Fatma Said Al Sulaimani, Human Resources Manager, Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat feels that sky is the limit for people who are determined to achieve their goals.
Take us through your experience of participating and winning the NTI BizPro Awards?
We were participating in the Sultan Qaboos University Career Fair when someone came from NTI and gave us the nomination forms for the BizPro Awards. As an HR manager, I had to nominate others for the awards, so I drew up a list and submitted it to the NTI official. Not finding my name on the list, he asked me as to why I had not nominated myself. And I replied, ‘It is difficult for me to nominate myself’. But as he persuaded me, I decided to nominate myself. After a few days, I got a mail asking me to come for the first round of assessment, which was the management aptitude test and it was scheduled to take place from 10.00-11.00 am. Assuming that I would be back at work, in 20 to 30 minutes after the test, I had scheduled a meeting with the general manager and heads of departments of the hotel at 11.30am to discuss an urgent matter. On reaching the venue on that day, I got to know that the test would begin at 10.30 am, as some people were stuck in traffic. I had only 45 minutes to write the test, and left for the hotel at 11.15am. As a result, I was not expecting to make it to the next round. But luckily, I made it to the next round, where we had to work on case studies. Though these case studies were difficult, I could relate to them as most of them revolved around people. The next round, which was the group discussion stage, was really challenging, as the topic was about transportation. My work experience was related to hospitality industry, which was far away from the topic. But I made it to the final. Initially, I was not sure whether I should invite my parents or not to the function, as I did not want them to be disappointed, if I did not win. But then I thought that since I have a 50 per cent chance of winning (three out of the six semifinalists would win at the Awards), I invited them to the ceremony. I was really surprised when they called my name and it was an amazing experience.
Can you give us a brief background of your education and professional career?
I went to a government school in Shatti al Qurum. I passed out of school with 93 per cent marks and that enabled me to get admission in Sultan Qaboos University (SQU). I graduated with a distinction in Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA), with marketing as my field of specialisation. In 2008, I joined Export Credit Guarantee Agency (ECGA) as an underwriting officer. In November 2008, I moved to the Zubair Group as a part of their Gold Programme. The aim of the programme is to take young Omanis to leadership positions in two years’ time. As a part of the programme, I did a professional diploma in leadership and management. After undergoing the programme, we were put in different companies within the Zubair Group on a rotational basis. I worked with four companies for three months each â€“ in Oil and Gas, Supplies’ finance department, Shangri-La’s Barr al Jissah Resort & Spa’s marketing and sales department, did market research in Zeenah and then went to Zubair Corporation to work on business development.
In the second year of the programme, I was placed in the Zubair Automotive Group and worked there as an assistant marketing manager. In December 2011, I decided to move onto human resources, as it was a passion since I was at college, but SQU did not have a specialisation in HR, and hence I opted for marketing as it was the closest to HR. In February 2012, I shifted to the HR department within the Zubair Group and then to Radisson Blu in March 2014. After spending six years in Zubair, I applied for jobs at three companies – a telecommunications major, a retailing company and in hospitality and got selected in all of them. I was offered the job of an HR manager in two of them and as a performance management specialist in one. I decided to join the hospitality industry, as I love the travel and tourism industry and think that it is in my DNA. Secondly, I feel that the industry is playing a vital role in the growth of the Sultanate today. I also sought to understand the reasons on why young Omanis shy away from joining the hospitality industry, preferring sectors like oil and gas and wanted to change that from within.
What are the factors that have enabled you to achieve things at an early age?
I am a team player and a very responsible person. Once I am entrusted with a job, I am completely committed to the task, ensuring that I give quality results. I am a fast learner and can easily adjust to any environment, making me a dynamic person. I am also a very social person, who can interact with people easily.
You mentioned that one of the drivers for you to join the hospitality industry was your desire to encourage young Omanis to join this industry. What advice would you give them on succeeding in life?
I would like to tell young Omanis to always have objectives in their mind. They should also have the determination in their mind to achieve those objectives, irrespective of the hurdles they may have to overcome. They should believe that sky is the limit. They should remember that whatever happens in life, happens for a reason and they just need to take the opportunity out of it. I think everyone can emulate what we follow at Radisson: ‘Whatever you do, do it with integrity; wherever you go, go as a leader; wherever you serve, serve as caring; whatever you dream, dream with your all and never ever give up’. I always take that piece of advice with me wherever I go. I have also seen that a number of Omani graduates want to be managers from day one, but I would like to tell them that being a manager requires one to live up to a number of commitments and so it is important to start from the lower echelons of the corporate ladder, learn and then to earn the position. They have to learn from scratch and even when they become managers, they cannot assume that they can be undisciplined or they can come and go at a time of their liking. In a leadership role, one needs to be a role model for others, so that others aspire to be like you.