When she joined the BMMI team as a young part-time trainee, Hanadi Al Saleh never imagined that she would call the company her second home for over 26 years. Today, Hanadi is one of the most recognisable faces across the Group, and her career and personal development have grown tremendously since she joined the team in 1993. The Corporate Communications and CSR team recently sat down with Hanadi to discuss her quarter-century journey at BMMI.
Tell us more about the beginning of your journey at BMMI
At the time, I was a university student and the Ministry of Labour had launched a programme to encourage the employment of national talent. They matched students and recent graduates with companies, and I applied to the programme and got a call about a job at BMMI. I came in for an interview and never thought I would get it. Two weeks later I got a call back for a second interview and then was offered a job! It was an entry level position, I was an Admin Clerk and did a lot of filing, data entry and dealing with databases. I stayed in this position for around four years before I got promoted – and that’s when my career at BMMI really took off.
Where did you move on to then?
I consider my career to have truly started when I joined the HR department. Seriously, I loved that job! When you start something new and you challenge yourself, you give it your all and I was very passionate about the position. I was an HR Specialist at first, and I looked after recruitment for various divisions including our FMCG and Logistics divisions. Over the next nine years, I moved from section to section in HR until I became the Recruitment Officer for the entire BMMI Group. It’s really amazing to look back now and see how many people I had recruited have grown in the company. I remember first interviewing Basel Al Madani and handing him his offer letter. Today he is the General Manager of our Beverages division and he reminds me about that all the time! Another person I recruited was Jaffar Al Asfoor who is now General Manager of Food Retailing & Manufacturing, who oversees Alosra supermarket, our Food Production Unit and more. I also recruited most of our team in the warehouse and our Logistics division. It fills me with pride to know I had a role in facilitating all these great people joining the team.
How did your career progress after that?
When BMMI launched a new department called Quality Systems, our CEO at the time, Gordon Boyle, encouraged me to join and suggested that I challenge myself with something totally new. I’m so glad he did, because, honestly, I loved that job so, so much! I became an internal auditor and it was a totally new step for me. I learned a lot and I started getting certifications from everywhere. I become certified in all our international standards and then eventually became the internal audit leader at BMMI. I grew a lot in this position because I took on that new challenge, and when another opportunity came about five years later I decided to take it on because I discovered I love the excitement of change.
In 2010, I became the PA to the CFO, and Internal Audit and Enterprise Risk Management Officer, before I was promoted to Governance, Risk and Compliance Officer in 2016. In this role, I truly found my calling. My responsibilities include internal audits and government compliance but on the Board level. I work with group reports, work with our external auditors and supporting the DCE and CFO with keeping things on track for governance, risk and compliance, and making sure everything is implemented in time to present to our Board. I am very passionate about my job because I am involved in so many different things on a Group level, so I’m dealing with so many people around the company and a great overview of our entire business. It also allows me to help support the company that I’ve worked within for decades stay up to the best international standards.
Along with your career development, do you feel you have grown personally at the company?
Of course! When I first joined BMMI, I was just a 20-year-old university student. At the time, I wasn’t very confident, and I was the type of person who would quietly sit on a seat in the corner. Anyone who knows me now knows those days are long gone! A lot of people around me helped me to become the strong, confident person who I am today. I challenged myself to toughen up and I’ve become able to work and deal with anyone, regardless of background, position, seniority or nationality – something that I developed a lot while working in HR. I’ve also learned that I am very honest and straightforward, and that I appreciate policies, procedures and things being done right. I learned that through my experience in Quality Systems.
I can now say that I know myself completely. I’ve come to know deep down I am a very confident person and that I can handle any challenge thrown my way. I have definitely reached a much higher level of maturity – I’ve literally grown up in the company!
Being dedicated to an organisation for 26 years takes commitment. What made you stay for this long?
That’s an easy question to answer! It’s because of BMMI’s culture. When you come to work, you truly feel like you’re at your second home and within your family. You feel secure in your job and are surrounded by people that you care about and that care about you. Our management team is very approachable and people at every level have access to them. It makes you feel that you truly belong, no matter where you are at in the organisation.
Another thing is how fairness is such a big deal at BMMI. We are lucky to have a management team that care enough to look out for their employees in an inclusive way. Whether it’s compensation, benefits or training and development, they do their best to be fair to employees at all levels. The team looks after every single person, no matter who they are or what their position is, from entry level to senior management. As a person who started in an entry level job and moved up to management, I have personally experienced it every step of the way.
Finally, it’s all the support that I’ve gotten over the years. I’ve worked in the company while it was under the leadership of four different CEOs and while each had their own style, I have always gotten full support from everyone. I am where I am today because of the support of all the people around me and I am so proud to work with such teams and under such managers and mentors. There’s always something to do and there’s always something to learn and they motivate you to meet your full potential. Working with the DCE and CFO, Ammar Alhassan, he is one of the managers that never stops anyone from learning or giving your best. He always supports you, directly or indirectly, and allows you to grow.
All these things have kept me here for the past 26 years. My growth was huge, and I wouldn’t dream of being anywhere else! As Henry Ford said, "coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success."