Manju Iyer is seated at her desk in her office in Business Bay, Dubai when I walk in. There is a cup that says ‘Be Better Everyday’ and according to this strong and passionate woman from Mumbai, India, this is what she motivates her team to be everyday.
She is the Founder and CEO of TalentScout Global Consultancy LLC, a recruitment, learning and development company based in Dubai but with hubs and partners in other parts of Asia and Africa. Her company recruits for The Landmark Group, Rivoli, Mister Baker, Fire7 LLC, Damac Properties, Azizi, North Telecomms, Malabar Diamonds and a lot of other companies in the region. For a company that has been in business for about 5 years, that’s impressive.
As she talks about her clients and over 10,000 candidates her team has successfully placed, you can see the smile on her face. Looking through the company’s reviews on Google, candidates are also not shy to share their experience working with the team.
Lionel Rebello says, “I have had a wonderful experience with TalentScout twice. 1) As a candidate when I landed in Dubai they got me a job within 2 months in Ramadan time. Had a very warm experience and stress free with the team. 2) When I was looking for career progression they hired me as an employee and gave a new path to my career. Always grateful!”. Ansari Abdul Majeed says, “Really good consultancy , makes you feel warm and welcomed. I got a job as a jewellery sales person within two weeks of my visit to talent scout.. thank you… Great experience”.
Today, we talk to Manju about her experience building the company, how the pandemic has affected recruitment in the UAE, her experience as a woman in recruitment and recruiting Africans for companies in the region.
Tea or Coffee, which do you prefer and why?
Manju Iyer: Definitely tea. Born to a South Indian family, I have seen my family members and people around me always liking coffee and I wanted to be different so I liked tea.
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and influences?
Manju Iyer: My name is Manju and I am the Managing Director of TalentScout Global Consultancy LLC based in Dubai. I started my career working as a departmental manager with a big retail store in India called Future Group and every year I grew in positions and knowledge; learning a lot about retail. When I left Future Group, I joined LandMark Group in a senior position. I am a very target oriented woman and working in a store, I knew the ins and outs of retail with all the pressures attached to it. I used to put in about 16-17 hours working and that gave me a vast knowledge about retail. Along with this, I developed an interest in recruitment as I was a man manager and my team would never leave. Every team member of mine grew to good positions within a period of time working with me. After a while I decided to start something of my own in recruitment, and that’s how I landed in Dubai and TalentScout was born.
Tell us a bit more about your Dubai story, when did you come to Dubai, did you get into recruitment immediately? Was there something about Dubai that called you, that drew you here?
Manju Iyer: I landed in Dubai in 2015. My first break was with Malabar Gold, which is one of the leading jewellery organisations in Dubai. When I was in recruitment in India, I saw a lot of colleagues and staff wanting to go to Dubai. They always wanted to go to Dubai to work and support their families. When I got the break with Malabar Group, I recruited about 20 candidates at once from India and I could see the sense of happiness they had when they reached Dubai. Their families were thanking me and they were so happy about it. This is how I started growing in Dubai as an entrepreneur.
How difficult was it for you as an entrepreneur in the early days? Was TalentScout the first company you started?
Manju Iyer: It was of course a struggle, I did not know anything about forming a company or approaching people. Luckily I had some good HR friends here who helped me out. We formed a company initially in Ajman called Multicorp Global Consultancy. With the consultancy it was a bit difficult when we talked about recruitment, this is what led me to start TalentScout. The focus of TalentScout is purely on recruitment, training people to face interviews and other things.
How has the UAE helped you as an entrepreneur and as a woman?
Manju Iyer: In India I was working in a senior position but it was in the UAE I became an entrepreneur. I have learnt equality in the UAE, treating women the same and I have never felt any drawback working in the UAE as a woman. Every recruitment order has been given to me knowing I was a woman and was based on my talent, capabilities and how I approached the companies. I can say that the UAE has made me a truly independent woman.
Tell us a bit about TalentScout, the company, processes, operations, type of talent you hire, and what kind of recruitment you see?
Manju Iyer: TalentScout is mainly for recruitment. We have a different team for training and development as we feel that’s very important. Recruitment and training go hand in hand.
In recruitment we hire for different kinds of roles-white collar, blue collar and green collar. White collar is from a sales executive to senior levels. Blue collar focuses on skilled and unskilled workers. Green collar pertains to the environment. We have different teams focused on different types of recruitment. We have a team that focuses on executive search. We also have sector specific teams hiring for different roles, from a sales executive for oil and gas to senior executives. We try to have teams that cover different industries in the UAE. We also have teams in Kuwait and we are also starting a company in the UK. As a result of COVID, we couldn’t start our UK company immediately but our company is spreading across the globe.
There is a part of recruitment we hear about here called ‘Outsourcing’. Can you tell us a bit about outsourcing?
Manju Iyer: Outsourcing is helping the clients to get the staff immediately. The clients don’t want to wait as their project is starting immediately. We have vendors who have got candidates on their own visas so we simply make a contract with these vendors to give our clients the employees ensuring their work doesn’t stop. With outsourcing, the client doesn’t have to bother about visas or anything because we take care of everything.
How has COVID19 affected business and the recruitment sector?
Manju Iyer: COVID19 has affected everyone especially the recruitment sector. A lot of our candidates who got placements in good companies just before the pandemic got their placements cancelled because companies have had to downsize. There have been clients who needed to downsize to bring in people with lesser salaries and our team needed to help with that.
We have started hiring again actively especially for blue collar roles. I expect that in one month, things will begin to return a lot to normal.
We are hiring for engineers at the moment for example and the clients want to reduce salaries from 10,000 AED to 5,000 AED so we have to fill that role. Right now in the market there are a lot of candidates that have been terminated and we generally place them in these kinds of roles.
As a woman in recruitment, does that put you in a better position? Do you think women are better recruiters?
Manju Iyer: I believe men and women can recruit equally but sometimes women understand candidates better. We can empathise a lot more and put candidates in the right place. There are some factors that could make it difficult for candidates to talk to men and this is where being a woman helps.
What’s your experience recruiting Africans- Ghanaians, Nigerians, Uganas, etc?
Manju Iyer: I believe in recruiting all nationalities. If a candidate is the best they will get a job whether Nigerian, Egyptian or Indian, it doesn’t matter. When we recruit somebody, we just see the talent. Sometimes, the client makes a specific nationality request as a result of the quota given to them but for me I don’t mind recruiting Nigerians, Indians or Ghanaians. The quality matters and this is what I look out for.
If you want to improve one thing in the world. What will it be?
Manju Iyer: I would want to create lots of opportunities across the world and help people get jobs easily as per their requirements. Sometimes I see science students with a passion in science that want to work in admin because there are no opportunities for them. Creating opportunities is something I would really change. I will like to get more opportunities to place people across industries per their education and requirement.