"Without leveraging both men and women it is impossible for businesses to have perspective"
Women in Business: Naeimah Al-Hashmi
Region: Saudi Arabia
With nationalization quotas playing a more significant role in recruitment across all sectors and industries with every passing year, we continue to work with professional, well educated and highly experienced Arab Nationals across the Gulf. At the senior levels we are seeing more loyalty and commitment to employers than ever before as well as a real desire for career development and a constant challenge.
As women play more and more of a role in the business world across the Gulf, we wanted to look at what it means to be a woman in the world of work here, find out more about their experiences and see what advice they would offer to other female GCC nationals looking to develop their own professional career.
Naeimah, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule and joining us today. Can you start by telling us about yourself, background, and your current role?
Thank you, Alice for creating this platform and having me. It’s truly an honor!
I’m Naeimah Al Hashmi, a 29 year old HR practitioner striving to enable businesses to succeed and have impact through their people. I originally wanted to become a pilot but decided to major in Business instead. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Franklin University and am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Military Science. I am a certified Master Trainer, Certified International Recruitment Specialist and recently earnt my GPHR credential.
I’ve worked in both in-house and consultancy roles for different organizations within multiple industries; and I enjoy coming up with innovative, feasible and scalable solutions to complex business problems.
In my current role, I manage global people operations at a very progressive foreign tech company for 6 countries across the globe.
Ooh a Pilot, that would have been a very different career! Thanks Naeimah. So, our first question is how did you get where you are today? Who has helped you along the way?
Resilience, attitude, faith and networking. If it’s worth having, it will not come easy. The most important thing is to keep moving forward and approach challenges with a positive attitude and healthy optimism. Having faith in yourself is part of having a positive attitude. I started my career in recruitment and headhunting and was lucky to have front-row seats to the networking world. That has helped me a lot.
There are two main groups who have helped me along the way. The first is people who did not want me to succeed. Through them I learned patience, tolerance and determination to succeed.
The second group is people who would do anything to see me succeed. My greatest champion is my father. He has been a mentor to me and has had an enormous influence on the person I am today. However, the person who provided me the structure I needed to focus on my career is my mother. I am a single working mother and without my own mother’s commitment to ensuring I have a strong support system, I probably would not attain a healthy work-life balance.
It is so good to hear that you’ve learnt things from the people that have stood in your way and I’m sure that both of your parents are extremely proud of your success! Next question - Why is gender balance and having a more diverse workforce important, especially in senior management teams?
One of our corporate values where I currently work is “Diversity makes us wise” and I could not agree more. The global business environment has changed massively and continues to evolve every day. Without leveraging both men and women it is impossible for businesses to have perspective and strong insight.
Diversity forces us to see and think differently. Both of these are important to sound decision making, especially within Senior management. In a nutshell, more diversity equals better business.
Agreed, everyone brings something different to the table. So how did you get there? What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organisations?
I did not fear failure, capitalized on opportunities others did not see the value in, and always had a plan. Some strategies (that have proven to work for me at least) that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations are:
- Be assertive, especially if you are in management. If you are absolutely convinced you are making the right decision, stand your ground.
- Take credit where credit is due. Women often shy away from accepting credit for their work or downplay their contributions.
- Take advantage of all opportunities. The more exposure you have to different business functions, the more sought after you will become.
Taking credit is a good one, we should be proud of our achievements. What is an area of the corporate world that you still think needs improvement?
Leadership, strategy and planning. Businesses fail because they don’t have a clear strategy on how to achieve their vision and mission. Without strategy and strong leadership to deliver on it, you cannot plan. You won’t get very far without a plan!
Well it definitely seems like you’ve had a plan, although nothing goes to plan all the time and that’s when we learn! What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt in your career to date?
Everything has a solution, and the sky will most likely not fall! Many organizations operate in reactive mode and that distracts individuals from focusing on value-added activities. Learn how to evaluate risk and prioritize. This will ensure you are investing your time, resources and energy wisely and are having the greatest impact.
Ha-ha. It definitely won’t fall! Well I’m sure this interview will certainly be helpful for many of our followers to ensure they have the greatest impact. What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Integrity. Success can be defined in many ways, but regardless of the interpretation, if you have integrity you will never go wrong and will not have to worry about your reputation.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be? Is this the same advice you would give now to young Saudi women out there?
Pick your manager wisely during the early years of your career. A strong leader will invest in you, push you out of your comfort zone and open doors to opportunities you did not think existed. Money should not be a primary factor in your early career decisions. If you are fortunate enough to have the right leader invest in you, money will come eventually.
This is the same advice I would give to young Saudi women out there, especially those who are just entering the job market. I was lucky in this area and what I learned from one of my early managers, @Meshal Al-Obaid, I could not have learned from any training program or certification ever.
That’s great advice. Completely agree that the person you work for has a huge impact on your success. Thank you so much Naeimah, for your time and for sharing your experiences with us today. We wish you all the best in all your current and future ventures!
If you would like to see our company updates and industry insights, follow our LinkedIn page here.