Monday, August 24, 2009

Female Kindergarden teacher needed at Sheikh Zayed Private Academy

(From Canadian Club Abu Dhabi)
To the Canadian Community and friends,

The Sheikh Zayed Private Academy, one of the most prestigious schools in the UAE has an urgent requirement for a female Kindergarten teacher to start work almost immediately.

The school located on 26th street near the Embassy area provides quality education from Kindergarten to Grade 12. It offers a program based on a North American curriculum with a strong emphasis on UAE values as well.

Please pass this information on to your friends and colleagues..

For enquiries, please call +971 2 446 9777 or visit their website

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hasty Plans...

Projects are often not well planned.

I am familiar with this process of planning without regards to time, cost or quality management. All three are challenging aspects of a good plan and my earliest examples of these would relate to carnival or festival committee planning events at school, church or university. Usually these were the best planned events I can early recall because they cumulatively carried over from one year to the next so group activities on such a scale required little if any great variations as they had been tried and tested over several years if not decades of trial and error. But here are two anecdotes exhibiting elements of haste from my working history.
My early work experiences afforded my first insights into actual if not tacit or on the job learned project management. Of course humour tempers my memory of working as a full-time summer dishwasher/kitchen helper at Ottawa’s Britannia Yacht Club in 1989. The largest weekly planned event was a Saturday buffet and the ranging but mostly retiring or aging members of the club dictated several interesting caveats. First, stakeholders, mostly octogenarians brandishing knives and forks felt it was within their scope of responsibility to randomly bumble in and out of the small central kitchen’s swinging doors like the adherents to Julia Child that they were whenever they had even the mildest complaints about the quality of the food. Lately there was an agreed assumption that the Chef routinely attempted to poison or sicken these clients by way of ingredients such as garlic salt which all agreed was an abominable concoction and stated reason for the firing of the previous Chef. It was also the purview of a retired head Chef of the Royal Yacht Britannia to be found wandering around the kitchen to recount his own horror stories on kitchen affairs aboard that boat such as routine dish pit flooding which would often nearly creep under the doors and out upon the Queen’s own royal dining room.

The salt and pepper haired manager of the Club at the time was attempting to increase revenues through more frequent and more lavish wedding receptions on the grounds abutting the Ottawa River near Deschenes Rapids. The Black Jack, a square rigged brigantine converted from an abandoned logging boat in the 1950s served as precarious entertainment due to the tons of concrete which filled its keel to keep it upright even during frequent journeys to the river bottom. The wait staff was another group of stakeholders who felt they were not getting their cut of increased profits and suddenly resigned en masse immediately prior to the ever popular weekly Jamaican nights complete with oil drum band which left a few tired kitchen helpers to pick up as waiters and bartenders. During one, at the time pricey, $10,000 wedding the manager brought in a thousand dollars of designer dessert pastries and precariously placed them in the main floor walk-in beer fridge behind the door. One bar tender’s run for a keg resulted in a thousand dollars of pastry catastrophe. The manager and the Chef were both replaced following that summer’s run of misfortunes by a full consulting outfit.

My second anecdote recalls three years of daily marine transport commuting to and from Abu Dhabi Naval College courtesy of the Abu Dhabi Navy where I was a civilian military instructor of officer cadets in training from 2000 to 2003. As I would drive my own car to the Naval Forces gate frequent trunk inspections led me to believe that pilferage, theft or smuggling of either weapons or materiel might have been a regular event there. Delays in entry either due to prolonged search or non-functioning security card key passes could often affect time constraints which would result in my arriving at the jetty just in time to see the small white service boat which accommodated about twenty seated passengers cruising out of the harbour with a five metre rooster tail rising behind it. The converted covered whaler which had its internal engines removed and replaced with two four hundred horse power outboard motors was finally forbidden to dock at main base at speed after a few weeks as the wash would often cause the pocket battle ships nearby to test their moorings. Lateness would cause me to catch the slow boat to the island of Sadiyat which was a tired and smoke belching small landing craft with a persistent leak in its poorly sealed bow doors. The only clear solution to avoid sinking on that craft was full ahead which was about a turtle’s pace. For some reason, a regular or routine fuel tank filling schedule or even the checking of fuel gauges prior to daily departure was never carried out by the vulgar boatman, Raith or his numerous querulous underlings. Often one or more of the three boats would sputter to empty half way to the island. On one occasion the landing craft and one of the two covered whalers were floating on empty bobbing about on considerable swell in the middle of the harbour channel without recourse. The solution was seen to be all hands on the officers’ boat so that what accommodated twenty now lurched with seventy-five. Foreign civilian instructors who refused to abandon the sinking landing craft for the overloaded officers boat were chastised for arriving to the somnolent office a half hour late, an office where it was routine to attend for even weeks or months at a time without assigned lessons.

The island bus journey was often equally ill planned. In 45 to 50 degrees heat with 100% humidity and no AC bus schedules and travel timing could often be delayed as much as an hour to two hours in midday depending upon the daily rota or logistics management approval of (un)timely departures. For example, if the officer on duty was suddenly unavailable or absent without leave to give the command for departure the bus driver might practice “cutting” or departure without approval which would often be reprimanded the next day with further or future delays in departure. Other instances the bus would be ordered back to be refueled without notice or held hostage during gate exits due to unruly naval forces unwilling to off load the bus and remain on their assigned duties. Sometimes the bus would need to return to the college half way across the barren desert island to the jetty to pick up a late prepared chicken tikka lunch for the jetty guards or the bus would need to return to pick up an officer who was delayed in arriving on assigned timing of departure, etc. It was a daily charade called waiting for the bus.

When is a detailed project description necessary?

As the previous two detailed descriptions may reveal the necessity of a detailed description will be required in circumstances where the complexity of time, quality and cost factors are most significant and stakeholders need to be confidently affirmed that the project in question is suitably addressing their purposes, outcomes and management objectives. Poor management objectives and poor control over time, quality and cost factors will result in inefficiencies and the appearance of incompetence.

For example a project brief by its own description is shorter in its coverage of content or progress as time, quality and cost factors would ideally have been suitably addressed. Conversely in a request for tender significant description, explanation and expansion of time, quality and cost must be expounded to provision measures to evaluate the ability of the suppliers of products or services to respond with a bid to fulfill strictly measured and defined needs. If these needs are nor well defined or justified, poor quality, time and cost overruns will probably result.

How can well planned project descriptions help an organisation and its stakeholders?

A detailed description will assure stakeholders have information necessary to make a commitment to sponsor or approve a proposal or bid on a project tender. An effective organisation will assure that its needs and purposes are being met. If it is a government or NGO for example it may lumber along indefinitely in disregard to effective planning measures (or perhaps tacitly encourage the absence of them). If the organisation is a business sooner or later regardless of profits it will meet its doom if its projects are not well managed. As the process of proposal bid acceptance may be competitive the needs of the stakeholders should be strictly met and the quality of the project proposal itself depends upon the planning which is put into it and will assist the possibility of bid acceptance. While this might imply lowest costs and shortest time frames possible to win the race one is reminded of several examples here in provoking such “risk society” tactics which implicate quality and entreat disaster. Notable events such as Sampoong Department Store, Seongsu Bridge, Taegu Subway Fire have revealed shortcuts to quality in Korea are often perilous and may reveal challenges in project planning and management on a cultural scale. Other examples such as the last decade of Hyundai Motors sales growth have revealed a greater focus on quality. Even perceptions of managerial accountability and responsibility to stakeholders may be culturally based as described in The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently...and Why (Nisbett, 2003). While quality is often more costly in terms of expenditure and time the process of planning is meant to maximize quality and minimize time and cost restraints.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This was 1999...what about 2009?

The Economic Implications of International Education for Canada and Nine Comparator Countries: A Comparison of International Education Activities and Economic Performance

Prepared by The Conference Board of Canada


International Cultural Relations Bureau
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Current evidence suggests that involvement in international education yields many
economic benefits. Improved knowledge flows, better transfer of disembodied
technologies and ideas learned abroad, increased understanding of foreign market
opportunities and the enhanced development of cross-cultural competencies for global
and domestic business are all gains from international education that yield economic
rewards, directly or indirectly. To the extent that nations limit their involvement in international education, they forego these economic rewards.

The Canadian evidence suggests that we have incurred economic costs because of our
relatively modest support for international education. Specifically, our limited
involvement in international education means that we have limited the scale of the
economic rewards we gain from better knowledge flows and enhanced cross-cultural

Since Canada depends highly on international trade and on acquiring technologies
from abroad for its economic well-being, the cost of foregoing these rewards is higher for us than it would be for most other nations. Conversely, international education is a particularly important strategy for improving our nation’s competitiveness.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Allan Conway on BRIC Schroder

Allan Conway on BRIC Schroder

The rally that we have had so far this year has been extraordinary. But we should remember that we have seen the rally from really oversold levels and whilst we can see many emerging markets are up 50-60% so far this year, many of them are still down 10-15% or more if one looks at the last 12 months. So we were oversold and have had an extraordinary bounceback. But where we are today is still a situation where generally speaking valuations are quite reasonable. We are just starting to finally see visibility of global economic recovery. And as that visibility increases we expect to see equity markets moving into a more sustainable bull market rally. So, whilst in the very near term, it is perfectly possible that we could see some further setback, as we move into the fourth quarter, we expect to see markets come through pretty strongly.

Full article and interview here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The research proposal that failed...

Consider a project that you have been involved in and especially how time, cost and quality were managed.

I have never been involved in a successful project outside of regular term course syllabi preparation which might be routine and somewhat expected however last winter holiday I was approached to join a global research project consultancy proposal for APEC entitled, "Improving Market Structure, Regulatory, Infrastructure and Distribution Systems: Can the Cost of Food to Consumers in APEC Economies be lowered?"

While operations, traceability and logistics are not the core of my knowledge they are significant areas of awareness and in concert with my native fluency in English I could logically be expected to contribute significant recommendations on this topic.

The timing of the project start would have coincided with my winter holiday and would have consumed most of my non-teaching time on a weekly basis for a period of about four months. The compensation would have exceeded my annual salary and I was particularly surprised to be considered however I maintain an active network for professional consultancy contacts. APEC is known to possess a large budget for such research and the project lead coordinator is a well known and well respected NGO management talent acquisition and leadership specialist.

What happened that was unexpected or difficult?

The immediacy of the consulting offer was abrupt and the negotiation of compensation was surprising with the full weight of the design of the time planning of the proposal I was surprised that the actual compensation was for a daily basis and not a one time payment. I never realized what these consultants can actually earn for what appears to be routine primary and secondary market research as well as desk-bound literature review. Instead of taking winter holiday easy I endeavoured to review and collect relevant literature on the assumption that the actual proposal would be accepted.

What made it easy?

The anticipation of participating in such a well regarded research forum was sufficient impetus to provoke an enthusiastic review of wide and narrow scope literature relating to local food pricing factors and policies. As well the idea that I might be contributing to the economic well-being of average Koreans was rewarding.

What made it difficult?

The scope of the project did not appear to regard the local hazards of foreign involvement in policy recommendations. Generally any foreign involvement in policy decisions is made from a back office or low profile position here. Many Koreans would be more comfortable with a Korean undertaking such research. Many local academics publish more out of fulfilling employment requirements rather than furthering policy and planning developments which are not necessarily welcomed at political levels of Korean society. Also it became increasing obvious the more I read that pricing and policies are here dictated by several special interest groups which are entirely satisfied with the current state of affairs and would see alternatives as somewhat undermining their positions.

What worked?

While the project proposal itself was rejected I found myself motivated to make myself more attractive to future possible research consulting projects of a similar nature in scope. As a result I canvassed the internet for possible continuing education courses which would contribute to future success with research skills and strategies that I believe I have been developing rather progressively for the last five years. These led me to this QUT Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialisation.

What didn't?

There is an often collective perception that teaching is not as rewarding as actually doing something or anything else. I disagree. I enjoy my teaching and learning helps me retain a sense of studentship and desire to learn new things or acquire new skills which is also complementary and satisfying. Without one I am not sure I would enjoy the other? Well, the project proposal was rejected. Big deal. It has led to further learning on my part and propelled me to consider finally designing a PhD proposal which clarifies my interests and matches my skills and experiences. As I further develop them I get a chance to recognize what they are and deepen my commitment to self-improvement in this regard. Now if I find the right professorship or research advisor then I will have really done my homework!

I believe the path of self-realisation makes these things work when one is ready to achieve them.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009