Female buyers in the Middle East have role models, but need mentors

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
17 May 2015

Women working in procurement in the Middle East have plenty of role models, but the challenge now is to find strong mentors to provide support.

That was a view expressed as part of a panel discussing progress for women working in procurement and supply in the region over the past five years at the CIPS Middle East Conference.

According to Samar Al Mansoori, executive director – procurement and commercial at TDIC, a role model doesn’t necessarily have to be another woman.

“For the first five years I worked in procurement, my role model was a man. He was a really tough, knowledgeable guy who took me through the processes, pressured me, and challenged me a lot,” she said.

But she added purchasers should not limit themselves to a single individual, and instead look at the skills and capabilities they can take for their own careers.

“Our challenge today is not role models, it is strong mentors in each sector and function. Support those guys, because what I felt in the first five years of my career was a lack of support. There is not such thing as spoonfeeding, you have to help yourself. Look for a mentor to help you through your career, not just a role model,” she concluded.

Megan James, procurement service delivery section manager at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, agreed, and urged buyers to challenge themselves to develop their career.

“It’s very good to have a mentor or somebody to look up to, but in the end you have to find the strength and belief within yourself. And that’s sometimes very hard,” she said.

“Finding a mentor or someone who can support you to challenge yourself to go outside you comfort zone to undertake something you know is going to be a bit of a stretch for you is the way you really grow. It is a little bit scary, but it is the way you develop as a person and professionally.

Panel moderator Gaynor Anderson, director, supply chain at National Ambulance Abu Dhabi, added: “It is courage at the end of the day. Find the courage and keep pushing through.”

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