TheFace: Haifa Abuzabibah, Saudi human resources leader

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Time: October 11, 2019  

Hayfa AbuZabibah and her Son Abdulrahman & Panda the Cat! (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)

I am a human resources leader at a prestigious private company. In the summer of 1983, a traditional Saudi family broke out of their cultural bubble and began a new life experience. My father applied for early retirement after 20 years of working in a big company. In one month, we had packed and moved to the Sunshine State: California.

We were a typical Saudi family of six children, which was not a normal sight in California. My youngest brother was barely 2 years old and my older sister was around 13. I am the second oldest and had just turned 11. I didn’t know a word of English except “yes” and “no.”

My father went to the US to complete his higher education. He took a risk and traveled with his whole family for the purpose of education. Education and learning became forever ingrained in me.

Being immersed in America was easy for me because I was young. I learned the language and acquired an American accent quickly enough. More importantly, I thrived on practicality, inclusiveness and multi-cultural landscape inherent in the DNA of America.

Returning to Saudi Arabia in 1997 was easy, too. I landed my first job in human resources, started a family and managed to balance family and a fulfilling career.

I have two children. Bayanne is 18 years old and Abdulrahman is 16. As my father invested in me, I now invest in my daughter’s college education at Dar Al-Hekma College.

Before college Bayanne, along with my son Abdulrahman, went to an international school. Their father and I wanted them to gain a global perspective and become responsible global citizens.

Challenges in life helped me become empathetic. I feel strongly that everything happens in life to help us understand that life is a journey. Discovering that people and materialistic things come and go, I knew that what remains constant is Allah.

When I was younger, my parents solved all my problems. As I came into adulthood and became a parent myself, I noticed that problems got bigger and more difficult and that only God can help me overcome them and improve the quality of my life, and I seek his guidance to become a better person.

I truly saw life as a mirror, as it was important for me to reflect by assessing where I was in life. So I like focusing on what I can control and I know that I always have choices in life, because I do not like playing the victim.

In my opinion, my greatest achievement in life is being an independent mother, leader and a corporate citizen. I aim to become my best self, help others who cross my path to fulfill their potential and have a positive impact where I can. My curiosity for learning and my wish to inspire others to learn continues to grow.

My favorite quote is by someone I think of as my hero — Oprah Winfrey — and it reads: “When you do your best, people notice. So, wherever you are, always do your best, and doing your best puts you at the next level.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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