Interview with Hjh. Zainab Omar

Hjh. Zainab Omar
Hjh. Zainab Omar

HR Manager
Brunei LNG Sdn. Bhd

The main topic of this issue is “extraordinary careers”. How does one create a career that is extraordinary?
Establishing credibility, integrity and capability are the foundation blocks for having an extraordinary career. These three attributes need to be demonstrated consistently throughout one’s career by continuously going out of the comfort zone to stretch the boundaries. Demonstrations of these attributes must be consistent. Daring to be different, being courageous and taking on new challenges, pushing the limits and thinking outside the box – these are just a few ways that can help you along the journey to having an extraordinary career. You don’t have to be in a sophisticated job in order to have an extraordinary career. Ask yourself the question – “What makes you stand out in a positive light in your organisation or in society?”

As a veteran and a much sought after speaker on the subject of Human Resources, how do you identify talented people?
More importantly, how do you retain them? As a “lifer” in Brunei Shell Joint Venture for most of my career, I am accustomed to the three key attributes in the identification of talent, namely, “Capacity”, “Achievement” and “Relationship”. This usually gives an indication of the talents’ “current estimated potential”. In laymen’s terms these three attributes can be thought of as “the brain”, “the hands” and “the heart”. Very talented people have high critical thinking ability, are delivery focused (achievement oriented) and skilful in building relationships both internally and externally (stakeholders). Additionally, they are adaptable, resilient and tenacious; and are also able to persevere – this is what makes them stand out. There is no one right way to retain talent hence it depends on the business and the corporate culture of the organisation.

One thing for sure is that although money is a good attraction mechanism, it is not a good retention tool. At the end of the day, people are looking for the opportunity to unleash their talent (to get the most job satisfaction out of their achievements) and get the recognition they deserve. A great and conducive working environment where there is excellent support for personal growth is also a key ingredient in the retention of people.

Brunei has one of the highest literacy rates in the ASEAN region. How can we use this to our advantage in building a more diversified and sustainable economy?
Getting the right resource with the right skills in the right job at the right time is key for professionals. An added bonus is if the person is passionate about his/her work too. Creating or providing the opportunity for Bruneian human capacity development is necessary in order to support Brunei Wawasan 2035. A forward planning of the manpower demand and supply repository is also essential.

How important is reading and attending conferences to one’s personal growth? What’s the one book you would recommend that might inspire readers to strive towards having an extraordinary career?
I believe that it is of paramount importance that we practice a continuous learning outlook. One needs to find the right balance for oneself, however best practice dictates a 70/20/10 where 70% of learning is best derived from on-the-job training, 20% from Coaching and Mentoring and 10% from attending learning events like training or conferences. As the saying goes ‘Time and Tide waits for no man’ or woman for that matter. If you stay stagnant (not bothered about upskilling yourself) then don’t be surprised if you are left behind. The one book which I would highly recommend is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. A very simple and easy read with positive outcomes if practiced diligently.

This article was published in the Oct-Dec 2015 Issue of Inspire Magazine. Download it here!