Ed Sattar

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  • Global Risk Management Survey

    A CEO’s Perspective

    The financial crisis which shook global markets and financial institutions worldwide has forever changed the landscape with an era of sweeping regulatory change. The new regulatory landscape is placing demands on financial institutions in such areas as corporate governance, risk appetite, capital adequacy, stress tests, operational risk, technology data and information systems, and risk culture.

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    Risk management must respond to “the new normal”—an environment of continual regulatory change and ever more demanding expectations.

    The complete report and key findings from the ninth annual Global Risk Management Survey published by Deloitte University Press can be found here: Global Risk Survey

    Key Findings:

    • More focus on risk management by boards of directors. Reflecting increased regulatory requirements, 85 percent of respondents reported that their board of directors currently devotes more time to oversight of risk than it did two years ago.
    • The existence of a chief risk officer (CRO) position has grown to be nearly universal. In the current survey, 92 percent of institutions reported having a CRO or equivalent position, up from 89 percent in 2012 and 65 percent in 2002.
    • Ninety-two percent of respondents said their institution either had an enterprise risk management (ERM) program or was in the process of implementing one, an increase from 83 percent in 2012 and 59 percent in 2008.
    • Roughly two-thirds of respondents felt their institution was extremely or very effective in managing the more traditional types of operational risks, such as legal (70 percent), regulatory/compliance (67 percent), and tax (66 percent).
    • Fewer respondents felt their institution was extremely or very effective when it came to other operational risk types such as third party (44 percent), cybersecurity (42 percent), data integrity (40 percent), and model (37 percent).

    Summary

    Financial institutions are adjusting to the new environment for risk management. Most institutions will need to enhance their risk management programs to stay current— improving analytical capabilities, investing in risk data and information systems, attracting risk management talent, fostering an ethical culture, and aligning incentive compensation practices with risk appetite. Financial institutions will need to develop the flexibility to respond nimbly to the “new normal” risk management environment of unceasing regulatory change.

    Info Source: Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

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  • What Are the Top Challenges for Restaurants?

    Restaurants are where America goes to socialize and celebrate. This is a $700 billion industry, but it’s not easy: many restaurants don’t make it past the first year and most fail within five years.

    From taxes and restaurant depreciation to health care and the minimum wage, restaurateurs must tackle a variety of issues. Currently, there are four specific challenges that restaurant executives have on their plates. What are they?

    1. Developing Employees

    Many common restaurant challenges can be solved with a commitment to employee training. Failure to adequately manage people is often one of the reasons a restaurant fails. A Manager who cannot build relationships with the customers nor the employees will be major problem.

    Staff training is a huge part of people management and development. There is a looming workforce shortage and this is a high-turnover industry; restaurants must find ways to keep and develop the staff they have. But many restaurateurs overlook the importance of a learning culture. Some are reluctant to train people who may leave at any time. This is shortsighted.

    In the hospitality and customer service business, the quality of an establishment’s staff is what you’re selling. Your people create the food and the experience that attracts paying customers and keeps them coming back. Why wouldn’t you invest in that?

    And training is not that expensive anymore: with mobile learning management systems and course authoring tools, restaurants can easily design and implement all the training they need.

    Remember: Put people first, and profits follow.

    2. Food Safety

    There are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness each year. Just this year there was a cyclospora outbreak in 30 states and the FDA warned of the risks of cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. An outbreak can mar business reputations, so safe food-handling practices is a constant challenge in the restaurant industry. The top priority of any restaurant is providing delicious, safe food to customers. Most states require some form of food handling certification.

    Restaurant executives must use training to create a culture of operational excellence and maintain food safety. A commitment to food safety training can lower the costs of operation, improve quality, and increase margins.

    3. Government Regulations

    Restaurateurs must deal with new regulations and training requirements, such as food safety, health care, human resources, and menu labeling, every year. This can be particularly challenging for small, non-chain establishments especially if they are being managed via Excel and Word.

    Stay on top of the latest developments and stay compliant with the help of industry organizations, the Internet, and specialized applications.

    4. Attracting Millennial Customers

    Restaurants serve 130 million Americans every day. But buyer demographics and behaviors are constantly changing, and the smart restaurateur stays up to date on all of these shifts. A current force in the marketplace is the more than 80 million millennials with increasing spending power. This influential, diverse group is tech savvy with a talent for social media. They use the Internet to find restaurants, rate them, and choose the hot new place. This presents a great opportunity for restaurants to market their brand in new, affordable ways.

    As millennials become an economic power and a critical demographic, smart restaurant executives will spend more time and money researching millennial trends and developing innovative strategies to attract them and grow brand loyalty.

    While restaurant failure numbers can be daunting, there is no need for despair for the informed, assertive restaurateur. New changes in the industry such as new laws, customers, and tastes provide unique opportunities for you to learn more about this business and your customers. Stay atop of recent regulations and trends with the on-demand tools available now, and you will navigate any challenge, increase profits, and develop sustainable restaurants.

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    Sources

    Facts at a Glance http://www.restaurant.org/News-Research/Research/Facts-at-a-Glance

    2015 Agenda Overview http://www.restaurant.org/advocacy/2015-Agenda-Overview

    Food Network Chef Robert Irvine Shares The Top 5 Reasons Restaurants Fail http://www.businessinsider.com/why-restaurants-fail-so-often-2014-2

    Cyclosporiasis Outbreak Investigations — United States, 2015

    http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/cyclosporiasis/outbreaks/2015/index.html

    Safe Food Handling: What You Need to Know

    http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm255180.htm

    The Dangers of Raw Milk: Unpasteurized Milk Can Pose a Serious Health Risk

    http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm079516.htm

    Marketing to your millennial audience

    http://www.restaurant.org/Manage-My-Restaurant/Marketing-Sales/Specialty-Promotions/Generation-Now-Marketing-to-your-Millennial-audien

  • Are You Ready for the Workforce Crisis?

    People power successful companies. Skilled people make your business what it is. But labor shortages and skill mismatches will present challenges for employers in the future. It’s wise to plan for it now.

    The Shrinking Workforce

    Over the next few decades, we will see labor shortages on a global scale, as the Boston Consulting Group detailed in July 2014. Germany faces a projected 10 million dollar shortage by 2030, with Italy, Russia, Poland, Brazil, and South Korea seeing similar shortfalls. Some countries enjoying surpluses in 2020 will see deficits by 2030.

    Why?

    The shrinking workforce can be traced to:

    • Declining birth rates
    • Increasing retirement
    • Immigration policies
    • Yearly working hours
    • Worker productivity/skill levels

    The Skill Mismatch

    Simultaneously, we’ll face a skilled-worker scarcity. This means huge problems with education, qualification, and expertise.

    So what’s the role of technology in this skill mismatch?

    Jobs have been replaced by technology for years, but we always need more people and more jobs. On the other hand, technology is a big asset, making people more efficient with robots, artificial intelligence, big data, and automation. So it’s not about robots replacing people, but whether technology can help solve this global workforce problem. The answer to that question is yes. And no. Or rather “it depends.”

    Automation keeps replacing people, but we’ll keep creating new jobs that require new skills. And this is going to make the skill mismatch worse. Talented, highly skilled people will be the big thing in the next decade.

    As you can see from the BCG research, this workforce problem is just around the corner and, right now, we’re at the turning point. How should you prepare for it?

    The Solution

    With the Baby Boomers retiring, there will be fewer people in the job market. You have to keep the workers you have. To do that, you need a talent management strategy:

    •   Skill Assessment Plan: What competencies, roles, and functions are you going to need in the future? Workforce planning and HR will be key here.
    •  Talent Recruitment Plan: How are you going to recruit the experienced workers you need? When expanding your workforce, think not just women and Generation Y, but also retirees.
    •  Education and Upskill Plan: You will have to create the highly skilled workers that will be lacking in the future. Now’s the time to draft the plan for training and upskilling employees.
    •  Worker Retention Plan: Now that you’ve got your top-notch staff, how are you going to keep them?
    1. Great, employee-centered culture
    2. Make your employees excited to come to work.
    3. Employees are in the jobs that match their skills.
    4. Clear purpose concisely communicated
    5. Rewarding environment focused on people and learning

    So now, with all this information, the questions for you going forward will be:

    • ·         Will the workforce problems affect your company?
    • ·         What are you going to do about it?
    • ·         Do you have a learning culture?
    • ·         Do you need a Learning and Talent Management System?

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    Source:

    The Hard Facts: Acute Shortages, Unrelenting Surpluses https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/management_two_speed_economy_public_sector_global_workforce_crisis/?chapter=2

  • Impact of Training on Achieving Individual, Team and Organizational Success

    Fast growing and profitable organizations across the globe have something in common, that is majority of them rely heavily on their investments but not just any investment; rather investment on their employee’s training and development. According to a recent industry report by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), U.S. organizations alone spend more than $126 billion annually on employee training and development (Paradise 2007).

    Trainings within organizations have become more structured, customized and well-refined, based on the goals and developmental needs of the organization. When the Human Resource Leaders sit down with different Managers to scrutinize the training from its delivery to its effectiveness, with the key focus of closing the talent gap and acquiring the skill sets through the training is when they lock on their road map towards organizational success.

    The reasons why several companies focus more on training is that training impact employee’s ability and skill set, all of which results to a better individual performance that ultimately leads to a team achieving its goals and henceforth retention and a more profitable organization. Numerous studies conducted in European countries have recognized the impact of training on organizational performance. Arag ´ on-S´anchez et al. (2003) studied the relationship between training and organizational performance by issuing a survey to 457 small and medium-size businesses in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, and Spain. Organizational performance was operationalized as (a) effectiveness (i.e., employee participation and quality), and (b) profitability (i.e., sales volume, benefits before interest and taxes, and a ratio of benefit before taxes/sales). Results indicated that some types of training activities, including training inside the organization using in-house trainers, were positively related to most dimensions of effectiveness and profitability.

    Now considering that the organizational profitability and performance depends on the individual performance factored by training, it is vital to understand that each individual’s training need varies from another and analyzing the true training needs and objectives based on the organization’s goal is the first step to this key process.

    In the training need analysis (TNA) process, leaders must identify which individual requires training, what training will be departed as well as the training method. There are various ways of gathering information for the TNA process, some of these include:

    1. Interviews
    2. Direct observation
    3. Focus groups
    4. Questionnaires
    5. Consultation with managers or personnel in key positions, and/or with specific knowledge
    6. Review of previous performance reviews
    7. Work samples / Job Analysis
    8. Assessments / Analysis / surveys
    9. Records & report studies

    Whichever means are used for gathering training needs information, it is essential for the training planner to know what the organization is trying to accomplish, consider the history of how the organization has evolved, its culture, its recent process or organizational changes and the resources available for training. The training planner must also know what fund is available for training or the amount of investment the organization is willing to make for the training. Knowing the answers to such essential information will help the training planner design an effective training plan.

    There are several perspectives to consider when designing a training plan for an organization. These are traditional and modern approaches to choose depending on the training need analysis results:

    1. On job training
    2. Off-the-job techniques
    3. Orientations
    4. Instructor lead training
    5. Technology-Based Learning
    6. Job rotation
    7. Coaching/Mentoring
    8. Group Discussions
    9. Management Games
    10. Apprenticeships
    11. Off-site training
    12. Planned Reading

    Last but not the least, the process of evaluating the training should be done during and / or at the end of the training in order to ensure the training is taking in to effect and at what level. For instance, some trainers throw in a few quizzes and questionnaire during the training to evaluate the response and degree of effectiveness of the training. If the response is positive, he may continue with the method, whereas if he receives a negative response he may take actions to avoid deviation from the training plan and the fulfillment of its objective. Frayne & Geringer (2000) conducted a field test in which they administered self-management training (lectures, group discussions, and case studies) to 30 salespeople in the life insurance industry. Results showed that salespeople who participated in the training program proved higher self-efficacy, outcome expectancy and objective conclusions (e.g., number of new policies sold) as well as individual job performance (i.e., sales managers’ ratings of each salesperson’s performance). The positive response of training-related performance improvement was sustained over a 12-month period after training ended.

    Understanding an organization’s goals, its employee’s training needs, effective method of departing training and its timely evaluation will ensure an organization towards it success and profitability.

  • Organizational Culture – The True Lifeline of 360training.com

    Employees and customers are going to be more powerful than ever. Long gone are the days when employers think that employees merely select an organization for the sake of a paycheck. There are several other factors that go into the equation and culture is one of them. The workplace has become a social venue where people look forward to interacting with others and being part of something more meaningful, something that gives them a sense of direction, something worth spending their energy on. This is exactly where an organization’s culture comes into play.

    In my professional journey, I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced being the CEO of a bootstrapped, start-up company that grew and transitioned into a small to medium-sized enterprise. Cultures were drastically distinct at different stages of the company.

    I admit, in the early stage of my career as a CEO of a start-up company, I never focused on optimizing the culture of the company as much as I should have. Later in my career, I’ve realized more than ever, that culture is a powerful element that can shape an organization. It is the organization’s true lifeline—one’s culture can make or break a business, regardless if it is just a start-up, small or a mid-sized company. Fostering an employee-friendly culture leads to a happy workforce, which is a key to the success of any organization. But an employee-friendly culture doesn’t come overnight. It takes time, requires constant effort, and starts with the executives. Yes, I strongly believe that the leaders of an organization, particularly the CEOs, are the ones who set the tone and influence the development of any organizational culture. It needs to start from the top before it can trickle down to the bottom.

  • How 360training Maintains its People’s motivation

    If organizations have to invest a lot of resources to motivate their people, there’s probably something wrong with the equation. Organizations should not have to invest to motivate their people; rather, they should hire people that are already motivated. In addition, they should ensure organizational leaders don’t do things that would demotivate them but continue down the path in adopting strategies and tactics that will keep them motivated. Motivating employees with a mere paycheck or salary raise is simply not enough in this day and age of the corporate world. Paychecks are considered to be in placement of an employee’s pre-soughed out role and responsibility in the organization and go only as far as fulfilling their basic needs.

    With that said, organizational leaders must make other efforts to ensure employees work life balance is maintained and their emotional, mental and spiritual needs are met. Focusing on these needs is essential and will result in employees being more productive without increasing the number of working hours. Several multinational companies have world-class office perks, such as Google Inc., Facebook, Apple and Yahoo to name a few.

    At 360training.com there are several incentives that have contributed in making our employee’s life better and keeping them happier. For instance, our Austin campus has had several initiatives, such as our company-funded quarterly off-site outings, annual boat party, ping-pong tournaments, holiday party, Cinco de Mayo celebration and our recently added Yoga classes offered free to employees on a regular basis.

    “The 360Training employees who participate in the yoga classes repeatedly mention how wonderful and relaxed they feel afterward. It’s easy to see from their smiles and laughter how much they appreciate the company making the classes possible!” says Kathy Driggers, Yoga Instructor for 360training.

    “Coming to work should be exciting and challenging. At 360training I feel challenged technically as there are always new technologies in the horizon that can be best suited in our eLearning environment. These technologies assist in providing solutions to our internal as well as external customers”, says Faisal Khawaja, Director of Product Engineering and winner of the 2013 Ping Pong Tournament. “360Trianing organizes many motivating activities that recharges its employees and is ready to push the company to the next level of success. Participating in the Ping Pong Tournament was a booster that brought the entire company together. Being part of that success is very comforting to the entire technology group. I am proud to be part of such a vibrant organization that is led by a very energetic and thoughtful leadership at the top.”

    Also, considering one incentive may not fulfill everyone’s needs, there are several other initiatives taking place across our 360training.com global offices. For instance, in Philippines 360training.com offered professional foot and back massages at their Spa party to all its employees along with free food and a relaxing environment.

    Similarly, the Pakistan office at 360training.com has its own company-funded Cricket team that plays every week. Recreational events for the employees gives them an opportunity to spend more time with their loved ones. Pakistan has also recently added a dedicated game room. This room resulted in a Carom tournament in which more than eighty percent of the employees participated and played enthusiastically. Some of these incentives are quite popular and have kept employees motivated and productive at 360training.com. There are several other instances where companies have now adapted to offering incentive programs that are unique, out of the extraordinary and those which were never offered in the past.

    “One of our priorities in HR is to focus on initiating various employee engagement activities that facilitate a healthy and vibrant culture where employees are motivated and inspired to be productive,” says Sana Sardar, Human Resource Generalist and Member of Employee Engagement Committee at Pakistan campus

    Regardless of the type of incentive program offered to employees, creating an environment where employees can relax and recharge themselves is essential for a healthy work life balance. These incentives do not address monetary needs of the employee but rather their emotional and spiritual needs. And when employees feel they are being cared for and looked after they are more motivated. And a motivated employee can be more productive than an employee working double those hours.

  • Valuing Diversity in the Workplace

    Diversity in the workforce is quite common in global organizations and diversity management has now become essential for such businesses. Having a diverse workforce includes diversity across race, religion, gender, age, culture, sexual orientation and even varying personality types. Not every organization is equipped with leaders, policies and cultural awareness programs that recognize diversities and shield minorities based on their differences. Global organizations must work towards developing values that respect and appreciate diversities and have a positive impact on groups in relation to satisfaction, turnover, absenteeism, as well as group conflict and cohesion.

    The first step is to recognize that diversity exists by building the cultural awareness amongst employees. With the support of leaders and HR, who are responsible for running the organization, strategies are developed, measured and implemented to build personal identity and reduce barriers such as stereotyping.

    Companies demonstrate how they will care for their employees without bias through their words and actions. They can also modify their values and norms to match the diverse employee base by developing HR policies that ensure that minorities are safeguarded in hiring procedures, career development practices, merit increases, training and development. Furthermore, an inclusive organization is one that recognizes government policies concerning equal opportunity and sexual discrimination.

    There is also ongoing diversity training, which is necessary to build diversity awareness, understanding and management of inter-group conflict, understanding of different thinking styles, and employing people different to themselves.

    Bear in mind that poor diversity management exposes a company to potential liabilities or even lawsuits. A CEO is not doing justice to shareholders, employees or customers if he/she is uninvolved. Workplace diversity can provide tremendous benefits in terms of improved morale, outside-the-box thinking, greater teamwork, and an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect. All of these differences can affect team interactions and performance.

    We may share similar values, such as respect or need for recognition, but how we show those values through behavior may be different for different groups or individuals.

  • Organizational Culture – Building 360training.com’s Culture

    Whether it is tight or loose, every company has a culture. Culture is a set of values, beliefs, and attitudes that shapes an organization. Founders, directors, managers, and key decision makers are the top influencers of any organization’s culture.

    I witnessed it first hand at 360training.com. You can’t just turn culture into a goal and mandate a certain culture within your organization. Rather, influence your organizational culture by setting the vision, mission, core values, and guiding principles of the company. I keep reminding my colleagues about what defines our culture during quarterly all-hands meetings and personally conduct new hire training sessions to discuss our culture.

    But merely defining the characteristics, talking about the attributes, and highlighting the aspects of the organizational culture on banners and the intranet are not enough. You have to make all your decisions based on the cultural values and guiding principles. Any deviation from these determinants will cause mistrust within the organization. In a nutshell, your words and your actions characterize your culture.

    It is important to note that building the right culture is not enough to achieve success. What matters most is ensuring that this culture is sustained. Over the years, I witnessed how a strong culture can be maintained through a continuous reinforcement of positive influences—such as keeping open lines of communication, treating employees with fairness and respect, and promoting a constant flow of honest feedback. At 360training.com, we’ve integrated these factors into our HR process to keep things simple and make it easier to reinforce the behaviors of our leaders.

    Live your values. Let your values guide every decision you make and use them to explain your motivations (like what I am doing via this blog). Explaining my motivations behind certain decisions is something that I struggled with, as the company transitioned from a start-up to a grown-up business. My mentor taught me how critical it is to convey my motivations and explain why I am making certain decisions.

    A strong culture will not only attract the right talent that your organization needs, but will also contribute in retaining staff as well. However, during the hiring process, make sure that the candidate fits well with your culture or can be able to show the desired influence on your culture. Remember, every person has the potential to impact your culture. But the more senior a person is, the stronger his/her influence may be on your organizational culture. That influence can be positive or negative. Hence, hiring the wrong person for your organization can lead to a disaster and can crash your culture. Create a recruiting process to identify those “culture crashers,” so that you can weed them out on the outset and prevent further damage.

    Keep your commitments, be open and honest. Take the leap in creating a dynamic culture where people can thrive, make exemplary contributions to their fellow workers and customers, and help create a great company!

  • Make Me a Millionaire

    It was a privilege to be interviewed by Shuja Rhaman, a MBA student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. I would like to share this interview with you to inspire all the aspiring entrepreneurs out there. This interview underscores how I started and founded 360training, the challenges I have faced and are still facing, how the business grew from $250K initial investment to a yearly revenue of $25M, some of the business strategies that I have used and the company’s future plans.

    Make Me a Millionaire

    “Vision without execution is hallucination,” says Ed Sattar, Founder and CEO of 360training.com Inc. Ed founded 360training, an e-learning company in 1998 to offer compliance courses in an online format to real estate agents for their continuing education needs. Ed, himself comes from real-estate background and felt the pain-points of sitting in classroom settings to fulfill compliance requirements. His initial strategy was single product (platform) and single market. The new technology worked well, Internet adoption was exploding, and the market cared for online education. He saw clear white space. He invested $250K in his initial startup, took no outside investment and still maintains 90% equity. 360training.com in its 14 years journey expanded horizontally into several related verticals to offer prep and compliance education online such as financial services, power and utilities, occupations safety, etc. Today the company boasts yearly revenues of $25M & employs 250 people in 3 countries (run its own back office customer service and IT operations in Pakistan and Philippines).

    360training enjoyed first mover advantage into the real-estate education market. Ed Sattar’s strategy to protect its position from competitors was rooted in his focus on channel, where he created a large value added reseller network (by contracting local brick and mortar education providers in major cities) augmenting their business by offering white label online education portals “as a service” that allowed him to leverage local known brands and tap into their customer base thus helping 360training to expand swiftly across the nation.

    End consumers buy from 360 because of convenience – on-demand, self-study and online courses. The company was able to take its users from ignorance phase to becoming advocates by partnering with local schools to create awareness and then providing superior customer service & convenience to turn them into advocates.

    “If I were to go back in time and allowed to fix one mistake in my business, I would go deep into one market rather than expand horizontally into several markets too quick,” says Ed Sattar. Expanding on his other leanings and challenges, he mentioned that recruiting the right senior executive who would fit in high growth startup environment while bringing mature processes to current operations is one of the toughest challenges he continues to face.

    Business operations include sales, marketing, IT, product (content) development, regulatory and customer service departments. The company also contracts subject matter experts on revenue sharing models who author courses for the company. It sells direct to consumers through its B2C websites and also through reseller networks. Resellers are given a private label branded ecommerce enabled storefronts, and learning management system to deliver content. Directed search became key marketing strategy for the company from the beginning. B2C portals and reseller network both helped the company grow exponentially. Search engine optimization and web marketing are still important tactics to attract millions of visitors to its own and reseller’s websites. They plan to focus more on this model by providing discussion boards and social media tools to create additional viral network effect to promote their content and services.

    The company’s exit strategy is to be acquired by a strategic buyer. The company offers an attractive revenue model, owns thousands of high value content assets & proven ecommerce and content delivery platform, and enjoys a dominant position in the compliance education market through high traffic web properties and reseller network. 

  • 360factors at the SAP Workshop on Best Practices for Oil and Gas

    I attended the Best Practices for Oil and Gas Workshop, SAP Solutions for the Energy Industry and it was such a unique experience there were hundreds of Oil and Gas professionals, subject matter experts, thought leaders and solution providers with a focus on innovative solutions and new technologies.Focusing on cyber security, mobile and cloud solutions were among the main highlights.

    One of the remarkable keynote speakers was Ken Evans, a senior director for the oil and gas Industry at SAP – with the responsibility to drive industry strategy in order to assure delivery of the highest customer value from SAP’s solution portfolio.