Background: C-Suite Coaching and Development, Succession Planning and Performance Management Expertise & Experience
Declan Ball is a multilingual and legally-trained ex-CHRO and lived in the Middle East for 35 years between 1980-2018. Between 2002-2018, he was CHRO, HR Advisor or Middle East Director with several banks and two “Big 4” professional services firms. Declan is now based in the United Kingdom and continues to work internationally as a consultant. Since 2018, he has worked on the ground in the Americas (USA, Haiti, Guatemala and Ecuador), Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Republic of South Africa, Asia (Georgia, Armenia and Pakistan) and the Middle East (Bahrain and Saudi Arabia). advising or project managing for Boards of Directors and CEOs. He is functionally fluent in Arabic (Syrian and Egyptian dialects) and French (DELF B2). Declan is also a part-time criminal judge in England.
Declan has led or managed all HR functions and has considerable expertise in corporate governance, he now specialises in his niche areas of interest:
- Performance Management: Both:
- enterprise-level (between Boards of Directors and CEOs and between CEO and their direct reports)
- of employees
- C-Suite (recruitment, onboarding and offboarding, development, performance management and variable reward)
- Succession Planning (including Localisation and Diversity & Inclusion)
- Human Capital Audits
- Human Capital Governance
- Reward Strategy and Principles
Declan is multicultural as well as multilingual. He is Irish, grew up in England, lived in seven Middle Eastern (Sudan, Syria, Egypt, KSA, Bahrain, UAE and Qatar) and several GCC countries) has worked in most Arabic-speaking countries. Since 2018 he also has worked as a consultant in Latin America, Africa, the Caucasus, India and Pakistan. Declan has the ability to be respectful of different national and corporate cultures. He does not believe in a “one size fits all” approach. His experience is that implementing sustainable solutions requires a deep understanding of local conditions and constraints. Although Declan’s approach is rigorous and based on international best practice, his advice and solutions are tailored to his clients’ needs. He is guided by the words of the great French writer, Marcel Proust: “The true journey of discovery is not to visit other countries, but to attempt to see the world through the eyes of others”.
Declan career falls into five distinct but aligned stages:
- He began by training as a lawyer in the UK (1976-1980) and was appointed as a magistrate in 2022.
- From 1980-1988, he was a teacher or trainer for eight years (1980-1988) in rural Sudan (Merowe and Sinja Abdullah), Syria and Saudi Arabia, but with the intention of returning to the UK to practice law. During this period, he completed a postgraduate degree at the University of Wales and studied Arabic part-time at the University of Damascus.
- He changed career in 1988, studied Classical and Colloquial Arabic in Cairo and then moved into HR by joining STC (then Saudi Telecom) for three years (1988-1991) and working with the Australian advisory team to set up distance-based learning.
- He moved into financial services and professional services in 1991, where he remained for most of the following 27 years (1991-2018), specialising in organisations going through periods of transformation.
- Financial Services: preparing for an IPO (Riyad Bank), restructuring, organisational design and client focus (The National Commercial Bank), merger and acquisition (Al Khaliji Bank), conversion from conventional to Sharia’-compliant banking (Dubai Bank), regionalisation (EFG-Hermes), Saudisation (The National Commercial Bank), succession planning (Banque Saudi Fransi), customer alignment (ABCB), divestment (Invest AD) and private equity acquisition (EFG-Hermes)
- Professional Services: Middle East HR Director with EY (1999-2002) and PwC (2011-2013) and with a selective client portfolio.
- After completing his postgraduate law qualifications, he became a trainer for ( English Language teacher to enable him to travel internationally and experience non-European cultures. He taught in remote villages (Merowe and Sinja Abdullah) in Sudan, completed a postgraduate training course at the University of Wales and worked with the British Council in Syria (1984-86) and Saudi Arabia
Approach and Benefits
Declan’s approach is to bring the same rigour and discipline to the analysis of clients’ human capital that a financial auditor or Chief Finance Officer would bring to the analysis of a company’s financial capital. He speaks the language of the Boardroom and provide executive decision-makers with hard data and metrics that allow them to make informed decisions.
The benefits of Declan’s approach include:
- The main benefit is that Declan’s analysis of human capital provides measurable results which can be quantified, monetized and shown to impact directly on the bottom line.
“Before you joined us everything in Human Resources was dark. Now there is only light” (feedback when Declan joined a global microfinance bank as Global HR Advisor) – Andrée Simon, Global CEO, FINCA Impact Finance, Washington DC
“You are the only HR executive we have ever worked with who has ever advised the Board that the main HR metric is the cost-to-income ratio and who speaks the language of risk and finance” – Chairman of a global bank headquartered in Washington DC
“It is easy to do a little with a large budget, but you always achieve a great deal with small budgets” – Chief Operating Office of a KSA-headquartered multinational bank
“Everything that you build remains in place even when you have left. Your solutions are sustainable.” – CEO of a KSA-headquartered bank
Other Activities and Professional Contributions
- Global Human Resources Advisor, FINCA Impact (based in Washington DC and accountable for HR strategy and corporate performance management in 20 banks worldwide)
- Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (UAE and India)
- Middle East Director, Human Resources, PwC (12 countries)
- Group HR Advisor, Al Khaliji Bank (Qatar, UAE and France)
- Chief Human Resources Officer, EFG-Hermes (Egypt, UAE, Oman, KSA and Lebanon)
- Chief Human Resources Officer, Dubai Bank (UAE)
- Group HR Advisor, Banque Saudi Fransi
- Middle East Director, Human Resources, Ernst & Young (9 countries)
- Saudisation Project Director, The National Commercial Bank
- Senior Manager, Learning & Development, Riyad Bank