Margaret Heath | Tutor of the Month

Margaret Heath is our tutor of the month for December 2015! Margaret gave us an account of a day in her life. It talks through her role at Acacia as well as outside of Acacia.

Diary of an Acacia Learning Tutor (Margaret – tutor of the month)

On Saturday 26th September I flew from Heathrow to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. I arrived midday on Sunday and Mawahib and her daughter Ola greeted me. They were extremely welcoming.

More about Mawahid and Ola

Mawahib is the owner of the Training Centre in Sudan. She is very passionate about upskilling HR professionals in Khartoum. I learnt that she is able to speak English well due to her passion for travelling.

Ola had just returned home from graduating from Birmingham University with a degree in Urban Planning.

Currently, she is working in her mother’s office but is looking for career opportunities in the area of her degree. She joined the  Acacia Foundation course because she wanted to find out a little more about HRM. One day, Lola hopes to manager/supervise her own team. Ola recognises that a qualification in managing people will be beneficial for this.

The training room was on the third floor of the hotel. Mawahib and Ola brought banners which advertised the Talent Centre and the CIPD courses as well as large plastic name holders. Each holder had the student’s name along with their company logo.

Foundation course

On Monday morning Mawahib had asked all course participants to arrive at 8.30am and most of the 9 participants had arrived by then. The following 3 mornings we started at 9am and finished around 5pm. All of the 9 participants were female and worked in HR in 4 different companies:

  1. Sudatel – telecommunications and Internet service provider in the Sudan
  2. Petronas – Malaysian oil and gas company
  3. Zain – Telecommunications
  4. Talent Center for HRM

The quality of the discussion was high because there was quite a lot of experience between them as is clear from their CVs. We discussed the issue of retention in Khartoum. Jobs in Dubai or the Gulf states attracted many of the qualified staff in Sudan. Consequently, companies struggled to fulfil their job vacancies. Another issue we discussed was the lack of females in senior management, however this is often the case elsewhere. Although there are some notable exceptions.

The students all seemed to get on well together and although they expressed some nervousness about the assignments, I reassured them that as long as they did some reading, answered the questions correctly, and that the points they made were clear, then it would be taken into account that English was not their first language.

Intermediate course

The Intermediate course began on the Sunday at 8.30am. The 14 participants enrolled for this course came from a variety of organisations including:

  • Sudatel,
  • Petronas,
  • Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC)

Mawahib, the owner of Talent Center for HRM, also participated in the course. One of the participants included Amin Ali, the Manager for International HR.

Again, there was a lot of experience in the group and this made for some rich discussion and sharing of good practice. The problems they may face may be in researching the theory and finding time for reading, as they must be able to apply some of the theory to their organisations.

Mawahib expressed that she is very keen to have Level 7 courses delivered there. I think that many of the Level 5 students would be able to cope at that level because many of them already hold Masters qualifications.

Final thoughts

Despite, having set off with some trepidation, I enjoyed my time in Khartoum which was my very first trip to Africa.

I enjoyed meeting and working with the participants in both groups. They were hardworking and always prepared to discuss and share their experience and ideas. I was very impressed by the demonstration of a high commitment to their work and trying to do their best for the employees of their company. They all expressed a very strongly held belief about the importance of continuously developing their skills and knowledge.

Regardless of the fact that many of them had travelled widely and studied up to Masters level in the Gulf and western countries they were modest about their abilities.  It was clear they appreciated the opportunity to study for the CIPD qualification because it’s something they regarded as very prestigious.

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