The Business Year

Widad Haddad Vice President & General Manager, UAE, Oman, Yemen & Lebanon Emerson Process Management

UAE, ABU DHABI - Industry

Widad Haddad

Vice President & General Manager, UAE, Oman, Yemen & Lebanon, Emerson Process Management


Widad Haddad heads the overall business for Emerson Automation Solutions in the UAE, Oman, Yemen & Lebanon. Widad joined Emerson as a Marketing Engineer in 2008 and has been steadily promoted since, to the point where she led the Marketing Department as the Marketing Director from 2014 to 2018 before taking the role of Vice President and General Manager for UAE, Oman,Yemen & Lebanon in July 2018; and becoming the first female Vice President & GM for Emerson in MEA. In this role, Widad manages an organization of 120 employees covering sales, service, operations, finance, legal, HR and admin. Widad is also a member of the Diversity & Inclusiong Executive Council for Emerson MEA. Before joining Emerson, she held various roles in engineering, marketing and sales. She started her career in Lebanon in 2002 as a Mechanical Engineer designing Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning and Plumbing systems for residential buildings and commercial centres. In 2005, she moved to Dubai to become Marketing and Sales Manager of a local manufacturing and trading company specialising in industrial electrical supplies. After a year-long stint in 2007 on the creative side of marketing with Zee Network’s Zee Arabiya television youth channel, she joined Emerson. She is a graduate of McMaster University in Canada and has a BEng in Mechanical Engineering. She also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Organization and Business Psychology from University of Liverpool. She is a mother of a five years old boy, and plans to continue balancing her growing career and motherhood.

TBY talks to Widad Haddad, Vice President & General Manager, UAE, Oman, Yemen & Lebanon for Emerson Process Management, about the company’s role in the local economy, “net zero” ambitions, […]
TBY talks to Widad Haddad, Vice President & General Manager, UAE, Oman, Yemen & Lebanon for Emerson Process Management, about the company’s role in the local economy, “net zero” ambitions, and women in the world of business.
What role does Emerson play in the local economy and which solutions does it offer?

Emerson has had a presence in the United Arab Emirates since the 2000s. We established our own massive footprint back in Jebel Ali Free Zone in 2008. The company started the localization efforts in the country by investing multi-million-dollars in local manufacturing long before the UAE started driving in-country programs to encourage companies to invest. By doing so, we started manufacturing locally, while UAE exports delivered products to the surrounding regions. In addition to that we have employed around 700 people in the UAE. Our contribution to the economy as a local investor has been long lasting. Moreover, we also contribute to the local economy through the technology we provide. Emerson is a process automation company that has the broadest and most diverse portfolio of automation technologies. We can play a fundamental role in digitizing and improving the process environment of almost any industry in the UAE. Whether its mining and metals such as Emirates Global Aluminum or oil and gas such as ADNOC and ENOC. We will also play more of a role in pharmaceuticals when the sector takes hold in the UAE. We also play a pivotal role in factory automation as well as the production of food and beverages. Our technology has the capability to improve operational efficiency, safety and performance across process, hybrid and discrete industries.

Which steps is Emerson taking to achieve its net zero ambition and build a more sustainable business?

We have established a framework called Greening with Emerson, Greening by Emerson and the Greening of Emerson. Greening of Emerson concerns the greening of our own operations and footprint. As much as half of our power needs at the manufacturing facility in the UAE are met by our rooftop solar project. Greening with is working across industry academia, government and semi-government bodies in shaping regulations and industry thought around decarbonization and sustainability. And Greening by Emerson is focused on how we use our technology to help organizations like ADNOC to be greener in their operations. Throughout this transition that everybody is set to undergo, technology is a key accelerator as we shift towards decarbonization. It is either a matter of shifting to cleaner energy, reducing energy usage or emission control, and our technology enables this. We have recently signed a pledge with the Ministry of Climate Change with which we are in close cooperation with.

How relevant is workforce development in the UAE for Emerson and which initiatives have been deployed to this end?

Regardless of where we are in the world, Emerson has a strong focus on workforce and talent development. Emerson has a strong global talent management process that focuses on intentional development and succession planning. Both at a local and global level, , there is a drive toward diversity, equity and inclusion. We aim to hire more women in the industry in senior positions and help them develop, coach and mentor. The compensation structure of executives at Emerson takes into account our progress in this regard. We have made fundamental changes to our hiring processes to ensure we progress on our goals – for example, the interview slate for our candidates must be a mix of both male and female candidates. Development of local talent in the UAE is also vital, specifically given the Emiratization drive. We run several related programs from high school all the way to graduate level. We tend to work more with specialized schools that base their curriculum on STEM. We provide them shadow opportunities, transfer of career information and help them decide what they want to do later in life. We also operate an internship program that recruits students who are working for their bachelor’s degree, and a more elaborate graduate program for students who have graduated but yet to find employment.

Globally, Emerson aims to increase the representation of women in leadership from 20% in 2021 to 40% by 2030. As a regional manager, could you tell us how Emerson is promoting gender equality in UAE business leadership roles?

Our diversity and inclusion agenda earned us an award at ADIPEC in 2022, where we were recognized as leaders in gender equality initiatives. Today, the number of women in this industry remains low, which makes it a challenging undertaking. All multinationals and other organizations at a lower level are striving to hire more women, in what is effectively a war for talent. It has not been long since women have entered the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math, which means that women are not as experienced as the males in the same field. Many times we have had to recalibrate our assessments in interviews to keep this in mind and take risks with candidates that might not as experienced as their male counterparts, trusting that they will have that nimble level of learning and skill and catch up. We also realized that we had to change certain internal processes. For example, the work from home policy was introduced last year to give women greater flexibility to combine home responsibilities and work, which attracts women to the workforce. We also have a flexible work policy where you have core hours in a day where you must work and be plugged in, but then outside those hours you are at liberty to manage work at your own preference. These are policies that have helped us not only attract women but also retain them. We have also signed a pledge for diversity and inclusion because it is a cause of great importance for Emerson.

With the UAE hosting COP28 and all the major trends occurring in the industry what are Emerson’s goals for 2023?

We have previously participated in numerous COPS such as COP27. The UAE is looking at COP28 as a truly inclusive event for the youth which is a key benefit for participant. It is also an inclusive COP for the oil and gas industry, which is also important. Without that industry we cannot achieve our green targets. The private sector is also important, and Previous COPs were heavily dependent on the government sector. Yet, today we observe the UAE exploring numerous models with which to enable greater private sector participation. It has to be a marriage between the government sector, private institutions and the other countries that wish to contribute. This impetus is driving the inclusivity within the COP, which opens up numerous opportunities for us to introduce added value to the discussion of net zero and all that is required to help achieve the UAE’s highly ambitious targets.



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