Thursday, May 06, 2021 | Ramadan 23, 1442 H
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Women's Day special: Push your limits and keep growing

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Muscat: After 20 years into her career, Fatma al Hashmi is an efficiency manager at BP.  Efficiency is something we all like to achieve.

According to her, every organization would like to achieve efficiency and innovative culture associated with high excellence in productivity necessary to effective performance, yet it is proven to be complicated when it comes to embracing the principles of efficiency and sustaining them.

“The principles and philosophy of efficiency are needed to be blended inside the organization, people, values and processes which demonstrate value creation.  Achieving an efficiency culture requires the highest level of operating discipline necessary to remain competitive, do more with less and get it right the first time, truly incredible.  At BP the leadership and the employees are truly incredible when it comes to operating discipline which consists of three rules as follows- rule number one is the rule, rule number two is complete what you started and rule number three is follow up – the feedback loop,” she says.

Her current role is also to prepare the organization for change adaptation. The world at all levels is going through changes due to the pandemic. Here are some of the tips everyone could apply on change management.

“Agility in embracing change, how fast you can adapt the new norm and embrace it. As per Japanese quote 'A time of danger is a time for new opportunities'."

Hence resilience which does not mean bouncing back but the ability to actively engage with the challenges of COVID-19. Adapting to the new norm swiftly and supporting your organization to perform as you transform. (technology adaptation and continue to perform) of course some courage and boldness is needed yet faster decision making on how to shift your business focus based on value creation and given opportunities).

Fatma summarizes with three key tips:

  1. Reinvent a clear vision & strategy based on COVID-19 opportunities.

  2. Enabling organizational climate- Agility & collaboration for swift adaptation.3

  3. Operating discipline in execution.

As for the challenges women face today, Fatma explained, “What comes in my mind is advocacy and support at work and at home.

"I have been fortunate to work for a company which values inclusion and equal opportunities despite gender, color or background. I have not seen or felt any gender gap in BP. Everyone is like one big team. It’s incredible. Our theme for BPWIN (women's international network) for 2020 has been around #eachforequal continuing to support inclusion at the workplace."

Omani women at BP are world-class as they are the best candidate for the job, hence they are key members of their team. They are empowered, they are our best talents and they take real responsibilities continuing in delivering tangible results to the business and make a real impact not only here in BP Oman but globally at BP Group level.

The other challenge would be woman at home, this shall depend from household to household. In society we have seen the role of women evolving from purely being a housewife to being educated and having a career life.

She pointed out that support from each household might vary and might remain a challenge.

“I often get a question around, how you do this – a full time Job, family and studying? My answer would be that it takes great determination, courage and a lot of help. It is important to claim that you might not do this alone which is ok to ask for support and help during your journey. I am in debt to my husband for his support, Dr Azzan al Yaarubi for his immense support throughout my career and during my MBA journey as well as my family support,” she reflected.

Are women holding themselves back?

"Women ought not to pull themselves back. Companies are hiring talents. Even if you go for maternity or having children you are still the person with the talent needed to move the needle and contribute positively to society and economy. Push your limits and keep growing for more possibilities, the world needs more ideas, more innovation and each one of us has a role to play.

The 2040 vision as launched by HM Sultan Haitham bin Tariq needed every talent in Oman to take a role in this important economic reform.

To the question, how can a woman reach her true potential and what are the common mistakes according to you, she said, “Women need to believe in themselves and they must have their own personal plan despite other responsibilities of being a mother, daughter, wife or a sister they still have a role to play in the society and make a difference. Hence, they opt to have a goal in life that is much more fulfilling while building resilience which links to growth and possibilities.

One needs to be oneself, real and authentic. It’s not about competing with a man or other woman it’s about challenging your limits and keeping on advancing.

For Fatma, her parents have been an inspiration, who have been a strong advocate for me.

“When I was a teenager in a town where other girls were getting married at the age of 15; they said you are going to college and you are going to work. They put me in the family boat operation business running the business without a job description, just told me what was expected from me. That is to run the entire business while my father had to attend an important meeting outside the country for a few weeks. I learnt quickly and I worked hard because he believed in me. On my first day I woke up very early before the sun came out, I was already at the jetty waiting for the boats to load in, fueling up and registering the cargo load making sure the boat was not overloaded and then continued to do this every school holiday. This did not only build courage and resilience in me but prepared me for future challenges. I am always pushing my limits with recently completing my MBA program at the world top business school, Imperial college business School London (Global online MBA ) despite being a mother of six, a wife, a sister and a daughter I do keep pushing my limits and believe in possibilities. If I could do this, you can also do it!

Finally, my advice to all women on 2020 Oman woman day, “Never underestimate your full potential. Push your limits and make a difference in the world. Be a role model for many generations to come.’’

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