Jameela Hollingsworth- Shaping HR in Barbados








By Saskia Moseley

The 27 year old mastermind behind ‘The HR Boss’- a consulting business on professional development– sat with us to divulge her passion. Interestingly enough, the HR boss’ life started in Law at the University of the West Indies, but once she realised how much it stripped away her enthusiasm, she moved to Jamaica to study Human Resources. To her, that was the best decision she made. Since then, her life has been steeped in the discipline for the past six and a half years but she refused to stop there. With a large part of her family being business owners, the entrepreneurship in her blood ran hot when she discovered that she could take what defined her and create what is now a booming online business.

So how did ‘The HR Boss’ start?

The business organically came to me in my passion for helping people.  My friends were going to interviews [and] wanted me to help with their CVs [and] resumes. But then [they] started telling their friends and it became overwhelming so I started to charge a small fee.

What did it take to start your business?

$200.00 was all I needed to start the business. That included the registration which is $104.00 and the rest of the money went to the website hosting. If you can’t build a website, it might cost more.

What systems do you use to keep your online business afloat?

I have several automated systems. If you send me an email … I have an assistant answering on my behalf. Also all of my social media is automated. My website has an automated scheduling tool so you can actually book an appointment without having to liaise with a person.

How do you balance your life and your business?

I have a full-time job and I travel extensively for work so I had to figure out how my business can run as a full-time entity while I’m not there. I [also] have an assistant. If there are queries that come via email or appointments, they go directly into my calendar and I look at them when I get home and [then] I work from 6:00PM until 1:00AM.

You were on tour so tell us about that.

We came up with the idea of going on tour teaching people how to do interviews and resumes. We piloted it in Barbados and it sold out and then we pitched it to other islands. So the tour started in February then it went to Trinidad… then it ended in St. Lucia in May. I left for New Orleans [in June] and then I went to Orlando. [There] we [did] a specialised service where we have one-on-ones with clients.

How do you ensure that your clients get the best service possible?

I try to invest in training heavily. I went to the International Society of Human Resources Managers conference and it’s a week of intense training. I also travelled to ‘BlogHer’ in Orlando – the international female conference for bloggers. I wanted to understand how these people [got] paid $5000 for one post on Instagram.  There are actually brands there reaching out to help smaller bloggers. I got a brand deal from Blue Host so I am their new Caribbean Ambassador.

How do you see the importance of HR in the Barbados environment? 

People generally don’t know how to conduct themselves in an interview … and they don’t know how to structure a resume. A lot of small entrepreneurs don’t see the importance of HR because they view it as additional costs but contracts are very important. So that’s an area of awareness that I’m trying to bring to my fellow entrepreneurs.

How do you see yourself helping persons who are looking for a job?

The market is bad right now, but it makes business for me better. People always want to improve so I work with them to update their CVs and interview skills. I also advise them to create a side hustle. Before, the idea of having a side hustle was unique to North America. That situation is not common in Barbados but it’s something that I encourage my clients to have.

How can persons look entrepreneur-ready?

Most entrepreneurs are free spirits so they feel as though they can dress to show that they are creative. But you can’t go to certain corporations looking like [that]. You have to uphold their standard of dress. As an entrepreneur, you are a walking billboard.

Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?

There is a myth; ‘we all have the same 24 hours’. I realised that is a lie. We do not have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé. Beyoncé has a team of people making everything happen. So I had to change my mind-set. If I want to expand I have to invest. You have to invest in proper systems so that people know you are about business.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I would like the tour to expand to every Eastern Caribbean country. [Also] The HR Boss is not the only business I have. So the other elements of my business I would like to be as recognised as the HR Boss is.

Fun Facts

My favourite spot is Vegas. It’s like Disney World for adults and no one judges you.

My favourite food? A full rack of ribs and fries

I shoot firearms; a 22 for accuracy and a 9 for fun.

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