Creating a labour of love
Diana Geldenhuys' firm helps SMEs manage payrolls and other HR services
When companies suddenly find themselves with less money to spend, clever entrepreneurs sense a business opportunity to offer efficient and cost-effective services.
Diana Geldenhuys, founder and managing director of Outsourced Payroll Solutions (OPS), is one such ingenious entrepreneur.
After graduating from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, with a masters degree in human resource (HR) management, Diana held positions in HR departments in several corporate organisations. She also lectured at the Middlesex University in Dubai.
"Before 2008, many companies set up without proper governance and that, in turn, affected HR services negatively. We saw that as an opportunity to provide payroll services within the UAE Labour Law framework, thus helping start-ups and other small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] to be legally compliant.
"When the global economic downturn hit economies later that year, many companies reduced their head count but still had to adhere to legislative requirements such as end-of-service benefits and other HR regulations. We were able to cater to those requirements," said the South African national and mother of two, who came to the UAE in 1998.
Size no matter
OPS manages employee salary payrolls using gulfHR payroll software. They provide automated, cloud-based HR functionality to organisations, irrespective of size. Security and confidentiality are unavailable through desktop applications. OPS empowers companies by providing accurate data that is critical to every business.
Diana said the UAE has established itself as a leader in the global marketplace, with SMEs contributing greatly to its economic growth. SMEs employ about 86 per cent of the UAE's total workforce and are also the main drivers of diversification, innovation and the shift to a knowledge-based economy.
The UAE is giving priority to SMEs with an aim to boost the segment's share in the national economy from 60 per cent to 70 per cent by 2021.
"Our aim is to support that vision by enabling SMEs to become legally compliant in their payroll and HR processing. A strong foundation of understanding international practices, the UAE Labour Law and robust technology makes this possible," Diana said.
She added that any great idea starts with getting the fundamentals in place. "If start-ups and SMEs have their basic foundations in place such as paying their people properly, the infrastructure enables them to succeed."
Diana's hard work, dedication and perseverance turned a small, family-funded start-up of two into a thriving business. "We currently have 23 people in our team. These range from payroll managers, accountants, help desk, software engineers and other IT and management staff. We started with a head count of two. I recall the early days when we had to drive to Abu Dhabi in the morning to a client to process their payroll, and having to drive back as fast as we could for another client meeting in Dubai. Speed limits were a bit more lenient then," she recalled.
She said she was not in favour of raising money from banks to start her business. "My advice would be to not get stuck in the frustration of trying to borrow money from traditional lenders such as banks. Creative and alternative funding options such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending make financing more accessible. Think outside the box, use technology and grow organically," Diana said.
She added: "The best infrastructure and ample opportunities have made the UAE a perfect place to start a business."
Diana said there are many channels available for entrepreneurs to support and develop their business ideas. "Initiatives such as the Dubai Quality Group, Tecom SME builder, NBAD SME Advisor, networking groups such as BNI - Business Networking International - or business councils such as Sabco [South African Business Council] and many more, are a great help for me professionally," she said.
"I see so many opportunities around us. We are doing business in one of the fastest growing economies. With a knowledge economy being on the UAE government's National Agenda, SMEs and start-ups have ample opportunities to create and grasp needs in the market. In the UAE, we enjoy stability and access to company registration options, with a wide choice of formation authorities. It is a huge benefit for dynamic entrepreneurs," Diana said.
Eye on innovation
Diana is keen to establish a payroll certification programme unique to the Middle East, and specifically the UAE environment. "We want to educate the workforce and establish standard practices."
"With our company being part of the technology world, we are constantly seeking new ways to stay abreast. We are looking at innovation in mobility with self-service apps and HR metrics so that companies can analyse data," she said.
Diana is inspired by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. She is motivated by his life and how he influences the world today. One of his quotes Diana swears by is: "To take risk and fail is not a failure. Real failure is to fear taking any risk."
Diana is striving to improve what she is doing. "Until we know what we have achieved, we cannot begin to know how good we are at something. We, therefore, measure what we are doing, how we are doing it and why we are doing it," she concluded.
Analysts expect more bankruptcy filings in industries like retail and ... READ MORE
The NSE Nifty 50 index settled down 0.1 per cent at 10,302.1 on... READ MORE
Spot gold may test resistance at $1,789/oz. READ MORE
Crude inventories dropped by 8.2 million barrels to 537 million... READ MORE
Industry representatives praise authorities for their management of... READ MORE
A 3,000-bed field hospital was set up at WTC in April to treat... READ MORE
239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that shows floating... READ MORE
The Hope Probe is set for liftoff on July 15. READ MORE