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In conversation with: Michael Long, Head of Talent Acquisition, OSN

17th May 2016

Lois Ackerley, Senior Consultant at Kemistry interviewed Michael Long, Head of Talent Acquisition at OSN. The interview is based around his experiences working in HR/Talent Management in Dubai.


How did you get into Talent Acquisition?  

My first role in Talent Acquisition was for du telecom, I accidentally fell into this role. After leaving my role in an agency and taking a small break, I started applying for numerous agencies in Dubai, thirteen if I recall receiving offers from eight. The moment I accepted an offer with an agency, du came along and offered me a role to help recruit their new commercial function; a friend had shared my profile with the team at du. With my passion for technology and network of commercial candidates, I decided it would be good to complete the six month project they had offered. This gave me a diversified experience of both agency and in-house.


How have you got to where you are today?

I have got to where I am today through quality hard work and building the right relationships. Some people would say I have been lucky, however I believe you create your own luck. Having proven myself in all the roles I have held and by showing my value to the companies I worked for, I have managed to progress my career over the past five years now leading the OSN recruitment team with regional responsibility managing over 2,000 positions, 200–300 new roles annually and reporting into the VP HR who directly reports to the CEO; giving myself full scope into assisting to achieve the overall company strategy.


What’s the hardest part of your job and how do you overcome difficulties?

The hardest part of my job is turning down great candidates. In-house you can only fill one role with one person. This limits the talent you can hire and potentially work with. In an agency, if you have a great candidate you can work with this person until you find the perfect role to suit. Don’t get me wrong, if I have a great profile I will try and find a place in the business for this person, however if it’s not possible, I will do my best to ensure I keep in touch for future roles.


Tell us about the industry you work in and how this fairs to previous industries you have worked in?

Broadcast Media is very different to Energy and Telecoms, it is seen to be a cool industry. Meeting TV Stars and finding out the movies/series secrets before they hit the screens are just a few of the benefits you get working in Broadcast Media. The best part is the mix of people you work with. TV is a key part of every culture and is the centre piece to most family areas in the home. This gives a common ground to share with people from all backgrounds — everyone can chat about the latest Game of Thrones episode or which Disney programmes their children watch.


What’s your proudest career moment?

I have had a lot of proud moments in my career from hiring CEO’s in KSA, making my first ever agency placement in Brunei, to developing the commercial team in Dubai. However, my proudest moment is building the recruitment team at OSN from nothing to recruiting over 100+ staff in the first quarter of 2016.


Why Dubai?

My family had lived in the GCC for over seven years before I moved to the UAE. Having already travelled here and enjoyed the luxury life, sunshine and none stop energy of the Emirate, I was keen to set myself up here and progress my career. I had lived in six countries previous to being in Dubai and felt Dubai had a good mix of all the places I had previously been too. Also, as a youngster the tax-free living was always a great incentive.


What career advice would you offer someone looking to go into HR/in-house Recruitment/Talent Management?

Make sure you are ready for the hard work to begin — HR is a none stop shop in the corporate world. Dealing with people throws up all sorts of challenges and questions, so be prepared for the unexpected. The key to the job is relationships; the better the relationships you have across the business, the easier your job will be. Make sure you are customer facing and not a keyboard warrior.


If you were to ever leave your current company, where would you see yourself going next and why?

Leaving your company is always an interesting step to take. If I was to leave OSN it would be to develop my skills further. I know I would have options to grow in my current role or diversify my role in the next few years, however when the time is right I would see myself looking at start up my own business — I love to be able to influence change and bring in ideas which I continue to do at OSN.

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