eNewsletter June 2016





Welcome Message


“It is with great pleasure that I share with you the GCA newsletter for June 2016.

The GAC Corporate Academy is constantly evolving and in this first half of the year we have seen many new developments in our core business, as well as within our extensive learning portfolios.

On the organisational front, I would like to confirm the departure of Damien O’Donoghue, General Manager of the GAC Corporate Academy. Damien was instrumental in the strategic vision for the Academy from its onset and has been leading the GCA team with determination and passion since 2007.

Damien believed in developing quality-learning experiences for all GAC employees, while continuously innovating and exploring better ways to deliver our learning strategy. During his tenure saw a huge increase of course participation – from humble beginnings in 2007 with 1115 participants to over 6700 last year. His pioneering initiatives also included the ISO 29990 certification, which now recognises our quality of learning as world standard. For those who had the fortune to meet Damien in person, I’m sure we can all agree that he brought endless energy and enthusiasm to GAC and we will always be thankful for his dedication and vision in shaping GCA to what it is today.

Since Damien resigned from the GAC Group, it has become necessary to remodel the GCA organisational structure. It has been decided to work with an interim organisation, whereby I will be acting as General Manager of GCA, while Sherol Fernandes has been appointed as acting Business Manager, reporting to me. Danielle Ali Shah has been appointed Operations Manager, whereby she will continue working remotely but will have increased responsibilities. Felicito Hernandez will continue in his present position as Customer Relations Manager. I feel we have a strong team in place and I look forward to continuing working together closely in achieving the Academy’s strategic plans.

I am very pleased to share the following stories from across the GAC World demonstrating a range of stories and insights related to our learning and development activities over the last three months.

Warm personal regards,

Patrik Halldén
Group Vice President – Human Resources
Chairman – GCA Governance Board

Some farewell messages we received from Damien’s many colleagues he worked with over the past nine years with the GAC Group:

“Damien has developed a high quality corporate academy from first principles and GAC has developed positively as a result. His leadership qualities allowed him to stand firm on fundamental issues whilst also retaining the ability to compromise to meet the needs of the many stakeholders in GAC Academy. He will be hard to replace and leaves behind him a significant legacy to the GAC Group. I wish him and his family all the very best for the future.”

Andrew Leach
Group Vice President – Legal and Compliance, GAC Group Management Team Representative – GCA Governance Board

“Damien has certainly left a mark in the space of innovative corporate learning. Most, in the GAC World, have at some stage been part of the legacy he leaves! Team members, leaders and even GAC’s all-important clients have benefited from the efforts of Damien and the GCA team, positively impacting business competitiveness! We wish him all the very best in future endeavors and life and wonder how on earth we’ll exist without those 3-letteracronyms!!”

Debbie Nicol
External Specialist Representative –
Governance Board

“I have worked with Damien for about 3 years in the Europe HR team and it has been truly a pleasure to work with him. Damien is a true team player no doubt a person that provided much enthusiasm, motivation and vision for his team. Personally I have learned a lot from his broad experience, professional and academic knowledge. Damien have a very advanced vocabulary but he sometimes surprised me with his short messages of wisdom.”

Mikael Rodseth
General Manager, GAC Norway

“Damien, by nature, has always been a mentor and teacher. This is why it was so easy for us to embrace his vision and his plan for the Corporate Academy. He would always think how learning could benefit the people in the organisation – not just as employees of the Group but as people who perform their roles in GAC and how this can stay with them wherever they may go. Having worked with him for over eight years, I have watched myself grow immensely in knowledge and skill under his guidance and leadership. He gave me the opportunity to evolve in my ability to use my imagination. Imagination drives Innovation – I can only aspire to do the same for the people in GCA and carry forward his legacy of Leadership, Innovation and Life-long Learning.”

Sherol Fernandes
Business Manager GCA

“What Damien represented was a firm leader who held the vision and built GCA from the ground up. Damien played a key role in course design and development because he believed in the importance of creating a quality learning experience. He knew that this was at the heart of our purpose at GCA and he knew that it was also the source of our credibility within GAC… if we provide good learning experiences, the perceived value of corporate learning will grow.”

Danielle Ali Shah
Operations Manager, GCA

Thank you and all the very best Damien!

What makes the GAC Corporate Academy so unique and effective? The answer is quite simple – our courses are designed and developed by GAC and for GAC. We drive the learning and development of future GAC generations by engaging our leaders of today.

Developing courses with the involvement of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) is nothing new, but the level of collaboration – from the strategy content development and implementation – is critical to the level of success of a course.

This year there will be an increase in the number of GCA courses that have been developed with the expert guidance of GAC SMEs, as well as their involvement as co-facilitators of the courses. As facilitators, they will operate alongside the GCA facilitator, bringing their established GAC-specific experience to the course discussions and learning.

Furthermore, courses will include more interviews and testimonials from GAC leaders who will share their personal successes, as well as failures.

“Testimonials are a very powerful learning tool and participants are eager to hear real-life stories from their leaders. Hearing about how the theory applies to GAC practice enables participants to become more engaged and drive their own personal success,” explains Operations Manager, Danielle Ali Shah.

Examples of this close collaboration can be seen in the new Leadership Development Programme (LDP) that launched last year. Danielle Ali Shah and Damien O’Donoghue, General Manager GCA, worked closely with SME Lars Bergstrom, Group Vice President – Middle East, to build courses with his expertise and guidance from initiation to launch.

The Leadership Development Programme was created with the aim of establishing a strong foundation of management and leadership competencies for current and future GAC managers. The first stage of the LDP, Foundations of Leadership Performance, was launched late in 2015, and the second level of the programme, Leading High Performance Teams (HPT), launched on 1 May this year.

The new HPT course further investigates the competencies required to become a GAC High Performing Manager – including Leading High Performance Teams, Effective Team Communication, Commercial Acumen and Leading Business Strategy. Testimonials by current GAC managers feature heavily in the course, allowing them to share their experience of working with teams and overcoming communication problems.

Following are some examples:

“When I arrived in the position there was lots of conflict. There was very little GAC presence and lots of communication problems between the office and GAC management. One example was that in G2G business, they were not doing 50/50 profit sharing because they didn’t feel like part of GAC. My approach was to clearly show them how their actions affected the other parts of the Group. As we improved, other GAC offices have begun to slowly respond with new opportunities for collaboration so they could see the benefits for themselves. This is a slow process, but we are getting there!”

David Burck, Country Manager, GAC Saudi Arabia

“Because of my experience with football teams, I have learned that it is not just a matter of putting everyone in their roles and ensuring everyone knows them. They need to know WHY each person is positioned as they are – what are the unique skills they bring to the team. This builds respect. It is amazing what a team can achieve if you find the “magic ingredient” that brings them together.”

Ronnie Knowles, Managing Director, GAC NSGAC

“The overall objective of the Leadership Development Programme is to inspire and provide the tools to our current GAC managers to become the leaders of tomorrow. What better way to achieve this than learning from those who have walked this path already and can pass on their tacit knowledge?” says Danielle.

The third and final course installment of the Leadership Development Programme, Performance-driven Leadership (PDL) will launch later in 2016.

The GAC Corporate Academy continually strives to deliver innovative and valuable GAC-specific learning experiences for employees across the Group. Whether you are new to the organisation or are looking at refining your current skills and competencies, there is a course suited to all your learning needs.

For a full list of over 30 courses on offer, please see the GCA website.

“Our new range of Commercial courses have been specifically designed to help us understand the requirements to make any sales effort profitable, effective and efficient. Everything from essential interpersonal skills, customer relations and sales abilities will be highlighted in the courses and combined into a fundamental framework for you to adopt into your daily sales practices.

We want every GAC employee in our commercial sector to have the tools to allow them to become more confident and dynamic, which in turn will lead to more efficient and successful sales and marketing. Furthermore, we aim to give our commercial leaders the knowledge and expertise to lead and motivate their sales teams to further success.”

Gurumurthi Shankar, Group Sales Director

The GAC Corporate Academy and the Commercial team are pleased to share a range of new and redeveloped courses within its Commercial Portfolio.

The new Portfolio will enable GAC to achieve the promise to its customers of “delivering your strategy”, which requires all GAC employees have a well developed understanding of our core business. The new courses will build the knowledge, skills and attitudes to do business the GAC way and to ensure the quality of our performance.

The Portfolio has been structured to allow GAC employees to build their expertise and competencies in one course, before moving up to a more advanced level. This new tiered structure will ensure skills are enhanced and then performed, prior to further development at a multifaceted level. The new Portfolio includes:




LinkedIn For Sales (LFS) All Mandatory for all commercially active personnel
GAC Sales Fundamentals (GSF) Basic All new joiners, 0-3 years sales experience, or a refresher.
Advanced Sales Techniques (AST) Intermediary Prerequisite GSF, all new joiners with +3 years sales experience, or a refresher.
Profitable Customer Strategies (PCS) Intermediary Prerequisite GSF and/or AST
Key Account Management (KAM) Advanced Prerequisite GSF and/or AST, PCS and all managers managing sales or senior commercially active personnel
Tenders and Bid Management (TNB) Advanced Prerequisite GSF, AST, PCS, KAM and all managers managing sales or senior commercially active personnel
GAC Sales Leadership (GSL) Advanced Managers managing sales or senior commercially active personnel

(All courses are 6-weeks eLearning, with the exception of LFS which is a 6-week self-paced course.)

For example, if you have less than three years sales experience and are interested in enrolling in Key Account Management (KAM), you need to have completed the following three courses first:

If you have more than three years sales experience or you are a sales manager or in management, you can enrol directly in the Intermediate and/or Advanced courses. But it is recommended to try and complete the courses in order to gain the most benefit, and to be able to understand and speak to all colleagues with the same sales language and knowledge.

To find more information on each of the courses, please see the new 2016 Commercial Course Prospectus, and talk to your line manager or GAC Liaison Officer (GLO) about which course best fits your learning requirements.


Commercial Course Testimonials

  • GAC Sales Fundamentals
  • LinkedIn for Sales


GAC Sales Fundamentals

The starting block of the Commercial Portfolio, GAC Sales Fundamentals (GSF), successfully ran last quarter with 18 participants gaining new competencies in the foundations of the GAC approach to sales.

GSF is designed to give new joiners to GAC and professionals with less than three years of sales experience, a well-rounded introduction to the GAC way of selling. The course guides participants through the GAC Sales Process, as well as introducing GAC products and services. The basics of building effective customer relationships, sales psychology, handling objections, making a positive first impression, are amongst the many topics covered in this six-week online course.

The GSF course gives participants the opportunity to learn from one another and provide them with the tools to succeed as a high performing GAC salesperson.

At the end of the course, we talked to two participants to find out more about their experiences of GSF.

  Sales Manager,
  GAC Dubai LLC

“Participating in the GSF course has allowed me to go back to the basics of selling and understand how I need to lead my sales team in the right direction for GAC. The course identified all of the elements that we/sales take for granted, understanding our customers, preparation and getting to that elusive trusted advisor stage in the business relationship. The course flowed and gave immediate benefits/tips to and prepared the participants for the next sales career steps.”

  Marketing Assistant,
  GAC Shipping S.A

“I really enjoyed my first sales course experience. After six weeks of learning, I have now a clear picture of how a high performing salesperson must be; from the first impression till an effective customer relationship. In our high demanding industry, the most important I learnt is how to overcome difficulties and how to deal with objections. And what I realised? People and their behaviour makes all the difference. We are all salespersons of GAC and if we work as team we can be truly competitive!”

GAC Sales Fundamentals feedback:

GCA’s first LinkedIn for Sales Graduates

The GAC Corporate Academy, also recently introduced its new LinkedIn for Sales (LFS) course as part of the new Commercial Portfolio.

The pilot course was launched late last year, and two further courses were run this year already – resulting in over 50 GAC participants learning better ways to use LinkedIn as a business tool.

LinkedIn is the largest professional network online today, with more than 300 million users. It represents an unrivalled platform from which business professionals can address their target audience.

The LFS course has been designed to take GAC employees through the process of developing a profile that stands out, building strong and effective contact networks, and engaging with the LinkedIn community for maximum business advantage.

We talk to two participants to find out more about their experiences after completing the LFS course recently.

  Managing Director,
  GAC EnvironHull Limited

“I was already familiar with LinkedIn and its functions, so I did come into the course with negative preconceived idea – that were all proved wrong.

I not only learnt how to maximize my LinkedIn profile and account, but I also gained much more confidence to publish articles and interact within the LinkedIn networks.

"I am positive that the course has enabled me to utilize all of the LinkedIn functions more effectively and I would recommend the course to my colleagues. It will open their minds to the full benefits of the networking tool, and they will value the learning and advice.”


Senior Representative
Logistics Services GAC Group USA

“I was not a member of LinkedIn prior to commencing this course and did not have much knowledge of its uses. Having followed the steps outlined in the course, I now have a great Profile that I’m very happy with, and which will evolve as I do.

LinkedIn has become something I now understand and can use to attract the interests of other professionals who are receptive to learning more about GAC and myself. I can already see that LinkedIn is a great networking tool, and it can be of great benefit to business.

I would highly recommend this course to my colleagues, especially those like me, who have had no experience of LinkedIn prior to taking the course.”


LinkedIn for Sales feedback:

If you are interested to find out more about the GAC Sales Fundamentals or LinkedIn for Sales course, please visit our website here or talk to your GLO Representative.

The GAC Corporate Academy is excited to reveal its new Rewards and Recognition Incentive – giving new employees the opportunity to ‘kick start’ their career with the GAC Group.

What is the new Reward and Recognition Incentive (RRI)?

The new initiative has been designed to recognise individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to learning and to the GAC Group.

Employees who successfully complete the New Employee Orientation (NEO) courses within the specified time period, will automatically be nominated for the Personal and Professional Development Scholarship (PPD).

NEO courses include

  • Introduction to the GAC World (IGW)
  • Health, Safety, Security and the Environment (HSSE), and
  • Compliance and Ethics

These mandatory courses are designed to equip new joiners with the foundation knowledge to support their new role, while at the same time giving managers the opportunity to assess the potential of the employee in terms of their attitude and willingness to thrive in the GAC World.

What is the Personal and Professional Development Scholarship?

The scholarship is a fantastic opportunity to expand your personal growth and career path with GAC. Once you have successfully completed the NEO courses, you are able to apply for the fully-funded scholarship and take part in the Personal and Professional Development (PPD) course.

The PPD course is designed for anyone with a desire to take a more active role in their own growth and will help participants to not only excel in their own field, but also become a better team player or leader. It gives employees the chance to think deeply about their professional and personal priorities

by covering topics including goal setting, action planning, time management and performance management.

By the end of the course each participant will have a five-year plan and implementation strategy to help achieve their personal and professional goals.

PPD has consistently been voted one of the most popular GCA courses, with 100% of participants in the most recent iteration stating they would recommend this course to their peers.

“I value this course as one of the most important learnings in my life. I now realise the secret to getting ahead is getting started with a firm constructive goal. The articles, course materials, activities and challenges, as well as the sharing from facilitator and fellow members has given me an even more positive outlook of realising and getting started to achieve my short term and long term goals.”

Priya Sony, Administrator – GAC EnvironHull Limited

“I have learnt a lot of vital information in the PPD course which can aid in achieving my goals. From the articles, activities, exchanging of views, sharing of experiences and encouraging words from my facilitator, I am confident that my PPD plan will help me improve personally & professionally and will open greater opportunities leading to success.”

Melamie Malaluan
QA & Administration Manager –
GAC Environhull Limited

How do I apply?

Eligible candidates are required to complete all NEO courses without any incomplete grades, within the mandated period in the GAC NEO Policy.

To enrol in any NEO courses, please talk to your line manager or GLO today. Employees who have completed all NEO courses from 2015 onwards, can also apply for the PPD Scholarship.

For more information on the Personal and Professional Development course, please see our website.

Did you know?

Research undertaken by the GAC Corporate Academy in 2015 shows that new joiners who completed the IGW course had a higher retention rate and more successful ongoing career with GAC, than those who did not start or complete the course. Statistics show that 76.86% of the inactive new joiners who did not take the IGW course left the GAC within the year, while 62.69% of the new joiners in 2015 who successfully completed IGW are still active and working with the GAC Group.

There is now a new way for participants of GCA courses to celebrate their achievements and demonstrate progress in their learning.

From now, participants enrolled in any of the New Employee Orientation courses (NEO)* and Leadership Development Programme (LDP)**, can be awarded ‘Badges’ that recognise effort and completion of each course.

What are Badges?

There are three main aims of Badges:

In simple terms, Badges are like hard copy certificates you receive, except they are an online representation. Each individual Badge contains metadata, or information, that gives details of that achievement. For example: what you received the Badge for, the completion date, your grade and the provider (i.e. GAC Corporate Academy).

Once you have completed a NEO or LDP course and you passed the required 70% grade, you can download your hard-copy certificate as usual, but you will also have the opportunity to download your Badge.

GCA will offer three separate Badges depending on your final grade – Bronze (for score 70% –
79%), Silver (for scores 80% 89%) and Gold (for scores 90% – 100%).

What do I do with the Badges?

Badges can be displayed on your GAClearn Profile page, and later this year, on the new look GACdirectory.

Outside the organisation, you can also use external Badge sites including Mozilla Open Badges, that allow you to collect and display all your Badges in a ‘backpack’, and share your achievements via social media (Twitter, LinkedIn). If you have existing Badges from other organisations or learning institutes, you can keep them all in one central location, organise them in categories and share them.

What does this mean for you?

Badges are another way for you to strive for excellence in your learning, show your commitment to your development and the GAC Group.

By showing your Badge/Badges on your Profile, you are showcasing your achievements amongst your peers and managers – giving you a competitive advantage and sense of pride. You can use Badges during your Performance Appraisals for example, to demonstrate your learning and development progress throughout the year.

If you have completed a NEO or LDP course during 2016, or are due to complete one soon, make sure you click under ‘Badges’ in the Navigation Block under the course iteration, and download your Badge.

At this stage only NEO and LDP courses offer the new Badge reward initiative, but GCA is considering adding further courses if the current initiative is well received amongst participants.

* New Employee Orientation (NEO) courses include Introduction to the GAC World (IGW), Heath, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE); and Compliance and Ethics.

**Leadership Development Programme (LDP) courses include
Foundations of Leadership Development (FLP), Leading High
Performance Teams (HPT) and Performance Driven Leadership (PDL).

One of the Academy’s longest standing GAC Liaison Officers (GLOs) and Facilitators, Ramachandran Nair, recently celebrated his 15-year long service milestone with the GAC Group.

Ramachandran joined GAC Oman in 2001, and worked in a number of roles before being appointed Quality and HSSE Manager for the organisation in 2011. Since the establishment of the GAC Corporate Academy in 2007, Ramachandran has also played a pivotal role in Learning and Development. He was a member of the first graduating class of certified GLOs, and has since been awarded as the Best GLO globally on two occasions.

We talk to Ramachandran and find out more about his successful careerwith GAC.

Congratulations! What would you say have been some of your career highlights?

I would say the decade with GAC Oman was a privileged time for me. I had the opportunity to work with Mr. Bengt Ekstrand (President, GAC Group) who appointed me at GAC Oman, and then with Mr. Patrik Hallden (Group Vice President – Human Resources), and I am thankful for their support during my tenure. One of the best supporting factors for me to remain with the Group was to have good team of Top Management, including Mr. Daniel Nordberg who is the current General Manager at GAC Oman, together with a team of supporting staff.

When GCA was established, you also became involved as a GCA Liaison Officer (GLO) and Facilitator. Can you tell us more about this and the highlight of these roles?

The GLO role was a blessed opportunity to get in touch with many individuals in the Group, especially in the GAC Corporate Academy. This then paved the way to me becoming a part of the FAC team. I find the GLO role highly challenging these days as compared to the initial days of GCA in 2007, especially when it comes to issues such as plagiarism and
non-compliance, failures/incompletes in online learning. However, with the sincere support of managers involved, GLOs can overcome these concerns and ones of similar nature.

I completed my FAC course, and now am a certified facilitator for IGW, HSSE and GTM.

Being a facilitator for some of the key courses that GCA offers me is the best way to appreciate a committed workforce that GAC has across the world. I absolutely enjoy the role of a FAC, as it gives me plenty of opportunities for learning as well as interacting with people of different locations, their approach, work culture, knowledge and expertise.

If you were to give advice to a participant of GAC Academy, what would it be to get the most out of their participation?

Commitment is the key for learning, especially when it comes to learning online. It is important to be dedicated as well as organised.

In GAC, the opportunity for learning is a blessing for each and every member of the organisation, and they should make use of the opportunity provided to them. It will have an optimistic result in their personal and professional aspect of their life.

Ramachandran was honoured with the ‘Gold Pin’ by the
Group Vice President (MEA Region), Mr Lars Bergstrom,
at a function held in the GAC Oman office in Muscat.

GAC Oman and the International Shipping Agency (ISA) in Kuwait were left in complete darkness during the worldwide climate action campaign – Earth Hour.

The offices switched off their lights and office equipment on 19 March at 8:30pm for one hour, to show solidarity and commitment to taking action towards climate change.

GCA Liaison Officers Abimon Joy and Ramachandran Nair are keen to spread the message of Earth Hour and for more GAC offices to take part in this important hour each year. “I suggest all GLO’s come together and help educate our company staff and family of the importance of Earth Hour. By switching off our lights and other electrical equipment, we make a contribution towards this great initiative to raise awareness of climate change issues,” said Abimon Joy.

What is Earth Hour?

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement for the planet organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The event is held worldwide annually encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. as a symbol for their commitment to the planet. It was started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide. Today, Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. The one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Below: GAC Oman in Muscat are involved in this event every year as part of their membership with the Environment Society of Oman (ESO).