SUCCESSION PLANNING DONE RIGHT
A CASE STUDY
T he Pearl Initiative is an “independent, not-for-profit, by-business for-business institution working across the Gulf Region to influence and improve corporate accountability and transparency.” Recently, they released five case studies on Middle Eastern firms to illustrate good governance in family business. For excellence in succession planning, they pointed out the initiatives undertaken by Saudi conglomerate Zamil Group. With several divergent business interests, this FOB, which was established in 1934, is currently being managed by its second, third and fourth generation family members, 30 of whom run the various verticals that employ over 12,000 people. In the early 2000s, after an external consultant was brought in to conduct an organisational analysis of the group, the importance of strategic talent management and development within the family became very clear. The family established a junior board to start involving the next generation in a more organised way. During these early years of the new millennium the family started developing a family constitution alongside policies for succession and employment of family members. The Zamil succession policy was introduced in 2010 after a three-year development process. The values of the policy are anchored in the Zamil family constitution and the following principles: The importance of talent recognition and assessment Identifying the personal development needs of family members Identifying high-potential and high-performing talent Developing career paths for family members The policy also states that family members are not entitled to occupy certain positions in the group and that promotions in the group are solely based on merit and achievements. Furthermore, a Talent Committee was formed comprised of four family members and the group HR director, and was responsible for creating a long-term strategy for the development of family members. A first programme called Zamil Third Generation (ZTG) was launched. Under ZTG 18 family members (even those not involved in the business) took part in a psychometric assessment to evaluate their strengths and personal development needs. Sparking a first wave of personal development plans and seeing the impact of those plans, the family quickly decided to start including non-family members in the talent development strategy and ZTG was transformed into the Zamil Future Leaders programme (ZFL). As a result of this well-structured and longterm initiative ZFL has provided smooth transitions from academia to business for family members who joined the business as employees and is experiencing an increased level of confidence in the overall succession process and transition management.