Striking a balance

Majda Al-Ajmi, Business Development and Key Account Manager-Marine, Shell Oman Marketing Company, feels that Omanis should take charge of their careers and set goals along the way in order to achieve their plans
Courage and perseverance have taken her places. Meet Majda Al-Ajmi, who currently works as a business development and key account manager-marine for Shell Oman Marketing Company.
“I believe I have reached where I am today by acquiring a multitude of strengths and competencies from various aspects of both my personal and professional life,” she says. “For instance, possessing strong interpersonal skills is a trait that transcends all walks of life. After all, we are all humans and the best way to get the most from one another is to ensure that good, open communication flows frequently and in a positive manner.”
She furthers, “Part of good communication is, of course, to be able to focus on both customer and business needs alike. Thus, striking a balance is key. However, finding the middle ground is not always straightforward. There are times when one’s intellectual capability, willingness to engage in hands-on work activities, as well as one’s ability to work effectively with all departmental levels and stakeholders, both internally and externally, are called into question, traits that I am proud to say that have been acknowledged by my peers and customers.”
Majda feels that another characteristic that has helped her to develop her career is courage. “There is no denying that life is full of obstacles but it is how one faces these challenges that makes a difference,” she explains. “Accepting accountability for your actions and challenging yourself and others to engage in new trains of thought to drive innovation is something that I strongly believe in. Having the courage to think outside of the box and by engaging others, there is a greater likelihood of increasing the level of interest and participation of passive and resisting stakeholders.”
She adds, “Of course, an enterprise first mind-set is only one piece of the jigsaw that in isolation does not really reveal the full picture, which is why technical and analytic skills, authenticity, integrity and transparency are equally important. But above all else, I believe it is vital to have clear personal values and beliefs that can be acted upon consistently regardless of the situation; adaptability is key.”
Giving a brief about her education and professional background, Majda says that she graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BEng (with honours) in Manufacturing Engineering and Management in 2008. She says, “Driven to better myself, I continued my studies at the University of Nottingham and a year later I graduated with distinction in MSc in Entrepreneurship. Upon returning to Oman, I joined Shell Oman Marketing Company as a cards operations executive where I was responsible for ensuring all card related operations ran smoothly and efficiently while adhering to service level agreements (SLA). A year later I got promoted to Cards Sales Support Manager. During my time as the Cards Sales Support Manager, I was also assigned as the Super User for the entire department for a new end-to-end card system that was being implemented as part of the Downstream One project.”
In 2012, Majda was selected for the role of key account manager for the Marine sector, which provided me with new skills such as professional value selling, negotiation skills and commercial acumen. As a result of her experience and knowledge in the marine sector, she was promoted to the position of business development manager for Marine in 2014, a title that she presently holds. She says life as the business development manager for Marine is rewarding as it has given her the opportunity to lead advanced and complex multi-million dollar projects in Muscat, Sohar and Duqm.
Talking about those who influenced and inspired her, Majda replies, “My father has influenced me the most. He is the eldest of 20 siblings and had a humble upbringing. He studied hard at a time when many Omanis did not go to school and fortunately, my father’s hard work paid off and he finished school. However, times remained difficult and my father realised that if he were to succeed, he would have to work even harder. Realising the importance of education, my father took it upon himself to further his education by studying law via distance learning from a university in Lebanon in addition to studying English and working simultaneously.
Then, in the 1970s, my father joined the Ministry of Commerce and he soon began to reap the benefits of his hard work and dedication as he climbed up the corporate ladder. By the 1980s, my father felt the time was right to take the plunge and he started a construction company from scratch that is still currently operating. Today, my father is not only a successful businessman with several companies under his belt but he remains to be my greatest role model who I admire and continually look up to.”
Talking about her experience with Shell Oman Marketing Co, Majda says, “With its strong business principles, ethics and values, working for Shell has been rewarding and it has taught me about diversity and inclusiveness in the workforce and to ensure everyone is treated with respect and dignity without any bias or prejudice. Furthermore, Shell has invested a lot in ensuring all staff are aware of ethics and compliance laws, such as anti-bribery and corruption, as well as anti-trust and data privacy laws. In addition, Shell invests in its people in order to develop them from managers into leaders, something that I have been privileged to experience, as I was nominated to join Shell’s Front Line Leadership Programme, a 2-3 year programme that develops young managers to become future leaders, which I successfully completed in 2013.”
Majda offers some advice to young aspiring Omanis: “Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty. I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.’ With Roosevelt’s sentiments at the forefront of my mind, I would advise young Omanis to work with integrity, authenticity and great sense of ownership and accountability. They should always focus on the solution and not the problem in order to move forward. I would also advise young Omanis to work on developing themselves regardless of the circumstances or challenges they may face. Additionally, young Omanis should take charge of their careers and set goals along the way in order to help them achieve their short, medium and long term plans. And finally, believe in yourself.”
On her interests and hobbies, Majda says her greatest love is travel and experiencing all that the world has to offer. “I recently embarked on a three-month world tour where I was extremely fortunate to visit Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, the US and Ireland. The schedule was relentless as I tried to cram in as much as I possibly could. Yet, if I were to do it all again, I would not change a thing, as I got to experience many new cultures while meeting many interesting people along the way. It truly was a magnificent experience that I will always cherish. I also thoroughly enjoy learning new languages. Currently, I am fluent in Arabic and English and intermediate in French. On a slightly different note, I enjoy reading about economics and politics, and I try to keep myself fit by doing yoga and Pilates.”
On her future plans, Majda says, “My plans for the future are to develop my business and interpersonal skills so that one day, I can become a CEO for one of Oman’s major companies. Additionally, I would like to follow in my father’s footsteps and start my own business.”

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