Rabiya Al Mirza, HR Manager, OCS Infotech – Zubair Infotech is a firm believer in the primacy of education and knowledge as a prerequisite for a successful career. Mayank Singh reports
Can you give us a brief background of your education and profession?
I did my master’s from Sultan Qaboos University and have been working for the last ten years. My first job was with a training company and then I joined the Ministry of Health, where I worked for four years and then got an opportunity to work for OCS. Today, I am an HR manager with OCS Infotech which is an IT division of Zubair Corporation. I am also a newscaster with Oman TV, but lately I have taken a break and will be joining them again in January 2018.
What are your strengths as a person that have enabled you to do well at an early age?
I have attended some courses with NTI and the positive things that they saw in me was versatility and a determination to take on challenges. My biggest strength is an ability to take risks and challenges. For example, getting into the media side was a big transition, it was a challenge for me as I was suddenly supposed to go live on air for 20-30 minutes without any experience. It was a big shift and I was the only woman newscaster to be selected in 2013.
You mentioned about taking risks; how do you ensure that it is not a reckless risk?
I do my study before taking on a risk. Unless you go through a challenge you cannot be sure whether you are capable of handling it or not. Whether you can take it up depends on your perspective, and how you take
Have you had mentors or people who have influenced you?
To be honest I have not had any one influence on my life, as I don’t believe in getting influenced by anybody. I don’t want to name anyone as someone whom I follow as everyone is a role model in his or her own right. You don’t need to follow someone or be influenced.
Being a woman, has your journey to success been more difficult?
Definitely, while I have not faced any discrimination, there is a dominance of men in senior management positions and we do not have enough women in leadership positions. But this is changing now as women are getting empowered. Our company Zubair Corporation and OCS is focussing on women empowerment, by giving them bigger roles helping that they can rise and it is important that women come up to that level of equality. Instead of having a debate on this, it is better to accept the fact that there will be a percentage of difference among men and women in the corporate sector, in terms of dominance for the next few years. Women have to constantly prove themselves as men do not believe that women are capable of taking on leadership roles.
How do you strike a work life balance?
It is very hectic, but I keep work as my priority and being a woman it is not possible for us to overlook our family responsibilities. There is a need for one to balance between the two, as without it things cannot happen. It can get quite difficult, like for example for the NTI BizPro rounds, I had to leave work and go there, and it was difficult because being a part of HR, I am expected to be a part of almost every meeting. I was at the assessment for six to seven hours and when I came back I had to stay back late to complete the work just before the Eid holidays.
Can you share a few highlights of your experience of going through NTI BizPro?
It was a really good experience. I was not aware of NTI BizPro, but one of my senior lady managers asked me to go ahead and participate. I agreed and went for the aptitude test, as it was based on logical reasoning, I was a bit skeptical, but was surprised when I was selected. The whole NTI BizPro process is amazing as one gets to know many people who are working in different industries. It is a big opportunity for rising Omanis, who want to interact and share their knowledge. It also helps people to learn skills to make themselves presentable and succeed in life.
Is there a need for more such opportunities to encourage young Omanis?
Definitely, there should be more such opportunities as these help in bringing out the best among people. There are young Omanis who have the potential, just that they do not have the platform to prove themselves. NTI BizPro is one of its kind initiative, if we have more firms and associations coming forward and doing such initiatives it could prove as a great platform for young Omanis to come forward and prove their talent and ability to showcase that they are good enough to stand up in society and succeed at work both locally and internationally.
What is your advice to young Omani executives, who are embarking on a career?
My advice to young Omanis is to pay utmost attention to their studies at an early stage of their life, because a good education and knowledge base is important to succeed later in life. Moreover, once the formative years have elapsed, they will never come back. Most Omanis are not interested in pursuing their higher studies, as they want to leave their studies and get a job. I would suggest that they should not stop their education till they gain a lot of knowledge, have a base and then look forward to building a career. They should also explore the international market as well. For example, my parents were strict and particular about our education. My mother was a professor and now when I look back I think having an educationist parent really helped me.
You mentioned about going international. Why is that so important?
Until you get into a multicultural environment, you cannot appreciate as to what is happening in a multicultural world. There is a mingling of cultures under one roof and that helps people in broadening their perspective. Our personality gets groomed only when we sit amongst people from varying backgrounds. It gives one the confidence to say that I can go back to my country and share this knowledge with people there. A majority of Omanis are broad minded and they are looking for opportunities internationally and as a result our society is getting that awareness, which is good.
Does Oman offer enough opportunities for young people to do well?
I don’t think so, there is a need to work hard on providing young Omanis with more platforms and opportunities for them to shine. There are some associations like AISEC etc. which are coming up and now we see that more awareness and opportunities for Omanis taking shape. For example, Zubair Corporation has its own arm – Zubair SEC which is into promoting entrepreneurship and SMEs.
What are your future plans and ambitions?
I have done my master’s in Business Administration and want to do my PhD, if I can manage between my family and work commitments. I am happy with what I have achieved till now and my next goal is to do my PhD.