Devaki Khimji is a highly accomplished business leader currently serving as the Managing Director of the Al Tasnim Group since 2012.
Under her leadership, the Al Tasnim Group has reached new heights. Upon her appointment, Devaki spearheaded a restructuring effort that played a key role in elevating the organization into one of Oman’s esteemed construction conglomerates.
Before her role at Al Tasnim Group, Devaki Khimji held the position of Managing Director and partner at India Circus where she played a pivotal role in transforming the brand into a household name across the country.
Moreover, Devaki has actively engaged in the fitness and well-being sector, establishing fitness studios and training centres.
How do you ensure that your employees have access to the latest technologies and that they are well-trained to implement and utilize them?
Devaki Khimji: Regarding new technology and its integration into construction, what I have done with my team is break down the entire process into individual steps, and then find a way to automate each step. Achieving this is an ongoing process because once I digitize one aspect, three years later, I need to revisit it to explore newer technologies available. Our approach has involved operating a dedicated Transformation Department. Every year, we select three to five projects, processes, or areas of concern to take up as part of the Transformation agenda. We then project manage these initiatives from ideation through to implementation.
Project management involves defining the scope, identifying the technology partner, working on configuration, and finally implementation. We dedicate anywhere between three to six months to training and hand-holding our staff until the new technology seamlessly becomes a part of their daily functioning.
Could you provide details about the specific initiatives and programs you implement to empower Omani nationals, aligning with the ongoing Omanization efforts?
Devaki Khimji: Regarding the ongoing Omanization efforts, we are fortunate to have talented individuals within our organization, totalling 4500 people, who are Omani nationals. We focus heavily on allocating them to diverse projects in different locations, providing them with training, and supporting their professional growth. Additionally, with our comprehensive digitization efforts, the internal training provided has proven quite effective. We are then able to effectively leverage the experience gained within the work environment.
We are fortunate to have talented individuals within our organization, totalling 4500 people, who are Omani nationalsDevaki Khimji
Looking ahead, our future plan is twofold. Firstly, we aim to promote personal development. To achieve this, we have established business memberships with a company named Mindvalley, specializing in personal development. Mindvalley offers an online platform where members gain access to a wide set of courses covering mind, body, soul, leadership, growth, and more.
Subsequently, within Mindvalley, I have personally selected a set of courses specifically curated for our organization and our teams, and our employees can register for these programs at their own pace. These programs cover topics such as growth mindset, leadership, and personal development. Participants engage in interactive activities, including watching videos and completing exercises. This is followed by a check-in and a progress update with our HR team, ensuring a holistic approach to their development.
With over 20,000 employees, the company values health, safety, and environmental consciousness. How do you prioritize the health and safety of your employees? Are there any specific programs or practices in place to promote a healthy and safe working environment?
Devaki Khimji: Health and safety are two different aspects. Promoting health involves encouraging physical activity among the workforce, such as organizing sports tournaments and various welfare-related activities. Additionally, maintaining mental well-being is crucial. For our workforce in the oil fields, we arrange trips to tourist hotspots such as Salalah, organize recreational gatherings, and participate in religious events, among other initiatives – all with the intent to help our employees feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and also promote team building and engagement.
We have established business memberships with a company named Mindvalley, specializing in personal developmentDevaki Khimji
In terms of safety, numerous initiatives are in place. A significant exposure is related to driving, given that we have 6000 equipment and vehicles on the roads of Oman. Ensuring the safety of those involved in driving is a paramount concern. To address this, we have developed a digital system called the Integrated Logistics Management System (iLMS).
The iLMS system assigns a score to each driver, incorporating an incentive program for every journey. The incentives are based on multiple safety parameters monitored through an automated system, eliminating human intervention. Each vehicle is equipped with a device that tracks these parameters objectively, ensuring fairness regardless of personal connections. The driver accepts a journey plan electronically delivered, completes the driving, and at the end, receives a score on all parameters, very similar to an Uber ride.
It is a ground-breaking initiative. It is not only the first in Oman but also the first in the world. We received an award for it recently, and it has been in operation for about two and a half years.
With over 3500 drivers and operators utilizing the system, our safety record for driving is unparalleled. One of our projects alone involves covering 3.2 million kilometers a month, contributing to an overall monthly total of approximately 5.5 million kilometers—a significant achievement.
With over 3500 drivers and operators utilizing the system, our safety record for driving is unparalleledDevaki Khimji
Can you elaborate on the technology, the iLMS software, that your company has adopted?
Devaki Khimji: Creating the iLMS software was not the challenge; it was implementing it with a workforce of this size and monitoring it. The system is integrated with SAP, where each driver’s incentive is determined at the end of the month based on the record of every journey. Although it does not affect the base compensation, it automatically adjusts a significant incentive, motivating the driver.
We also set up a control room linked to the iLMS software, similar to an aircraft control room. Here, a group of women call the drivers as an intervention when they observe speeding or other driving violations, providing them with real-time feedback and warnings. Additionally, the device shuts down while they are driving to prevent distractions and only starts beeping when they are doing something wrong, thanks to live monitoring from the Integrated Vehicle Management System, a satellite-based system. Designing this has broader applications in our country, such as school buses implementing similar safety measures, which I hope our country will be able to adopt one day.
Before implementing this system, we experienced 28 accidents in one year, highlighting the lack of control over drivers. Implementing a system such as iLMS helped us find a solution that incentivized our drivers to adopt safer behavior with trip-based targets and a link between safety records and incentives which has proven effective.
Al Tasnim Group emphasizes HSE (Health, Safety, and Environment) compliance and has received numerous awards for it. Could you elaborate on the strategies employed by the company to ensure that HSE standards are not just met but exceeded in your various projects?
Devaki Khimji: One of them is iLMS which I just elaborated on. Another one of our strategies involves the ‘Hazard Hunt’ program. On every site, we have identified activities that pose potential risks leading to accidents. The training utilizes models representing various hazards, and workers are required to identify potential issues, enhancing their ability to recognize and mitigate risks. We acknowledge that accidents can occur due to a lack of training or the inability to recognize potential hazards not covered in initial courses. Therefore, the hazard hunt training serves as an ongoing measure. Each of our on-site employees undergo hazard hunt training every six months.
Each of our on-site employees undergo hazard hunt training every six monthsDevaki Khimji
Recently, our team attended the GITEX technology fair in Dubai, where we also explored the use of drones for continuous inspections on our sites. Traditionally HSE advisors physically inspect compliance aspects, such as helmet usage and proper barricading. Drones, if permitted at some point in Oman, could be programmed to continuously monitor and ensure HSE compliance in real-time. Our goal ultimately is the safety of everyone who engages with us, whether as an employee, a client, a contractor, or the community at large. To ensure this, I am constantly on the lookout for the latest, safest, and most effective technologies out there.