YLAB: Young Leaders Advisory Board

Human capital development

Engaging and inspiring our young population

Saudi Aramco is getting younger. It's predicted that by 2020 over 60 percent of our company’s population will be made up from Generation Y. While we are getting these young people ready for the company, how do we get the company ready for them? How do we ensure that the unique voice of this generation is captured in our strategic decision-making process? At a corporate level, our answer is YLAB.

Why, how and who?

Chapter 1

Why?

Our Young Leaders Advisory Board (YLAB) is just one of the programs we have in place to channel the input and harness the incredible energy of the young generation at Saudi Aramco.

YLAB was launched to enable a set of systems and structures that channel the inputs and influence of the company’s young population. Its mission is to unlock the full potential of Saudi Aramco’s young population and serve as an active resource, providing solutions that drive the strategic intent.

YLAB was established in 2011 as an autonomous body that acts as a bridge between the youth of Saudi Aramco and its executive management.

How?

With a direct line to the CEO and Strategy Council, YLAB facilitates meaningful two-way communication while providing a Gen-Y perspective on complex corporate issues. YLAB keeps its finger on the pulse of the youth through a wide range of engagement strategies, and is constantly seeking out new ways to capture their concerns and actively involve them in the transformation of the company through 2020 and beyond.

This is achieved through the following:

Advisory: YLAB advises Saudi Aramco’s Strategy Council and departments on: strategy, innovation, people & policies, and training & development. YLAB aims to unlock the full potential of Saudi Aramco’s youth, by incorporating the youth’s perspective in the decision making process, and utilizing the company’s young talents to solve its most important challenges.

Engagements: YLAB engages the youth of Saudi Aramco through various methods across the company’s operations. These diverse engagements vary in length and focus, and aim to create a two-way dialog with the company’s young population. YLAB also drives the conversation digitally through the company’s Youth Forum, and by issuing the notable corporate publication Youth Quarterly.

Who?

The team is comprised of two full-time coordinators and fourteen part-time members who remain embedded in their home departments to maximize the group’s reach. Members come from across the company and represent a diverse group of nationalities, backgrounds and work experience. They provide advice, ideas and insights to senior management, and engage with other young employees on the changes taking place throughout Saudi Aramco.

YLAB has become a self-sustaining program that is both highly competitive and greatly respected within the company.

CEO Amin Nasser on stage with young Saudi Aramco employee at the YLAB town hall meeting.
CEO Youth Town Hall meeting is organized by the YLAB team, giving Generation Y employees the chance to engage with our CEO.

The academy

Chapter 2

Becoming a member of YLAB is no easy task. Thousands of young employees apply to represent their peers each term, and after an in-depth review and evaluation process, the field is narrowed down to 60 finalists. The finalists attend a three-day intensive program — the YLAB Academy.

The finalists compete at the three-day YLAB academy for the final 16 slots. This is the final stage in the comprehensive screening process to discover who will make up the next term of new members.

During their time at the academy, finalists are faced with several challenges designed to assess their capabilities and explore their skills. Critical thinking, in-depth knowledge, communication and team skills are among the key attributes that are assessed.

The experience

Chapter 3

Our Young Leaders Advisory Board (YLAB) is just one of the programs we have in place to channel the input and harness the incredible energy of the young generation at Saudi Aramco. Find out more about the program from some of its alumni:

Head shot of Saudi Aramco employee Nujood Almulla

Name: Nujood Almulla 

Age: 23

Nationality: Saudi

Position at Aramco: Engineer at Fuel Technology, Research & Development Center

 

What made you apply to YLAB?

When I first joined Aramco, there was one presentation that really stood out in the orientation session. It was about youth empowerment, understanding one’s role in the company and how our generation, Generation-Y, is Aramco’s greatest asset. I always try to look for opportunities where I can make a real difference and leave an impact, so hearing about a board — composed of a diverse group of youngsters — dedicating their time and energy to ensure that the youth is being heard, to help the company to reach its objectives, exhibited the most ideal scenario to me. Then and there, I knew I wanted to join YLAB. Not only does it offer the youth a chance to challenge themselves and do more but also, it serves a clear mission that could provide this company and this country with an even greater position in the world of energy, through the voices and efforts of its people.

What was your experience of the YLAB Academy process?

The YLAB academy was like the hunger games with formal wear, you needed to ensure survival with four other strangers for three days by exploiting whatever resource you had up your sleeve. Although we had to go through continuous workshops, an individual presentation, a long interview and a group presentation, we managed to survive. We were hungry, sleep deprived but oddly enough, FULL of energy. It truly was an unforgettable experience!

 

Name: Hatem S. Alhamrani 

Age: 26

Nationality: Saudi

Position at Aramco: Maintenance Engineer, Ras Tanura Refinery

What made you apply to YLAB?

When I was in the Saudi Aramco Professional Development Academy, a group of YLAB members came and presented YLAB to us. They spoke about many things like what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, etc. During the presentation, I started linking bits and pieces together and saw how our efforts in the field reflect on the company’s strategic objectives. And more importantly, I saw the impact that my own generation is making and how we’re helping our organization. So, I decided to be part of that.

What is your proudest moment as a YLABer?

I have often felt proud being part of the team — from a senior vice-president complementing the high quality of our work, to the times we stayed up late finishing reports. My favorite moment was when we were in a review meeting for one of the studies we were working on. While challenging the recommendations, one of the members commented, “Guys, remember the recommendation you are presenting is going to affect more than 7,000 people.” At that moment, I felt really proud being a YLABer who is making a real difference.

Head shot of Saudi Aramco employee Hatem S. Alhamrani

The outcome

Chapter 4

YLAB has so far reached over 21,000 Generation Y employees through physical engagements, and over 34,000 through its virtual engagements. The reach extends beyond the Kingdom, with engagement events at our international offices, such as the Boston Research Center and the AOC office in London.

The participants gain a great deal of insight and experience during their time in YLAB, but is the company that gains an even greater understanding by engaging with these young men and women from across Saudi Aramco. They bring a flair for entrepreneurship, a passion for technology, a desire to connect and collaborate, and a daring drive for growth and development—all of which are characteristics that need to be fostered in any business environment.

Their perspectives are helping to shape the future of Saudi Aramco, to make our company better, stronger and more agile.