Ahmed Mohamed Kafood could not have imagined what the future would hold for him when he attended the very first Qatar Career Fair (QCF) in 2007. As a fresh graduate, he went to the fair with modest expectations. Quite simply, he hoped to find a worthwhile opportunity that would allow him to gain some work experience, having earned his Bachelor degree in Accounting from Qatar University only a few months earlier. “I was probably one of the first few people who attended the fair that morning,” Ahmed recalls. “To be honest, I went in search of a good opportunity. I visited the Qatar Foundation stand to apply, and I continued to walk around so as to explore other possible options.” Ahmed, 28, did not anticipate the outcome of his brief visit to the Qatar Foundation booth. He was keen to make the most of his time and evaluate the many career choices on offer. “I received a phone call while I was at QCF to ask if I was still at the fair. The representative from Qatar Foundation asked me if I could come back,” he recounts. “When I went back, they asked me several questions, but I did not realise that this was to be my first interview with the finance director at the time, and I really was not aware that it was to recruit me.” Although he admits to having felt a little anxious at the impromptu nature of the meeting, the ambitious young Qatari made a lasting impression and was invited to visit Qatar Foundation. “They gave me the offer that very same day but told me ‘Just think about it, you have two weeks and you can come to visit Qatar Foundation at a suitable time so that we can give you a tour’,” says Ahmed. “I visited the organisation and they gave me an orientation, which is when I began to realise how big it is and that there is way more to it than just education. I also realised that they are growing and developing the community.” During the visit, Qatar Foundation’s mission resonated deeply with Ahmed, who was eager to develop his own skills. “It changed my perspective and the way I think about a career and development. The message that the Foundation is trying to deliver to Qatar and other countries is an honourable message,” he explains. Hired as a graduate trainee in 2007, Ahmed has worked hard to move up the ranks and to overcome any challenges he may face. He received his confirmation as a full-time employee in 2009, and has since made even more strides that have led to his current position as a Senior Management Accountant. “The Career Development Plan that Qatar Foundation set for me and the support I received from my managers and colleagues were very strong. They helped me develop my skills and reach a senior management accountant level,” he says. “The Chief Financial Officer said to me from the start, ‘Pick the department that you like best in finance, because I know that if you do what interests you, you will develop quickly and be innovative’.” That piece of advice has made all the difference to Ahmed and driven him to excel in his profession, achieving several notable ‘exceeds expectations’ comments in his employment reviews. He has several career milestones to reach over the coming years and intends to keep moving up the ladder. Other influencing factors determining Ahmed’s success have been his positive outlook and ability to derive lessons from difficult situations. “The most important lesson I learned, and I always pass this on to new graduates and trainees, is that you can overcome whatever difficulties you face by working hard,” he says. “I faced difficulties at the beginning, but it just meant that I needed to develop my thinking, as well as my skills, in order to pass a certain level.” Ahmed believes that Qatar Foundation is perfectly positioned for continued growth as it seeks to achieve Qatar’s National Vision 2030, and any Qatari who wants to help his community rise to the challenge, should heed that message. The first question Ahmed says he would ask a promising applicant at QCF today is, “Are you seeking to develop yourself and your country?” In contrast to Ahmed, Saad Al Suwaidi attended Qatar Career Fair three years ago with some work experience and a clear objective in mind. The 27-year-old Qatari had received his Bachelor degree in Tourism and Administration from Stenden University Qatar, and was determined to apply for a post at the Foundation. “I used to work at a bank in Qatar and study at the same time. It would have been difficult to look for a job across the country by visiting companies or ministries to find the place that is most suited to my interest,” explains Saad. “When I went to QCF, it was specifically for Qatar Foundation. I knew the criteria they were looking for from their website and prepared my paperwork.” Although Saad recognised that there was no guarantee he would be offered a job, he was determined to submit his application and meet with representatives from Qatar Foundation. “The fair is held every year – if it had not been successful, it would not be in its sixth year. I had a good idea of what it was that I wanted and if I was not accepted, I would have applied a second, third and fourth time because I knew what my ultimate objective was,” he says.
Perhaps it is Saad’s self-assured approach and perseverance that landed him a post with Qatar Foundation. He now holds the position of Events Services Coordinator at the Communications Directorate and is enjoying rising to a new challenge every day. Saad says one of the aspects he appreciates the most about his job is the focus that is placed on personal development. With a very clear development plan in place, employees at Qatar Foundation are encouraged to advance their skills and further their career. “To be a part of Qatar Foundation, you must be active and dedicated to your work,” he explains. “As challenging as it may be, it also gives you a great sense of achievement. With Qatar Foundation, you are part of a community. You are not serving a place – you are serving yourself and your country.” His advice to younger Qataris is to take advantage of Qatar Career Fair 2013 and make the most of the many valuable opportunities on offer. “The whole country is available under one roof with jobs and development programmes, but it would be useful for a person to have an idea about what they want – a job, a training programme, or career consultancy advice,” says Saad. “I cannot imagine working anywhere else. As for QCF, I would tell everyone ‘Just make the most of it!’.”