Gabriel Al-Salem Foundation Launches Annual Awards

EBRD Blueprint Digest, 2011 Issue 10

Foundation dedicated to improve consulting services in Central Asia

Following the tragic death of Gabriel Al-Salem, TAM/BAS Regional Programme Director in Central Asia, the TAM/BAS team honoured Gabriel’s memory with a sponsored walk from Hammersmith to Richmond on Friday 1 July 2011. The proceeds of the walk will contribute to the Gabriel Al-Salem Foundation which has been set up by his wife Viktoria Olskaia, colleagues and friends.
Blueprint spoke to Viktoria to learn more about the foundation, its goals and its first project: the Gabriel Al-Salem International Award for Excellence in Consulting.

How did you get started with the Gabriel Al-Salem Foundation?

Viktoria: Helping to advance the development of consulting services in Central Asia was very important to Gabriel – professionally and personally. After he tragically died in a paragliding accident in November, his friends and colleagues felt the need to do something to honour his memory and to continue his legacy.

Three days after the accident they created the Kazakhstan Chamber of Management Consultants (CMC Kazakhstan), a professional association promoting best consulting practices and standards. The idea of the award first came from Valeria Della Rosa from the TAM/BAS team, who was visiting Almaty at that time. CMC Kazakhstan eagerly supported the idea.

The foundation was a “spin-off” of this initiative. When I met with CMC Kazakhstan to talk about the award, we thought about how we could attract money for it, which led me to think about establishing the foundation.
We launched the Gabriel Al-Salem Foundation and the award officially at a press conference in the Kazakhstan Press Club on 1 February, which is the date of Gabriel’s birthday. The event was widely publicised in Central Asia, so we organised further presentations in Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan.

Who is involved in the foundation?

Viktoria: The consultants who benefited from Gabriel’s work in Central Asia were initially the ones who kicked off the idea. However, a lot of other people also helped me: the TAM/BAS team, colleagues and consultants Gabriel had met all around the world and other people who knew him personally.

What is the foundation hoping to achieve?

Viktoria: Ultimately, the foundation’s aim is to support sustainable economic growth in its countries of operations. We will try to do this by providing access to innovations and best practices in consulting and business services. This can be done, for example, by giving out educational or development grants for entrepreneurs who are interested in developing their professionalism and competitiveness.

Geographically, the foundation is registered in the US with a representative office in Almaty. It currently focuses its efforts on Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries, but we are also considering expanding our work to other parts of the globe.

The foundation supports the Gabriel Al-Salem International Award for Excellence in Consulting. Can you tell us more about it?

Viktoria: Setting up the annual award is the foundation’s first project. The goal is to recognise outstanding achievements for consulting services and to promote high professional standards in the industry.

More concretely, there are five award categories to recognise various aspects that help advance the development of the consulting sector. They include an award to the best consultant of the year as well as awards for the best consulting project and the best contribution to the development of management consulting as a profession.

Furthermore, we have a category called “Consultancy without borders”, which rewards outstanding trans-border, multi-national projects, and finally an award for the most dynamic professional institution or association in the consulting sector.

The deadline for submissions is November 30 of each year and prizes are awarded to the winners on 1 February. To be as objective as possible, we are planning to engage an independent research agency to conduct interviews with clients and gather feedback on the consultants and firms proposed for the award categories. Finally, an international committee which includes leading experts from the consulting industry will judge the submissions and choose the winners.

For more information on the work of the Gabriel Al-Salem Foundation, please visit their web site.

If you wish to contribute to the foundation’s work, you can do so by donating money to the following account:

Bank: Halifax
Account Name: GA-Foundation
Account Number: 37 87 65 96
Sort Code: 11 18 11

By Volker Ahlemeyer, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Photos: Viktoria Olskaia