To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, CIPS asked women in procurement in the MENA region for their insights on topics ranging from the biggest challenge they've faced to their biggest inspiration.
Fatima Balfaqeeh, procurement consultant at RKAH Adminstrative Consultancy Studies
Suzan S. Hammoudeh, pharmacy administrative affairs head at King Hussein Cancer Center
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a woman in business to date?
FB (pictured): “Although women are becoming very good at networking and creating their own opportunities, the challenge that I face is that most of the networking setups are still very much male driven and dominant.”
SH: “Balancing between three pillars: family, career and continuous education. These are all very important parts of a person.
“It is very important to spend quality time with one’s children, and it is about the quality not quantity. Being able to engage the children in my work, have them understand why I do what I do and the importance of having a personal ‘purpose to impact’ has been my challenge. Not only so that I can achieve my goals but also for them to grow as responsible individuals who value women’s roles and can develop their own personal purpose to impact.”
Who has inspired you?
SH (pictured): “In my career, I am blessed to have inspirational mentors. I have always been impressed with two ladies whose careers and personal mission to impact are truly inspirational because they invested in helping others grow.
“Dr Lama H Nazer is a strong believer in sharing knowledge and helping others grow. It is a professional commitment. To quote her, ‘The reason we are able to grow is because we had great mentors that helped us along our journey, so whatever I do at this stage of my career is the duty to pay-back’.
“Another inspirational leader is Haifa al Najjar. She is the superintendent of prominent schools in Jordan, she is an advocate for empowering our young generation through education. She promotes a culture of inclusive education where equity is a shared culture, ensuring an accessible school for children with special needs. She has earned national and international recognition for her achievements.”
What do you wish you’d known when you started out and/ or what advice would you give your younger self?
FB: “To not be too hard on myself in terms of setting up idealistic expectations of my skill set. The state of learning is a journey rather than a destination, and to definitely enjoy that journey.”
SH: “We must learn to take time out every now and then to totally unplug from it all, take more ‘me time’. I think what we have learned this tough year is to appreciate real moments in life and take time to enjoy small things that we may otherwise overlook.”
What are the character traits of successful women and/ or what do you think makes a good leader?
SH: “Being able to communicate effectively and honestly, listen actively, engage people and invest in building capacity and in building a culture that supports learning and ‘person-centred care’, so both employees and customers are at the centre of each process.
“Building the culture is essential. Person-centred care allows agility and flexibility, essential to organisation survival in such a dynamic environment.”
FB: “I think ownership of their role and responsibilities, where it allows them to lead the team in the style that suits them with a clear direction and vision.”
Do you have a favourite quote or statement that sums up your approach to life?
FB: “‘Know that there’s enough room for everyone to be passionate, creative and successful. In fact, there’s more than room for everyone; there is a need for everyone’ – Marianne Williamson.”
SH: “A quote my dad used to say, ‘Hope for the best but expect the worst’. We need to be optimistic, but we have to do risk management, in life and at work. We should take calculated risks and be prepared for the ‘what ifs’.”
What do you #ChooseToChallenge?
FB: “I choose to challenge the idea that women have to choose either/or. It is more about creating a balance and being content with that balance. That balance is desired not only by women but also men.”
SH: “I #ChooseToChallenge inequity in the workplace by ensuring inclusiveness to everyone by addressing burnout, emotional wellness and sustaining a ‘just culture’ for everyone to voice concerns.
“Listening actively to people we work with and allowing them to speak out and voice their concerns is important to sustain resilience and inner personal happiness, and therefore be able serve patients or clients, work and advance in one’s career, and be there for your family and friends as well.”
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