Iyufa Amir – Assistant Manager, Talent Acquisition at Soneva Resorts (Maldives)

Iyufa Amir is the Assistant Manager, Talent Acquisition at Soneva Resorts (Maldives), the award-winning luxury resorts brand.

Our team had a chat with Ms. Iyufa to find out more about her career in the industry so far, and to delve further into her personal challenges and successes as a talent acquisition specialist.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started your career?

I was exposed to the hospitality industry at a very young age as my father has been in the tourism industry for a very long time. We would be staying in the resort he worked on most of our weekends and school holidays, and I always remember seeing my father engaging with guests from different parts of the world; I guess I was inspired.

After ten years, I moved back to the Maldives from Australia; I did my first internship in the tourism industry with Conrad Maldives. At the time, I was planning to do my bachelor’s in hospitality before diving in so fast; I thought the best would be to understand the operations by getting practical experience. Towards the end of my internship, I visited undergraduate opening days at a few universities in Malaysia. I was at Monash Campus; they had student recruitment day at the same time, and there were many HR professionals. I loved the way the HR professionals interacted with the students and the way they gave the presentation. I just loved the behavioral element of this job and the professionalism with which they conducted themselves. I want to meet people, help them, listen to them, work with them, motivate them, and guide them when they join the company. Let’s say HR just clicked!

After I finished my bachelor’s in human resources management, I had to return to the Maldives when the pandemic hit and most of the places were in locked down. I emailed a lot of resorts, and in most resorts, the recruitment was on hold. A few months in, I discovered an opportunity at Soneva Fushi Resort. I was lucky enough to join the Soneva family as a human resources assistant. After five months, I got promoted to a Human resource coordinator, and now I am currently working as an assistant talent acquisition manager for Soneva Maldives, looking after Soneva Fushi and Soneva Jani.

I love the field I am in and want to grow and learn more; there is still more to achieve.

What does your role entail? 

My main role in the Soneva is to find the best talent that would best fit the organization’s needs. These days there is an oversupply of qualified individuals who are actively searching for new opportunities, and you have to be vigilant when hiring ie searching for the cream off the top as per say. It involves me building a social network and building a web of connections in the industry. Modern advances have added a new dynamic to recruiting, it has enabled me to search for talent through social media platforms such is LinkedIn, which gives me a wider field of scope.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement and challenge you have faced in your career? 

Earlier in my career one of the biggest challenges is breaking through the language barrier, as a native Maldivian there is a stigma around those who not on par as a fluent speaker. As spending most of my childhood in Australia when I moved back to the Maldives, I found that my command of Dhivehi is at best rudimental. But I am currently over coming this challenge as I have been in the Maldives last two years and practicing it more.

A challenge I face currently in the field I am in is finding and recruiting skilled Maldivian talent. Currently Maldives is opening a lot resorts and there is an absence of local Maldivian talent which leave a large gap in the native talent pool. We must empower Maldivian stake holders to gain a foot hold in the tourism industry, as in the hospitality is forefront of what you bring forward to the visitors to the Maldives, which must show case the pride and the authentic culture.

An achievement I would say is over coming all my obstacles and being able to gain peoples’ trust and there is still more to achieve and learn. I believe that my biggest achievement is yet to come.

What differentiates Soneva from other properties when it comes to its people? 

We at Soneva don’t consider ourselves workers; we view ourselves as a family. We don’t refer to our workers as staff or employees. Soneva gives a lot of opportunities and is actively empowering women in the workforce and giving emphasis on hiring Maldivian women. Maldivian women are not often seen in the tourism industry as resort managers, boat captains, as chefs or in the housekeeping department, but we at Soneva encourage and empower women to break the social norms.

We also have a very diverse culture at Soneva; we get to interact with/learn from people of many different nationalities. Soneva is different from all the other places I have worked, and I am very happy that the company is giving these opportunities to Maldivians and female Maldivians.

What are the skills or qualities that are important in talent acquisition? 

You have to excellent verbally in communicating with possible hosts. Also, you have to have a good skillset to analyze presented information to quickly decipher the most relevant data which is needed in the hiring process. You also have to be a good planner, when you have multiple interviews, you have to thoroughly plan around a tight schedule so there are no clashes, when you are plan in a certain way it leaves you with extra time to tackle your work pile. I always carry my journal to keep a detail draft of my planning schedule.

What message would you like to give to someone who wants to join this field? 

Be open-minded, be respectful, and have a thirst for knowledge.

I believe you should get hands-on experience through internships though out your university. That’s why you must take every opportunity you can find and find a work placement that will give you inside knowledge of the profession. You must keep up this steady process of learning. Never cease your quest for knowledge. Go to seminars, read books to gain knowledge, pick up ideas from other people. In this decade, you must be much smarter than you have been in the last decade. If you are a fresh graduate or searching for a job, the competition in the job market is higher than ever, so you need to educate yourself to stand out.