Meet Human Resources Program Instructor Dari DeSousa

Dari DeSousaBy day, Dari DeSousa is the director of Human Resources at RAR Hospitality, a San Diego-based hotel management company.

By night, she teaches the Talent Acquisition course in the Professional Certificate in Human Resource Management program through SDSU’s College of Extended Studies.

In between, she’s cultivated interests that one wouldn’t necessarily equate with an HR professional.

“I think it surprises students when they find out that I’m kind of a geek and love zombies and Comic-Con,” said DeSousa, who will also be team teaching the Compensation course in HR along with fellow Marriott employee Dawn Myers during the fall semester.

What are some highlights of the Talent Acquisition course?
My favorite night is when we review, create, and practice interview questions. It’s just really a great brainstorming session. We do activities to think outside of the box and come up with interesting questions that will gain interesting insights into candidates. Students get to “interview” each other, putting their questions into practice. The most interesting question from another company we saw: “Tell me all the uses for a brick in one minute.” This would show quick thinking, creative thinking; a bit of a stress test.

Here are two questions from our interview bank: If you were a Disney character, who would you be and why? Who would win a bowling match between Oprah and Abraham Lincoln, and why?

My second favorite night is our “Human Capital Review” session. Human Capital Planning is a total passion of mine, so I’m naturally drawn to the fun dialog of the session. This is a topic that isn’t entirely familiar to people, but the tools we learn are things that they can take with them.

HCR is growing your bench into leadership roles, forecasting future open positions, and ensuring a succession management plan to backfill talent.

Tell us more about growing your bench and backfilling talent, as it pertains to HR.
Bench is like a football analogy. What are you doing to grow your second-string if the first string gets injured or traded? So when you’re looking at leaders, you need to actively review who may be looking to transfer, get promoted, retire, etc. Then you review and determine who’s next — or on the bench — then have development plans in place to ensure that over time, this next group is ready to fill the positions as they open. That’s what “backfill” means. This bench, ideally, is being developed to take the role of departing leaders.

The reason all of this can be so important is time and money. Sourcing talent, from scratch, from outside of your organization takes time, and the productivity loss can also then result in a higher cost to the organization. Additionally, having a strong bench, with strong development plans in place really engages the workforce and helps with loyalty, and a sense of career, versus just having “a job.”

What will students learn in your class that they didn’t know before attending?
Even if they have experience hiring, they’ll leave the class with new tools in their belt for recruiting; they’ll have an opportunity to work on their own resume; and they’ll have a great outline to begin their own Human Capital Review process.

Does the course require homework outside the classroom?
Yes. There is reading, one presentation, and a small paper. Additionally, there are small, time-easy homework tasks.

What have you learned about your students?
This was my first class at CES. I really enjoyed this group not only as students, but as HR and future HR professionals. I thought everyone was engaged, and their participation really made for some interesting and dynamic conversations! One particularly interesting conversation started with a discussion on Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price when he cut his salary. That went to a dialog on Amazon and Zappos, who both have a “pay to quit” program. [The purpose of this novel concept is to filter out disengaged employees.] That was an hour dialog that had the entire room engaged examining the pros and cons. It wasn’t a part of the planned lecture, but it was such a good conversation, we ran with it!

What’s the most interesting aspect of HR?
The people. I love teaching and developing people to help them in their careers and to be amazing leaders. I also love the “tough stuff.” I find it always an interesting challenge sorting through formidable or legal situations.

Where do you think the HR profession is headed?
I feel that compliance is going to have to be a focus point. Every year, especially in California, there are more and more laws that we have to ensure are correctly followed to keep our companies litigation- and fine-free. I also think that Human Capital will be essential. Many companies have flattened their leadership structures, leaving the bench a bit lean. Developing talent will be key for succession planning and keeping your leadership levels consistently strong.

What advice do you have for individuals seeking to enter the HR profession?Make sure you LOVE it. Not like it, not “it’s ok.” L-O-V-E. This field is a passion; go all-in or find a better-suited field. This doesn’t mean you will love every aspect or every day. But overall, you need to have passion to maintain the energy to navigate the HR waters.