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Rasha Salman, HR Business Partner for Citizen Services, Health and Defence Sector

Name, Job Title, Years in Serco

Rasha Salman, HR Business Partner for Citizen Services, Health and Defence Sector ME.

I joined Serco in 20th July 2014 and been with Serco for 6 years.

Tell us a little bit about your role?

The purpose of my role is to work with the regional HR Director and Business Unit Directors of Citizen Services, Health & Defence to deliver the divisional people strategy and embed good people management practices. I work with operational management to ensure the business meets its strategic and operational goals and actively support the operation of the business by providing strategic and tactical human resource leadership and services in all HR areas, including direct line management responsibility for the HR managers.

I also work to develop a talent and succession pipeline that identifies key critical roles and ensures development of management capability is in place. Moreover, I support the implementation of employee engagement initiatives across the sector to drive a culture of exceptional customer service. Lead the development of excellent employee relations through building positive relationships based on trust, respect, transparency and communication with clients, stakeholders, government entities and staff representatives internally and externally.

I am also responsible for providing HR Leadership across a range of geographies including UAE, Qatar and The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Describe your career progression, and what has supported you to progress to a senior leader position?

I started with Serco as HR BP for Health & FM - IFS Sector on a one-year fixed term contract to cover maternity leave. Then Serco management decided to retain me within the business and offered me a new career opportunity to handle KSA projects across the three sectors, while working closely with the other HRBP for each sector with a direct reporting line to the HR Director ME. I joined the KSA team for three years in August 2015 where I managed to build my knowledge and gain massive experience in KSA MHRSD legislation and practices. A new opportunity presented itself and I applied for HRBP for CSHD ME sector, went through the internal recruitment process and was selected for the position.

I have received great support from my superiors and the Serco Executive Management Team who gave me opportunities to grow career wise by offering me the required training to sharpen and polish my leadership skills I.e. Oxford Serco Leadership and Management programme. I appreciate the trust and flexibility provided to me while handling KSA and building up my knowledge gradually on the job.

At Serco, 33% of our Executive Management Team is made up of females – how do you feel the business has supported you?

The business believed in my capabilities to lead a team of diverse employees in various geographical locations. They treated me with respect and appreciation by recognising my efforts i.e. I won two Pulse Awards in the “Trust” category.

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 general, while progressing in my career I have faced unconscious bias against me and noticed the same with other females in the workplace. The advice I would give to others who are facing the same, is to believe in yourself, your abilities, be assertive, be confident in your decisions, focus and do not allow others to deviate you from your career goals.

What makes a good leader?

A good leader is someone who values difference in the workplace and is able to empower their subordinates and build their talents by delegating tasks and trusting them on delivery, while providing the support and guidance when required.

A good leader communicates with transparency with both customers and subordinates. They are resilient in the face of crises and can support the business and employees with a clear mind. They encourage growth and innovation by keeping an open mind and making straight forward decisions that are communicated to the employees clearly. To ensure the success of the business, leaders should be customer focused and able to drive for results by executing business plan and agreed strategy while striving for positive transformation and change within the workplace.

How do you balance work and life responsibilities?

I balance my work and life by prioritising my time to deliver my tasks. I also find it important to have set work hours that I try my best to stick to so I do not go overboard. Another useful tip is to pinpoint your strong areas and areas to develop in order to know what exactly you need to work on. The shift into technology also helps with the balance as meetings can be done virtually. It is also important to make time for yourself to be able to do what you love as this can energise you and nurture you creativity, which is also good for a business. Lastly, taking breaks and enjoying your holidays off from work is essential to the work-life balance and to your happiness.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Receiving Serco ME and Global Pulse Awards for Trust was one of the most memorable moments of my career that I am so proud of.

I’d also say handling KSA, working on myself and enhancing my skills and knowledge until I was recognised as KSA HR SME in the ME.

Who inspires you and why?

My parents, Serco Executive Management Team leaders and a couple of leaders in my previous workplace.

They believed in my capabilities, challenged and trusted my decision-making skills and my ability to deliver. Always provided me with the guidance, advice and support when needed. They paved the road for me to follow in their footsteps and lead by example. My leaders believe in my ability to grow and support the business to achieve the aimed results.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders in Serco?

Be the change you want to see in the world, lead by example, do not allow unconscious bias to deviate you from your leadership goals. Trust in your ability and be confident with every choice you make. Be flexible, accept other opinions that are different to yours and support transformation and change.