“My story is, I believe, a testimony to EGA’s commitment to Emiratisation,” says Ibrahim Al Bastaki, the Director of Operations at Emirates Global Aluminium’s power plant in Jebel Ali.
Ibrahim joined Dubai Aluminium – which merged with Emirates Aluminium 10 years ago to become EGA – as a National Trainee on the Pre-Employment Craft course in 2002. EGA’s national training programmes develop high school graduates for technical roles. More than 5,000 UAE Nationals have graduated from these programmes since they were first established in 1982.
For more than two decades, Ibrahim’s professional growth has mirrored the rise of the biggest industrial company in the UAE outside oil and gas.
Ibrahim has been promoted seven times and began his current position in August 2017. His role includes responsibility for directing and managing the Power Generation and Distribution Maintenance Department of a 3,000 megawatt combined cycle power plant comprising 24 gas turbines, eight steam turbines, and a desalination plant. He also manages various agreements with government entities such as gas suppliers, the electrical network operator, and regulatory authorities.
“Yes, I have done it myself in that I have put it a lot of efforts,” Ibrahim says of his professional growth. “But I believe without the support of the management at EGA, and the culture that has been instilled at EGA, I would not be able to be here today.”
Ibrahim’s journey is a prime example of EGA’s bold aspiration of becoming a talent-driven organisation, and the company’s focus on maximising the role of national talent.
It is Ibrahim’s belief that his growth over the years at EGA can be split into two aspects – “personal and technical”. Both aspects have honed his talent, he says.
“As a person, I have had the opportunity to attend a lot of conferences at a very high level,” says Ibrahim, who lives in Mirdif in Dubai with his wife, their son and three girls. “These include multi-national conferences where I have learned so much from people more experienced than I was at the time. This enabled me to learn both as a person and as a leader.
“From a technical perspective, there has been a lot of training. Just a month or so ago I came back from Switzerland after having attended a course at IMD Business School in Lausanne for 11 days. EGA’s investment in this training is a significant amount and I’m very appreciative of that. But this is the vision of our leadership. This is the option they choose for us – a lot of training, and a lot of programmes. I've attended maybe more than four or five programmes for leadership, and I’ve attended conferences for technical training in places such as France, Switzerland, and the USA.”
What this means for Ibrahim is that he works in a professional environment where people are genuinely driven to improve – and not only does this better themselves but EGA as a company as well.
“There is genuine impact from the skills development and training provided by EGA to prepare young Emiratis for specific tasks and the increasing responsibilities that come with promotion – and the value of demarcated career paths for ambitious individuals,” Ibrahim stresses. “And it’s not just me. I could give numerous examples of people at EGA who have grown and achieved because of EGA’s determination to become a talent-driven organisation.”
With a scholarship from EGA, Ibrahim was able to dedicate time for his studies and get
“It’s a funny thing because when I was at school, I was dreaming of being a pilot,” he recalls. “One of my cousins is a pilot and one day I was sitting in their house in Abu Dhabi, and I was speaking to him and said ‘I really want to do this’… and this humorous conversation shifted my mind to becoming an engineer. He told me ‘Why do you want to be a driver? It’s like driving a bus on the road but instead driving a bus in the air!’ And that made me shift to engineering. At school I loved maths and physics and when I shifted to engineering, I thought ‘yes, that was the right thing to do’. I went with what I loved.”
However, that’s still not quite the full story. The beautiful game of football could have triumphed over his career path in engineering.
“From childhood I’ve played football,” says Ibrahim. “I was spotted playing in Safa Park by the professional club Al Nasr and I played for their youth team while I was in secondary school. I was thinking whether I would pursue my hobby or my professional career, so I asked my father. And he said ‘How long will you play if you make it? Ten, maybe 15 years? And what will you do after that?’ And it came to my mind that he was right. From there, I left the club at around 16 years of age and concentrated on my studies and career.”
Years later, while playing football for Dubai Municipality as a hobby, he was approached by another professional club, Al Jazira in Abu Dhabi. Although he did not pursue the opportunity, his passion for football was never dimmed.
“I love watching and playing,” says the Al Wasl fan, who also likes Barcelona.
Football’s loss was EGA’s gain though, and asked what he thought the goal should be for any youngster joining EGA, Ibrahim replies: “EGA is a wonderful organisation. It’s a home which can take care of you. Bring your passion, ability, and energy and EGA will ensure your talent is realised. You can have a great career.”