In this interview with Naukrigulf.com, David Myerscough, HR Director (MENA) at Cape Regional Services DMCC, a company based in the Oil & Energy Sector, part of Cape plc, talks about company culture, employment trends and working in the UAE. Here’s what he had to share:
Tell us a little about your professional and academic background.
I started off by doing a degree in French from the University of Southampton in the UK. Then I followed that with an MBA.
How did you end up in a career in HR?
I was a teacher for a while before doing my MBA. While I was studying for my MBA, I spent a lot of time talking with fellow students, who were all also working. It was a mixture of the content of the MBA and the exchange I had with these fellow students them that made me realize what I really wanted to do was a career in Human Resources.
How did you reach the gulf?
I started working in the summer 2010 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia as the HR Director for a construction company.
How different is the working environment between Saudi Arabia and UAE?
The challenges are really quite similar. One noticeable difference is that in Saudi Arabia, nationalization or localisation is a much higher priority in the private sector.
What does a typical workday in your life look like?
I’m not sure there is a typical day. One of the beauties of HR is that it is extremely varied. No two days are the same. This is one of the attractions for me about Human Resources.
What is your favourite way to de-stress after a long day at work?
There are two things that work for me. One is listening to music. I will always listen to music in the car on the way home from work, and will usually sing along! Secondly, I always make sure that I go for a brisk walk in the evening. It’s a very good way of walking off the stresses of the day, and keeping fit.
What’s the best part about working in your company?
For me, team work is a very strong component within Cape. In fact, one of the values is ‘one high performing team’. This means that the environment is one where you do get a lot of mutual support, which is great.
What has worked for you to take you further in HR?
Just being true to myself, having the courage of my convictions. It’s a role where you need to know how to challenge, and to do so constructively. You need to be prepared to rock the boat or shake the tree a bit to enable positive change. Changes that you make need to make business sense.
Is there any particular motto that you live by?
Carpe diem, or ‘Seize the day’. I try to make the most of what every day has to offer and to make the most of every interaction that I have during the day, whoever that interaction may be with.
How do you balance your work and family life?
I’m married and I have three children. The home life is very important to me. I have a couple of golden rules. One is that I always make sure that I’m at home at weekends. I travel a lot and I try to always make sure that I’m home for the weekend.
The second one is I that I start work early, on purpose, by about quarter past seven, so I can leave work around six o’clock in the evening. This means I have the time to help the kids with their homework, and am able to have dinner together as a family.
What are your predictions on hiring and training in the gulf region in the next few years?
It’s difficult to predict what is going to happen. Judging by my experience in the gulf, it is definitely attracting more talent from around the world, and will continue to do so. I also feel that there will be a continued focus on developing the local talent within the different gulf countries.
With what has been taking place in the last few years in the gulf generally, and especially in the UAE, do you feel opportunities are prevalent?
In the environment now, good people will always find good positions.
Will it be very select talent?
There will be a balance between bringing talent in, and also an increased focus on developing the local talent. Not only in the UAE but in all of the GCC countries.
What are the top three things you look for in candidates when making a hiring decision?
A ‘can-do’ attitude, values that fit with the company, and good communication skills.
What are the most important skills a jobseeker must have?
An ability to listen, adaptability, and a hunger to learn. One of the things I believe is that every day offers an opportunity to learn something new and to continue to develop.
Any advice to jobseekers?
Keep believing. Also, you need to make looking for a job your full time job. When you are in the position of a jobseeker, and I have been there, looking for the right job is a full time job. It’s not something you can do half-heartedly. In addition to this networking is crucial. Build your network, because a contact could lead to another contact that could lead to a job opportunity.
Tell us about your experience with Naukrigulf.
Naukrigulf is a very useful tool to source candidates. It’s a good way for a company to save money on agency fees.
Any advice for HR professionals?
It’s very very important for HR professionals to stay close to the business, and to understand the financial implications of HR decisions. Understand too that good HR can and will positively impact the company’s bottom line.