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Journey From Corporate Leadership To Pioneering HR Solutions – Interview With Desma Rovina D'Souza

After a 15-year corporate career in various senior leadership roles, Desma Rovina D'Souza and her sister Elrona Silba D'Souza founded an HR Consulting practice. Their mission is to simplify HR and create exceptional work environments for small businesses in the Middle East. With a cumulative 40 years of experience across over 35 industries in the GCC region, they provide practical advice for short-term results and long-term growth. Their proactive and responsive approach, offering bespoke HR Consultancy services in Dubai, focuses on building high-performing teams while ensuring legal compliance. They work in partnership with clients to deliver business results through purposeful people strategies.

Image photo of Desma Rovina D'Souza

Desma Rovina D'Souza, HR Leader


Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.


Hi there! I'm Desma D'Souza, the Managing Partner at S&K HR Consulting alongside my sister and Business Partner, Elrona D’Souza. My story began over four decades ago in Abu Dhabi, UAE, where I completed high school before embarking on a transformative journey to Canada for my undergrad at the early age of 17. Armed with degrees in Psychology and HR, I circled back to the UAE to dive headfirst into the realm of HR at Etihad Airways.


My first taste of the working world was at less than 10 years of age, working as the receptionist in my father's business. I also dabbled in his grocery store, inadvertently picking up Hindi while attending to customers. Throughout school, I was a self-nominated project leader, an athlete, and someone never afraid to question the status quo. My childhood was spent as an observer, carefully choosing the elements that would shape my adult life.


My adult working life, however, started in HR at Etihad Airways followed by senior HR leadership roles over the next 15 years in Healthcare at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi & King’s College Hospital Dubai.


Reflecting back, however, entrepreneurship was in my destiny! From being unconsciously groomed to lead a business by my father during my childhood to adopting a work ethic of treating every employment opportunity as if it were my own business, making an impact has always been my ‘thing’!


Can you provide an overview of your business S&K HR Consulting, including its mission, products, and services?


S&K HR Consulting is a boutique Consultancy, operating out of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE. We work with businesses to set-up their HR Framework whether they are a new Start-Up or opening up operations in the UAE.


At S&K, we offer the full spectrum of HR Services including Recruitment, Strategic HR Consulting and HR Outsourcing. The most popular ask from our clients is to help them setup their HR Foundation for which we developed our signature product called HR in a Box. The box enables businesses with UAE Labour Law Compliant HR Foundation, including Employment Templates, HR Policies & Procedures, Employee Handbook and all HR Forms/Templates/Letters a business would need to establish a great place to work.


Our vision is to Shape the landscape of HR across the GCC, one business at a time and our mission is to simplify HR for business owners and HR Managers who want to truly create impact.


What motivated you to create this business, and how does it contribute to your business goals?


The business was originally founded by my sister and now Business Partner, Elrona Silba D’Souza who observed a gap in the market between her experience as an HR Professional in international multi-national organisations and the people who expressed their experience from the local SME businesses.


In the SME world, HR was seen as mostly unnecessary, administrative in nature and no one really understood the ‘value’ and impact of HR on the bottom line.


We wanted to change this.


In the past 4 years, we have helped over 75+ business owners to truly impact the bottom line of their business with our HR services, as attested by our Google reviews and testimonials on www.snk.ae.


Who is your target audience or client base, and how does your business serve their needs?


We primarily work with business owners who care about both, people and profit. They have small but mighty businesses and truly believe that their people are their greatest asset.


We help them firstly by creating a strong HR Foundation, this helps them set the tone to create a great place to work!


Most of our clients have a team size of less than 50 employees and don’t always have a full time HR Manager to help them with the day to day HR operations – this is where we come in. We act as their HR department, without being on their payroll.


From recruitment to onboarding new talent, helping to navigate complex employee relations issues to supporting with monthly payroll and even creating a respectful separation experience, we help with it all.


What sets your products or services apart from competitors in the market?


Our clients feel like they are the only client we have; we are business owners giving business advice, not just HR service providers. We only prescribe and advocate what is in the best interest of our clients and nothing more.


Are there any upcoming features, products, or expansions planned for your business?


Exciting times ahead! We've recently unveiled TraAIcy, the UAE's first HR AI Assistant, inspired by our incredible Office Manager, Tracey. She is the centre of our business operations handling all our queries, clients and guests with unmatched proficiency. Watching her work, a thought struck us – what if every business could have a 'Tracey'? This is how TrAIcy was born! TrAIcy isn’t about replacing human touch, its about amplifying it.


How do you engage with your online audience, and what feedback mechanisms do you have in place?


We believe in sharing knowledge and we do that through blogs on our website and posting regular content on our Social media channels. Connect with us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, YouTube and visit our website for the latest updates. We love hearing from our audience!


If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be and why?


Historically, HR has been seen as an expense, not an investment. Our vision at S&K HR Consulting is to shift this perspective.


Tell us about a pivotal moment in your life that brought you to where you are today.


My steepest learning curve in my life was when I moved to Montreal, Canada from the comforts of UAE at 17 years of age. From living a very secure and comfortable life in the UAE, I waited tables, mopped floors, worked around 10 hours a day, all while going to university full-time. This intense period taught me some great life lessons of time management, money management and most importantly, resilience in the hardest of circumstances.

 

Tell us about your greatest career achievement so far.


Stay tuned! The best is yet to come.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and visit my website for more info!

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