Omaira Farooq Al Olama, Managing Director at ALF administration. She tells us how she went against the grain in her family to find the career that let her give back to the UAE and really interested her…
What did you want to be when you were younger?
Growing up in a very large family, the majority of which were either Doctors or Lawyers, the only option I had was to be one or the other. It wasn’t until I was around 12 that I watched a forensic show on discovery channel with my father, that I realized this was far more interesting to me. Which is why I then went off to get a bachelor and a masters degree in Criminology
What is the worst job you have ever had?
During my freshman year at college, I took a job as the university mailman (woman) and ended up having to lug around this extremely heavy cart, all over the campus. People often yelled at me ‘We don’t want junk mail!’ As if it was me who was writing those letters!
What was your journey like to get to the position you are in now?
In my first year of university I came across a class that was taught by, now sadly late professor, Ester Madriz. She was a certified criminologist and believed that people should be reformed and not punished. Ester spent most of her adult life teaching prisoners on reform. After attending two of her classes I knew right then and there that this was something I wanted to do myself.
Coming back to the UAE, I started working in this field. At around 2009 I realized that I needed to give more, give back to my people and this country that has done so much for me. In 2010 I started the company ALF administration which is a training enterprise focusing solely on training UAE nationals for their advancement in the workplace. This entails anything from soft skills to more detailed programs like risk management or fraud.
Describe your typical work day?
On the days that I’m teaching, I start work at 7:45 am with teaching a group of young Emiratis aged between 18-35. All working as fresh employees or those who have been in their position for some time and have not seen any movement up the working ladder. This day usually lasts up until 3pm and it’s non-stop. We have signature programs that we conduct and some that are tailor-made to suit our client’s needs. On the days that I’m not training, I’m usually in meetings or going to interviews.
I think any role that allows me to help people is the best role there is!
What are the best and hardest thing about your job now?
The most rewarding part of my job is watching these young nationals grow into amazing entrepreneurs or achieving what they want in terms of work positions. The dedication they have for when they finally realise what they can do and how much they stand to gain if they pay attention and learn is so rewarding. The hardest part is telling them that they are not ready for a managerial job just yet and that they have to wait and train and learn before they can get the job and that sometimes is not taken very well. But I have, to be honest and I feel I am only being truthful with them. It will make them better managers and I can help them see the bigger picture. That way they can see what they can achieve, if they just believed in themselves and worked towards their goals.
What advice would you give to any women who wanted to work in your industry?
As a woman and a mother, my best advice I can give is that never give up on your dreams and find something you enjoy. There is nothing worse than pursuing something for status or for money and end up hating it. It should be something you love and don’t worry if its not something you majored in.
Is there another dream role you would still like?
Perhaps a role that lets me lie on the beach all day and teach English to some people on a remote Caribbean island. I think any role that allows me to help people is the best role there is. Just thinking that I had something to do with their success even if its not mentioned is so fulfilling.
What would be your backup career and why?
HR would be the likeliest position. As my background in behavioral psychology, albeit Criminology, it helps me identify people and their personalities and be able to position them in various roles that would suit them best. If I can’t teach them at least I would I like a role where I can help and guide people towards their career choices. I feel HR would suit my personality best. I love listening to people’s dreams and hopes as well as their problems and whatever issues they face throughout their daily lives and their working environment.
-The Working Bees