The Rise Of Urban Jobs And Strategies For Human Capital Development In A Changing World Of Work With Md. Safiul Bari Saadi, Talent Acquisition Executive, Daraz Bangladesh

The Rise Of Urban Jobs And Strategies For Human Capital Development In A Changing World Of Work With Md. Safiul Bari Saadi, Talent Acquisition Executive, Daraz Bangladesh

Welcome to our new series The State of Human Capital Development in Bangladesh powered by Kormo, exploring the field of human resource across various industries. In this series, we’ll be exploring topics ranging from strategic approaches to HR to all the way to use of technology in recruitment and people operations.

We’ll be interviewing some of the country’s most respected HR thought leaders and learn about their vision, how they are addressing issues like skills gap in the market and much more. All the stories will be exclusively published in Future Startup and you can find them here.

 

The world of work is changing rapidly. Over the past few years, we have seen a slow and steady transformation of the job market. A growing demand for many new types of jobs and skills. The rise of a new economy fueled by new-age industries like ecommerce, logistics, ride-sharing, and so on. At Kormo, our partner for this series, they call it urban jobs.

Md. Safiul Bari Saadi, a Talent Acquisition Executive at Daraz Bangladesh, sits at the center of this transformation in the job market.

Every month, Mr. Safiul oversees an operation where they hire and train hundreds of people in areas like warehousing, sorting center, and Daraz Express – logistics operation of Daraz. Jobs are growing in these verticals creating opportunities for a growing number of people. Nature and skills needs of these jobs are different. Human capital development needs for these jobs are different and unique. At the same time, ecommerce companies like Daraz are redefining people management and investing in human capital in many ways because people play a central role in the growth and sustainability of these companies. There are much to learn from how to look at people management and human capital development in the context of a changing world of work.

We recently sat down with Mr. Safiul Bari Saadi to exactly do that. In this excellent interview with Mr. Safiul, brought to you by Kormo, he shared his strategies and principles for hiring the right people, creating a culture of learning, human capital development at Daraz, the unique nature of hiring and talent development for the new kind of urban jobs that he hires for, using technology to build systems for hiring and human capital development that scales and much more.

Future Startup

Could you please tell us about yourself and your background? How long have you been working at Daraz?

Safiul Bari Saadi

I have been working at Daraz Bangladesh Limited for two years as a Talent Acquisition Executive. I completed my Graduation from BRAC University, major in HR. Started my career in the ecommerce industry as my first job.

Future Startup

How big is your team?

Safiul Bari Saadi

We are a team of 13 People (Including Talent Management and Compensation Benefits). In TA team 2 teammates are responsible for recruiting commercial department position and 2 teammates are responsible for operations department positions. In the operations department, there are two parts – Inside Dhaka (ISD) and Outside Dhaka (OSD). I and my other teammate are responsible for overall ISD recruitments (Warehouse, Sorting Center, Daraz Express – DEX).

Future Startup

Could you tell us more about your work? How do you approach your work? What do your daily and weekly priority lists look like? How do you improve your work process?

Safiul Bari Saadi

We begin our recruitment activity based on quarterly recruitment plans. We sit with our HOD and align how many resources we need to hire in the next three months. Initiate hiring process based on hiring Manager’s approved requisition. Based on approved requisition, we do intake call with Hiring Managers to understand their requirements. Then we post jobs, shortlist candidates and start the interview process. After final selection, prepare offer letter, collect required documents from HR and initiate the onboarding process for a new joiner.

For blue-collar hiring, we use Kormo. We do almost 50% of our non-management hiring through Kormo. While hiring delivery agents, we look at a few basic skills such as bike-driving skills, delivery system know-how and basic internet literacy, mostly Google map.

For development, we do workforce planning. This is a major task that we do every month. Documentation is another major task that we deal with regularly. This is particularly critical for blue-collar hiring because we need to collect valid reference person for security purpose since the nature of the job is different. We maintain a personal file for each of our employees where we keep their NID, CV, nominee information and their joining form.

Third, we work on employee experience. We’re trying to improve the work environment for our employees. For example, our new hub is at Tejgaon Sort Centre, which is of about 20,000+ sq. feet and we are trying to maintain international warehouse standards. We are designing different facilities for our people depending on their needs.

Fourth, we work on reward and recognition. The world runs on incentives. We make sure that our people get recognized when they have done a good job. Every month, we meet together. We cut a cake and recognize people who have done well in that month. In our HQ, our MD recognizes the employee of the month. This is part of our employee engagement initiatives. We’ve arranged various employee activities on campaign week/ month to energize employees.

Future Startup

How do you ensure that you are improving on areas that you work on regularly, for example, hiring or employee experience or engagement?

Safiul Bari Saadi

Every week, I visit two hubs – Tejgaon and Uttara. I stay in these two places for two days and collect information, recommendations from all the department heads. We try to learn as much as possible from our people, learn about specific demands, and requirements. And then we incorporate those feedback and suggestions into our process. We have created a feedback loop to improve our work.

We have a software where people can directly send their requisitions, share their feedback and can immediately communicate with anyone in the team.

Future Startup

Being an HR professional, what are some major challenges that you face?

Safiul Bari Saadi

For the non-management employee, retention and commitment are a challenging part. Fact is they switch to another job frequently. Moreover, sometimes they don’t show-up on joining day after receiving an offer letter.

Future Startup

Any other challenges you face?

Safiul Bari Saadi

Sometimes hiring the right people is tough. It is often an uphill battle to find the right candidate. The operation, as a discipline, does not get much attention in our education system. Very few institutions offer specialized degree or courses on operations management. There are only a few graduates from an operations background.

What we do is we train people after hiring for about two or three months. For marketing, you get a lot of people but for operations, you don’t get so many of them. That’s the challenge.

Future Startup

You mentioned your activities about employee engagement. How do you think about investing in human capital development? Does Daraz have any internal policy for investing in human capital?

Safiul Bari Saadi

We take the development of our people seriously. Our view regarding our people is long term. We invest in our people, helping them grow and we expect them to stay and lead the organization as they grow.

We take it very seriously to show our employees their career goal and progression. For example, we work on succession management. We work on an employee from the entry-level; provides him/her training and exposure so that he gains the leadership qualities.

Most of our operations employees receive training from abroad within a short period of joining. Other considerations are employee satisfaction, career orientation, etc.

We believe that growing our people is the key to our success. If our people don’t grow, we would not grow as an organization. At the same time, when you invest in your people, it helps you in various ways. It makes it easier for you to attract potential employees in the future. It helps you in retention as well. When people see that their organization cares about them, they operate with a sense of ownership, deliver better, and stay with the organization.

Future Startup

Do you have any other activity for human capital development?

Safiul Bari Saadi

Our training program abroad is regular. Training recipient often returns and train other employees. For example, every day there are training programs at our warehouses, where new employees get trained up on various skills and areas of operation.

There is a dedicated team in the sorting centers who work on training only. We also promote non-management well-trained employees for executive roles. We have also seen that many of our employees who received training get better opportunities in other companies.

There is a lack of proper operational understanding outside Dhaka. We send employees from Dhaka to cities outside Dhaka such as Chittagong to train employees there, which is a big development opportunity for our people in those cities. We train our non-management people so well that sometimes non-management employees know more about operations than management employees. That is because of the training they get here.

Mr. Bari speaking with team Kormo at Daraz Bangladesh HQ in Dhaka

Mr. Bari speaking with team Kormo at Daraz Bangladesh HQ in Dhaka

Future Startup

Could you please tell us about HR values and culture at Daraz Bangladesh? How do you put your culture into practice?

Safiul Bari Saadi

We are extremely selective when it comes to hiring. The most important thing we look for in people is a cultural fit. One component of that is whether an individual is flexible and willing to adapt to changes. In business, change is normal. We also look for people who are self-driven, effective team players, and who have leadership qualities.

These qualities are essentially connected to our values and culture. We empower our people. We are a collaborative culture where everything works in a team. We provide opportunities for our people to grow and develop themselves and their career.

We are putting our values into practice daily. Our values drive everything that we do. We provide fair compensation to our people, maintain a competitive salary. We routinely sit with the managers and employees sometimes to know their views of the work. I have mentioned, we offer excellent career development opportunities to our people through training and development. Our people can start working only after they receive their training.

We are a flat organization. There is very little to no hierarchy at all when it comes to getting things done. Any employee can sit with the higher authorities at any given time for any type of problems they face. We always try to connect with all the employees directly.

Future Startup

What are some challenges you face in terms of investing in and developing people?

Safiul Bari Saadi

Not everyone can adapt easily to the changing environment. Sometimes people feel pressured and hesitate. When the people you want to invest in are not ready, that’s a challenge. Not everyone can make the most of our development facilities. We are bringing in innovation based on the feedback that we get. Sometimes the employees cannot adapt to that.

People always think about competitive salary. For retention, we have to provide different facilities. Training and development seldom come on the top. So managing that sometimes also becomes a challenge. We are working with the benefits package. We are now bringing in health insurance and working with other partners for more collaboration to offer more benefits to our people.

Future Startup

What does your recruitment process look like?

Safiul Bari Saadi

First, the managers give us requisition. These are approved by the CHRO and COO. Once the requisition comes to us, we could see how many people are needed. Then I speak with the managers and know their requirements regarding relevant details, timeline and all.

After that, we may post in Kormo, for, say, 50 associates. We collect CVs internally as well. We also use Facebook sometimes. Once we receive the CVs, we screen those CVs based on the requirement and share the shortlisted CVs with the managers. They review and make another shortlist. For example, if we need 2-3 employees we try to create a pool of 18-20 applicants. We then call the shortlisted candidates for interview and schedule interview dates. We interview and select the right ones. We then offer them our salary package and if they agree, we end up recruiting. We then notify the admin and other relevant departments about the recruits. Simultaneously, we do the documentation.

Future Startup

What are the technologies you use to manage your recruitment?

Safiul Bari Saadi

I already mentioned some of the technologies that we use such as Kormo for hiring Blue Collar employees. We use Ding talk, Zoho, Bdjobs for hiring full-time employees.

Kormo is the biggest source for our non-management recruits. They can send us a big bunch of applicants within a very short period. Their initial screening and the matching tool is also quite good, which makes our life easier.

Future Startup

How do you decide who are the best candidates for you? What are the skills that you look for in a candidate?

Safiul Bari Saadi

Based on our structured interview questionnaire we’re trying to find out a potential candidate for a particular role. We look for organizational culture and values fit. Then we look for people who are passionate about the job, hungry to learn new things and dedicate to serve our customers.

We put a lot of emphasis on teamwork as an organization. So being a team player is a quality that we look for in a potential candidate. We try to find leadership qualities in a potential candidate. Many undergraduate students working here lead teams. We help them to develop but one needs to have a basic understanding of leadership and some qualities. Integrity is another quality that we value highly.

Problem-solving and thinking outside of the box is something that we look for in people. In the interview, we throw a real problem to the candidates and ask for a solution. In the process, we look into his innovative mindset.

Finally, we try to find self-driven people who are likely to take ownership of their job. Many of these qualities are qualitative and mostly broad. However, we believe that when one has the right mindset, acquiring skills is not that difficult.

In terms of hard skills, in operation MS Excel is a must. Nowadays, theoretical knowledge is no more preferable. Software skills, presentation skills, other technical skills are needed. Basic ability to research and analyze is something that we look for.

Future Startup

What are some skills gaps that you see in the market?

Safiul Bari Saadi

Lack of technical skills is something we see in a lot of candidates. People often say that they are expert in Excel but when you give them a task in Excel, they cannot do it properly. Vlookup, Pivot table, filtering, and Hlookup are somewhat new things to them.

Creative thinking and being able to think independently are some rare abilities these days. A company like Daraz thrives on creativity and innovation. Most of our problems are not standardized. We need people who can think beyond what is possible and available.

Leadership quality is something that I find most young people struggle with. Many people struggle to manage and lead a team. When executives join here after graduation, they have around a hundred riders under each of them. He has four operators under him and has to give them appropriate tasks, do the follow-up, etc. But most people struggle to work with other people.

Then there are basic skills such as writing a proper email. Communication skills are something that most people struggle with. Most importantly, young people come out of school without any idea about how the corporate world works. There is a huge gap between Academia and the corporate world.

Future Startup

What are some of the most in-demand skills in the market?

Safiul Bari Saadi

I see supply-chain management is getting much attention. There is a short supply of SCM expert in the market. There is a huge need for SCM people in ecommerce.

Tech skills, all kinds of it, are in-demand. The demand for data analytics is on the rise. There are a host of new world skills that have a growing demand in the market but the supply is not there yet. Young people should pay attention to these trends.

Future Startup

What advice would you give to the HR people who are looking to invest in human capital development?

Safiul Bari Saadi

People who work with us must understand and share the vision that we see. Make an effort to communicate your vision to every employee and ensure that they see the same vision.

Involve your people in setting short and long term goals. Make them see where they are going.

Recognize your people when they are doing well. Make an effort to retain people through meaningful incentives.

Future Startup

What are some lessons you have learned?

Safiul Bari Saadi

I am learning every day. The biggest advantage of working in HR is that you can learn from both sides – what would I look for in an employer if I were a candidate? In every interview, I ask myself about the abilities I need to develop. For example, innovation, technical skills I talked about. I now know what employers are looking for in a potential employee, what type of answers they want to hear. These help me to prepare myself and develop myself.


This interview is brought to you by Kormo – a job matching and career development app that connects job seekers to businesses that are looking to hire. For job seekers, joining the Kormo community gives them access to relevant job openings and information and tools to help them grow their careers. These include the Kormo CV that allows job seekers to create and maintain a digital CV and the Learn Tab, which consists of tons of targeted educational content. For employers, Kormo makes hiring the right candidates easy and effortless through a combination of automated screening, matching and more. You can learn more about Kormo here.

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