Shahad Naser Al Wahaibi, Fuels Marketing, Payment & Brand and Communications Implementer at Shell Oman Marketing, carved out a successful career path, driven by her passion to learn and adapt to new challenges. Muhammed Nafie interviews her to find out what made her win NTI BizPro Awards 2017
You are one of the winners of this year’s NTI BizPro Awards. We are curious to know what is interesting about your education and career
I graduated from the College of Commerce and Economics with a major in Finance in 2009 as the batch topper. I joined Shell Oman in 2010 through shell recruitment day, which aimed to recruit graduates to be future leaders of the organisation. I was hired as the retail operations excellence manager and was in charge of managing and reviewing the key performance indicators (KPIs) of Shell service stations in Oman. At the same time, I also took on the role of a change agent and communications focal point for the retail business for a project that aimed to reshape the ways of workings in the organisation (business process re-engineering project).
This role made me value communications as a critical aspect of delivering any project and I took this learning further in my second role in Shell Oman, which was retail territory manager for the capital area. This role is based in the field and I was responsible of the performance of 23 Shell service stations in terms of health, safety, security and environment (HSSE), operational excellence and sales. Through this role, I was able to be the top territory manager in Oman for six consecutive quarters and was selected as the country territory manager and was awarded by Shell Oman in 2014 for being part of a global recognition event in China. I was the first woman from Oman to receive this award and I use this as an example to encourage women in my organisation to take on field-based roles as they are instrumental to understand the details of the retail business.
Inspired by the way Shell Oman recognises its talent, I want to be part of its leadership team in the future. This made me decide to expand my understanding of the business environment and take on a role in marketing, specifically as a fuels and brand /communications implementer, and pursue an MBA degree from Strathclyde University at the same time. I have been in this role for the last three years and it refined my thinking approach to a more strategic level and I was part of the launch of a number of innovative products and services to Shell customers in Oman.
What are the factors that have enabled you to carve out such a successful career path?
The support I get from my family keeps me strong. They have been patient and supportive and adapted whenever my life-style changes suddenly. For over two years I was both working and doing an MBA and never once they complained. Instead, they provided me with the care and guidance they always show. Secondly, my willingness to learn has made me more adaptable and in a world where change has never been so dynamic I consider it one of my strongest merits. Third, based on my experience I have learned that at many times the most complex problems need simple solution. So I always take a step back to think simply on how to manage the most difficult of situations. Finally, having role models in my life is a true blessing. I know if I need guidance in making decisions there is always someone to go to whether it is back at home or within Shell Oman.
Who are those role models?
When I speak of any success I achieved, I find myself speaking of my parents. There is no accomplishment I have made without their influence and most importantly they are the first to pick me up if life gets tough. My parents raised my sisters and me in a way where our individuality and differences were appreciated. Therefore, at every moment in my life they brought out the best in me. Through them I learned the importance of being a role model and this inspired every decision I make as I always ask myself, “Will this make me a better role model at home, work and the community?”
On a career perspective, the first role model I looked up to was Mohammed Mahmood Al Balushi who is currently Shell Oman’s CEO. When I first joined Shell Oman in 2010, he was leading a project for the retail business and he had appointed me as the change agent and communications focal point. This made me feel extremely trusted and empowered at the early stages of my career. His approach in managing me then where I was given the liberty to devise and execute plans along with his assurance to remove my fear of failure shaped my approach as a leader.
My current manager, Mohammed Ali Al Farsi, GM- external and government relations, legal affairs and business development, mentored me ever since I joined the organisation; and he opened up my eyes that a leader should not only be concerned with an employee development to serve the organisation’s cause, but also to develop people because they are members of the society. He proactively guides in my development beyond what my next role requirements are but works with me to achieve my personal development needs.
With such leaders, Shell Oman’s culture advocates mentoring and coaching; and people development is an area that the company looks into as much as financial deliverables.
How have you evolved as a professional within Shell Oman Marketing and how has the company helped you to tap your potential?
Shell Oman Marketing did not just evolve me as a professional but as a person too. The trust and empowerment this organisation provides its people made me see my own potential which I would have not explored otherwise. Through Shell Oman I learned to trust my capabilities, respect others differences and to maintain a sense of positivity in everything I do.
By transforming me as a person, Shell Oman not only gained my trust but also my own family speaks highly of it as an organisation since they see me grow further as a person every year.
How was your experience with BizPro Awards 2017?
I value BizPro as a platform that allows me to network with strong Omani talent and learn more about other industries. I am deeply impressed and inspired by my peers who have participated in the awards and I am looking forward to working and or interacting closely with them in the near future.
What advice would you like to give young Omanis, who are looking at embarking upon a career?
I would advise them to begin with knowing what their priorities in life are; this way they will be able to make career changes and decisions with a sense of ease.
Building a career is never a coincidence; so it is worthwhile to have a career mentor or coach to assist in planning career progress. This has always enabled me to choose the right development opportunities and plan a number of future career options rather than depending on one route only.
What are your other interests and hobbies?
My interests revolve around words, which made me explore many venues as hobbies such as reading, writing and public speaking. Valuing the impact that public speaking had on me, I have been a long-serving member of the Toastmasters community in Oman which aims to develop its members as public speakers and leaders. Through it, I spend my free time in mentoring others in public speaking.
What about your future plans?
In the near future, I intend to grow my career further which will need me to take on more daring decisions in regards to my next career move and projects.