Indomitable spirit

Zahra Abdulamir Saied, Head of Risk Analytics at Bank Dhofar, loves to challenge herself and always exhibits a positive attitude towards new tasks and responsibilities

Zahra Abdulamir Saied, one of the finalists of BizPro Awards 2018, is a hardworking, ambitious and strong-willed executive who is determined to reach her goals. “I believe that we are all capable of excellence, if we put the time and energy into what we do,” she exudes confidence. “I have learned over the years not to fear failure. It’s easier said than done; but is achievable with hard work and experience.” Zahra learned to take up new challenges and exhibited a positive attitude towards new tasks and responsibilities. Whenever she struggled, she did a self-reflection to understand the gaps and areas of developments that she needed to work on, and would refuse to rest until shed filled that gap.

Zahra says she is blessed with a very strong support system- her family which comprises her parents who encouraged her to work beyond expectation since a very young age, her little daughter who revives her hopes whenever she is down, and, last but not least, her husband who has been very supportive and always believed in her.

Many people have influenced Zahra, and she has always been surrounded by supportive and encouraging people. But her parents, without a doubt, have influenced her the most. “In my upbringing my parents have engraved in me the alacrity to learning and working hard,” she says. “When I was in elementary grades, my dad would encourage me to complete my projects before the submission date, and he would make a point to come to the school that day to tell the teacher about my achievement – I remember the pride look he had. My parents decided to send my brothers and me to best schools in Oman. So we learned the importance of investing in our education, and that this is the one investment that will always payoff in the long term. I remember when I moved to a bilingual school, I was studying Science in English for the first time, and I had difficulties understanding it. My mother, who had never studied Science in English before, decided to teach herself so she can teach me. I believe their dedication to our success has shaped me the most.”

Education and career

After completing her secondary education from a bilingual school in Oman, Zahra went to Warwick University in England to pursue her undergraduate degree. She graduated in 2009 with Bachelor’s in mathematics, operating research, statistics and economics. In 2010, she started working for HSBC, in risk management division from where she started her risk management career.

In 2012, Zahra travelled to Madrid, Spain to do her Master’s in business administration (MBA) in IE Business School, and in 2013 she became the first Omani woman to graduate from the business school. In 2017, she completed financial risk management (FRM) certification by Global Association for Risk Professionals (GARP), becoming the third Omani and the first Omani woman with the qualification, as per the GARP official directory. Throughout her nine years of work experience, she has worked in risk management, and has covered various units. Today, she is the head of risk analytics at Bank Dhofar.

The experience with the hank has been fantastic so far. “I have completed 18 months with the bank. I think the bank has very talented, committed and devoted people. The management is very supportive, very accessible and always leads by example. It feels for me more like a second home and a second family, and that is very important for me. I find it the right environment for one to prosper and grow in their career. The bank is in a transformational era, and I am honored to be part of the journey,” she says.

Asked about her experience with BizPro Awards 2018, Zahra says she learned so much about her during the three assessments, and had met a lot of talented people. There were over 140 candidates in the first assessment (the aptitude test), and the assessment was quite tough. “We were tested for logic, English, mathematics, general knowledge and time management. The second round was a full-day assessment where we had interviews, case studies and group discussions. I really enjoyed the day, and I had the chance to know the other candidates a bit better. The final round was a presentation to the panel, which was a good opportunity to do a self-reflection and remind ourselves what shaped us over the years. This year BizPro had 20 per cent of the final score coming from the public voting. I have to say it helped me reconnect with so many people I haven’t been in touch with for very long. It was an amazing feeling to receive texts, WhatsApp, emails and calls from friends who showed their support.”

Create your future

Zahra asks young Omanis to be the drivers of their own career. “In early years of your career, you are more likely to see tough days before you see the good days – but life is such that you go through the difficult days when you are young and able to take up the struggle,” she says. “So lead the battle and do it right, and you would do yourself a great favour by kicking off your career right. Take up new challenges, set your long terms goals and work towards them. You should always seize the opportunities to grow in your career. Never give up if you fail, instead learn from it and make a strong come back. Don’t be driven by monetary incentives, because when you do what you like, you will do it well, and money will come eventually.”

She adds, “Never stop developing yourself, and aim to learn something new every day. With the contemporary world and the internet being on our fingertips, you can learn and educate yourself about anything. Aspire yourself and others. Dream big, because our beloved country needs and deserves our contribution to its development.”

Zahra enjoys reading, but does not restrict it to her area of specialisation. She loves to spend quality time with her family and also finds time for physical exercises. She is very passionate about travelling and believes it is very important to learn about different cultures and respect the differences. “It widens our horizon, brings people together, and makes us more adaptive to changes and developments,” she concludes.

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