Zander Muego, Regional Director for international project management and cost consultancy firm, Thomas & Adamson, talks strategy for growth in 2017:

Overall 2016 was a challenging yet ultimately positive year for us, seeing steady growth across revenue and staff count, achieving a 12 per cent increase in revenue with increased headcount to support this. This is particularly good when considered in the context of the industry across the GCC as a whole, which did suffer due to oil price deflation and government spending cuts.

As we grew our team over 2016, one of our key challenges was finding the right talent. This highlighted for us the skills shortage in the construction industry across the Middle East and a need for us to enhance our approach. As a business committed to delivering a premium service, technical excellence is important and is considered a key starting point when considering new hires. However, we also require a host of other skills and personality traits that are of paramount importance to fulfilling a role at Thomas & Adamson, in addition to the basic technical skills and the right qualifications.

What We Want

We seek only individuals who are able to take ownership of the brand; who share our core values and understand our vision. We need people who will be motivated by our approach, both in terms of how we run our business and how we deliver for our clients. We need team players that can take leadership roles in external teams while also building strong relationships with our clients based on trust and excellent communication. Finding the right blend of all of these factors in one person is extremely difficult, yet essential if we are to deliver within the framework of our value proposition.

Our preference is to attract talent locally – from across the Middle East; people who understand the local landscape, business culture and norms in the industry which are specific to this part of the world. That said, while local understanding and experience is important, as an international business, we also need to blend local experience with international best practice. Finding those who understand how to apply a high level of best practice in a way that is locally relevant and appropriate is difficult.

The Objective

Last year saw our group board set the objective of Thomas & Adamson becoming a top employer. We agreed that to be a market leader we have to attract and retain the best people in the market and to do this we need to offer an equally good place to work. To achieve this, human resources will become one of the focal points of our business for 2017.

In addition, 2016 saw us heavily invest in researching where we were as a business when it came to our staff and our mission. We ran a series of surveys and interviews of staff by an external HR company. There was an overall positive response, with the findings showing Thomas & Adamson is a good place to work, with a positive culture and good, dynamic leadership. What we will now do in 2017 is implement the key recommendations from this research and use this direction to invest more in our people. We will be looking specifically at the following:


There will be an increase in volume and quality of communication with staff members. We want all staff engaged and on-board with the initiatives and activities of the business.

Working Conditions

We are looking at improvements to all aspects of our working environment, including benefits.

Performance Management System

We will move away from the annual appraisal and introduce a coaching and mentoring process for each employee that directly links what they are doing for the business with the wider objectives of the company.


We will step up our efforts to ensure all staff continue to enhance their knowledge and understanding of their business area and achieve personal goals.

Our employees are at the very core of the business and we want to have a management approach, policies and benefits structure that works for them, and encompass’ Thomas & Adamson’s values and ensure everyone is valued and supported in a modern and dynamic business.

My recommendation to other medium sized businesses looking to attract the best of the best in 2017 would be to start with your own values and understand fully how your company culture links with the wider objectives of the business.  From this you can develop a people strategy that reflects who you are as a business and will support rather than obstruct you from achieving these objectives.

For information on what UAE jobseekers want, read our article here.