Five minutes with Rebecca Fox
Tell me about the CIPS conference topics and awards ceremony held in April in Dubai.
About 250 people attended and the theme was sustainable supply chain success in the region. Speakers included Dr Tommy Weir, representatives from Shell, Atlantis and Qatar Foundation, along with several CEOs, with topics such as long-term sustainability, how we can bring in best practice and raising standards.
Dubai is aiming to be among the top 20 sustainable cities by 2020 and there’s a lot the profession can do in terms of capacity building, capability building, ethics and awareness.
Huge infrastructure projects in the area, such as Dubai World Central, the Expo 2020 and the Qatar World Cup all need procuring.
Saudi Arabia has also invested $1billion in highways and infrastructure, and it has put money aside for creating jobs because only about 17% of jobs in the country are not oil and gas related. It is trying to diversify its economy and procurement has a part to play.
The CIPS awards has gone from strength to strength; last year we had about 40 entries and this year we had nearly 60; there’s a lot of good work going on in the region deserving of recognition. We never know the winners until the ceremony for the sake of integrity, which is something CIPS prides itself on.
What trends are emerging in logistics?
The region is positioning itself as a major hub, competing with the likes of Hong Kong and Singapore, thanks to projects such as Dubai World Central and new port developments in Jeddah and Abu Dhabi.
It’s almost like a scrabble to compete in the region, which is great, but I’d like to see the countries working together. Opportunity for the region lies in the common market and I suspect that will happen in the next five years.
The GCC could bring in a single currency and eliminate some of the borders; the countries are small within the GCC but we still have all these borders and customs, so removing those would get goods moving through the region much faster. It’s such an import heavy area and this will only grow as the population increases, so something has to give.
What feedback are you receiving about skills shortages and salaries?
There’s a trend globally that you need to specialise earlier in your career now. You might have an MBA but be a generalist, competing against specialists, and a lot of companies are seeking those specialist functions.
We know that if you’re highly qualified you’re going to get a higher salary and employers here are increasingly starting to request prestigious qualifications. We’re keen to introduce some sort of salary survey in the region soon, in partnership with our PR agency.
How many people are involved with CIPS in the MENA region?
We have just over 1,600 members here and we are seeing double digit growth year-on-year. We work closely with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) so that we’re aligned.