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EU Alumna, Hanan Alsafadi, on Business Processes in the Construction Industry

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Upon graduating from EU, Hanan Alsafadi undertook a career in the banking industry, later deciding to join her family’s construction business as a process manager. She is originally from Syria and is now living in the UAE. Although her native language is Arabic, she can also speak English and French, in addition to understanding Turkish thanks to her Turkish grandparents. In her free time, she loves swimming, reading and horse riding, and is currently working to finish her master’s in life coaching.

Could you tell us about your career journey since leaving EU?

I left EU in 2011 and was working in a bank in the private sector. I also worked at MTN, an international telecom company, before becoming a business consultant for shopping malls in Syria. I later came to the UAE, where I’m working with my family who own a holding company. I’m the learning and business process manager, a certified trainer who helps to nurture positivity in my colleagues while transferring knowledge to them. This is my passion! I also work with the governance and compliance department to ensure that rules, regulations, policies and procedures are in place.

How would you describe the role of a process manager?

It’s a fantastic job because you are involved in all the departments of the company, so it is quite an important role. I add value and exchange knowledge, skills and experience with every role in every team.

How do you evaluate business processes?

You have to plan while taking risk management into consideration. We start with plan A, if it doesn’t work, we will have plan B and C. You must constantly evaluate whether you are on track. If not, we look for the reasons behind why a plan is not working and implement corrective actions.  

The net profit is how you evaluate processes, but it is not the only factor. You also must take your image identity, reputation and the market share into consideration when working on any project. We also keep a close eye on what our competitors are doing.

When redesigning business processes, how do you get the affected departments on board?

Communication is crucial. We also try to engage our colleagues and other departments in the process, so they are aware of what we are doing and why we are making a change.

People are often resistant to change, even if it is a positive one, so you have to put yourself in their shoes and make sure that everything is clear in order to gain their understanding and support. We try to make things as straightforward as possible and get people involved in the process.

How would you describe your management style?

I would consider it as a flat management style. I always involve others and make sure that people are in the right positions. Communication is important, along with the transference of skills and knowledge.

Being a leader is more important than being a boss. You need to inspire others to find their voice but before you can do that, you have to work on yourself. You need to be aware of your own personal skills and weaknesses before you can help others do the same.

Do you think there are many opportunities for women in the construction industry?

We try our best to empower women and engage with the female community, celebrating events such as International Women’s Day. One of our engineers is a woman and she started her career from scratch with us. Luckily, the mentality and perception of women in this industry is changing all around the world. We are becoming more familiar with topics like equality and diversity in the workplace. We work with people from all over the world, which opens our minds. This is something I also loved about EU — it is a very international environment, and the students are respectful of that. It is similar here in Dubai.

You previously worked in banking. What skills did you learn there that have served you in the construction industry?

I would say I found my passion for corporate social responsibility, which you can apply to any industry. This helps you to cope with changes around you, creating respect and understanding for others. People have misconceptions about the construction industry, perceiving it to be unstable. As such, you have to work on your image and identity, building credibility in an assertive way.

What has been your proudest professional achievement?

Whenever I see a colleague get a promotion after coaching them, it makes me very happy. It is a great feeling to be part of someone else’s success.

What would you say are the main skills or concepts that you acquired at EU that have helped you in your career?

The lecturers were amazing and had an experience-based approach. We were taught to develop a growth mindset; to be open and take on new opportunities as a challenge. We learned to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and listen to them effectively, taking criticism positively and seeing it as a chance to progress.

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What are the benefits of being part of the EU network?

I have a real sense of belonging and I am very proud to have studied at such a high-ranking business school. Even though I was studying at EU over 10 years ago, I am still in contact with the school, and I think their communication with the alumni is excellent.

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Do you have any advice for current students who want to work in business processes?

Make sure to focus on risk management, as this is very important in ensuring that a business survives and thrives. In addition, always adopt new technology which is applicable to your company.  

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