Training Spotlight: Shaun Harper, C.E.O. of People-Centric

Shaun is the founder and C.E.O. of People-Centric. Shaun has a breadth of international high calibre experience in Human Resources, and Learning and Development. He is an accomplished breakthrough coach and leader with extensive experience in commercial management, personal and leadership development, coaching and developing individuals and teams, and facilitating organizational change. People-Centric Dubai Inspire Exceptional Performance for Business for Life with their customers in the U.A.E.

Who are People-Centric, and what makes you different?

People-Centric was founded in the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and opened an office in Indonesia for our Southeast Asian clients in 2020. We focus on delivering unique brain-friendly blended learning and development solutions which transform people and organizations, create and boost peak performance environments, and ultimately improve the bottom line.

We create learning and development solutions that immediately engage learners by absorbing them in highly relevant activities using innovative blended solutions, gamatars, game-based learning, and powerful proven training methodology to ensure that your greatest resource (your employees) build confidence, willingness and the ability to deliver your business objectives. Our programmes can be challenging to raise self-awareness, maximize learning and, if required, create positive behavior change.

As we are all aware, in an innovation-driven economy that rolls out new products and services constantly, business leaders need to be ready to fail, and to learn fast from failure. We help to develop this mindset and behaviors through our challenging activities and business simulations, its all about the debrief and understanding what we could have done differently to get an even better result. To succeed, fail fast and learn quickly.

Who’s in charge?

Shaun Harper is the Managing Director responsible for the Middle East office customers, colleagues, and Southeast Asia Office.

Martin Bycroft is the Director of Training Solutions, primarily responsible for managing the Middle East office. Our most Popular Training Programmes right now are:

• Leadership 4.0. 4.0 Leaders are resilient with advanced thinking skills who can build self-managed hybrid teams, keep people connected and engaged, and drive a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

• “Tough Minds for Tough Times”, Mental Toughness. Research and case studies show a correlation between an individual’s Mental Toughness and performance. People-Centric can measure an individual or team’s mental toughness and create a workshop that addresses these needs and measure the improvement post workshop.

• Gamification. A multi-player online leadership development game designed to develop essential workplace competencies through collaborative management strategies.

• Philosophy: Inspiring Exceptional Performance In Business, For Life.

You have mentioned that you and your team are passionate and committed to Make a Difference in every delivery and intervention. What do you see as a priority for the next 12 months?

Across the globe, leaders are struggling with the future of work across a broad spectrum of considerations — ranging from digital transformation, multi-generational workforce, the great resignation, mental health, and what hybrid work looks like in the new normal, to attracting and engaging an agile and resilient workforce to run operations successfully.

As the world of work changes, leadership must also change. Helping leaders become future-ready is a priority for us. I started People-Centric, focusing on helping leaders and organizations make a real difference to maintain pace with their industries and stakeholders, maximizing their resources.

Post-Covid 19, the leadership required to succeed has significantly changed. Leaders must rethink their mindset, behaviors, and actions to ensure their teams can effectively rebuild sales pipelines, reactivate operations, innovate and find business confidence. And this is where the team at People-Centric can continue to Make a Real Difference.

Our greatest company achievement:

• Transforming People and Organizations, which sets out our value proposition, incorporating the latest research and global best practices to help leaders and teams excel in today’s and tomorrow’s world. In 2018, we started significant research into what leadership looks and feels like so we can stay ahead of the competition and be future-ready. By speaking to our local and global clients, and from leadership experts, we discovered that how we are often leading, managing, and behaving is often not what is required for us to thrive in today’s VUCA world. This created our Leadership 4.0 and our “Breakthrough to Peak Performance Coaching & Modules” which we successfully rolled out to numerous customers in the region.

• One of our most outstanding achievements is the work with a leading bank in the region, where we assessed over 200 managers’ Mental Toughness, designed a workshop specifically to address the areas of development and re-evaluated the managers post programme. It found that 90% of the participants had increased their Mental Toughness by over 15%, and some improved by up to 35%. Considering the correlation between Mental Toughness and Performance, this was substantial for both the individual and bank at such a challenging and disruptive time.

• Designed and delivered over 30 workshops for Nakheel over three months to support a key initiative.

• People-Centric are immensely proud of our Deloitte training during the pandemic. Over three days, we delivered a highly interactive, immersive learning experience for 100 directors. Designing and coordinating this size of event with a team of 10 experienced facilitators calling in from 8 different countries was both exciting and nerve-racking due to potential technical issues. However, it was very successful, and our client was delighted with the results and feedback.

Why are you so passionate about training?

I love to develop and grow potential in people and help them reach their career goals. My team and I are very passionate about Making a Difference for the learners and the organization. Our training programmes are fun and highly engaging with no “Death By PowerPoint”, but what makes the difference is our innate desire to create unique brain-friendly blended learning and development solutions which transform people and organizations, develop high-performance environments, boost performance, and ultimately improve the bottom line. That’s why I am passionate about training, and that’s what keeps us constantly challenging each other and our participants to be the best they can be for themselves and their organizations. Life is too short to be mediocre. Be the best you can be!

How have you stayed current and innovative to keep your training engaging?

We are now operating in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world where new technologies, ways of working and ‘players’ regularly change the rules and sometimes the ‘game’ itself. We ensure all members of the team develop high levels of “Cognitive Readiness” (mental preparation required to establish and sustain outstanding individual and team performance in the complex and rapidly changing environment). People-Centric not only have to stay current, but we act like Meerkats, constantly scanning the environment for what is new and what’s going to make a real difference for our customers and learners.

We create learning and development solutions that immediately engage learners by absorbing them in highly relevant activities. We use innovative blended solutions, gamatars, game-based learning, business simulation games, experiential activities, real-time feedback, and robust, proven training methodology to ensure participants build the right mindset and skill set to thrive in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

You have mentioned creating behavior change through neuroscience and learning. Can you give us a little more information on this?

At its core, learning is change. The brain is extraordinarily adaptable and is referred to as ‘neuroplasticity’. When we learn something new, the brain’s physical structure changes, resulting in its reorganization. Learning is always happening consciously and unconsciously. This means the brain’s structure is constantly changing. For deep, lasting learning that results in adjusted performance for themselves and the company, we must keep learners engaged in helping them transfer their knowledge into action. Many of the activities in a People-Centric workshop are embedded in neuroscience to create that behavior change.

What is the biggest difference between the training People-Centric offers and other leadership training programmes offered in the region?

As highlighted in a recent Harvard Business Review article, the need for leadership development has never been more urgent. Companies realize that to survive in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment, they need leadership skills and organizational capabilities different from those that helped them succeed in the past. There is also a growing recognition that leadership development should not be restricted to the few in or close to the C-suite.

The leadership development industry globally, however, is in a state of upheaval. The number of players offering courses to impart the hard and soft skills required of corporate managers has soared. And yet, organizations that collectively spend billions of dollars annually to train current and future executives are growing frustrated with the results. Several large-scale industry studies and our in-depth interviews with clients indicate that more than 50% of senior leaders believe that their talent development efforts don’t adequately build critical skills and organizational capabilities.

What is the biggest impact People-Centric has made in the region?

Over the last 12 months, we have designed a Mentoring and Coaching (ILM, Institute of Leadership and Management) accredited workshop focusing on Emirati graduates. Emiratisation continues to be one of the hot topics in the U.A.E. It is the UAE’s aim is to reach an Emiratisation quota of 10% by 2025 as part of the U.A.E.’s “Projects of the 50”. We have successfully launched more than 20 Mentoring and Coaching workshops, and the results have been fantastic. To date, we have over 100 participants who have successfully received their I.L.M. accreditation and are currently coaching and mentoring graduates and team members in the business. This investment has been seen in the successful implementation of their strategies.

Tip: Make collaboration, communication and learning more efficient in the New Normal

Team collaboration is one of the main factors for greater productivity. Therefore, many employers are trying to improve how remote and non-remote teams work together. To keep your remote and non-remote employees engaged and ready to perform in today’s world, it’s highly recommended that you make learning immersive and fun. Here at People-Centric, we bring new-age learning to organizations in the region so it can evolve with today’s changing times. EVIVVE is an immersive learning experience that occurs through a reflective process as opposed to a directive one. It’s a multi-player online leadership development game designed to develop essential workplace VUCA competencies through collaborative management strategies. This is an excellent approach to engaging everyone and developing agile thinking; collaboration; decision-making under pressure; breaking silos and dealing with uncertainty and communication. Oh, and it’s a lot of fun for remote and non-remote employees.

What are the goals of People-Centric for the next 5 years?

Even though we deliver training globally and work with some incredible national and global organizations, People-Centric don’t believe we can deliver on our commitment to meet every new customer, either in person or virtually, to truly understand their specific requirements, if we grow too large. It’s important to all of our team to get to know our customers and to understand their challenges and culture. So, the future is to continue to Make a Difference for our clients and support them, including opening an office in Abu Dhabi and hopefully in Saudi Arabia.

Editor-In-Chief of Bizpreneur Middle East