Breaking invisible barriers
29 Oct 2018 – 8:10
Maryam Al Mansoori – Chief Support Officer, BARZAN Holdings.
She is a free spirit who loves chasing her dream. An HR strategist, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, Maryam Al Mansoori is in the pursuit of inventing her future on her own terms. She is direct, unremorsefully blunt and to the point as shares her personal story and how she tries to break the glass ceiling.
Maryam Al Mansoori, currently the Chief Support Officer at BARZAN Holdings and a management consultant, enjoys breaking the stereotypes in the journey to realize her dream. “As a woman, you need to break your own glass ceiling’, she says, and she doesn’t want in limiting herself.
The young Qatari professional who quit less than half a dozen lucrative jobs within a span of ten years in pursuit of her ‘dreams’ echoes the Apple co-founder late Steve Job’s vision of an ideal job. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
“If you have not found it yet, keep looking. Do not settle…to stop looking beyond would be to halt your dreams midway. And that would be pity. Dreams are there for a reason. They are what keep me going,”she says.
Maryam, who joined RasGas as a Network Analyst in 2001, saw a meteoric rise in her career graph before she quit the organisation in 2008 as Head of Workforce Planning & HR Systems.
She joined Msheireb Properties in the same year as HR Manager and rose to the position of Chief Officer-Corporate Planning & Support within a span of six years. She also worked with Sidra Medical & Research Centre for a brief stint as Chief HR Officer.
For Maryam, the adage “a rolling stone gathers no moss” is a misnomer. She keeps rolling to make her life more meaningful. “Its not easy. Some people think why would a Qatari lady keep struggling, when she has a comfortable job and can lead a laid back life”, she tells.
“Yes, I too love shopping and a laid back life. I do appreciate the value of the time I relax and enjoy my easy life. But everything has its own time. I do believe that every person has a story to tell. I want to make my story exciting, that’s why I am doing exciting things.
“I want to tell my story to someone one day. I know someone will be following me and someone will be influenced by me and inspired by me. I am just curious and want to explore this world further and further, Maryam who earned her Master’s Degree from SBS Swiss Business School and pursuing a PhD, said.
“ I am curious. I follow my passion. I am willing to take risk. I always have that gut feeling “why not I can do it?”. I myself set a benchmark and compete with myself to raise the bar. Yes, it’s not always good. But I am enjoying the moment. I believe I still have energy to do it.”
“Take the risk” is Maryam’s message to young Qatari girls. “Let them chase their dreams. If you really like something, just take the plunge. It’s always about taking the risk.”
According to Maryam , one of the biggest risks she took in her life was changing her job at a time when she was standing tall in one of the top energy companies. “After seven years of hard work I was like at the top of my success then. But I decided to quit that lucrative job to join an organization which was yet to establish. My bosses told me I was doing a big mistake and killing my career. But I took it as a challenge; and now I am here.”
Maryam recalls some of her previous bosses telling her that she can never become a successful corporate head just because she is very nice to people. “Nice lady doesn’t mean I am not professional, not smart, I won’t be able to manage people. There are plenty of leadership styles. Nice leaders do exist and are successful , I need to prove this. I was proving this for myself.”
The pressure is generally high because women feel they have to continuously prove themselves, and when that happens, the passion for their career dries up easily. Maryam says in the male dominated ecosystem, she had faced lot of stereotyping.
She had worked in a professional environment where some male colleagues even refused to report to her as their team leader, just because she is a female. It’s not only gender; it’s also about age and being young. “I was in situations in business meetings, when I was often asked “how old are you?”. You need to break it.”
As she said Maryam narrated in her recently published book “The 4ourth Floor”, a brand is everything for a company. It is what instills confidence in the market; it is what makes a consumer choose one product over the other. It is the quintessence of the existence of a company. Similarly, everyone should think themselves as a brand. Consider what sort of a brand do you wish to create yourself? And what do you want to be known for?.