MEET DR. SURESHKUMAR MADHUSUDHANAN & MR. ABDUL JALEEL MANGALATH
TWO DYNAMIC LEADERS SETTING NEW BENCHMARKS IN OVERSEAS RECRUITMENT
Since the dawn of corporate culture, recruitment has been a critical element in the business fraternity. But onboarding effective people can be cumbersome, which is where recruitment firms come in. They help organizations have the most talented resources, which breeds increased productivity and profitability. In fact, recruitment firms have been integral in improving the corporate landscapes of many developed and emerging economies. But with the evolution of technology and business environment, the recruitment space has become volatile.
I found it interesting to explore this complex interplay of volatility and evolution. After all, nothing is more important than hiring and developing people. You bet on people, not on strategies. Searching for noble paragons got me in touch with two idols, Dr. Sureshkumar Madhusudhanan (Chairman & Managing Director) and Mr. Abdul Jaleel Mangalath (Global CEO) of Seagull International. We had an interesting discussion, and both of them gave us intriguing insights about their industry and the firm.
Located in Mumbai, Seagull is an ADNOC ICV-certified and ISO 9001:2015 accredited human resource consultancy with a wide reach in India and the Gulf regions. It has a 5-star rating from the Ministry of External Affairs, Govt. of India, and is ranked 3rd among all Overseas Manpower Consultancies in India by MEA (eMigrate). The firm leads by the motto, “Client Is Our King; Candidates are Our Assets.”
A LEGACY OF EXCELLENCE
Dr. Sureshkumar has been the core proponent of Seagull’s basking success. He had a natural interest in human resources, which led him to get both an MBA and a Ph.D. in the field. His father began the firm as a travel agency and, ironically, was influential in placing people in overseas professions. This motivated Dr. Sureshkumar to transform this “social hand” into a professional one, thus planting the idea of Seagull. With his decisive leadership, he has earned the firm a coveted name for handling client and candidate issues and is his team’s idol for countless successes.
But times do change! Just because something is growing doesn’t imply it can’t be better. Mr. Abdul Jaleel has been the cornerstone of the much-needed “wind of change” for Seagull. He is a young and dynamic leader with a decade of sound industrial experience in business development and operations. He holds a diploma in effective communication strategies from IIM Ahmadabad and an MBA from Anna University, Chennai. After spending years with various business giants, Mr. Abdul Jaleel joined Seagull in 2019. He committed his decade of expertise and his strong clientele to the expansion of the firm.
Since then, the firm has grown footfalls beyond national boundaries. Today, it has branches in all major cities in India (New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Vizag, and Baroda) and overseas operations in Nepal, Sri Lanka, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sweden & U K. The firm prides itself on a large client base whose growth catalyzes its rise to new heights of excellence. Over 350 companies make up its clientele, and operates in more than 30 countries.
A NICHE FOR TRUST & INTEGRITY
Seagull positions itself at a cut above the rest through its value-based recruitment model. But there is a deep reason behind it. Dr. Sureshkumar is the current Secretary General of the Indo-Gulf & Middle East Chamber of Commerce (INMECC). Before that, he was the National General Secretary of the Federation of Overseas Recruitment Associations of India (FORAI) and the General Secretary of the Indian Personnel Export Promotion Council (IPEPCIL).
Mr. Abdul Jaleel has over a decade of experience in handling overseas recruitment at various companies. He is also the National Chief Director of the Anti-Corruption Foundation of India (ACFI), one of the coveted NGOs in India for anticorruption campaigns and awareness. He is also an advisor to REDIO (Rescue Every Distressed Indian Overseas) in the UAE.
Throughout their tenures, one consistent concern was the rising unethical and fiscal means impeding overseas recruitment. “We saw businesses accepting bribes, making false promises, and ultimately keeping the candidate in the dark,” claims the CMD. They believed that recruitment should be centered on learning about candidates their motivations, passions, interests, and whether they’ll fit into the desired organization and roles. They could not bear this, so they devised a criterion for moral conduct in their trade. The CEO explains, “Instead of interfering with long-standing customs, we set anti-corruption policies, a code of ethics, and devised a sophisticated modus operandi.”
Seagull is also among the rare ones accredited by UKAS, URS, and IAF. 90% of its hiring is free, and it has a “Zero Tolerance Policy” against bribery and corruption, making it a stronghold against labour exploitation. The ethical practice makes it a valued recruitment partner across the Gulf while also aiding to India’s goal on cutting its unemployment rate.
ADAPTIVE TO CHANGING SCENARIOS
Besides ethical conduct, Seagull is armed with all the industry-grade innovations. Given how fast the world is changing and how the HR sector is innovating to increase its efficiency, flexibility, and productivity, Seagull is also evolving its corporate structure to adhere to advancements.
The firm utilizes tech throughout its hiring process, from candidate evaluations to virtual interviews, applicant tracking, resume screening, background checks, and onboarding. Also, it has a robust online presence that enables it to schedule postings in advance, monitor responses, and gather data to better target future campaigns for hiring and enhance clients’ image in the job market. Staying attuned to innovations also gives it an upper hand against economic obstructions.
“We have endured some of the most notable hurdles, like the 1993 Mumbai bombing, which crippled Indian staffing abroad, the Great Recession of 2006, the GCC region’s economic slowdown and political unrest in 2018–19, COVID–19, and the conflict in Russia-Ukraine which is erratically influencing the Middle Eastern economy’s turmoil,” explains Dr. Sureshkumar. In the end, Seagull goes to every extent to meet its commitments while keeping its sails high.
EMPOWERMENT: A CORE FOCUS
Despite having all the latest technologies and certifications, nothing can match the dynamic talent that Seagull has on board. Each member, even though they are spread across countries, works independently and takes ownership of their responsibilities. This makes them self-dependent and releases pressure from a single shoulder. While both Dr. Sureshkumar and Mr. Abdul Jaleel are idols to their team, the idea of a decentralized work culture is one of the major transformations fostered by the CEO.
The emphasis on empowerment doubled with the launch of SITT (Seagull Institute of Technical Training). The agency pioneers the vision of our honorable Prime Minister for making India as the skill capital of the world, working on vocational training for skills development, upskilling, and training in accordance with the needs of different clients in India, the Middle East, Europe, etc. Its goal is to give youth a strong technical education and suitable employment prospects. In the end, the firm has a dual focus that ensures the growth of in-house resources and the talent pool.
SAVORING MILESTONES…YET MILES TO GO
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” It goes without saying that Seagull’s journey to the zenith is the result of the hard work and determination of many people. But in the end, without its leaders, it would have been impossible, especially Dr. SureshKumar. His leadership has earned the firm numerous accolades namely:
- “ASSOCHAM Service Excellence Award (in 2017& 2018)” for quality and innovation in HR
- Economic Times ET NOW HR Talent Management Leadership Award for best overall overseas recruiting & staffing organization of the year in the 26TH WORLD HRD CONGRESS 2018
- HDM Award for Best Recruitment Service Provider in the Indian HR Convention 2017
- Best CEO Award by leading Malayalam Financial daily Future Kerala in 2018
- ICV Certification in 2019 from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC
- Best Overseas Recruitment Consultant in the 28th World HRD Congress held in Feb 2020
- Brand of the Year 2020 by CEO Magazine in the Global Human Resource Management category
Such amazing feats speak a lot about a leader’s ambition. He is further planning to pioneer the vision of making India a powerhouse of talent. Adding to this, Mr. Abdul Jaleel states that the firm aspires to generate 1 NRI in every Indian house. They are targeting to set an annual record of 100,000 jobs by 2030. As ambitious as this sounds, the firm has a solid client base, determined people, and they are already providing 50,000+ jobs annually to everyone from entry-level to senior management across all locations.
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