This month, OHLALA had the pleasure of speaking to Elham Hassan, Board Member at Mumtalakat Holding Company and Chairperson at Taaheal Healthcare. She shares her wisdom and love for life with us.
“I would say, as advice: your dream should be yours and not someone else’s. Work towards that dream, not what others envisage for you.”– Elham Hassan
OHLALA – You have been working in decision-making areas as chairperson and board member of many different companies for some time. A career filled with big responsibilities. What made you follow this professional path?
Elham Hassan – My parents instilled in me a sense of duty and responsibility towards my younger siblings and society. As I grew up, this translated into a desire for leadership in order to showcase what women, all women, are capable of when given the right opportunities. Over time and as my career evolved, I took it upon myself to invest in leadership areas where there was a lack of female representation. I am also a mother, and it was uncommon to see role models like myself in this type of position. I wanted to be that example for my daughters and other girls as well.
OHLALA – What is the aspect of this job that you like most? And what are the biggest challenges?
Elham Hassan – I enjoy many aspects of my career: working with highly talented individuals, helping companies grow, training younger professionals and allowing them to follow their dreams. I also quite enjoy travelling for work and learning about new cultures. I’ve learned something from everywhere I visited. A challenge for me has always been balancing my work demands with my role as a mother and now grandmother to five lovely children. Thankfully, I have been able to make space in my life to be present for my family while pursuing my professional goals.
OHLALA – What projects have you been involved in that you feel most proud of participating in?
Elham Hassan – There have been countless moments in my career where I have felt proud of the outcomes I accomplished and the people I worked with. In particular, I feel a sense of pride in being a board member in entities where strategic decisions are made for my country. I was a board member of the Economic Development Board in the past, and now I am a member at Mumtalakat.
OHLALA – What kind of characteristics and skills should someone have to perform well in this field?
Elham Hassan – A lot! Humility, hard work and discipline are key to achieving your goals. It is also important to be open-minded and approach every conversation and decision with a collaborative objective. The essential part of leadership is to listen so that you can make the best decision for the situation.
OHLALA – As a businesswoman, how important is having women in positions like yours? How significant is it to have this kind of representation?
Elham Hassan – Women comprise half of the population, so they should make up half of all leadership positions. However, many constraints still exist for women. Societal expectations, motherhood and other factors still mean that many women choose to forgo high-paced careers. I tried very hard to meet my social and family obligations while also aiming for my highest professional goals. I hope this is an example for all girls that they can ‘have it all’ – it’s hard but worth it!
OHLALA – What advice would you give to other women starting to climb their professional ladders? Any piece of wisdom that you can share?
Elham Hassan – The time is here for women to shine. Globally, regionally and, more importantly, locally. There is focus and attention to empowering women and recognising the qualities of female candidates. They are better placed to achieve their potential than ever before. So, aim high. Plan strategically and go after your goals. I would say, as advice: your dream should be yours and not someone else’s. Work towards that dream, not what others envisage for you.
OHLALA – What do you like to do during your free time?
Elham Hassan – Travelling is my passion. I would love to visit everywhere in the world and learn about all cultures. I am also blessed to have one of my daughters living abroad, so I get to spend time with her and my granddaughter exploring amazing destinations.
OHLALA – What aspect of Bahrain do you like most?
Elham Hassan – I love everything about my country – the warmth of the people, our traditions, our food. There is so much to love! If I had to choose one thing, it would be our diversity. We have so many people from different backgrounds and we all come together in our love for one country. We learn from each other and grow.