Abu Dhabi-UAE: 13 December, 2011 – More than 20 young professionals participated in a two-day intensive course on leadership organized under the Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) program by Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies.
Titled ‘Being a Future Leader’, the program held from 5-6 December comprised intensive courses offered by Masdar Institute faculty, as well as academic and business leaders. Part of the YFEL program, the course was specially meant for young practitioners and graduate students who aim to expand their knowledge of core issues in advanced energy leadership, technology and policy.
Youcef Azrgui, Advisor, Strategy and Policy Development Unit from Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development, offered a presentation that covered some of the salient features of Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030. Focusing on the key points of the Abu Dhabi Government’s program, Azrgui appraised the young leaders about the requirements for rapid decision-making and effectively managing the planning process to achieve Abu Dhabi’s economic objectives.
A twin-pronged leadership panel witnessed the academia and a business leader sharing their expertise with the YFEL members. Panelists included Dr. Joe Cecchi, Provost of Masdar Institute, Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, Director of Sustainability, Masdar, and Bader Al Lamki, Director of Masdar Carbon. The leaders offered their suggestions from their individual and professional perspectives, while describing the path they had to tread to reach where they are today.
Masdar Institute faculty who were part of the program included Dr. Amy Wohlert, Executive Director, General Education and Student Affairs, Dr. Ken Volk, Outreach Manager, and Kevin Garvey, Lecturer in Academic English, Critical Thinking and Research Methodology, as well as Zainab Al Ali, Outreach Senior Officer and Coordinator of the YFEL Program.
With over 10 years as the Dean of the School of Engineering, University of New Mexico (UNM), Dr. Joe Cecchi has remarkable track record in leading various management teams. Under his stewardship, the University of New Mexico experienced significant growth and recognition as an innovative technology transfer platform, while contributing to the economic development of the state of New Mexico. Addressing the YFEL members, Dr. Cecchi emphasized on the need for laying the foundation at the early stage to develop into a leader who can carry the team and generate positive results.
Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany leads a team responsible for developing Masdar’s Sustainability Standards & Policies and Sustainability Auditing, as well as Monitoring and Reporting. Dr Al-Hosany has held senior positions with the General Headquarters of the Abu Dhabi Police, including Head of Design and Studies in the Engineering Department, in addition to being the first-ever female Deputy Director with the Abu Dhabi Police. She explained to the young leaders her implementation techniques in applying academic and professional pedagogies as well as devising and running innovative tools and policies.
As director of a Masdar business unit, Bader Al Lamki holds the responsibility for steering and guiding the teams within Masdar Carbon/Masdar Power to achieve their performance excellence in all areas of operations, while focusing on clean hydrocarbon power and industrial energy efficiency. He offered his insights based on the 15-year professional experience at various organizations including global corporations.
Dr. Lamya Fawwaz, Executive Director of Public Affairs, Masdar Institute, said: “The workshop on ‘Leadership’ marks the concluding round of courses for the 2011 YFEL program. These courses aim to empower the youth and help them enhance their knowledge while developing individual professional skills. The YFEL members have once again demonstrated their commitment and willingness to remain on track for being true energy leaders of tomorrow through actively participating in all events including the workshop on leadership.
“Throughout the year, we have organized various seminars and workshops for the YFEL members, in addition to hosting them at local and international forums to facilitate mentoring opportunities. We are grateful to the country’s leadership for entrusting with us the task of nurturing the leaders of tomorrow and contribute to achieving the objectives of Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030 program.”
During her session, Dr. Amy Wohlert asked participants to put in writing what they would like to gain from the workshop on leadership. Members were also asked to make a sketch of what represents their concepts of leadership that was followed by a discussion on ‘What is leadership?’
In her next session, Dr. Wohlert gave members an ‘Assignment for reporting tomorrow’. Participants were asked to think of a concrete example of a leadership or teamwork activity they have undertaken in the past and how they would act on it differently now. The session tested the YFEL members’ capabilities to effect change in the workplace and each member was given one minute the next day to speak about the measures they would adopt to achieve their objective.
Dr. Ken Volk spoke on ‘Empowering Others and Communication’, explaining how an Instructor can lead the ‘Instructee’ and ways to bridge the gap between the two. He also explained various methods that are used to determine leadership including personality and psychometric tests, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of such methods.
In his session on ‘Teamwork vs Groupthink’, Kevin Garvey, Lecturer in Academic English, Critical Thinking and Research Methodology, provided tips on teambuilding through the ‘Egg-drop Team Exercise’. Groups of members were given a limited variety of popsicle sticks, balloons, or scotch tape, and assigned the task of creating the ‘safest’ capsule for dropping an egg from two-story height. The teambuilding exercise aims to teach participants the importance of trust, creativity, efficiency and patience.
In his next session, Garvey offered the participants an insight into choosing the right interaction style and explained behavioral/communication techniques that are assessed through style inventories such as the ‘dominance, influence, steadiness and compliance’(DISC) assessment tool. On the second day, Garvey’s session on ‘Leadership as Relationship’ was followed by Zainab Al Ali, who spoke on ‘Leading in a Knowledge-Based Economy: The impact of Vision 2030 as it relates to Masdar Institute and YFEL’.
Zainab Al Ali, Outreach Senior Officer and Coordinator of the YFEL Program, said: ” The ‘Leadership’ course is crucial for the YFEL participants as it is designed to give them profound insights on charting the right course for gaining leadership positions in the future. As they successfully complete the three courses, we believe the YFEL members will practically implement in their workplace what they learnt through these workshops. The course is integral to the YFEL program that is instrumental to capacity building and knowledge development in the Abu Dhabi and the UAE.”
A talk on ‘Organizational structures and how they impact leadership’ by Dr. Ken Volk was followed by a wind-up discussion that included members’ depiction through pictures and drawings to illustrate how valuable the workshop has been over the two days.
The YFEL members are annually offered educational courses in three categories – technology, policy and leadership. The ‘Technology’ course titled ‘Renewable Energy Technologies Information’ was held in June, while the ‘Policy’ course titled ‘The Role of Policy in the Renewable Energy Industry’ was organized in October. Led by Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, the pre-eminent YFEL program aims to educate, inspire and position students and young professionals to become future leaders capable of solving the world’s most pressing challenges in advanced energy and sustainability.