Dr Vajahat Hussain
Dr Vajahat Hussain, CEO of Amity Education Image Credit: Supplied

How does being a part of Business Excellence Awards help educational institutions such as Amity University?

Our aim is to become one of the best organisations to work for in the region, a workplace of choice for residents and expats.

Processes and functions within every industry are always evolving and as an educational institution it is even more important to ensure that continuous growth and improvements take place within our organisation.

We are a people-focused business and there is always a need to attract and retain quality teachers and lecturers. Winning Dubai Human Development Appreciation Award and Dubai Quality Appreciation Award is an honour as well as a great incentive to push for further change and developments, not only within Amity for our employees but also as an education provider in this region.

What is the learning you acquired through the awards process ?

Our journey towards business excellence as a university started with collecting feedback in a traditional manner from stakeholders and willing participants. When compiling this data we realised that we had missed out on a large part of our society. This initial learning curve led us to follow a more holistic approach towards all our processes and their impact on both people and society criteria within the EFQM excellence model.

Amity University also introduced a society survey last year, which played a large role in learning more about the general public’s perception of Amity as a brand, an employer and an organisation. Through the process of applying for the Dubai Human Development Award, we were able to assess how our human development and HR initiatives have positively impacted employee performance and happiness over a period of time. This has also helped us take a closer look at successful initiatives and how we can improve them.

What are the HR initiatives and innovations you have introduced to keep your employees motivated?

Several HR initiatives have been set in place over the years to ensure that staff are motivated. We have set up multiple communication channels to ensure that ideas are shared and initiated across the organisation. Mentorship programmes to integrate new employees into the workplace are ongoing. Departments and programme leaders regularly organise recreational activities for staff to ensure that work-life balance is maintained. Amity employees also have the provision to take a variety of leave options including paternity and maternity leave, staff development leave, time-off to attend conferences worldwide, as well as the opportunity to pursue long-term goals on sabbaticals.

As an educational institution we have focused on community engagement programmes that bring faculty and the community together. Female empowerment and diversity within our staff have always been encouraged. We strive to create equal opportunities through consistent and continuous professional development, offering financial and non-financial support. One of the main challenges we have when following this road map to excellence is the allocation of budgets to elevate and motivate employees, while also ensuring retention and long-term commitment for the same.

What are the initiatives you have in place to maintain the competitiveness and productivity of your organisation?

Amity University provides quality education through a curriculum that is industry-focused and constantly evolving. Periodic surveys that capture the perceptions of customers, employees, partners and stakeholders have helped us to gather the feedback we need to grow at a consistent pace.

Campus placements are always a concern for parents and students. In 2018, we received the CFI award for the best university for graduate recruitment in the GCC. Through an in-house Corporate Resource Centre, we ensure that students are equipped with the tools they need to succeed in an interview and meet the right recruiters for full-time and part-time placement opportunities. Student exchange programmes through partnerships with higher education institutes around the world give our students the global exposure they require. We look forward to receiving the complete report with feedback from Business Excellence Awards to plan improvements and focus on specific areas that may need additional attention.