The Art of Being a CEO for a Day

The Odgers Berndtson Dubai office has launched CEOx1Day for the first time in the Middle East.

The programme pairs a CEO with one lucky student in September. The idea is to shadow a CEO for one day, “walking in their shoes” as it were, to provide insight, experience and encouragement to Millennials aspiring to be the leaders of the future. Each student will receive a glimpse into the intricate art of being a CEO, including the hard decisions and the well-oiled machine that is his/her C-Suite who ensure the company is running efficiently.

This great initiative was developed by our German office and has quickly spread across our other offices globally. We joined the successful project for the first time this year and we hope it will become an annual competition.

CEOx1Day Dubai - meeting

We are delighted that during 2017 the following companies and their CEO's partnered with us for this project:

  • Ahmad AlFalasi, CEO, Corporate Services and Investment, Dubai Tourism
  • Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, CEO, TECOM Group
  • Bruce Robertson, MD, Jaguar Land Rover MENA
  • Cem Tarik Yuksel, MD, Unilever Gulf
  • Dietmar Siersdorfer, CEO, Siemens Middle East & Siemens LLC UAE
  • Guido Ferralasco, MD, Ferrero
  • Issam AbdulRahim Kazim, CEO, Dubai Tourism
  • Martin Stewart, CEO, OSN

While the region is challenging due to high volumes of expatriate students, who may leave the Middle East once they graduate, many companies have expressed an interest in encouraging young talent to stay in the region. Hopefully, with our CEOx1Day project, we have an opportunity to engage with talented young students and make them aware of the great career opportunities that exist within the region.

We are thrilled that many of the leading universities in the UAE joined us this year and students from the following universities applied online for a chance to shadow a CEO for a day:

  • Abu Dhabi University
  • American University of Sharjah
  • Khalifa University, NYU Abu Dhabi
  • Universite Paris Sorbonne Abu Dhabi
  • University of Wollongong in Dubai
  • Zayed University

CEOx1Day Dubay - presentation

While only students in their final two years before graduation were able to apply, the programme will hopefully be repeated annually, so younger students will get a chance to take part in future years.

Of the many students who applied to be part of our programme, we cut the list down to 15, after a rigorous selection process which involved pre-screening phone interviews and online psychometric testing. The semi-finalists met with us last week for their half day assessment at the Hilton Double Tree Hotel in Dubai Marina. This consisted of a range of exercises for the students, including: one on one interviews with Odgers’s consultants, a variety of group exercises, such as building a bridge, presenting a case study and our in-house psychologist, feeding back to each student on the results of their psychometric assessments (which were carried out in partnership with Hogan).

With great teamwork and team building from the students, the day was a huge success.

The students fed back that they found the experience to be enjoyable and challenging and that the day had given them valuable tools and experience of how to approach a job interview or assessment centre. They mentioned that the psychometric assessments, interview and group exercises had also helped them understand more about themselves.

We were all very impressed with the strength of the candidates and the way in which they presented themselves and embraced the experience. We were so impressed in fact, that all the semi-finalist students this year will get the chance to shadow a CEO for the day. While some students will be paired with our partnering CEOs involved, the runners up will be shadowing our own Managing Director in our office for a day.

We would like to congratulate all those who took part this year and all the students that we met in person.