Dubai Airports Group - Transforming the HR function

Our Work

Dubai Airports Group – a HR transformation to deliver for today and the future

Transforming the HR function, creating a dedicated talent, assessment and development team and improving service levels at the world’s busiest international airport


Dubai Airports owns and manages the operation and development of both of Dubai’s airports – Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC).

DXB is the world’s busiest airport by international passenger traffic and, in 2016, handled more than 80 million passengers and around 2.5 million tonnes of cargo, with numbers expected to increase substantially over the coming years.

With Dubai’s aviation sector forecast to generate US$45 billion in economic activity (32% of Dubai’s forecasted GDP) by 2020, Dubai Airports (DA) is undergoing a period of significant growth and wanted to ensure that its expansion plans resulted in the highest levels of world-class service that customers are entitled to expect.

The challenge

DA is in an unheralded period of expansion, and must build the capability required within the organisation to deliver against today’s operating requirements and against its future strategy.

The airport is number one in the world in terms of international passenger numbers, yet falls far below this in terms of service quality. Creating an empowered leadership pipeline throughout the business, to train safety-critical and behavioural skills, will result in more engaged, service-focused employees.

Indigogold’s mission is to address these unsatisfactory service levels by developing a more commercially aligned and attuned HR function. This will enable the business to recruit, assess and develop a capable pipeline of leaders to support structural transformation and keep pace with the ambitions of the business.

What we are doing

Working closely with the EVP HR, Ann-Marie Campbell, and VP Talent, Assessment & Development, Victoria Redshaw, Indigogold undertook an in-depth diagnostic review of the people challenges within the business and the HR function’s capability of to meet these.

Beginning in 2015, we evaluated and refined the current and proposed HR&D operating models. Capability assessments were carried out within the HR, OD and HRBPs teams, advising on gaps at individual and team levels.

We then designed a detailed two-year transformation plan for DA, spending time with the executive team to understand better the issues and constraints, with the aim of crafting a leaner, sharper and more capable HR and development function.

During 2016, Indigogold helped implement several structural changes, including:

  • A focus on talent management, leadership capability, succession planning and wider culture;
  • Creating a universal standard and tone for training delivery, ensuring any opportunities to leverage scale were taken;
  • Hosting a six-module structural training programme for 15 DA business partners (BPs). The modules were: Consulting Cycle; Performance Management; Data Analytics; Commercial Acumen; Talent Management; and Influencing & Stakeholder Management;
  • Two-day business simulation: BPs were paired with a line manager provided by Indigogold. Each individual was given detailed face-to-face and written feedback that formed the basis of a Personal Development Plan; and
  • Each member of the HRLT (Director TA, VP Organisation Development, Director of HR Operations, VP Talent, Development & Assessment, Director of Training and SVP HR) went through a suite of diagnostics and a 90-minute one-to-one feedback session. Leadership insight from the psychologists was collated and messages generated across the team.

We are now in year three (2017) of our work with DA, and changes are being rolled out across the business, with Indigogold consultants supervising the process and providing support as the function evolves.

Ongoing results

We are continuing to work alongside the HR and development top team, assisting implementation of this more strategic approach.

The streamlined HR function is now more proactively engaged with commercial performance, ensuring its talent, learning, leadership and succession planning is aligned throughout the business.

Throughout 2017, Indigogold consultants will continue to provide support around intense periods of activity such as performance planning, and are available throughout the transformation programme to further bolster the HR efficiency drive.

Over the past two years, Indigogold consultants have spent on average a week every month in Dubai, and feedback from DA about the strategic partnership has been very positive, enabling the organisation to prepare for what it expects to be a period of very significant growth.


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