“Have the faith and the confidence in yourself, in your own capabilities. Put in your head, that you can and you will”, Salma Al Hajjaj advices her 14-year-old self. Interacting with people is the coolest thing about her job as General Manager Human Resources at Gulf Bank Kuwait: “If you get to know them well, everybody has buttons that can be pushed and everbody has something positive to add.”
Was steht auf Deiner Visitenkarte?
My name's Salma Al Hajjaj. I'm the General Manager of Human Resources at Gulf Bank, Kuwait.
Worum geht es in Deinem Job?
Gulf Bank is a retail bank located in Kuwait. We're a domestic bank. I do human resources which basically does taking care of people and our talent and making sure that the organization is running the way it should be. We have a team. We've got a group that does talent management, a group that does recruitment strategies and HR development in general. It's a reasonably large team. Basically, they make sure that the human resources aspects of the organization are up to speed and following best practices. My main duties is running the human resources department which includes also facilities and corporate communications. As a person, my main job is to make sure that organizational development and interventions are being done, that there's leadership alignment, people at the top are speaking the same language, the values, the cultures. The fabric of the organization is well-oiled and working towards the same goal and strategic objectives. It's very much a strategic role other than working daily activities of policies and procedures beyond that. Being the change agent and being the person that makes sure what people are saying about the organization is what you want them to be saying. I've got a lot of meetings, doing a lot of interviews because we're very focused on talent and the selection of talent. Personally, as leaders get involved with the recruitment process and selection of talents, that takes up quite a bit of time, but if we get it right at the recruitment level, it takes a huge burden moving forward. My schedule is spent doing a lot of interviews. We have a new leadership that wants us to be more involved with talent and talent selection. Moving forward, I think that this should be a little less busy, but at the time being, we're quite busy with doing a lot of meetings. A lot of my time is spent doing corporate social responsibility because I believe that that's something that's the responsibility of everybody in any organization is to give back to the community. We spend a lot of time with the youth, spend a lot of time with aspects of CSR that are, I think, neglected in many cases, but we take a huge interest in developing the younger generation and future prospect leaders.
Wie sieht Dein Werdegang aus?
I live in Kuwait, I'm a Kuwaiti. I studied at Kuwait University. I am graduate of BA in Mathematics. Then I did my master's degree from the University of Phoenix, Arizona and worked for quite a bit of time in the oil sector of Kuwait which was a government sector, then I moved into the private sector which was quite a big leap. People thought it's quite a crazy thing to do in Kuwait, but I think that it was a challenge that has really made a difference in my career.
Ginge es auch ohne Deinem Werdegang?
Yes, I think everybody can be a human resources leader, but it takes special emotional intelligence as a person to become an HR executive because it's more about who you are as a person and the values that you drive within the organization. Which are not always taught in a classroom. Technical capabilities for HR can be acquired whatever your degree is. You can learn that by practice, but I think the impact of real HR professionals comes with their impactfulness as a person and a human being.
Was ist das coolste an Deinem Job?
Interacting with people. People are such wonderful creatures. If you get to know them, everybody has buttons that can be pushed and everybody has something positive to add. People's mindsets, and it's so intriguing for me to learn about people and how they think. We're looking at people with positive attitudes, people who believe in positivity, and people who believe in negativity. It's just so enjoyable to watch how positive people go about their life and how good things happen to positive people. For me, that's very intriguing and that's the best part of my job. Really, adding value to the next generation, watching young people grow up in the organization, coaching them, mentoring them spending time with them and seeing them flourish and grow makes me really proud. It's very rewarding and inspirational to make a difference in any young person's life.
Welche Einschränkungen bringt Dein Job mit sich?
You have to face some decisions that you have to make when it comes to people. You need to be tolerant as much as you can and understanding, but at some point, you have to make those hard decisions. When you talk about performance and you want to maintain zero tolerance policies, those are difficult. We are an organization that focuses on meritocracy and differentiation. With that comes a lot of hard discussions that we need to do and a lot of controversy around that where you can't make everybody happy. It's difficult to have those difficult conversations with people. It's never easy. You never ever get used to having those conversations when you have to tell somebody that their performance is not up to standard or they're not doing as well as they should be, but those conversations need to happen and therefore the benefit of both the organization and the person. Those are complicated things that come with the job.
Drei Ratschläge an Dein 14jähriges Ich!
It would be first of all, to go after your dream. Choose something that you love doing and make sure that you do it. Have the faith and the confidence in yourself and your own capabilities, that you can. Put it in your head that you can and you will. Reaching your full life's potential is something that you should be striving for. Don't let anybody tell you that you can't do it. I read somewhere, it says that for every yes in your life by the time you get to 18, you will hear 10 times as many nos. Just believe that in those yeses that you will be able to make it and you can achieve your life's potential. The second advice would be: networking. The human beings by nature are community people. You need to live within the people that you're with. You need to get to know people, get to introduce yourself. Networking is a very important aspect of whatever business you're in. That can help you become something and recognized within your field of business. Third one is just be yourself. Be yourself because everybody else is taken. You just got to be the best that you can because you're you and that's who you are.