DIVERSITY STORIES #8

I have moved from the United Arab Emirates to Switzerland at the age of 28 working for an international company.

By then I had experiences in different countries working in diverse cultures. I had a fantastic first few years of my career and knew very early that with hard work, dedication and commitment, I can reach any goal or ambition I set for myself.
Sadly, when staring to climb the ladder in the company, I experienced that being a woman and looking younger than my age, always played against me. Naturally, women would love to look younger and find it a huge compliment when told that they are easily 10 – 15 years younger than they look. However, when this occurs in one’s career, it is a huge demotivating factor. When I had my first-born and came back to work after 4 months of maternity leave, I found out that I did not get a promotion despite the excellent results delivered all throughout my pregnancy period. I had not been considered for a strategic project and the reasons were related to the fact that this new programme required dedication and travel. The lead was offered to my colleague who was also a father! I could not accept these reasons, nor the way they were communicated to me. I had to demonstrate my disapproval of the situation. This fight for my right as a dedicated employee resulted in me leading another strategic project for the company which I delivered with great results. Being a young mother did not stand in my way at all. If anything, I had new skills I learned from my motherhood experience, which helped me excel with my work.

Growing in my career and holding managerial roles, I never paid attention to race, ethnicity, gender, age, physical and mental competence, beliefs, culture, economic class or sexual preference, I only believe in hard work and measurable clear results. Organisations understand now that the benefits of diversity and inclusion are well documented and beyond dispute. As is the need to pay particular attention to those groups that have historically been discriminated against, marginalized or persecuted.

Joining a leading bank in Switzerland was always a dream of mine. I was very excited when I started my new job. I could not imagine how big the bank is and finding my way around the organisation seemed impossible to me. However, the bank offers this amazing female talents mentoring programme where the employees receive mentoring and educational seminars which help them with their career. The programme matches your profile with a mentor who is dedicated to help you throughout the year with executing your career plans. I had the most amazing experience and I can truly say that the success I had in my career is because of the dedication of my mentor, the possibilities of networking he offered to me. I am now a dedicated mentor to young female talents in the bank and it is a big part of my weekly agenda, as I believe this unlocks the potential of diverse profiles.

Despite being very well organised and always thriving on high-quality work, I constantly look for self-improvement. Recently though, I can share with you how I truly felt that I am not even close to being perfect. During the COVID-19 crisis, as a single working mother having to start home schooling, it became so evident to me that being agile and adapting to a new situation require resilience. I know there is a buzz about resilience but that situation proved to me that without being resilient, you won’t be able to juggle all your work, meetings, housekeeping and ensuring that your kids are adapting to their home schooling. It was a great challenge where things were done, but maybe less perfect than normal circumstances. We as a family learned a great deal though and one thing we learnt is that things sometimes just can’t be perfect.
I think we all need to acknowledge that things we used to do in a certain way are not necessarily the norm anymore. We need to open our minds to new ways of working, of thinking. We need to be agile (again it seems like another buzz word) but we must be creative to adapt to new realities.
The new generation who experienced the pandemic will not accept the old ways of working, and doing things. They are very well equipped with experiences and situations that they will adapt to and would therefore shape the world differently.


NADA HASSAN

Age: 45
Nationality: Father & Mother Sudanese and Emarati
Role & Company: Head Divisional Strategic Initiatives for Digitalization & Products at Credit Suisse
If my life would be a book, what would be the titel of it: Never quit!!

Text: Nada Hassan   Photos: Tomek Gola

 

Businessfrauen Schweiz im Portrait – zuerst erschienen im Business Magazin für Frauen – Ladies Drive No 52 (3.9.2020)
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