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Human Potential at Work Podcast Show Flyer for Episode #77: Should we work with "Bad" Brands
Human Potential at Work Podcast Show Flyer for Episode #78: Kingdom of Saudi Arabia- Heading towards being a World Class Leader in Disability Inclusion


Guest: Suhail Al-almaee       Guest Title: Executive Director of Projects Sector

Date: October 19, 2017            Guest Company: Tatweer Education Holding Co.


Debra:                     Hello. This is Debra Ruh, and you’re listening to Human Potential at Work. Today, I am pleased to be in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, and we’re going to be talking about what Saudi Arabia is doing to make sure that people with disabilities are included in their society. I believe it’s very innovative, what’s happening in Saudi Arabia, and I believe the world needs to turn to look to Saudi Arabia, as they really innovate and include every person in society. Of course, we’re going to start with students with disabilities, and then expand it out, but I’m very excited to learn more about it and to share this information with you. Let me introduce, I’m going to let him introduce himself, the engineer that is running this project.

Suhail:                     Thank you, Debra. My name is Suhail [inaudible 00:01:00]. I am the executive director of the project sector at [inaudible 00:01:06] for education. We are really honored to be in the position where we will develop the services for the students with disability, and come up with the great kind of services that will enable them to be an effective citizen in the community of Saudi Arabia. Thank you, Debra, for having me on your channel.

Debra:                     Thank you for doing this interview. We did try to do it on Facebook Live, but it just was not successful, so we will get a live interview in the future. The work that you’re doing here, in Saudi Arabia, is part of the transformation that’s happening in Saudi Arabia. Will you talk a little bit about that?

Suhail:                     Yes. Before I start on that, I was really blessed to meet you in [inaudible 00:02:05]. Just knowing you and knowing your background, and knowing your history with disability, which started as a mother with a child with disability. The way that I see it, that you are blessed. The thing that we are living in the past three days, including this day, that we are truly blessed because you are here, in Saudi Arabia, and you are sharing your experience with us.

                                    In Saudi Arabia today, the new strategy for developing the nation to be a very competitive country among the countries around the world, and to be a true G20 country. The country came up with a 2030 vision, and they developed a transformation plan, which is happening today. This plan, the first stage of it will end in 2020. As part of this plan, we have a huge initiative related to students with disability. It’s been assigned to [inaudible 00:03:24] company, and today, we are trying to implement this initiative.

                                    It has six projects within it. The first one is develop a national strategy to teach students with disability. Then, develop and create a national center will be responsible for executing that strategy. Also, develop a national center for [inaudible 00:03:49] technology, helping the students to be included in school and the society. The fourth project is developing the existing 34 centers around the kingdom for support services. Also, we have an early intervention project for kids from zero till six. Plus, we have a program to serve students in hospital or at home where they can receive education and be equal to the students who go to the schools.

Debra:                     I’ve gotten a lot of tours while I’ve been here and really learned about what you’re doing. It is very innovative. I like that you are bringing in experts around the world to listen to and learn more about the best practices that are happening. Before we dig a little bit more into what you’re doing in Saudi Arabia, I want to talk a little bit more about who you are, because I’ve been very, very impressed with your background. It’s a very global background. I know you’re very humble, but I really would like the viewers and the listeners to understand about you, who you are as a man, because you’ve accomplished a lot in your lifetime.

                                    I’m excited not only about that and proud to know you, but because it shows the innovation, once again, that we’re seeing happening in Saudi Arabia, because I see in many countries, sometimes in my own, that when we’re talking about these issues, it’s usually at middle management, and sometimes lower than that. That’s wonderful, but if you don’t have the support from the top executives, I rarely see that we make a lot of progress. I’m very … I’m just fascinated with what’s happening here. Tell us more about who you are.

Suhail:                     Okay. Actually, I graduated from Eastern Washington University in Washington State, as a computer engineer. Then, when I came to [inaudible 00:06:00], I joined HP, Hewlett-Packard, as a system engineer, and I stayed with that company for 17 years with a huge background in IT and leadership and management. I was really pleased to be part of the HP management way, where we have learned to manage our business through objectives and wandering around, which is something great that we are doing today. Because of these things that we have objectives ahead of us, and we wander around to make sure that people are really having all the tools and support needed to achieve these objectives.

                                    Then, I moved to the [inaudible 00:06:53] program, and I was really lucky to be part of that program. I consider myself one of the main [inaudible 00:07:01]. During that time, I feel proud that I have developed three different frameworks. All of them, they were introduced internationally. The first one was the public-private participation for eGovernment, and it was really appreciated by the United Nations and World Bank. I’ve been asked to present this at the UN [inaudible 00:07:30] where they have taken that framework and passed it to different countries around the world, one of them which I received a letter from the deputy minister of Bangladesh … Deputy minister of Finance Ministry of Bangladesh. He was sending me an email, and he was appreciating the work that we have done. They have referenced our work in their strategy for public-private participation, which we’re really honored to have that. The same thing was used in different Arab countries and emerging countries around the world.

                                    Also, we were the first country in the world who developed an eGovernment maturity model for a country. I know that we have a maturity model for the whole world, which is UN [inaudible 00:08:21]. It was the maturity model for Saudi Arabia. It was recognized my Limerick University, in Ireland. It was presented on the 10th European eGovernment conference, and it got the first prize out of 869 papers internationally. Also, it’s been adopted by different countries around the world. What we have today in eGovernment was driven through the maturity model that we have developed.

                                    Also, in the program, I had a chance to develop a PMO methodology called Yes Method. It was recognized through PMO book writers, or a project manager book writer in the US called Mark Perry. He has different books. The last book he published was The Best PMOs around the world. Our methodology was number two on his book. Also, it was adopted by almost 30 countries around the world because of its simplicity.

                                    Today, when I [inaudible 00:09:40] the eGovernment program, I was really pleased to be part of the [inaudible 00:09:46] where I had the responsibility to develop services for the disabled children. We have developed a strategy for the kingdom. Also, we have developed a stakeholder’s mind map, which [inaudible 00:10:11] and she was really fascinated by it, because in that mind map, we defined [inaudible 00:10:19] stakeholders in countries who is responsible for delivering services to those children. By having the new initiative, which is now we have official responsibility to develop a strategy to teach the disabled students, we are really trying to come up with an innovative way to collaborate with the stakeholders to make sure that the students will get the right services.

                                    One of the things that we discovered during implementing some of the projects that we are having, that we have a huge problem with diagnosis that’s been given to the students, which is not unified around the kingdom. I know this is something common around the world, so our minister of support asked us to kick off a project called Unifying Diagnosis Project. Now, we have seven of the main stakeholders, like Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Services, and other government agencies. We are working to develop a national platform, national strategy, a national assessment tool to use as a single platform for assessment and for unifying diagnosis for disabled people in Saudi Arabia.

                                    Through this tool, we will be able to define the disability, and then we can decide which services that we’ll be giving to them to make them an effective citizen in Saudi Arabia, regardless of who is going to deliver that service. The diagnosis will lead us to the best way to deal with this disability, and work on the strength points of that person so we can make him either an effective member and participating in the economy of Saudi Arabia, or to be totally independent, and he can support himself without anybody being with him

                                    Sorry for taking so much time, but I was trying to give you a complete picture.

Debra:                     No. I’m glad you took the time. I’m very proud that you went to university in the United States, and HP, I love HP. HP has been one of my clients for many years, and so I’m a big fan of HP, and now HPE also. It’s very exciting. Many members of your team also went to school in the United States, so as an American, I’m proud of that. I will also say, as an American woman, as I was coming over, I had people saying, “You’re going to Saudi Arabia?” I said, “Yes.” I came over, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more welcomed in a country ever. Countries, I love visiting countries. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Riyadh, I was welcomed. I was welcomed every single step of the way. It’s been a lovely experience. The hospitality has been just tremendous. The food is wonderful.

                                    I think what’s so exciting about that is that I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about Saudi Arabia. I cannot believe, as I look around and see the cranes everywhere, the progress and the beautiful architecture, it’s just an amazing city. I was talking to my husband last night, and I said, “Next time I come to Saudi Arabia, which I’m definitely coming again very soon, hopefully, you must come, because it’s a really amazing country.” It’s unfortunate how often the media, and we can talk about this in the US, the media, it only likes to explore negative things about our countries. Saudi Arabia and the United States are good friends, and we’re friends of the world. It’s just such a blessing and an honor to be here.

                                    Yesterday, I got to tour one of your new centers, and I would like you to talk a little bit about it. The name, what they’re doing. I also want to say to the listeners, of course, many countries, the United States and others, we’ve been working on inclusion of people with disabilities in the United States since the 40s. We’ve made some amazing, wonderful progress, and it’s very gratifying to me to be over here and seeing that we have had an impact on some of the decisions that you’re making across everything that we’re doing.

                                    I will say, in the many countries, the employment of persons with disabilities, it has not been a big success. I work a lot with the big corporations and a lot of the United Nations agencies, and I find it such an opportunity here, in Saudi Arabia, because in some ways, maybe you’re a little bit further behind than other countries in the services that you’re providing to students with disabilities, but what’s fascinating to me is that you’re taking this from the framework model, and that’s why I wanted you to talk about yourself, because I don’t think we’ve ever seen someone with your mind in this field, and we are so excited to have you and your team in this field. I think Saudi Arabia is going to change things. I’m really excited to be working with you on strategy and giving my opinion about things.

                                    Often, when we’re thinking about children, and of course, I’m a mother with a daughter with Down’s syndrome who is 30 now, but thinking about, “How can she be the best person?” And I’m thinking about it from the very beginning of the process. I understand, when a baby is born and we’re doing intervention, you’re not thinking about employment, but taking very logical steps and creating a framework that considers the child all the way through every single stage of their life so that the ultimate goal is, “How can they best really expand their own abilities?” I’m just very, very excited about how you’re looking about it, and the framework, and once again, the background of the successes you’ve already done, models that have been picked up and used by countries all over the world.

                                    This is who they put in charge of this project, listeners. This is who they put in charge of this project, one of the smartest men I think I’ve ever met. I hope not to embarrass you. This is very, very exciting for the community of people with disabilities all over the world. Yes, they are learning from other countries what they’ve already done, and they’re looking at the successes, and they’re looking at failures and opportunities so that they can help make sure that people with disabilities are included not only in their own societies, but all over the world. I think that we should all be very, very positive and optimistic about what’s happening here, in Saudi Arabia. I will be a frequent visitor to Saudi Arabia after this experience. I didn’t know what to expect, as a woman, and I have been so, so pleasantly surprised. I’m surprised. I’m delighted.

                                    Talk about the center that we visited yesterday. For those of you that are following me on Facebook, I’m posting a lot of pictures, and we’re going to continue to explore this. I’m going to be talking for the United Nations International Labor Organization at their Global Business Disability Network on October 23rd, and I’ll do some interviews there, and we’re going to introduce this framework. 67 stakeholders. How smart is that? First of all, before we go to your mind map, which we definitely want to go there, talk about the center that we saw yesterday.

Suhail:                     Okay. Saudi Arabia … First of all, I’d like to thank you for all the nice words you said about my team and myself. We are trying to do our best. Hopefully, we are the right people that we will make things happen in the future. We are trying our best. We are trying to be as smart as you have … You know. You showed us how you are talking about us.

                                    The issue here is that, as Debra said, we are bringing different experts from around the world to learn from their experiences, and to see where they are thinking to be. Every time we talk to an expert and he visits the [inaudible 00:18:45] center, he said, “This is a unique center,” because all the centers which now exist around the world is a specialized center, like a center for autism, center for Down’s syndrome, but in Saudi Arabia, because of two main issues, the huge number of schools that we have in Saudi Arabia, 33000 schools, and the different cultures within the Saudi country, and the shortage of specialized manpower in these services where we cannot deliver services inside the school directly. [inaudible 00:19:22] support centers around the kingdom.

                                    At a certain stage, the ministry decided to build a role model for a center that will be the role model for all centers around the kingdom, where you will have all the services that should be provided to students under one roof. A decision has been taken to create the center to deliver two different services. The first one is for the students who come from school to the center and receive all the treatment, all the rehab sessions, and the other service, which is the outreach service that certain members of the centers, specialized number of centers, they go to the schools and they deliver the services at the schools. Also, they have [inaudible 00:20:21] development sessions with teachers, with the students.

                                    Just to introduce the main issue that we have here, in Saudi Arabia, which is, when you look at a disabled person, you should not focus on his weakness, you should focus on his strength. We, from this experience, we think it is working well and it is delivering a value. The beauty about it is that this service is provided five days a week, whole year. Normally, schools, they break for three months or two months, and the kid will lose certain capability or lose what he learnt during the school time, but the center will be open during summer, during vacations, and students will continue coming to the center, will continue having their sessions, so when school starts again, they are ready to continue their learning journey.Today, after four years of operating this center [inaudible 00:21:39], we have a success story. We’ve been approached by different organizations within Saudi Arabia. They are trying to copy this model.

                                    The beauty of this model is that we have created the main four pillars that will be the real competency for support services in Saudi Arabia. The first pilar is the quality control and quality assurance. Because of the experience [inaudible 00:22:05], now, we have created a quality control, quality assurance approach for any center that we will be managing or any center that would like to come and copy what we are trying to do.

                                    The second pilar is that we have created an information system platform. We took the HI system, hospital information system. We customized it, and now we put a new name to it, which is the case information system, because we don’t have patients, we ave cases. We have tailored that system to serve the individual plan for the student so the teacher can follow up, the family, they can follow up, and the specialist center can follow up. We have now a system which is sitting in the Cloud. When we designed it, we designed it to accommodate 70 centers. Now, we are launching other centers in Saudi Arabia, and it is just plug and platy. We don’t have to create anything from scratch. The beauty, also, about this, that we have data that we can go back to, we can analyze and we can come up with new ideas.

                                    The third pilar is the case management system that we have developed within the center. We think it’s unique. We know that there’s a case management activity in hospitals, but in our case, it’s a little bit different, because case management is more about interacting and including the family and the child in what we are trying to do and what the family should do, and how the society should deal with them, or how they should deal with society. All these kinds of things, we do. It follows up the journey for that student at the center at the school and makes sure that he gets the right services and treatment for him.

                                    The last pilar is that we have developed in the past four years a huge experience within the [inaudible 00:24:11]. Today, we have documental all these experiences. We are contacting people from Saudi Arabia or South Saudi Arabia to have knowledge areas that we’re going to focus on. This knowledge area will develop a certain knowledge curriculum for each knowledge area that we will start a virtual kind of academy where we will be working with different organizations. Today, we are discussing a serious program that Aramco, which is the biggest oil company in the whole world, that we are launching for special education services for disabled students. This program is directed to the teachers in the areas where Aramco is where they’re going to develop their knowledge and their practice on exactly what is really needed to make the student included in his school, within his family, and within the society.

                                    We can see other centers in Saudi Arabia today. They are really looking up to these kind of services that the center is, or competencies that the center is trying to develop, because this is something unique, and we never had it here, in Saudi Arabia. I think, personally, that it does not exist anywhere in the world. All services under one roof, that’s a unique experience, and we are willing to share it with anybody who’s really wanting to know more about us.

Debra:                     As a parent of a child with disability that went through all of the services that were available in the United States, I often felt that there just wasn’t enough resources, often. I know that my daughter with Down’s syndrome, she really struggled with her communication skills. We would be given 20 minutes a week in a group setting with multiple students with disabilities on speech therapy, and it really wasn’t very helpful. Of course, everybody was doing the best they could. My daughter wasn’t reading when she turned 13, and that’s when I decided to start my company, TecAccess. I remember being so, and still sometimes, I still feel very frustrated with the lack of services. Not that I’m criticizing my country. I’m very proud to be an American, but the needs are just so big, and the way many of these services are done, like you said, they’re not done in one organized framework of system. In many countries, it’s sort of hit and miss, and “Good luck.” We sue the schools in the United States. We do things different in the United States.

                                    As a parent that has walked these paths, and still do. As Sarah has become … She’s 30 now, and over the last couple of years, she started getting frustrated in certain ways, and I’ve gone to my county and said, “How can there …” Everybody’s doing the best they can, but the reality is there … It’s sort of one, one, one, one. It doesn’t appear like we have a global … Well, I know that we don’t have a national framework. I, as a parent, and as an, air quote, “expert” in this space, I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m just so impressed. We’ve talked about this in the many meetings that we’ve had. I’m very hopeful. I’m hopeful. I’m very hopeful. I’m very excited.

Suhail:                     If you’ll allow me just to add, this center I talked about is [inaudible 00:28:10] center in Riyadh, but actually part of the initiative, the 2020 initiative, we are developing 34 other centers around the kingdom. The beauty about what we are trying to do here is that is before [inaudible 00:28:29] we saw this idea as a great idea. We went in two other different directions. One direction, we went to the third sector, or the private sector from third sector perspective. Now, we have two centers, specialized centers, one for autism and one for Down’s syndrome. It is funded by the private sector, and it will be managed and run by [inaudible 00:28:56] using the model that we developed in [inaudible 00:29:03] center.

                                    Also, Aramco, they are creating a [inaudible 00:29:06] center in the [inaudible 00:29:09] area, and they want us to operate that center the same way we are operating [inaudible 00:29:13] center, because they see it’s very effective to have all the services under one roof. Also, [inaudible 00:29:21], they have given us a building, and we will run that center in two different models. The first model, we are going to run it for free in the morning for students, and then it will be run for a nonprofit organization in the evening to support the free services given in the morning.

                                    Plus, we have gone to the extreme side of it. As I have explained to you, we have rented a small city in the Mecca area where it is an area of almost 70000 square meters. Some of the businessmen, he build it as a charity. It has 12 apartment buildings, it has 70 plus apartments, and it has a main building, 5000 square meters. It has a medical center, almost 1000 meters. It has an office building, almost, again, 1000 meters. We have rented that, and we’re going to have four services there.

                                    The first one, and the most important one, the 5000 square meter building, it will be [inaudible 00:30:27] for Mecca area, beside the 34 centers that we have, this is something different. Then, we’re going to have some hospitality services for disabled people, which now, today, we have almost 2000 of our students have been accommodated by different places within … In Jordan and Egypt and Kuwait and Emirates. Now, we are trying to bring some of those kids to Saudi Arabia and bring them with their family, with their society.

                                    We were lucky to work with [inaudible 00:31:09] and her staff. The CEO of the company is Richard, and Richard, he has a great experience with Disneyland. I was discussing with him yesterday the possibility of having that city very attractive to families to spend more time with their kids, and it will be like an enjoyable experience that they would like to repeat it. Not every day. We wish that it would be every day, but every week, they come and spend more time. Plus, also, we would like to include the families who have an interest, to accommodate some of those kids within their family by providing whatever tools and the setup they need in their houses so they can also … If the family is not around, he can go with the family there and he live the life of a family.

                                    Since we are on Mecca, on holy Mecca, so many families, they’d like to visit the holy mosque, but they cannot because their disabled kids. They might have very special treatment. We are providing a service for anybody who comes to Mecca with their disabled kids, we can take care of those kids, but not only take care of them at the center, but we will make sure that the team will go with the kid to the holy mosque and see how things are done there, and he will be enjoying seeing the [inaudible 00:32:35] and supplicate to God, to in sha Allah, make him will and make him a very effective citizen within the society.

                                    Two more services we will provide there, which is transition schooling, which is something that we have seen around the world, and this is the first time we’re going to implement it here, in Saudi Arabia. We will have students, autism and Down’s syndrome, and maybe other disabilities, that they will be spending certain amount of time, schooling time, in the city, and when they are ready to be included, they will be moved to public schools.

Debra:                     It’s amazing. It’s very exciting. When you were taking about Richard and his experiences, a Disney imagineer, you start thinking of all the possibilities to help, once again, individuals with disabilities achieve their full ability. That’s what we want for every dingle person in the world. Bringing in the robotics and the VR and the artificial intelligence and the robotics, and all of the technology and the innovation that’s happening. Often, we’ve seen a lot of these very interesting things happening in the entertainment industry. It’s just amazing what we’re talking about in these meetings and what we’ve seen, and the innovation. I just haven’t seen it often when I’m visiting countries.

                                    The countries are responding for different reasons. Maybe they had moms like me that are pushing, and so there are advocates pushing for their rights and human rights in being included. Often, when I’m looking at these programs, there’s no funding, there’s no resources. They certainly aren’t looking at it from a framework like you are. You’ve already created this mind map that we’ll talk about. It’s just very exciting to watch almost the deliberate intention of fully including people with disabilities.

                                    I know that when I went to the center yesterday, I was greeted by a young, very amazing man with Down’s syndrome, who immediately … We started following each other on Twitter and Facebook. I’m very, very excited about the possibilities and what we can learn from each other.

                                    In other countries that have been doing this, trying to do this for a long time, because we sort of … “We started it, and we tried this and that. We’ll just give money to the families.” There’s a lot to learn from progress not being made in a lot of countries. I know that I was talking to a parent in the United States that has a child with a severe intellectual disability, and he and his wife were so frustrated by the services that they were getting, that they wound up suing the school system to try to get better services. I’m not saying that’s the answer, but I think the answer is that we need a country to really make this a priority and do it in a way that is a transformation. A transformation for the country, transformation for the children, transformation for everyone.

                                    I also want to point out, before we get into mind map, which is amazing, that when you and I talked, you said, “Debra, I want you to help other mothers here, in Saudi Arabia, become Debras. Become champions and advocates.” Sometimes, often in countries that I’m working with, we see that the advocates are not always aligned with what the government’s doing. Often, they’re fighting, fighting, fighting for their rights. I know that in some countries, and I won’t name them, but I’ve visited some countries supporting them with what they’re doing, and they don’t want the advocates involved because they think that they’re too emotional, they’re not practical, they’re not being reasonable.

                                    Once again, what I’m seeing here, in Saudi Arabia, is that you’re creating an innovative framework, making sure that all of the stakeholders are included, including thinking about from the very beginning, “What are the abilities that these children have?” We all have abilities. We all have abilities, and tapping into that and really focusing on the ability, instead of focusing on the deficit. “Okay. I see,” using my daughter as an example,” Sarah doesn’t have good communication skills, so we’re going to just focus on that.” Well, what if we could focus on what she’s really good at, and really help her grow that, and at the same time, complement the deficits that we have so she can be the best person, which is what we want. I just think that this transformation is going to change the world for all of us, so I’m very excited about that.

                                    I also want to … I want the listeners to know that the women are heavily engaged in this transformation. The mothers, the employers, the employees. Women are heavily, heavily engaged in these. I think, sometimes, there is confusion about women in the Muslim countries, but what I’m seeing is progress for the world, so it’s very, very exciting.

                                    Let’s turn to the mind map. I want you to talk about this mind map. 67 stakeholders. That’s very, very interesting. We’re going to post the mind map whenever we post the interview so everyone can see it, and once again, I’m going to be talking … I have the honor to talk about it a little bit to the United Nations when I go to the ILO Global Business Disability Network. I know the 40 or 50 multinational corporations that are going to be there are going to be really impressed too.

Suhail:                     Okay. The idea here is that, always, when we think of creating something for the nation, or a national approach, or national methodology, I always, and this is if you allow me to say this, I always follow two things, which is very, very important. The first approach, which is [inaudible 00:38:47] is the co creation. Do not do things alone. Get everybody involved. Even if he has a small contribution, make him feel that his contribution is a huge add on to what you are trying to do.

                                    The second thing is that, unfortunately, when we think of disabled people, we think of sympathy. What I say, “It’s not sympathy. It is empathy.” You have to put yourself in his place, “What kind of service I should receive? Why always they would like to help me? They don’t want to make me help myself.” This is huge difference between looking at a disabled guy and trying to help him to go through whatever agony he is going through, or you are looking at him and seeing where is his strength points and try to help him to be totally independent using these strength points. This is always what I say, that co creation and empathy is the key success to your, whatever, framework or strategy.

                                    67 took us two days. Workshop, two days. You were telling me, “Wow. That’s so short.” It just took us two days to come up with these 67. We analyzed each one of them. We color coded the stakeholders based on the add on they’re going to do. Some of them are major contributors, some of them are minor contributors. Some of them are implementers, some of them are supporters. The issue here is that if you define all the stakeholders and you go and say, “Each one, this is his role, and this is what I’m expecting out of him.” Then, you go and you co create things with them. You go and consult and give the right help to him to make sure that he is adding value that you’re expecting him to add.

                                    Normally, when we think about disability here, in Saudi Arabia, in the past, they always think of, “What can I do for them?” This is where we found that different ministries, they are delivering different services, and they are providing same tools. You find the disabled person, he is receiving three different devices doing the same thing from three different government agencies. We start working with these government agencies [inaudible 00:41:48] We need to be smart in managing our capital that we have in delivering better services. Everybody was saying, “Okay. Where do you want me to start? Where is my responsibility? Where am I going to be accountable? What kind of services are you expecting from me?” Today, we have eight of those stakeholders. They are the main stakeholders, the main contributors. We are defining every stakeholder’s role, and everybody now is happy, because everybody knows exactly what he can contribute to this person.

                                    My advice is co creation and empathy. I used empathy a lot when I talk about realizing your value proposition. We have a huge value proposition for disabled people, but are they realizing that? Not you. I’m not talking about us realizing that. Of course, because we’re spending money, we are hiring people and delivering services, but it’s about them, it’s not about you. Are they realizing that value proposition? Always, we say that, “To realize the value proposition, focus on the game point and try to resolve the [inaudible 00:43:16].” This is something that we are trying to do here, in Saudi Arabia.

Debra:                     Okay. I’m going to quote that. That’s a tweetable moment, as Oprah says. It’s really exciting. To tie the quality assurance, the quality control and the framework, and all the things that we do, the rest of society, into this. Into this, “How do we make sure all citizens of your country are reaching their full potential?” Isn’t that what we all want? Since you’re creating it as a framework with the different stakeholders and everything, the reality is that this is something that you will be able to implement with deliberateness, which I think is very exciting.

                                    I know that I’ve gone over the usual interview time because something powerful is happening here, in Saudi Arabia. I really hope that you will join me in watching what they’re doing, and I’m just so honored and thrilled that I get to be a tiny little part of these conversations. We are really, really, really excited and honored for the work that you’re doing here, because I think, in Saudi Arabia, you’re going to really allow people to tap into their pure human potential.

                                    Any final words? I would say, normally, how I end the interview is providing websites and how can people get hold of you and things like that, but I would say this is unfolding right now. The website’s being built. Of course, this is going to be doing in Arabic, and you also want to do it in English. The diversity that I’m seeing in Saudi Arabia surprised me. The diversity. I think we all, if you’re listening to this from other parts of the world than the Gulf region, we need to really take a look at what’s happening here, in Saudi Arabia, because I believe that you’re really going to change lives, which is very important to me. I’m going to give you the microphone for some final words, and then please, listeners, stay tuned, because we’re going to talk a lot more about this.

Suhail:                     First of all, I would like to thank you personally, Debra, because if it’s not for you, we would not have shared all this information with all the listeners. To be honest, here, in Saudi Arabia, the way we do things, when we work on something, we really focus on, “This something should work.” That’s why the PMO methodology I developed and why people, they really liked it, because at that time, I developed a PMO that works, not looks good. Most of the people, they go and develop things that looks good, but does not work. Us focusing … Today, what we are focusing on is things that works. Anybody who goes to [inaudible 00:46:22] center, here things works, does not look good. There is nothing fancy about the centers. I don’t know if you think it’s fancy or not. The issue here is that we focus on things that works.

                                    Plus, having people like you, Debra, your organization, this is what we are aiming for, is to build strategic partnerships with international alliances where we can learn from you and we can share our experience with you, but maybe, at this stage, you were impressed with what we are trying to do here, but still, we’re in the building stage. Definitely, you will see something totally different. It’s not that far. It’s going to be in December or January next year. You will see four more centers working the same way that [inaudible 00:47:18] is working. You will see a kick off of the virtual academy that we are talking about. At that time, hopefully, we will have everything documented, and we will be happy to share it with everybody.

                                    Again, thank you, Debra, and thank you for giving us this chance. Thanks for seeing us from that perspective. You have a great view. You have a great perspective. The way you saw things, it makes us really feel good and gives us energy to go forward and continue what we are doing. Thank you very much.

Debra:                     Thank you. Thank you, everyone. More to come.

Speaker 3:             You’ve been listening to Human Potential at Work with Debra Ruh. To learn more about Debra and how she can help your organization, visit If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and you want to make sure that you don’t miss any future episodes, go to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast, Human Potential at Work. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll be back next week with a new episode.