She successfully navigates her way through the transport and logistics industry in Oman. Meet Najma Salim Alharthi, CEO of Al Sumri Transport
She is dynamic and a woman on a mission. Once a shy child with few friends, today Najma Al Harthi operates and is the CEO of Al Sumri Transport, a transport and logistics company in Oman.
Najma, who studied abroad in information systems and supply chain management, came back to work for her family business. Starting from scratch, she learnt the inner workings of the each and every aspect of what made the family business a well-oiled machine. Transport and Logistics sector is still largely a male bastion and Najma has managed to break that glass celling with her determination and passion for her work, something she inherited from her parents.
Married with two wonderful children, Haya and Saud, Najma not only credits her parents, who have supported her every step of the way, but also says that her husband has been one of her biggest support systems throughout her career.
We spoke to this enterprising woman about her career choices, the challenges and more. Presenting excerpts:
ON CAREER PATH AND JOURNEY
“Ever since I was in school I have seen my father strive to build this business. I always knew that this what I want to do; to be like him and become his successor. The two people who had great impact on my career choices are my mother and father. I learned patience and faith from my mother. She is a woman who gave all her life to her family. She pushed my brothers and me to succeed in our education and in our career. I call her super mom.
“My father is my mentor. He inspired me the way he worked tirelessly to build his business from scratch and fulfil his dream. I worked closely with him to learn every aspect of the family business. Now the company is one of the pioneer transport companies in Oman with major contracts in oil and gas sector.
“When I joined the company my father asked me where do I see myself in 10 years. I told him I see myself running this business. I started from the lowest position in the company and climbed up my way to the top. Nothing was easy or handed to me on a silver platter.
“The best thing about this is that I learned every little thing of the company from the execution of the operation to highest level of decision making. I’m very close to my brother Mohamed and we work together to ensure that we can take our family business to the next level.”
ON WOMEN IN TRANSPORT AND LOGISTICS
“Women in Oman have been pioneering successes in all sectors in the market. I believe transport and logistics sector is growing stronger and is also becoming vital to Oman’s economy. We need more bright and enterprising women to become a part of this growing sector. The impact that women can have is no less than that of any man, regardless of whether it is a male-oriented job or not.”
ON CHALLENGES AND NAVIGATING THEM
“It is a constant challenge as woman in such a field where I had to learn every single thing about vehicles, buses, and routes in areas I have never been before, specially when you work with oil and gas companies. I deal mostly with men as there are not as many women in transport and logistics departments. I pushed myself harder to learn more about this business to be able to overcome any obstacles ahead. I have gained extensive knowledge in every area starting from the daily operation to even buses maintenance. At first, I would be surprised when men talk about gear boxes and alternators. And now I visit bus manufacturers to check on best specification for buses for my business. So it’s all about smart work and keeping an open mind to learn new things.
“And men, by the way, were very supportive and proud of me being among them.”
ON WOMEN EMPOWERMENT AND HER ROLE IN IT
“Where I am now professionally is one of the examples that women and men have equal opportunity at work. I believe His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said had given Omani women similar powers as men and we have many great examples of Omani women’s achievements, which we are proud of.”
HER ADVICE TO OTHER WOMEN
“My advice is don’t limit yourself, get out from comfort zone and challenge yourself. Nothing comes easy in life. All it needs is smart work and loads of faith.”
ON WORK-LIFE BALANCE
“It’s a challenging thing for a mother and a business woman to maintain a balanced life. I spend most of my time after work with my family. We love outdoor activities and travelling. I love having cup of coffee and reading Arabic novels and books. “What makes me happy is I love what I’m doing at work and it reflects in my personal life. I am enjoying and embracing every moment I have.”