INTERVIEWER: MAHMOUD MANSI
“It’s not enough to have laws in place; we need women in key decision-making positions, not administrative positions no matter how good the title may sound. HR needs to be aware of the challenges women face and some strategies to help them deal with them in a respectful and assertive way.”
About the Interviewee:
Dr. Rita Maselli is an Italian/Canadian HR Professional, consultant, trainer, award winning writer and painter currently living in Egypt, though she considers herself a Global Citizen. She owns her own business in Egypt as the Managing Director of RitaMaselli & Associates, a Management and HR consultancy founded in Cairo since 2009 www.rmaselli-associates.com. Dr. Rita specializes in Change Management, ROI, KPIs, Crises Management Training, Competency-Based HR, TNA Automated Tools, Performance Mgt and Attitudes Training and Coaching. She has lived/studied/worked in Italy, North America, Latin America and since 2002 the Middle East. She has a PHD in Management specialized in Change Management; and MA in Leadership/Supervision specialized in women leaders and gender management.
1-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: When you were a university student what was your dream job?
Rita Maselli: Actually, I never really saw myself in a job; I had a number of dream images that I carried around in my head: me as a lawyer pleading for the innocent; as a novelist winning the Nobel Prize for literature, and as an anti-apartheid human rights activist.
2-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: When was the first time you thought about starting your career in the HR? Tell us the story.
Rita Maselli: I never made a conscious decision to have a career in HR: I started in the education field as an English teacher, then as department head, then in counseling services, secondary principal, assistant-director, director and finally as board member. Throughout that part of my career, I always worked in the private sector which is highly competitive. I was directly involved with overseas recruiting, assessment and evaluation as well as all of the other management duties many of which were connected with strategic budgeting, staffing and evaluation.
3-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: How did you develop yourself into being a better HR person?
Rita Maselli: While in Latin America, I lived through a few revolutions, some military coups, assassinations, kidnappings and even killing of my staff and if that doesn’t make you a better person maybe nothing will. As for the HR part, I just figured it out as I went along. I realized that HR refers to the people part of dealing with the logistics of management. I’ve become very good at learning from my experiences and especially from all the mistakes I’ve made within the work context. But more traditionally, I read, read, read … about best practices and failures; I watch videos; I meet and share with other HR professionals, attend some conferences, try out what I believe in, continue to learn from new mistakes I make and share what I know.
4-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Working as an HR consultant and trainer in different regions in the east and the west, what is the difference between both regions in HR application?
Rita Maselli: When I first came to Egypt in November of 2002, I felt that we were quite far behind in terms of our view of the role of HR. Even though I was working in a multi-national setting and was hired to be an Assistant CEO, with the main responsibility to oversee a regional “systemic excellence” change initiative launched from Cairo, when I got here I was shocked to realize that I was basically just a “showpiece”; no real change was expected or planned for. I had just finished my PhD in management, specializing in change and for the 2 years of my contract I was not given the authority to change anything. I was a well-paid decoration. It was the most frustrating time of my professional career and that is when I decided I would never have a boss again.
But we’ve come a long way since then; although I believe that we, in the HR community in Egypt, a) are often missing the core business skills required to be strategic business partners and b) are splintered into many, competing HR groups (many of which are really just recruiting sources) and c) we still have a long way to go to adapt global best practices to the Egyptian reality and culture.
I am convinced that if we can create an umbrella HR group, a national association of HR professionals, we would have so much more national influence in terms of the impact of HR on the daily lives of employees and we could make a real CHANGE.
5-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: How many years have you been in Egypt? What is your criticism and advice to HR in Egypt?
Rita Maselli: I’ve been here twelve years. HR professionals are still not seen as very critical to the success of an organization. We are often still perceived as personnel, almost “admin” with a little veneer of HR. We need to become very competent at strategic thinking and management and understanding the business aspects of running a company and only then will the owners, CEOs and Senior Mgrs start to take us more seriously. As long as they think “HR has no idea how to make money, create added value or improve quality” then they will not trust us to help make the right decisions, and we’ll continue to be excluded from the strategic decisions that drive vision and results.
6-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: From your profession, what are the qualifications of a professional trainer? And with the increasing number of trainers, how can one determine who is fraud?
Rita Maselli: I think that trainers should have enough technical knowledge of a topic, have experience in that topic enough to deliver the message in a clear and practical way, and be able inspire participants to grow and choose attitudes that empower them to live up to their potential. This combination is not easy to find, but is the one that leads to success. It isn’t because you can download a PPT presentation, copy and paste activities from different sources from the internet and are not afraid to speak in front of a group that you are trainer. A presenter of information is not a trainer. You might be able to get away with that at the university level but not with adult learners. It seems that a growing number of people have become or are becoming trainers because they think that they can make good, fast money. We need quality trainers, quantity is not enough.
7-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: When did you decide to start your own organization in Egypt? What were your challenges at the beginning?
Rita Maselli: I started at the end of 2008. Just setting up the company was a challenge for me as a foreigner but even more of a challenge was deciding what areas of HR, Management and training I wanted to specialize in. I found my niche a little at a time as I better understood the needs of the Egyptian market and where my strengths lie.
8-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: How did you market your own training programs at first?
Rita Maselli: Actually at first I didn’t market my training programs as I worked as a partner/consultant with IMI. Later I marketed through some special events, my own reputation as a trainer and the best marketing tool of all, word of mouth.
These days most of our marketing is done through social media. Check our Company Page Facebook. Also discover the following pages that we use to share the latest best practices in specific and key HR and management areas: Breaking the Glass Ceiling; Trainers Niche; Dr. Rita Maselli’s ROI Club; Dr. Rita’s KPI Academy; Attitudes for Personal Success and Happiness.
9-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: The Egyptian market has been continuously bombarded with training organizations. Does this mean that organizations in Egypt are beginning to understand the importance of training?
Rita Maselli: I don’t really know why the boom in training companies. But obviously quantity does not imply quality or results. Here’s the reality that we face as a country. You tell me what it means!
The 2015 Global Competitiveness Index puts Egypt at 116 out of the 140 countries that participated; a very poor showing. We might be tempted to say that it’s because of the regional area and the political instability etc. but that wouldn’t account for the rating of Jordan (64) and of Morocco (72).
Perhaps two of the most horrible and worrying ratings are in the sub-categories “quality of management schools: we scored 139 out 140” and “extent of staff training: 139 out of 140”. This is critical stuff! There is no lower rating that we could have received (except 140 out of 140). I believe that we need to organize an HR national forum on these two ratings. We desperately need to find out why we are so low and come up with a plan to improve. I’m willing to work with anyone who is interested to make a difference.
10-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: As the owner of your training organization, RitaMaselli & Associates, how do you keep your customers and market share among all the different competitors and economic changes?
Rita Maselli: Frankly, I don’t waste my efforts trying to find out what my competitors are doing. I refuse to compete. I focus on developing those business areas that I believe in and that I can deliver quality results for, sort of like Blue Ocean strategy. I design different training programs, different assessment tools and different ways at looking at generating business results. I basically focus on retaining my customers and repeat business.
11-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: As an HR person, how does this help you become a better person in the community?
Rita Maselli: As an HR person, I believe in the innate potential of people and my role is to create an environment where that potential may be developed by removing all artificial obstacles. From a practical point of view whenever possible I buy from the smaller shops instead of the chains. I try to appreciate the effort that people make when they show initiative, especially at the lower levels.
12-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Your office is decorated by a lot of artistic paintings, all signed by you. From a personal perspective what could be the relationship between art and HR? And how does painting inspire you to become a better HR?
Rita Maselli: The practice of Art is like that of HR. There is the science of art, meaning understanding the medium you use, how to mix the colors effectively, how to design your message etc. But there is the human aspect of the creativity needed to create a piece. It comes down to what someone feels like when they stand in front of the final piece of art. Are they touched in some way? Are they uplifted or diminished? At the end of the day in terms of HR, we look at the results and ask ourselves, have we contributed to the improvement of an organization (without sacrificing employee rights) or have we contributed to the ineffectiveness or inefficiency of non-ethical, non-productive procedures? We are part of the problem or part of the solution. You can’t sit on the HR fence.
13-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Would you advise the Learning & Development departments to apply a painting course to the employees of the organization? How would this be useful?
Rita Maselli: Interesting idea but I’m not sure that it would be beneficial or “do-able”. There is the process of creating a piece of art. I guess if someone would be willing to go through the process then many things could be learned, but it is a learned process and it would be time-demanding unless of course we should promote pure spontaneity. That would be fun but not sure that it would benefit all.
14-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: You are also a writer, and you are writing your own novel. What are the difficulties you face as a writer?
Rita Maselli: As a novelist, you have to make sure that you have a worthwhile message to share otherwise you’re just filling up pages. Writing is a solitary activity, and it’s very easy to become discouraged. It requires concentration, organization, creativity and an incredible amount of discipline, actually just sitting down and doing it even when you’re not inspired. I’m very lucky because I’m part of a writers group in Cairo whose members are all very supportive of each other.
15-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: How does HR inspire your motherhood?
Rita Maselli: I have two adult children: daughter, who’s a writer and temporarily living in Egypt and a son who is traveling the world and is now in Peru. I’m not sure that HR inspires to be a better mother, but it definitely does inspire me to be a better communicator, confidante and supporter.
16-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Being a member of Global HR Forum, how does this add value to you as an HR professional?
Rita Maselli: The main reason for the creation of Global HR Forum was the need for an HR group that is focused on the activities that are: very worthwhile, rich in meaning, high in impact and find ways to make this group truly stand out in key HR areas. And for the first 3 or 4 months, the spirit within the group was very inspirational as people came up with creative ideas about how to add value to the community and to the members of the group. Global HR Forum actively promotes debate, professional learning and a mindset of excellence in HR practices. We had a couple of great sessions and competitions that I feel added significant value to me individually and to us as professionals. Additional to this the group is also used as a recruitment tool.
17-HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: From your work experience and observation in Egypt, what are the problems that face “working women”? And how can HR offer a hand into making a better working environment for women?
Rita Maselli: It seems that the “proper” legislation to protect women’s rights exists; so then it becomes an issue of making sure that as HR professionals we become very familiar with the laws and that they are applied consistently and correctly. For me I think that some of the bigger issues seem to be the lack of women in certain key professions and at certain levels of management. It’s not enough to have laws in place; we need women in key decision-making positions, not administrative positions no matter how good the title may sound. HR needs to be aware of the challenges women face and some strategies to help them deal with them in a respectful and assertive way. I am a feminist through and through. Men will never be completely able to discover their true potential until women are able to do the same. We both benefit when we are equal partners, and equal does not mean the same. Equal simply means having equal opportunity to make the choices we want for ourselves.
HR Revolution Middle-East Magazine: Dr. Rita, thank you so much for being the artist and professional person you are, for your honesty and for vividly sharing your knowledge, experience and valuable opinions with us.
Interview with Mr. Vijay Gandhi, Regional Director of Korn Ferry Digital
“2021 is here and there has been never a tipping point like this before for governments and organizations to transform how they work, engage the employees and service their clients. It is this mix of internal and external challenges that will also create opportunities for leaders to make a difference as we embark upon a new calendar year.” Mr. Vijay Gandhi
Interviewer: Mariham Magdy
Brief Biography about the Interviewee:
Mr. Vijay Gandhi has worked with human resource teams for over 20 years to provide them with tools, benchmarks, insights and data to help them design high level global HR frameworks and make decisions for local executive teams, remuneration committees and board of directors in public and privately owned companies across different sectors. He oversees the commercial activities of Reward & Benefits in KF Digital across Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Vijay has an MBA from Durham University (UK) and BBA in Finance & International Business from University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA). He joined Korn Ferry in 2001 in Dubai and has worked in EMEA and Asia region. In May 2018, he was honored with Forbes “Top 50 Indian Executives in Arab World”
1.HR Revolution Middle East: Mr. Vijay, welcome to HR Revolution Middle East Magazine. It’s a great pleasure to have the opportunity to make this interview with you.
As the Regional Director for Korn Ferry Digital, we are keen to learn from you more about KF Digital, how do Korn Ferry’s digital applications help organizations to transform or enhance their organizational strategy?
Through the Korn Ferry Digital platform, our clients gain direct access to our data, insights, analytics and digital solutions – enabling them to drive performance in their organizations in a scalable way through their people, using one enterprise-wide framework and language of talent. Our digital solutions cover the whole talent journey. So, whether it’s developing a new talent strategy or reward program, making informed decisions about hiring or developing talent from within the organization, getting the right people on board, or even collecting feedback on how engaged employees really are, right across the organization – Korn Ferry Digital provides the answers.
Our solutions serve as an integrated platform that gives clients direct access to the data, insights and analytics. Clients benefit from one enterprise-wide talent framework and language that helps drive organizational performance through people.
2- HR Revolution Middle East: To what extent can we trust the results of the digital assessments? How can organizations use the data that Korn Ferry collects to make intelligent hiring, reward, development decisions?
Mr. Vijay Gandhi:
Korn Ferry Digital is fueled by the most comprehensive and up-to-date people and organization databases. This data provides the DNA for our digital solutions, bringing a research-based foundation to underpin quality and consistency in your HR practices. Over 4 billion data points have been collected, including:
- Over 69 million assessment results
- 8 million employee engagement survey responses
- Rewards data for 20 million employees across 25,000 organizations and 130+ countries
We’ve pulled the data together into a comprehensive set of actionable and dynamic Success Profiles. Success Profiles define “what good looks like” and include data around three dimensions – the accountabilities of a role, the associated capabilities to perform these responsibilities, and the traits and drivers that are characteristic of a person who will thrive in this role.
Organizations have access to over 4,000 individual Success Profiles across 30,000 job titles – and we are continually updating and adding new profiles, so you get to leverage the latest thinking on emerging roles. The results are therefore based on deep insight and research.
3- HR Revolution Middle East: Mr. Vijay, we are eager to learn from you more about the success story behind honoring you as one of the Top 50 Indian Leaders in Arab World by Forbes Middle East in 2018 – Region’s greatest success stories as Regional Director at Korn Ferry Digital.
Mr. Vijay Gandhi:
I am a long-time resident of the Arab region, where my family roots go back 60 years, before the UAE federation was formed. Knowing the culture, people and dynamics of working in the Arab world has been natural as this has been home to our family where my kids are the 5th generation. For more than 20 years, I have worked closely with human resource teams in the Arab world to execute their talent strategy. A lot has changed in this period in HR function itself which was regarded as a payroll function few decades ago. Today, HR and People strategy are board room discussions where HR plays a strategic role in driving workforce performance.
In these positively growing and changing times, my focus was on leveraging tools, benchmarks, insights and data to design high-level global HR frameworks for senior executives in the region – helping them more effectively manage their talent. We have built successful client partnerships in the region which has made Korn Ferry as a go to organizational consulting firm.
4- HR Revolution Middle East: For over 20 years, you have overseen the activities of pay, talent, surveys and listening products across Europe, Middle East and Africa. What are the unique characteristics of the Middle East organizations especially in talent and pay management? How does we differ from other regions as Europe & Africa?
Mr. Vijay Gandhi:
Change is taking place rapidly in the world of work with any organizations taking unprecedented steps to remain relevant and connected to their people , their customers and society. In the Middle East we have seen many companies implement temporary pay-cuts. Diversified conglomerates have shifted their employees from one division to another to balance the demand and supply. There is no denial that the way we work is changing and organizations have had to prepare a blueprint for the unexpected. This year it’s coronavirus. Next time, and there will be a next time, it could be a natural calamity, a recession, talent flight or something else unforeseen.
- Redefining the nature of work: Even today most organizations in the Gulf region are measuring success or performance using the metric of attendance. There is a mismatch between modern, flexible ways of working and traditional ways of organizing and rewarding work. To close this gap, organizations need new approaches that fit today and can flex for the future. New and evolving technologies allow organizations to operate more effectively and more efficiently. They do this by preparing people to work more productively and by introducing virtual ways of doing things that previously required physical presence. Some organizations in the region have started tocreate “flexible teams” for specific projects, and then dismantling them once the project is complete.
- Moving towards a liquid workforce: HR laws in the Middle East region have undergone change in the last 3 years to allow for part-time employees, internships and with the spring of an independent freelance community offering specialized professional services which were rare to find few years ago. In the future, we will see more organizations tailoring their resource requirements to the needs of the labor market. Organizations will move towards a liquid workforce to capture the best talent regardless of source or nature of contract which may not be employed full-time.
- Splitting time and skills: A few global companies are making use of employees’ skills and motivation within the confines of a traditional role. They have developed a SharePoint platform where employees can give up to 20% of their time to projects outside of their core role. The 80/20 approach allows for flexibility without the contractual implications of making significant changes to roles and functions. The projects range from large, like supporting big corporate initiatives, to small, like moderating a series of workshops. These smaller projects may last just a few weeks and take up less than 20% of a person’s working time. Trainees, called ‘Start-up’ participants, also work according to the 80/20 principle. That means they follow a set rotation programme for four days of the week and meet on Fridays to work on joint projects.
- Rethinking Reward: Even after right-sizing in many Middle East companies, there has been a significant impact of grade/title inflation on performance. In the short-term it is important to preserve operating capacity in the event demand returns to normal sooner than expected by managing leaves and cutting pay for a limited time. In the medium-term, organizations will have to adjust individual performance incentives as conditions normalize and consider crisis-related spot awards where applicable. In the long-term, organizations will have to not only maintain awards for top-performers but also consider tying bonuses and incentives to crisis-related health and-safety metrics.
With no ‘rules of the game’, and such rapid evolution, it’s not surprising that many companies feel they don’t know where or how to start. They need fresh thinking and new approaches on a whole range of topics – including how to create a ‘new deal’ that works for their people.
5- HR Revolution Middle East: The digital transformation has changed totally the way businesses make decisions. Given that almost every organization has been forced into a new way of working, how can they navigate through a new normal?
Mr. Vijay Gandhi:
The positive new is that, apart from solving immediate effects of the crisis, we have seen a resilience to operate from home by employees and employers moving from “no flexible hours” to “you can work remotely if the job doesn’t require you to come to the office”.
Whilst it’s great to move to more flexibility, we may be going over the top to think that this will be the norm for all employee segments. Let me share some of the discussions with HR professionals in last few months in the region.
- Leadership matters and they want to be visible with the workforce. Ask any leader when do they have the most impact? It’s when they are spending time with their people to engage with them and enable them by listening to their concerns.
- There were aspects of our lives – work, family, friends – which were separate but now happening all in one physical space. The self-complexity theory shows that individuals become vulnerable to negative feelings when these social activities and goals aren’t differentiated.
- Certain roles in healthcare, manufacturing, hospitality sectors cannot work remotely, and fantastic efforts have been made to make the workplace safe.
- Sales and Business development were areas identified as most dependent on face-to-face meetings. According to Harvard Business research, in-person meetings were seen as most effective for:
- Negotiating important contracts (82%)
- Interviewing senior staff for key positions (81%)
- Understanding and listening to important customers (69%)
Although there are many reasons why video conferencing works well to stay connected in isolation and keep dispersed teams connected and aligned, latest research shows they wear on the psyche in complicated ways. Psychologists say a new phenomenon “video call fatigue” is emerging. It describes the feeling of being worn out by back-to-back virtual meetings and having to perform for the camera by over-scheduling ourselves.
So, whilst working from home since March 2020 was considered as a great move from being non-flexible to trusting people, it’s now time to rationalize our thinking. The answer lies somewhere in the middle by being flexible and not drifting like nomads too. We cannot take all home and it won’t be forever.
6- HR Revolution Middle East: How did all the twists and turns occurred in 2020 changed the traditional way organizations used to manage pay? Do you expect that businesses would return to the normal management of pay in 2021?
Mr. Vijay Gandhi:
Shifting to “people” priorities in 2021
2020 will be a fable for us to share with generations to come. It is a year which has revolutionized the way we work and adapt to uncertainty. A year which started with negativity around jobs and pay cuts. Life came to a stand-still. Organizations who have survived the pandemic have shown tremendous resilience and agility to adapt to tough times. As costs were taken out of the business in the first half of the year, we have seen higher productivity and the drive to restore profitability. It was also a year where there remained no doubt that that the most critical driver for any organization was its workforce.
2021 is here and there has been never a tipping point like this before for governments and organizations to transform how they work, engage the employees and service their clients. It is this mix of internal and external challenges that will also create opportunities for leaders to make a difference as we embark upon a new calendar year.
Transformation in business set-up and labour reforms were on top of the agenda in 2020. The Labour Reform Initiative (LRI) brought into action by MHRSD in Saudi under the National Transformation Program (NTP) has swung the focus back onto shared services and their significance in the Saudi business world. This initiative has not only set a strong precedent for the future of workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) but also carved a structured model for businesses looking to hire personnel. Similarly, there were 2 landmark moves in United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- allowing foreign investors to own local companies without the need for an Emirati sponsor will open doors for more FDI and greater business opportunities.
- allowing professionals to reside and work in Dubai residency rule was a big boon for professionals in workplaces where they are delivering or leading teams remotely.
The road ahead for employees working in this region looks bright as these reforms would strengthen labour competencies, enrich the work environment, and put together an inviting job market. The flexibility will help employers in 2021 to drive innovations, provide access to more talent, drive performance and results regardless of where the team is located in the region.
Leaders will have to go beyond showing interest in the development of everyone and be empathetic towards employees who survived the crisis with them in 2020. In fact, the ‘Global Workplace Study 2020’ by ADP Research Institute shows that employees are approximately 13 times more likely to be resilient when more workplace disruption occurs. Empathy was shown by employees in many ways e.g. working from home in different circumstances or taking a pay cut to help companies save further job cuts.
Technology innovation is here to stay
Organizations in both the public and private sectors had to make a change in the way they work and move to digitization. Another conundrum we are presently facing is the real-estate impacts of employees desiring greater work-life flexibility. It’s unlikely that office spaces will disappear overnight, but rather a greater integration of virtual and in-person work is right around the corner. The recent decision by Dubai Government to work-from-home comes at the back of flexible working hours announced in April 2020. Workplace flexibility works best when implemented to address both the organization’s need to for a leaner workforce and employees’ need for work/life support.
The social element of your workplace has likely taken on a much different look in 2021. You may have employees in a social distance-friendly environment, employees working from home, or a mix of both. Organizations will have to find ways to encourage them to stay connected while being physically disconnected. Even before the pandemic COVID-19 had entered our vocabulary, burnout, stress and anxiety were significant issues in the workplace, and society generally. Once we throw the mental health impact into the mix, and work-related stress is likely to reach staggering levels. Going into 2021, leaders must promote the mental wellbeing and invest into benefits which will bring people together in a different way.
7- HR Revolution Middle East: What final tips would you give to business leaders at the beginning of 2021 with all the apprehensions and fears they have for the new wave of covid-19?
Mr. Vijay Gandhi:
Technology will continue to dominate the workplace and improve efficiencies. However, the most valuable services in the marketplace will always be done better by humans. In an era defined by crisis, where emotional intelligence, compassion, resilience, and morality may prove more important than ever before, the future of work is human. If business is about humans, the future of work must be too.
One thing to look forward to in 2021 from job and career perspective is slow change. Disruption has already happened. However, more often and less discussed are the small changes occurring each day that eventually add up to huge impacts. The present moment is worthy of your attention.
Q&A with Yasmine Yehia | MEA Employer Branding Manager at Schneider Electric, Life Coach & Consultant
Interviewer: Mahmoud Mansi
“To be able to have a strong brand, you need to start from within – you need to have an attractive story to tell so if this is not there, it won’t be the right time for employer branding. I always tell the people I teach employer branding – fix internally first and then you will have something to say externally.”Yasmine yehia
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How would you introduce yourself to the audience?
Yasmine Yehia: I am an Employer Branding expert, a certified life and career coach from the ICF, a public speaker and a certified trainer!
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How do you define Employer Branding in your own words?
Yasmine Yehia: Employer Branding is the art of story-telling, each employer has a story to tell, and this story is very useful for those who are interested in the company. A story about values, a story about culture, a story about care – a story about authenticity and uniqueness.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What does an Employer Branding Manager do?
Yasmine Yehia: An Employer Branding Manager is someone who is an expert in storytelling, someone who is also an expert in the employer strategy and people vision and who is talented in showing what differs the employer from any others in the market.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Employer Branding is one of the new global trends in HR, yet still not implemented in several countries and among many organizations. Why do you think some organizations have concerns regarding implementing Employer Branding as a comprehensive initiative?
Yasmine Yehia: I don’t think it is a matter of a concern at all – I think it is a matter of time and maturity. To be able to have a strong brand, you need to start from within – you need to have an attractive story to tell so if this is not there, it won’t be the right time for employer branding. I always tell the people I teach employer branding – fix internally first and then you will have something to say externally.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How do you measure the ROI of your Employer Branding initiatives?
Yasmine Yehia: Oh God, there are zillions of ways to measure the ROI of our initiatives and campaigns, as sophisticated as a brand awareness analysis to as simple as the quality of CVs we’re receiving for open vacancies. Measuring the pride and engagement of employees, measuring engagements and reach on our employer branding social media posts.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Who are your main stakeholders and partners in the Employer Branding process?
Yasmine Yehia: And like I teach in my workshop – Employer Branding is never an independent function, actually we cannot even function or deliver alone, it is a collaborative work between us, HR and Marcom.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Can you share with us one of the challenges you have faced in your current job and how you overcame it?
Yasmine Yehia: Managing a complex region like MEA is quite tough and I think the deep knowledge of each country in the region was my main challenge – what is it that my target audience in each country look for in an employer? I overcame it with loads of study and education and also with using the help of specialized agencies to provide me with the needed reports.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What pieces of advice would you give to organizations who want to empower their employer brand?
Yasmine Yehia: Be authentic! Start from within and have an authentic story to tell. You will reach the hearts of your target audiences effortlessly.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Jessie (if we may call you with your nickname), we are curious what is the first job you ever had and what is the most valuable lesson you have learnt from it?
Yasmine Yehia: My very first job was an IT Recruiter for fortune 1000 companies in USA – I learned the art of assessing and dealing with people, if there is one thing recruitment has given me, it is the strong people skills!
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You are also a certified Life Coach, how does this help you in your role in HR?
Yasmine Yehia: In both HR and Employer Branding your main customer and target audience is people, right? A life coach listens to so many people, to their issues and struggles, it makes you a people person by heart – it gives you the perfect listening skills and it strengthens the way you interact and communicate with people, and this is exactly what you need as an HRian!
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: As a Life Coach, what advices do you have to professionals who want to sustain a work-life balance? Do we all need to have a work-life balance?
Yasmine Yehia: YES, we all need a work life balance definitely – you need time for yourself, to recharge, reflect and develop. I’d tell them, make the time for yourself a priority – do not miss it, this time is actually good for your work too because you will always have the right energy to continue. If there is a learning lesson from 2020, it is the importance of our mental health. Have a routine and this routine must include time for yourself!
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: As a Career Coach, how do you think Covid-19 impacted the employment market?
Yasmine Yehia: Well, from what I see from my clients – so many people are thinking to shift careers post covid-19. Some of them must because they lost their jobs and some of them realized the importance of mental health, so they decided to leave a very stressful career. I think moving forward companies will have to learn to be flexible in their hiring process and start accepting candidates having the right skills for a job rather than a big number of years of experience! It is hiring for talents not years! People also need to be more resilient and smart in using their skills.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Finally, as a Trainer – why do you think personal branding is very important? We know you teach the topic.
Yasmine Yehia: In a world that has gone totally virtual – people need to learn how to build a strong personal brand online, it is how you will smartly use your skills and get paid for it! You no longer have the big chance to meet your recruiters face to face, following the new ways of working, we are heading towards working from home and flexible hours more, your personal brand is the only thing that will differentiate you in the market and open doors for you.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Thank you for your time, would you like to say anything?
Yasmine Yehia: Thank you for having me – I hope I continue inspiring those interested in the employer branding career!
Q&A with Sherihan Elkamash; Researcher at the Center of Strategic Studies, Bibliotheca Alexandrina & Charity Activist
Interviewer: Mahmoud Mansi
“I am always trying to not lead members, but inspire them and gain their trust by encouraging my team to work on new projects. I help them make their work plan, and I provide them with some guidance and coaching to finally have a successful deliverable to help impact more people in the community.”Sherihan Elkamash
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Sherihan you are multi-talented and active in building the community in several different ways, one of your main roles is working at the Center of Strategic Studies at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, can you tell us more about your role?
My main work is about making strategic researches. I also, write articles about the recent international political events. One of the main roles for me is to organize virtual discussions to discuss different economic and political subjects. I am always in contact with high profile degenerates in the political arena to make interviews with them to be published. I am also the social media specialist for the center, responsible for managing the official page by managing and posting the news, declare about the new events and conferences for the center.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Across your career you have worked in different careers and gained different experiences. Can you tell us what did you learn from these experiences? And how those skills are helping you at your current role?
I have been working in many fields since a young age I have acquired professional experience in many fields for the past fourteen years; working in NGOs, media, research, translation and communications. These experiences taught me to navigate in different kinds of structures (public/private/international), as well as dealing with the internal dynamics of each organization. In my previous roles, I have demonstrated exceptional ability to manage external stakeholders including senior government officials, high-profile clients, and well-regarded organizations. As a trilingual officer, I can communicate effectively in Arabic, English and French.
Working in all those fields taught me how to work in full power with a great performance, deliver my work in a high quality and always being in time and following the timetable.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You also have your own charity project “El Rahmoun”. Can you tells us more about managing people in a charity structured projects?
Let me first talk about myself when I was a regular member in NGO’s and volunteer projects. I starting volunteering since I was a 13-year-old school student. During those 21 years in charity, I’ve learned many things:
-I learned how to take the initiative to start new projects to help the maximum number of people in need.
-I learned more about contributing to the community and helping solve issues.
-I learned how to deal with all categories in my society, understanding their needs and being helpful to them.
-It is not only about leadership, but I have also been a great “team member”, by coming up with new ideas, working with enthusiasm and integrity.
As a founder or a leader for “El Rahmoun” charity group – like any business structure or project – it depends on the number of volunteers whether they are many or few, based on that we put a strong administration and operations management plan.
I am always trying to not lead “El Rahmoun” members, but inspire them and gain their trust by encouraging my team to work on new projects. I help them make their work plan, and I provide them with some guidance and coaching to finally have a successful deliverable to help impact more people in the community.
There is an interesting difference between a traditional corporate structure and a charity structure. In charity the individual is the one who deicides his/her responsibilities and commitment to the charity work. I cannot obligate them to attend the events or to do their tasks. Which means that I have to be their friend so they love me and maintain a good communication with the youth, meanwhile at the same time I have to be their leader when it comes to the big decisions. And this is the most difficult part. I think after 3 years of continuous work, while our volunteering community is getting bigger… my team and I are doing it well.
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How do you define success your own way? And what would be your success tips for youth?
I have learned the perfect strategy to achieve success, it is balance. We all have the desire towards success but those who are working and planning for it are the ones who are reaching their goals in a steady way. We all grew up with big dreams, seeking success in life, but few of us who understood that sustaining the success is the hard part. Balance is the key, youth need to know the importance of balance in their life between their studies, hard work, community service and social life. Youth need to make balance between physical, emotional and spiritual elements, to keep the high performance in everything they do. When we maintain our balance it shortly affects our sense of security and helps us to move forward. The balance in all activities in our days helps us maintain our mental health in order to have healthy minds and lifestyles. Stress is a serious threat to Youth and one should make it a priority to keep the stress away because stress prevents success.
Balance = Success
HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: With the development of technology, virtual communication and accessibility to knowledge, do you believe that some jobs are in threat? Can some careers take another form, offer different services and still impact the community?
The whole world is turning digital. The easy access to knowledge and data is the way of living now. Well, the development of technology can never be a threat. It actually helps us and is not a threat to our existence nor to anything created or made by the human being. NEW careers have been created and much more are on their way to glow and have place due to the virtual life. Furthermore, thousands of activities and services are provided through the internet now (website- social media) which also supports entrepreneurs and organizations to easily create new projects.
The Egyptian Government is taking the same track now in most of its governmental institutions. The pandemic helped a lot. It was a red light to hurry and accelerate our path, not only organizations that are turning digital but also individuals are becoming more focused on e-learning and other daily life services and in their lifestyles. I am very optimistic; because of the development of technology, new jobs are opening and great opportunities for youth which is very advantageous, beneficious and profitable to the growth of our great Nation EGYPT and to the rest of the world.
Thank you Sherihan for this interview and for developing and inspiring the community in such a unique way!
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