In an historic development, on 1 April 2015, GDF SUEZ appointed Yaqoub Harbi Salem Al-Harthi as the very first Omani CEO of a GDF SUEZ related power asset.
Yaqoub is leading the Al Kamil Power Company, an independent power generation company established to build, own and operate the 277 MW power plant, located approximately 25 km north-west of Al Kamil, in the central Sharqiya region of Oman.
A graduate from the Sultan Qaboos University Department of Mechanical Engineering, Yaqoub began his career as trainee engineer in the Oman National Electricity Company (ONEC) at the Rusail Power Plant (RPP).
Today, Omanisation remains one of the Government’s highest priorities, not only to ensure sustainable employment for citizens, but also to gradually reduce dependence on expatriates in search of self-reliant human resources capital.
With a presence of 20 years in the Sultanate, GDF SUEZ has developed a strong relationship with Oman as an investor, a partner and a Corporate Citizen. To nurture that relationship, the company commits to employing talented, qualified and experienced Omani citizens throughout every level of the organisation.
Commenting on his appointment as CEO, Yaqoub says, “The opportunity provided by GDF SUEZ allowed me to broaden my managerial skills in the arena of human resource development and in finance. The experience I gained in Al Kamil Construction & Services (AKCS), the operations & maintenance company of Al Kamil Power paved the road for me to take up yet another new challenge – I was very proud to be named CEO of the Al Kamil Power Company this year.”
Yakoub explains that the power sector is the backbone of a country. As a skilled professional in the field, he believes that the Sultanate’s human capital has the creativity and talent to take up challenges in the sector and emerge successful in their endeavours.
The Omani staff ratio at the Al Kamil Power Company currently stands at 70 per cent, and he strongly believes that the citizens employed have proved themselves as a vital players, performing excellently throughout all levels of the organisation.
“With comprehensive training and on-the-job experience, our Omani employees have improved their presence on site. We strongly advocate that for every employee to achieve his or her maximum potential, intensive and ongoing on-the-job training and mentoring is vital.” Oman’s electricity and water sector is expected to achieve 100 per cent Omanisation according to a decision taken by the Ministry of Manpower.
According to Johan Van Kerrebroeck, Executive Vice President and Country Manager Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia for GDF SUEZ Energy International, an expat driven population in the power industry made sense in the initial start-up phase. “However, as the activities develop and mature, the quality of the local labour market has grown at the same pace. And indeed, we have witnessed impressive growth in the calibre of Omani candidates over the past years in the Sultanate.”
“Today, numerous key positions are taken by Omani employees and managers, and GDF SUEZ will continue this process in a diligent and collaborative way. At the same time, we are a strong believer of blending different profiles and nationalities in one company,” Van Kerrebroeck adds.
Johan Van Kerrebroeck sheds light on the staff training and talent development programs that GDF SUEZ delivers; “We offer opportunities, knowledge transfer and shared experience in our field of work. Additionally, GDF SUEZ is currently launching new programs for young graduates to expose themselves to various positions within the organisation. High level and intensive training is part of the package as well. Simultaneously, we take our employees’ performance and skills development very seriously. Our manpower is disciplined and aware of their role in supporting the Sultanate’s need for adequate water and power supply.”
Navneet Kaskebar, the newly appointed CEO of Al Suwadi Power Company (owner of the Barka 3 power plant and 30% owned by GDF SUEZ) reveals that the utility sector is in synchrony with the Omanisation drive undertaken; “We support the vision promulgated by the Ministry of Manpower to make the entire power sector a fully Omani-national-manned sector to the extent possible given the constraints of the local labour market.”
“To this end, Al Suwadi Power has drawn up a detailed program for the next five years to actively recruit, train and professionally develop skills so that Omani Nationals take up senior responsible positions,” Kaskebar adds.
He adds: “Moreover, we encourage engineering students from across the Sultanate to undertake vocational training at the Barka plant as part of their regular curriculum.”
GDF SUEZ, the French company responsible for energy activities in 70 countries across the world, sees the model of Omanisation in a similar way. In Oman, GDF SUEZ is a long-term investor under the Public-Private Partnership model through its interests in two power and water desalination plants (Barka 2 and Sohar 1) and four power production plants (Al Rusail, Al Kamil, Barka 3 and Sohar 2).
The Group also has a 70 per cent holding in Suez-Tractebel Operations and Maintenance Oman LLC (STOMO), Oman’s largest provider of operation and maintenance services in the energy sector.