Hana Abu Kharmeh, HR Director
Name, Job Title, Years in Serco
Hana Abu Kharmeh ,HR Director Serco Middle East
1.5 years with Serco
Tell us a little bit about your role?
I head the HR function for Serco Middle East. The HR function here is a business enabler that aids growth and supports the business in all HR related operations. People are our most important assets. We hire, develop and retain under our talent and diversity & inclusion frameworks. Living our values of Care, Pride, Innovation and Trust as a HR function is crucial in everything we do and employee engagement is top on our agenda. We work closely with leaders and employees to ensure our organisation is a place that people want to work and to do their ultimate best every day.
Describe your career progression, and what has supported you to progress to a senior leader position?
I am a live example of the opportunities this organisation provides. I joined Serco last year and the biggest drive behind the decision was my interest in the industry and the values Serco lives by. I did my best during my previous role, I tried to create a positive impact. I was curious to learn and eager to make a positive change and influence. I shared my interest in the HR Director role with senior leaders and applied... After a thorough recruitment process, I was informed that I was selected and that I got the role! Women have to take the lead and drive their careers, our leaders along with the D&I frameworks we have embedded will enable and support them in their development journey.
Continuous learning and passion to make a positive difference and improvement are key drivers for me today.
At Serco, 33% of our Executive Management Team is made up of females – how do you feel the business has supported you?
I feel very supported. I have the empowerment and I can make this role as big and as impactful as I want it to be. I have great support from both our CEO Phil Malem and our Global HR Director Anthony Kirby. My EMT colleagues have also been very supportive especially at the beginning of this pandemic when I was promoted.
What barriers have you personally faced in your career when progressing into leadership positions, and what advice would you give to others to overcome these?
In fairness I have had many great managers who supported me in my career and challenged me to be the best I could be. As for the managers that weren’t so great, they did teach me how to become stronger and highlighted to me how it felt as a woman and mother to not have the support I needed at that time. That feeling has made me very conscious to be there for my team and have their backs when they need me the most. It also made me understand very early in my career how important it is to have a good support system that can enable me to grow and be attentive both at work and at home.
What makes a good leader?
Strong values, contagious passion and positive energy. Along with the ability to create followership and the desire to always learn, improve and commit to execution.
How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
Juggling between motherhood and work is not easy and will never be perfect. There will always be a compromise and priority at a certain time. For me it’s important to work in an organisation that has values that support your beliefs and principles. Quality time is very important for me, I like to be fully present wherever I am. When I am with my family, I like to focus on creating positive memories and having quality time. It’s not about the hours I spend with my kids its more about how we bond and engage as a family when we are together. When I am at work, I give my job my full dedication and passion and aim for the best I can possibly do. Having the right support system is extremely important and for me it would have been impossible to progress in my career without the right support from my husband, family and friends.
What has been the highlight of your career?
I think my six-sigma black belt project in 2014 was an amazing development opportunity that allowed me to lead without authority across different functions and challenge colleagues that didn’t report to me in their roles. The buy in and efforts resulted in tangible financial results (around 12 M USD upside in yield). This project also sharpened my process excellence and continuous improvement skills which is a good differentiator for my personal brand.
My promotion to the HRD role was also a key highlight because it was just a key reminder of how I can drive my career and eliminate the barriers and the disbeliefs that I had about myself and my growth opportunities.
Who inspires you and why?
I’m really inspired by people around me that go above and beyond their formal roles. Leadership with no titles and when others are not watching is something that really inspires me.
What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders in Serco?
To be open for development, embrace feedback and new challenges. Get out of your comfort zone and drive your career in a way that satisfies your potential.