Focus Feature: Feras Abdelrahman

27 January 2022

In a time marked by labor shortages and hailed as the Great Resignation, the value of human resources has never been higher for firms nationwide. We sat down with Focus' Human Resources Manager, Feras Abdelrahman, to discuss what he has learned from his decade of experience, how that shapes his approach to recruitment, diversity and inclusion, company culture and beyond.

You have over 10 years of experience working in Human Resources. How does that experience inform your work today?

HR has changed dramatically in the last ten years. Most importantly, it has been brought to the decision-making table and is now part of the overall strategy for businesses. Additionally, HR analytics and data play a vital role in evaluating and shaping the future of the company. As a result, I have had to evolve my thinking and operate with a broader perspective when developing HR strategies, ensuring they align with the overall business goals.

What I can say is true about Focus, and perhaps the wider commercial real estate industry, is that leaders value the role of HR. They are eager to understand and incorporate best practices, and desire continual improvement. They recognize the value of employee retention and subsequently emphasize career development opportunities for team members across the spectrum of tenure.

2021 brought new challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic, including lots of movement in the job market sometimes referred to as the Great Resignation. Talk about how that trend impacts talent acquisition.

The current hiring market caters towards candidates and those candidates have a variety of options for employers. As the market increases its competition, recruiters and companies alike must focus on building vibrant and appealing employer brands that speak to the desires of the candidates and clearly communicates the values of the organization.

Moreover, recruiters and hiring managers should reflect on the employee experience. Firms that are able to clearly communicate their values, expectations and opportunities, can attract the right candidates from the start and more efficiently determine if a fit is right. In talent acquisition, we must be more responsive, live out our values in those exchanges, and establish a streamlined interview process designed to shorten the time to fill vacancies. Better serving the firm and the candidate simultaneously.

As Focus’ HR Manager, you, along with CEO, Tim Anderson are the keepers of the company culture. What does that mean to you? What attracted you to Focus’ culture?

This is an incredible responsibility that should not be taken lightly. I don’t believe you can manufacture culture; you truly must live it. Inauthenticity can be seen from a mile away. When I went through my own interview process, I asked myself if my personal values aligned with Focus values. That was the ultimate reason why I joined Focus.

In many cases, I will be the first impression a candidate has with Focus so its important to have that renewed sense of awareness of what you represent and ask yourself am I living up to those standards.

The deep convictions that leadership and employees have to the culture astonished me. I discovered that I was working for an organization that understood that we cannot be our best selves if we don’t live by the culture we have displayed.

Focus is dedicated to company-wide, community impact goals aimed at increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in our company and in the larger CRE industry. How does HR help to champion these goals?

HR plays a multi-faceted role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. We promote diverse representation through our talent acquisition strategy, steer committees dedicated to career development opportunities in multi-cultural communities and organizations, and promote pluralism through education and training on prominent issues facing our industry and country.

I am eager to continue our work in this area partly through our collaboration with organizations like Chicago Scholars and Project REAP, both of which are dedicated to increasing opportunities for minority students and professionals in the commercial real estate industry.

Next Article - Lumen at Fox Valley Construction Update, January 2022

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