The HR field has not been spared by the pandemic. Adilla Diouman-Mosafeer, director of Talent Lab, reveals how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted this field. She also talks about the beginnings of the company.
• Tell us more about your career.
My first real working experience was at the Mauritius College of the Air. I was sent there under the Student Work Experience Programme of the University of Mauritius for an internship. One of the producers, Deven Sitaramadoo, petit clin d’oeil to him, was quick to get me through a voice and screen test, which I passed. I then became a freelance radio and TV presenter, covering educational events around the island. In parallel, I also worked as research assistant for their sister organisation, the National Resource Centre.
After three years or so, I passed my first full time job as Training Manager for a training institution called the Professional Training Centre (PTC). Being a fast learner, I was promoted to Marketing Manager within a couple of years. Being mentored by none other than Henry Chan, senior partner at KPMG Singapore, and Parvez Saliamohed, the then Finance Director of the Currimjee group, was when I developed my business acumen.
After spending four enriching years with them, I secured the post of Registrar and Examinations Manager at the British Council of Mauritius. It was a tough decision to leave PTC but the international exposure the British Council promised outweighed it all. And in March 2006, I embarked on a breathtaking journey and expanded my experience in educational management, project management and examinations exponentially. In 2006 I was promoted to the post of Deputy Director, and the wealth of experience grew exponentially, more so with the various regional and international team meetings and conferences.
During this time though, my daughter was growing up fast and I also gave birth to my son. As a working mother, I increasingly felt this inner pull to be with them and just watch them grow. In 2012, I chose to leave a flourishing career path and join my husband on a part time basis, to support his business, the Gibson & Hills Group, that was also growing steadily. I earnestly believed that joining the family business would lead to a better work — life balance. Well, it did for a couple of years. And in 2014, Talent Lab, my third baby, was born, now an established HR Management company and recruitment agency, serving Mauritius and slowly spreading its tentacles to the region.
• How has the idea to create Talent Lab germinated?
When I joined the Gibson & Hills Group, I naturally gravitated towards the HR aspect of the business and started developing HR outsourcing solutions to clients on demand. As things got busy, we took a strategic decision to let Talent Lab emerge. This entity would allow for more focus and the making of a strong brand within the HR sector in Mauritius.
• Tell us more about the early years of Talent Lab.
Talent Lab was housed in a tiny office in one of the old buildings in Quatre-Bornes. Given that it was an entity of its own, in infancy stage, we barely had adequate furniture to comfortably work on. I, for example, used a plastic chair, sharing the table with other people.
It is still very vivid how I personally called up hundreds of candidates for our first recruitment mission. It was for a company called the Life and Coffee, the then owners of Vida e Caffe, now a top coffee brand in Mauritius. Likewise for our second client Mafis Trading, owner of the well-known jewellery brand, Pandora. These were high powered brands and the need to impress and place us on the market was so important.
Alone and with minimal help, we managed to place some of their key staff. And from there started a long partnership and story of friendship with the two companies. From recruitment, this is how we expanded our HR outsourcing department. For we were called upon to manage HR compliance and administration on their behalf. A little shout out to Carien, Lindsay, Peter, Sarah and Mike for their trust and belief in us.
• There are quite a lot of HR companies in Mauritius. What makes Talent Lab different from its competitors?
We have always developed strategies around proximity to our clients via help desks and use of channels of communication that offer 24/7 support to employers. Some of our clients are operational 7 days a week and even work through the night. We are always a phone call or message away at any time of the day. We also customize our mission to suit
• The HR field has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. What about Talent Lab?
It was unprecedented times for us of course. But we were swift to roll up our sleeves and rise above our own fears to support our clients and those who reached out to us. There was a lot of grey areas around business continuity, the conditions for support to be received from government, keeping employees motivated and focused on cases of work from home. And the HR team had a lot on their hands daily for sure.
We managed to navigate through it somehow as we were able to add value for our clients in this tough time. But like most organisations in the service sector, we have been in the red zone too.
• How has the company managed to overcome the impact of the pandemic?
Consistency, thinking out of the box, adopting a flexible approach both towards our stakeholders and internally have enabled us to remain afloat. Employer budgets have been drastically hit post confinement and demonstrating compassion, understanding and proximity even during these hard times is essential to enabling businesses get through this tough phase.