In the second of our ‘DNA series’, Hays DNA of an HR Leader uncovers what it takes to succeed at the top of the HR profession in the GCC.

In association with the CIPD Middle East, the report examines the career paths of more than 300 senior HR professionals operating in the region, incorporating survey results, commentary and Q&As with six industry experts.

Key findings

  • Staff retention is the single biggest challenge for HR leaders over the next 12 months, while talent management and retention are the most significant areas of focus for the next two years
  • 22% of GCC-based HR leaders now sit on the Board of Directors at their respective organisations – a trend which is growing in prevalence in the region
  • The majority of HR leaders are female (54%), aged between 30 and 45 years old
  • Almost half (49%) have worked in other professions before switching to HR
  • Finance is considered the most important discipline for HR to partner with
  • Gaining cross-industry experience is the key piece of advice for the up-and-coming generation of leaders


Thank you

Hays would like to express our gratitude to all those individuals who participated in our online survey and provided such invaluable information. We would also like to thank the CIPD Middle East and the report contributors who willingly offered their thoughts to the research findings, as well as providing us with in-depth insights into their careers in the HR profession.


Over 300 senior HR professionals, operating in the GCC region, were surveyed online during 2016/17. They were asked about their educational background, qualifications, international experience, responsibilities, challenges and personal aspirations.

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