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HR as the First Responder: Lessons about Fighting the Coronavirus



Written By: Vikas Dua

Lessons for the HR fraternity from the Heroes of the War against the Coronavirus

At the frontline of the war against the Coronavirus pandemic have been thousands of health, security and support workers. While the regulatory and administration teams have been in the background, it has been these warriors who have taken on the onerous task of tackling this unseen enemy, head on.

Striding into their place of work, often without the essential PPE (Personal  Protective Equipment), they have cautiously proceeded to execute their duties, knowing fully well that each minute on the job exposes them to a risk that could be fatal, not only to them but to many others including their own families.

One can only conjecture as to what motivates them in this manner? Unlike the security forces who are aware, right from the time that they decided to serve their nation, that they could one day, be head to head with the enemy, none of the others would have possibly ever imagined  such a scenario.  

So, what is it that gets them to scrub in and get onto with the job day after day, even as the battle rages globally? For the doctor, some may argue that perhaps it is due to the ‘Hippocratic Oath’ they have taken at the start of their study of medicine, to treat the ill to the best of their ability. But surely, it takes more than an oath. And, what about others in industries like Airlines and services like Facilities Management who don’t have such an ingrained and standardised practice, that is known of?

My view is that it is the singular reason for this is the desire to serve – the passion to not let down the very folks who are dependent on them for their well being. This approach drives them to put others before self and focus single-mindedly on their mission, much like an astronaut who blasts off into space to further human exploration, leaving his world far behind, with the knowledge that he may never be back, should there be a mishap.

So, when it comes to the world of commerce and business, what can the HR fraternity learn from these selfless individuals? Clearly, there are lessons for us and here are some of those – 

  1. Lead from the Front – For the corporate world, the HR teams will have to be the ‘First Responders’. Due to the panic and confusion caused by the pandemic, employees have concerns as they stare towards an uncertain future, even as Government and business leaders attempt to figure out the impact of the pandemic over the short, medium and long-terms. HR practitioners will have to take pre-emptive steps forward and assuage these concerns in a proactive, structured manner, even as the developments unfold.
  2. Be Empathetic – The lives of employees are being impacted at multiple levels – personal and professional, both. On one hand, entire industries such as the Airlines, Hospitality and Conferencing look down at a bleak future at least in the near future, employees working in such industries have personal financial commitments such as rentals and EMIs to pay on an ongoing basis. Only the most conservative would have been prepared for such a ‘rainy day’. Many amongst us may have a loved one working at the frontlines as part of the essential services, exposing themselves to the coronavirus danger, day after day. Therefore, HR folks will need to be empathetic when they interact with employees as they face tense moments.
  3. Innovate on the Fly – The famous military quote sums it up very succinctly – ‘No strategy survives first contact with the enemy’. Along similar lines, possibly, no HR team has been coached for such an eventuality. In the world of critical healthcare, medical staff have innovated with medical treatments in the absence of a known vaccine for the coronavirus, with some reports of success. Along similar lines, HR personnel will need to innovate and work with other stakeholders to ensure that the financial impact is minimised to the maximum extent possible.
  4. Personalise, not Standardise – Treatments for those who have been stricken by the coronavirus are personalised basis multiple factors including their age, severity of the infection, prior medical history and more. In this age of standardisation, HR leaders will have to bear in mind that employees impacted by the economic impact of this crisis, will also have to be dealt with in a personalised manner. While this is no easy task by any measure, it can make a substantial difference in how employees move forward and remain engaged with the organisation. One of the main realisations from this crisis is that chasing materialistic lifestyles isn’t of any major consequence in the long-term; health is paramount. HR teams that come across as being genuinely concerned about their workforce will create affinity for the brand in the minds of those working with them.
  5. Communicate with Transparency –  At a time like this, unfortunately, rumours also gain credence fueled by the apprehension of the multitudes.  We have all witnessed the daily briefings being held by Heads of State in some countries, or regular updates shared by bodies such as WHO (World Health Organisation). Along similar lines, colleagues in the HR function also need to ensure that timely information regarding the supportive steps being taken by their organisation is shared so that employees are prepared well enough for the disruptions expected going forward. 
  6. Guide and Coach – Over the last few months, health professionals have guided millions of people on the correct way to wash their hands and to practice social distancing – acts that can control the spread of the harmful coronavirus and save lives. In the world of business, there is no doubt that the dynamics will change. While some roles will shrink, new ones will emerge. It will then rest on the shoulders of HR leaders to help those displaced, to pick up new skills and new direction for themselves, so that they can build stronger careers going forward.

In this way, the HR community will need to rise to the occasion. The rapid, global spread of this virus has caused changes in thought, lifestyles and practices. Even as humanity recalibrates and charts out a new optimum framework to define ‘success’, HR professionals across the world should aim to redefine the very basics of the science and art of ‘Human Resource Management’, viz. to design the strategic approach to maximise employee performance in a company or organization such that they help their business gain a competitive advantage. 

In what other ways, can HR professionals step up to the challenge? I’d love to hear your views. Do connect with me on LinkedIn (vikas.dua) or drop me an email at


About the Author:

Vikas Dua is an accomplished HR and recruitment professional with over 15 years of experience in the field, having worked with both start-ups and large corporations like Wipro, Concentrix and Startek Aegis, driving hiring in the APAC region. Currently, he is Chief HR Mentor at—a disruptive HR Tech firm working on enhancing and democratizing knowledge sharing in the academic space. A TEDx Speaker, Vikas is also an active Vlogger and Blogger, who shares insights under his self-designed ‘HR in my Heart’ brand umbrella.


Stevie Awards Winners’ Articles Series – Eng. Abeer Mahmoud Ramadna



“Continuous Learning, adopting innovation & creativity and teamwork are among the guiding principles of success and excellence in the government sector” Eng. Abeer Mahmoud Ramadna

Winner Name: Eng.  Abeer Mahmoud Ramadna

Winner Title: Director Assistance for Control & Inspection for Economic Activities at Ministry of Industry & Trade in Jordan

Winning categories:

  1. The Gold Stevie Winner in the category “the most innovative Communications Professional of the year “
  2. The Silver Stevie Winner in the category “Innovation in Community Relations or public Services Communications”
  3. The Bronze Stevie Winner in the category “Innovative Management in Government – Organizations with 100 or more employees”
Brief Biography about the Winner:

Abeer Ramadna is the Director assistant of control and inspection unit at the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Supply (MIT) in Jordan, she has a Master Degree in Industrial Engineering- Engineering Administration / University of Jordan with “excellent degree”. Abeer has 20 years of experience in private and public sectors, and is a focal point for UNIDO at MIT in Jordan. Abeer is a certified Management development Expert from ITC/ Vienna in 2005, a certified Export Consultant to EU from CBI/Netherland in 2007, certified Lead Auditor for Quality Management ISO 9001:2015, a certified Engineer Expert in Quality and Environmental Management systems in 2018 and a certified EFQM Assessor from EFQM in 2019. Eng. Abeer has a wide professional expertise in many fields that allow her to provide consultations to the organizations in various fields including Quality Management, Environmental Management, preparing industrial polices, strategies and plans, Inspection polices, Monitoring & Evaluation systems, implementing the ISO9001, ISO14001 ISO14040s standards, and conducting technical industrial sectors studies.

Eng. Abeer won three Stevie Awards from three different categories after participation in Middle East Stevie Awards in 2020, these are:

  1. Gold Stevie Winner in a category:” The Most Innovative Communications Professional of the Year”. These categories honor the most innovation in communications practice, management, and use of technology.
  2. Silver Stevie Winner in a category: “Award for Innovation in Community Relations or Public Service Communications”. These categories honor innovation in communications practice, management, and use of technology in the public sector.
  3. Bronze Stevie Winner in a category: “Award for Innovative Management in Government “. These categories honor innovation in executive management including the Award for Innovative Management in a number of industry sectors.

Abeer has been published scientific papers in one of the world accredited journals in E-government. Titled “Barriers to E-Government Adoption in Jordanian Organizations from Users’ and Employees’ Perspectives” in 2017, the link is:

and published another scientific paper titled: “SEM approach to determine factors affecting e-government success in Jordan”,  the link is: _to_determine_factors_affecting_e-government_success_in_Jordan

She was selected as a Judge at the Best Jordanian chemical product Award in all three cycles of it during 2015 to 2020, Judge in the 2019 management & entrepreneur Awards categories judging committee Stevie Awards, and Judge at the best industrial engineering project for the Jordanian universities in 2019. She participated in several national and International conferences, meetings and presented papers, as a representative of the MIT / Jordan.

Stevie Award winning Case Study:

  • Developing action plans of inspection development to governmental institutions (Inspectorates) work in fields of health, Environment, labor, safety for economic sectors in Jordan.
  • Supervision of developing Electronic Inspection System for governmental inspectorates.
  •  Conduct many awareness workshops for governmental inspectorates and for private sector institutions.
  • Conduct many workshops and training sessions as A National trainer of trainers in the shaping of future studies.
  • Secretariat of higher committee for Inspection development of Economic Activates that consists from high level management in governmental inspectorates.
  • Abeer is trusted as a competent team leader and confident expert in Quality management & Inspection systems
  • Abeer conducted in 2018 a study titled the Industrial engineering in the government sector in Jordan, current situation and future opportunities and present it in the 2nd International Conference on Industrial Systems & Manufacturing Engineering (ISME’19) Nov, 11-12, 2019 in Amman.
  • Abeer was chosen after a series of selection process as one of the National participants in the Civil Service Development Program in Jordan and attended all phases including the leadership and developing high performance teams at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst UK during 2019.

Eng. Abeer Mahmoud Ramadna “Continuing to contribute achievements and make positive impacts are goals that are achievable with the presence of strong & positive attitude, self-motivated character & determination.”

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Stevie Awards Winners’ Articles Series – Asiacell



“Winning such an award requires hard work and we encourage other companies to focus on their customers and local communities in order to excel”

Winning Organization: Asiacell

Nomination: Award for Excellence in Innovation in Technology Industries (including Telecom)

Brief about the Organization:

Asiacell is a leading provider of telecommunications and data services in Iraq. As part of international telecommunications company Ooredoo Group, Asiacell was Iraq’s first mobile telecommunications provider to achieve nationwide coverage. Asiacell is also a leading internet provider with its 3.9G data services, offering the best network coverage in all of Iraq since January 2015.

Stevie Award Winning Case Study:

As part of its commitment to expand network coverage in Iraq, Asiacell has continued to support the redevelopment of the country’s infrastructure and economy and the provision of high-quality connectivity solutions. It has enhanced its “Hot Zone” restoration strategy by putting 200 sites on air and connecting over 500 sites to 3G.

Focused on improving the quality of life for communities, Asiacell’s CSR initiatives are focused on key areas, such as health, education and culture. Asiacell has equipped several higher education institutions with computer labs and supported the renovation of schools, with the aim of providing quality education infrastructure. It also partnered with the Chibayish Environmental Tourism Organization to build the first Iraqi Marshlands heritage museum in Ahwar as part of its efforts to revive Iraq’s Marshland, while generating a positive effect on tourism and jobs creation. 

Recognising that its people are its key asset, Asiacell continues to roll out initiatives focused on engaging and empowering employees. It has invested heavily in digital transformation, including digital upskilling for employees, and streamlining of various internal processes in order to nurture a digital-first culture that embraces innovation.

We are so glad to be recognized as a successful and innovative telecommunication company in Iraq with a Stevie Award for “Excellence in Innovation in Technology Industries”. Recognition from the Stevie Awards means a lot to us and motivates Asiacell to continue to serve the community with professionalism. Winning such an award requires hard work and we encourage other companies to focus on their customers and local communities in order to excel.


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Qisaty Project & Developing Talent in Children with Special Needs in Egypt



Edited By: Mahmoud Mansi

Qisaty Project – founded by Mona Lamloum – was launched on 26th December 2019 to support children talents through a series of storytelling, writing and drawing workshops.

The total number of children who participated in the storytelling workshop is 60 including the most talented 20 who were selected to the story writing sessions, 16 children ranging from 6 to 14 years old got their stories selected to be drawn by 19 children with special needs.

The drawing workshops were held in 3 cities in Egypt with cooperation with 2 special needs associations; Nida Society Rehabilitation with both branches in Cairo and Luxor. 14 children, and Ashab El-Erada Association in Alexandria. 5 children.

The children have different disabilities, hearing loss, partial blindness, movement disability, learning difficulty disability, mental disability and increased electricity in the brain.

Of course such an interesting project needs proper preparation and an intellectual plan. Mona Lamloum shared some of the challenges that she and her team have faced during the project:

1-The global pandemic and the sudden lockdown.

2- The fact that most of the children with special needs suffer from many chronic diseases which lowers their immunity, in addition to the huge responsibility that lies on the team while holding the workshop during the pandemic.

3-The fear of the parents of the children with special needs participation at the drawing workshops due to the pandemic and the lack of their immunity. Which was managed to concur with the help of the project partners in drawing workshops. 

Eventually, Qisaty Project was held at exceptional circumstances and according to deadlines set up before the global Corona pandemic. However, the team did their best to get the project done within the lockdown with a quality that is aspired from the beginning, and that was done simply by teamwork, sharing a unified vision, and collaborating to find new solutions.

The result is 16 short stories in addition to 64 drawings by hands of talented children with special needs and with variable disabilities from three cities: Cairo, Alexandria and Luxor. Each drawing tells a different scene from a short story inspired from the children themselves to be published as a grand book that gathers the short stories and the drawings of all the talented young participants.


Qisaty Sponsors:

– Amideast: Hosted the story telling, story writing workshops and the day that gathered the writers and children with special needs mixed day.

– Nahdet Misr Publishing House.

Media Sponsors:

– Marj3 Platform

– HR Revolution Middle East


– Arablit Quarterly

Children with special needs Associations:

– Nida Society Rehabilitation with both branches in Cairo and Luxor.

– Ashab El-Erada Association in Alexandria.

Qisaty Trainers:

– Hanan El-Taher.

– Mona Lamloum.

– Zeinab Mobark.

Designing Storytelling and writing workshop:

-Mona Lamloum

Writing workshops:

– Mona Lamloum

– Yaqoub El-Sharouni

Drawing workshop:

– Under the supervision of Shoikar Khalifa,

 – With the help of respectful team at Nida Association at Cairo and Luxor.

 – Ashab El-Erada Association at Alexandria by Sahar Zaiton with the help of Aliaa Abd-Elsalam.

Team Members:

– Rawan Said

– Ahmed Ismail

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