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18 Feb 2021

Humans of Kent: Melody Sheybani, Senior HR Business Partner, Dubai

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Shades of grey

Born in Portland, Oregan, my family moved back to Iran during the Iranian revolution when I was 3 years old. It was my grandparents who raised me because my parents separated when we got to Iran. I’ve always been grateful to have been raised by them because they taught me the values and ethics that I couldn’t have learned from a turbulent home. The strength and resilience in my bones is credited to them – I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for them.

I lived in the city of Dubai when it was just an idea. My father and I moved here, which is where I completed high school. It’s been fascinating to see the transformation of this city. From being an idea to being a city with a skyline that has captivated the world with skyscrapers and a stunningly diverse population. Dubai is where home is.

Graduating from the same university my father graduated from in Portland, Oregan, I majored in Computer Science with a minor in Math. I came back home to look for a temporary summer job. Never did I think my summer job at British American Tobacco would lead me to staying with the same company for the next 15 years. With no previous knowledge about HR, I started working as an HR Administrator and worked my way up the corporate ladder. I’m extremely grateful to have had opportunities to travel to, work and live in varied locations – South Africa, Russia, North America, London and Middle East through those 15 years.

One thing I love and cherish about HR is finding the fine balance between the organizational needs and the interest of the people working for the organization. I’ve learned that when dealing with people and making people-related decisions, there is no black or white. We need to navigate through different shades of grey where people reside. Our role as HR professionals is about applying fairness and consistency of approach in decision-making.

I joined Kent one year ago with the expectation of always being on the road – Netherlands, Kazakhstan, and other markets. Two weeks into my joining, I had my first… and my last trip to Netherlands. Covid-19 brought a whole different paradigm for all of us – it had a massive hit on our scope and our way of working. It was perhaps due to this shift in paradigm where I had the capacity to take on additional challenge of driving Oracle HCM application which I consider is my legacy at Kent.

Within HR, we have many opportunities to have an impact and change people’s lives, from offering a job, to accelerating their growth, to bringing tools for development – this is about leaving a positive mark on individuals. For me, it’s about touching people’s lives, having an impact and leaving a legacy behind by introducing new processes and practices.

I’m a big believer of Kent. Apart from my driven and passionate team with their can-do attitude, there are a few other things I love about Kent:

  • “Welcome to the Family” – Being in Kent for over a year and I can say, Kent doesn’t take those words lightly. It genuinely feels like a family. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what your background is. It’s about what you contribute. Focus on your performance, and the rest will be taken care of.
  • We are smaller in size and complication of hierarchy which results in faster decision-making. From ideas generated to decision-making to implementation, we’re agile.
  • The quality of talented people I’ve seen in Kent is fascinating! I don’t know if I can say Kent is blessed, I surely can’t base this on luck, because we must be doing something right. I’d like to take this opportunity to give a huge kudos to the Recruitment team!
  • I love people’s level of acceptance to receive change with minimal resistance. No matter the level of seniority, whomever I’ve spoken to at Kent has an appetite for and are open to change.

Having done more than 60 underwater dives, it has offered me allegorical lessons that can be applied to my daily life. It has helped me to stay in the present moment, breathe and be aware of my surroundings – it helps me focus and connects me to the now. Just how diving is about discovering what lies beneath the water, HR is about discovering the potential of people and processes that makes the organization underneath.

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