Aminath Shaly – Human Resources Director at Oaga Art Resort

We had the pleasure of interviewing Aminath Shaly, the Human Resources Director at Oaga Art Resort, as part of our exclusive International Women’s Day interview series.

Shaly’s 25-year career in the tourism industry offers invaluable insights into navigating societal challenges and witnessing a transformative shift in perceptions regarding female roles. From her humble beginnings as a telephone operator to her current role as HR Director at Oaga Art Resort, her journey exemplifies adaptability and perseverance amidst industry evolution.

Can you walk us through your career journey and how it has led you to your current role as Human Resources Director at Oaga Art Resort?

After finishing my O’Levels at the age of 17, I started working in the tourism industry. It has now been 25 years! Unfortunately, working in a resort as a female was not a desirable career path at the time due to the community’s limited understanding of the tourism industry. However, in the last decade, the industry has grown exponentially, significantly increasing the number of local women employed in the sector. As a result, the profession is now regarded as a reputable and viable career option.

Throughout my professional career, I have had the opportunity to work at various prestigious international hotel chains located in the Maldives. Moreover, I have contributed significantly to eight pre-opening projects and gained invaluable expertise in Dubai. I started my career as a telephone operator and worked my way up to the role of FO Receptionist. Eventually, I was entrusted with establishing a new Human Resources function alongside a distinguished Human Resources expert from the UK. This experience laid the groundwork for my career, and over the years, I have advanced into various human resources positions. After spending 20 years in HR, I now hold the coveted position of HR Director for Oaga Art Resort.

How do you advocate for gender equality and ensure that all employees, regardless of gender, have equal opportunities for growth and advancement?

The promotion of gender equality in the workplace is paramount to the creation of a fair and inclusive environment. One practical approach to achieve this objective is to commence with the Human Resources Planning stage, wherein a broader Recruitment Pool is established by actively seeking diverse talent and providing equitable opportunities. We are committed to gender equality and inclusivity, encouraging minority applicants.

I collaborate with the management to understand the gender gap and ensure that there are no pay differences when preparing job offers. Empowering female applicants and other employees to negotiate their salaries effectively is crucial to encouraging them to value their worth. Some other tactics that can help eliminate the gender gap include fostering a safe work environment and promoting female workers on the front line to show how much we value their contributions. We can also encourage using skills-based assessments and structured reviewing mechanisms to promote employee development. Additionally, we should encourage management to identify and support high-potential women, provide mentorship, training, and growth opportunities early in their careers, and promote early career advancement.

We prioritise our employees’ growth and success; as such, I take a personal approach to their development. In addition to providing necessary resources and training, I offer one-on-one assistance to ensure everyone is equipped with the tools needed to succeed.

As a mother myself, I understand our employees have personal responsibilities outside of work, such as taking care of their children. To help them manage these responsibilities, we should encourage flexible working arrangements that enable them to balance their work and personal life. This enhances employee well-being and productivity, leading to a more equitable workplace.

We recognise that achieving gender equality is an ongoing process requiring everyone’s collective effort. Therefore, we remain committed to raising awareness and acting toward creating a more diverse and inclusive environment for all our employees.

What methods could cultivate an environment where creativity flourishes and individuals feel empowered to contribute their perspectives and concepts?

There are countless ways to create a creative and empowering workplace environment that fosters innovation and helps individuals thrive. It is essential to establish a clear mission and vision for your company, communicate it regularly, and be transparent and fair. This will build trust and help employees understand their contributions and impact.

Share company goals, connect them to individual goals, and communicate the company’s direction and long-term goals. Provide data that shows how each team’s work contributes to these goals and where they are achieving them. Encourage open communication and idea sharing, and promote active participation.

Building a diverse community is vital, as different backgrounds lead to fresh ideas and creative problem-solving. This will foster innovation within teams as well.

Creating a stress-reducing workspace that promotes clear thinking and creativity is also essential. This could include hiring an organisational psychologist or eliminating processes that are no longer needed. Mental well-being is a significant factor now.

Designing a creative workspace is also vital, considering colour schemes and lighting. Pastel blues and greens can energise and enhance comfort. Give employees an open canvas to create ideas and see how far they can push them.

Encourage collaboration within the team so team members and coworkers draw inspiration from each other. Challenge assumptions and take risks, encouraging curiosity and experimentation. Mistakes are part of the creative process, so explore different ideas to develop top solutions, approaches, products, and services. Reward creativity by recognising and celebrating innovative ideas and encourage employees to share their concepts.

Remember that fostering creativity involves both organisational practices and individual mindsets. By implementing these strategies, you can create an environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and ideas!

How do you promote work-life balance among employees, and what initiatives do you implement to support women in achieving this balance?

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for the well-being of employees. One effective way to achieve this is by providing work-from-home opportunities for suitable roles. Additionally, identifying job positions that can be fulfilled through flexible contractual terms can attract a more diverse talent pool and bring fresh perspectives to the team. At Oaga, we are proud to have a team of highly skilled female experts who work with us as retainers and consultants. Some of these talented women are also mothers who require our support, and we are committed to providing them with any assistance they need. We offer customised leaves, one of my favourites being the “No Excuse Leave” designed by Oaga, which allows you to take time off when you need it!

Specific jobs might be suitable for stay-at-home moms or individuals who care for elderly parents. Such jobs could include writing or administrative support roles. One positive aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has made it possible for people to work from home. However, it is essential to have a system that can cater to the needs of both the employer and the employee. This will also help build trust and accountability on both sides. Workplaces could also do more to encourage flexible working hours and provide daycare facilities to support women in balancing their work and personal lives. Rather than focusing solely on the number of hours worked, we should prioritise the quality of work and each individual’s value.

Incorporating the latest HR trends and best practices is essential. How do you stay informed and apply these insights in your role?

As an HR professional, it’s essential to remain informed about the latest HR trends and best practices. I am continuously learning and expanding my knowledge by actively participating in webinars, workshops, and HR conferences, following industry thought leaders, and subscribing to HR newsletters and relevant literature. Learning is a never-ending process. As such, I am pursuing a psychology degree to prepare for the future, where coaching and mentoring will play an essential role in organisations, especially for the upcoming young generations.

Being a member of the Maldives Association of HR Professionals – MAHRP, I can network with peers and exchange ideas, which helps me stay informed about emerging trends. Regularly visiting reputable HR training websites, blogs, and forums and engaging in discussions with colleagues within and outside my organisation has given me diverse perspectives and helped me learn from real-world scenarios.

I understand the HR landscape is rapidly evolving, and staying open-minded and adaptable is vital. By embracing change and proactively seeking opportunities for improvement, I can ensure that our HR practices remain relevant, effective, and aligned with the latest trends.

Remember that staying informed is an ongoing process, and by combining these strategies, we can inspire ourselves and others to continuously learn and improve, positively impacting the organisations we work for and the people we develop.

In what ways do you see Oaga Art Resort continuing to champion gender equality and support the advancement of women in the workplace, not just on Women’s Day but throughout the year?

We consistently increase the proportion of female employees in our workforce each year. The ratio is 23%, a commendable ratio benchmarked against industry standards. We aim to achieve more female employees yearly to improve our ratio. Our female employees, who are highly skilled and talented, are at the forefront of our business operations, making significant contributions across all departments. Their unwavering commitment and ability to maintain a work-life balance is truly admirable. We take immense pride in associating with them and appreciate their invaluable contributions.

At Oaga, we take immense pride in creating a safe, fun, and inclusive community that highly supports our female employees. We believe in providing a nurturing environment that encourages women to join us and gives them the necessary training and guidance to excel in their careers. Our approach is to hire interns and groom them into permanent roles, which helps us to build a solid and talented team. We value each individual’s success and celebrate it together, allowing us to foster unity and belonging among our employees.

We prioritise their mental well-being and provide a supportive workplace environment. We believe in celebrating our wins with great enthusiasm, and we take time to enjoy ourselves. Our focus is not just on hiring more female employees but also on retaining them. We offer them great opportunities for personal and professional growth, which helps them to build a satisfying and rewarding career with us.

At Oaga, we are committed to building a thriving community of female employees empowered to achieve their full potential. By nurturing and supporting our employees, we create an inclusive, supportive, and rewarding company culture for everyone.