Written by root. Posted in BEST OF BRUNEI


Published on May 05, 2019 with No Comments

RB’s Young Entrepreneurs Programme on point to deliver transformational changes.


Today’s rapid environmental and societal change demands flexibility, adaptability and unconventional thinking and a new approach to leadership. Addressing the importance of upskilling young entrepreneurs, Royal Brunei Airlines (RB) piloted its Young Entrepreneurs Programme in 2017 with the aim of nurturing young talent, entrepreneurial leadership and innovation. RB’s first batch of 29 participants completed the programme in 2019.

“It’s a people development programme, but the whole idea was to see how we can accelerate the career development, and more importantly, the skills part,” explains Karam Chand, Chief Executive Officer, Royal Brunei Airlines. “Most people in most companies would master the technical skills very quickly, but they don’t get the best skillsets.” The Programme, he says, is to nurture local talent, develop and retain them.

As accelerators for their young entrepreneurs, the Programme is made of three main components: Formal Training (management courses, Airline Business, etc), Informal Training (projects, participation in divisional new initiatives) and Mentoring by members of RB’s Executive Committee. Some of the content includes managing people. But the Programme also brought in other “soft skills” in order to ensure participants depart from the old-school trainings that were task- and performance-based. “We challenge them to think harder and contribute more. We assign them to project teams, either to lead or be part of a project team. So you get a very unique experience, because you’re truly cross functional teams and everybody has the ownership,” says Chand.

What Chand is most excited about, however, is the third component of the Programme, where the entrepreneurs get mentored by chief officers. Where most corporate structures don’t incentivise people to spend time leading and managing, RB is forging positive, productive relationships with its millennial colleagues. Chand says, “We are lucky in the sense that we’ve got a very strong management team, executive management team, all the chief officers. And they each bring something very unique to the table.

The idea was so we can share with the young people the experiences we have gone through – in the early careers, mid-careers and more developed advanced levels of careers. How can high-performing people perform and what were the things they had to do in their careers? Like I’ve said, the technical skills are not really a big challenge. Everybody learns that, and they learn it fairly quickly. But as you move up in your career, it all comes down to soft skills and whether you’re up for it. And the idea was to help them through examples, through tips, through real life story-telling and real life experiences.”

Kurt Harding, Chief People & Performance Officer, Royal Brunei Airlines elaborates, “It’s the crux of intergenerational succession planning. Our talent pool is our high potential people: high impact and high growth. We invest in all our people and we have particular focus on identifying future CEOs, future chiefs, future heads.” Harding says that even the mentorship programme was built around guidelines to ensure that it is added value; even teaching mentors how to be mentors to make sure the programme does not merely coaches.

The first programme saw some outstanding results. Says Harding, “We collected, I think, 29 business ideas from the YEP group. Six or seven of them have been used for actual business and had a positive impact on revenue and cost. So to get that many ideas from one group of people that have been operating together for 18 months is unbelievable.”

Uniting youth and experience will continue to be the core of the programme. Next year, RB will partner with one of the world’s top aviation schools to drive many of its programmes for the next batch. Judging by the success of the pilot programme, RB’s Young Entrepreneurs Programme looks poised to drive empowerment among its young talents and equip them with the tools and global mindset to operate effectively. Additionally 45% of the group have been promoted and are leading transformation programmes.

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