets of the next generation and future-proof their views on a broad number of areas from workforce and workplace issues to transparency, ethics and values.
What are the benefits of mentorship programmes to a business?
From our perspective, there are many benefits. We have created an initiative which gives Odgers Berndtson the opportunity to engage with some of the biggest brands and CEOs in the UAE. It raises awareness for Odgers Berndtson at a C-suite level across the UAE and wider region. Connections are hugely important in our business and so is market intelligence. It also allows us to gain a perspective outside our day-to-day work, to create and engage in an ongoing conversation with decision makers in influential companies, about future leaders, and what skills they will require in a rapidly changing world. It’s an important tool that provides us with a perspective on different aspects of the business world.
What companies are taking part and why are they doing so?
Alabbar Enterprises, Aster DM HealthCare, Atkins, Averda, Colgate-Palmolive, Dubai Airports, Dubai Opera, Dyson, Ferrero, Jaguar Land Rover MENA, Lego Group, Nestle Middle East, NMC Healthcare, Refinitiv, Siemens Middle East and Zurich International Life are among those taking part. This year, 16 multinationals are involved, 22 if you also include the six UAE universities taking part.
How are candidates selected?
The selection process includes personality profiling, interviews, group work and case studies, as well as one-on-one interviews with Odgers Berndtson partners. This year we have whittled down over 200 hopefuls to a final 16, based on individual leadership potential. These future leaders are selected with each company in mind, offering the business and the students the optimal conditions for knowledge-sharing in an experience that is mutually beneficial. Last year, as an example, one student came away from the experience with the offer of a permanent position, once her studies were completed.
Is mentorship something more businesses should consider?
Our experience shows that companies stand to get as much out of the day as the student. CEOs and businesses have a unique opportunity to listen to the thoughts and opinions of the next generation. We know from previous editions that the initiative is a win-win for all involved. Our Events and Marketing Project Manager, Sophie Robertson, who has run this initiative for the last 3 years, commented “CEOs welcome the chance to gain the perspective of millennials, while also having the opportunity to mentor the students, by passing on their insights.”
If companies want to find out more, how can they do so?
The website ceox1day.ae is the best place to start, and our website odgersberndtson.com offers further information.