Aramco is getting younger. In 2011, it was predicted that by 2020 over 60 percent of our Company’s population will be composed of members of Generation-Y (those born during the 1980s and early 1990s) and Generation-Z (those born during 1995 and onwards). This strategic forecast became a reality in 2020, and today, the Company has a young population that exceeds 60 percent.
How do we ensure that the unique voice of these young generations is captured in our strategic decision-making process?
At a corporate level, our answer is YLAB.
Why, how and who?
Our Young Leaders Advisory Board (YLAB) is one of the programs through which we channel the input and harness the incredible energy of the younger generation at Aramco.
YLAB was established in 2011 as an autonomous body that acts as a bridge between the youth of Aramco and its executive management. It provides a platform that enables youth to share their input into the Company’s strategic opportunities and challenges. YLAB’s mission is to unlock the full potential of Aramco’s young population and serve as an active resource, providing solutions that help drive the Company’s strategic intent.
With a direct line to the CEO and Strategy Council, YLAB facilitates meaningful two-way communication while providing a young perspective on complex corporate challenges. YLAB keeps its finger on the pulse of the Company’s 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.
This is achieved through the following:
Advisories & Studies: YLAB advises Aramco’s Strategy Council, and provides consultancy services to the Company’s organizations. Studies are designed to identify and analyze relevant challenges or opportunities, and provide solutions from the fresh perspective of young employees. YLAB works on a range of topics, including sustainability, citizenship, well-being, diversity and inclusion, employee development, portfolio diversification, and the future of work. YLAB aims to utilize the Company’s young talents to solve its most important challenges.
Generations Y and Z are the dominant demographic in Saudi Arabia’s 34 million population. In line with this youthful demographic, YLAB has helped drive change, accelerate transformation and has dispersed a youth perspective through supporting initiatives such as HR Transformation, the Downstream Retail Project, and Digital Transformation.
Engagements: YLAB engages the Company’s youth to channel their energy through physical and virtual engagements to maintain a two-way dialog. This includes strategy briefing sessions, CEO & VP Townhalls, hackathons, YLAB publications, webinars, roundtable discussions and more. YLAB also engages with global leaders and external entities to showcase the young talent of our Company, while also demonstrating Aramco’s strategic approach to capitalizing on its huge millennial population.
Also, in order to cultivate their leadership skills, YLAB periodically engages with influential and highly respected local and global leaders. This helps immerse them in thought-provoking discussions and gain leadership insights and key lessons firsthand.
Such leaders include:
- His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy
- His Excellency Minister Abdullah Al-Swaha, of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
- Mr. Michael Bloomberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Bloomberg
- Mr. James Gorman, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley
- Dr. Christian Bruch, CEO of Siemens Energy
- Mr. Oliver Le Peuch, CEO of Schlumberger
The YLAB team comprises of four full-time coordinators and twelve part-time members who maintain their original roles in their home organizations, to maximize the team’s reach. Members come from across the Company and represent a diverse group of nationalities, backgrounds, and work experiences. They provide advice, ideas, and insights to senior management, and engage with other young employees on the changes taking place throughout Aramco and the industry.
YLAB has become a self-sustaining program, recently crossing its 10-year mark. YLAB has been granted seats in various key corporate committees to represent and share the youth’s voice. YLAB has also been recognized as a trusted source to tackle strategic corporate challenges, and sought for advisory by organizations within the Company.
One of YLAB’s signature products is the YLAB Hackathon, an innovation-engine platform where YLAB engaged with over one thousand employees to creatively provide solutions to be used by the company to accelerate Digital Transformation and promote sustainable practices. Fruitful outcomes resulted as part of these hackathons, where over 100 ideas were generated and passed for evaluation or implementation.
Becoming a member of YLAB involves a rigorous selection process. 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 YLAB academy for the cohort’s 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. Candidates are examined for multiple criteria and skills including their critical thinking, in-depth knowledge, communication, and team skills.
YLAB is a unique and rewarding program for both its members and the Company. It fosters an alumni network thriving with more than 100 leaders.
Find out more about the program from some of its alumni:
“Early in my career, YLAB enabled me to gain a holistic view of the Company, and realize our potential and what we are able to contribute, as young professionals, to its business.”
“18 months equivalent to more than 18 years of experience.”
“YLAB is one of the most meaningful and empowering experiences I have ever had and believe young employees will have. With the benefit of working with people from diverse backgrounds, my perspectives have broadened significantly.”
"YLAB’s inclusivity of all backgrounds, grade codes, genders, and nationalities is admirable. As a representative of non-professional employees back then, not only was my voice heard by senior leadership of the company, but it was also sought for and considered."
Helal Al Ghamdi
“YLAB was an experience that I’ll never forget. It provided me with a broader view of Saudi Aramco and its strategic objectives and various initiatives. This once-in-a-lifetime journey helped me to unlock my full potential and made me an agent of change.”
"YLAB is an incredibly enriching and rewarding experience that helped me grow personally and professionally. The empowerment and trust in us have truly pushed us beyond what we thought we were capable of. Grateful to have been a part of the YLAB journey!"
YLAB continues its active engagements and communication across the company, and has so far reached over 35,000 Generation Y and Generation Z employees through physical engagements, and over 50,000 through its virtual channels. The reach extends beyond the Kingdom, with engagement events at our international offices, such as Aramco Americas, Aramco Europe, and Aramco Asia.
The Company gains a great deal of insight and experience from YLAB participants, but the young talents gain a greater understanding by engaging with top level executives. Their voices are heard, and they are included in big decisions, fostering a healthy culture of collaboration in a dynamic business environment.
Their perspectives are helping to shape the future of Aramco, to make our Company better, stronger, and more agile.
Aramco expands global venture capital program with $4bn funds injection
Aramco and ENOWA to develop first-of-its-kind e-fuel demonstration plant
Aramco and Stellantis collaboration indicates eFuel compatibility with European engine families
Aramco announces new Business Line Executive Vice President positions and appointments in Upstream and Downstream
Global research centers
Achieving the necessary technology breakthroughs requires access to the best ideas, people, and partners around the world.