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Judges Profile

Emma El-Karou

Emma El-Karout

One Circle
Founder
Emma El-Karout is a Johannesburg-based future work innovator who founded One Circle, an online HR collaboration platform scheduled to launch in 2019.

Born and raised in Lebanon, her formative academic phase in Lebanon was capped with an MBA from LAU, an undergraduate degree from AUB and two school leaving certificates, one French and one English. Not bad, as her mother tongue is actually Arabic!

Emma almost immediately began challenging existing systems and traditions as she entered the consulting world helping NGO’s and private companies with their HR and training agendas. She developed her own bespoke content when existing material didn’t serve her clients’ needs and during this phase of her career, operated from Beirut but assignments took her to Syria and Jordan as well.

Her effectiveness in HR consulting led her to corporate HR roles in the hospitality sector, and the Arabian Gulf states of UAE (Dubai) and Qatar. She quickly built a reputation as a hotel property pre-opening and opening specialist with global hotel operators, and an HR leader who operated from a business perspective.

She then shifted into one of the other major Gulf industries, joining Qatar Petroleum, the second largest national oil and gas company in the Middle East. As a senior policy advisor, she impacted the HR practices of all employers in Qatar’s Energy sector and was on the working team drafting the (then) new Qatar HR Law. She received a commendation from the Qatar Deputy Prime Minister for her related contributions.

Continuing a trend of working in regionally iconic industries, Emma then moved into retail in Dubai, heading up HR for the leading luxury fashion retailer in the Middle East, Etoile Group. Here, Emma managed HR across the Group’s footprint in the Gulf and Levant. After a 7 year period, Emma witnessed the people impact of the economic ebbs and flows in the region and began thinking about a solution whereby individuals could be more empowered to offer their skills and services to employers, instead of through traditional recruitment.

Emma continued developing this idea during her next role with one of the largest non-specific retailers in the Middle East, North Africa, and India, Landmark Group. She started to realize the potential impact that technology was bringing to the world of work, coupled with her passion to democratize employment, started designing One Circle.

Today, Emma is based in Johannesburg with her family where she intends to launch One Circle (www.onecirclehr.com) in 2019, as a means to combat few of the major societal issues in South Africa, being unemployment, gender and age bias, and the retention of experienced workers in the economy post-retirement.