“I’ve always had a dislike to the comfort zone; I’m excited by any opportunity to break stereotypes.” – Hend Alroumi
As one of the first women to enter the corporate banking profession in KSA, Hend has challenged traditional gender scripts to become a trailblazer in her field.
A Saudi national, starting her career in the early 2000’s in what was then a male-dominated field, Hend Alroumi is no stranger to professional challenges. Among the first females to join the corporate banking team at SABB (HSBC affiliate in KSA), Hend has constantly stepped outside her comfort zone, rising through the ranks to her current position as Vice President – Credit Risk Management for Mashreq Bank.
After earning a BA in Public Administration from American University of Beirut, Hend’s career in corporate banking began when she took part in an initiative created in response to the late King Abdullah’s decree to mobilize women in the workforce. With her passion for women’s empowerment and gender equality, Hend seized the opportunity to be part of the corporate and institutional department within her bank.
Reflecting on those initial stages of her career, Hend reveals, “Being a new entrant and proving yourself in such an environment is doubly challenging, but I received a lot of encouragement and support. There were certain stereotypes that I faced and glass ceilings/sticky floor situations that are now a thing of the past. Trailblazing this career path paved the way for many more Saudi ladies to join the corporate banking workforce in SABB and soon enough other banks followed suit.
Building on this pioneering work, Hend continues to push boundaries and has achieved several professional accomplishments along the way. She says, “I’ve always believed that the comfort zone is the death of ambition. All new endeavours I have taken on are based on calculated risk and soul searching. I have in my memory several notable experiences, among them being awarded my first credit initial when I was employed with SAMBA (Citibank affiliate in KSA) and taking on larger and more complex and diverse portfolios ranging international banking, contracting, trading and MNCs, and commodities. These provided me with valuable insights into local and international markets, as well as developing an eye for early signals, which comes with experience and exposure.”
Among Hend’s many impressive achievements is completing her UOWD Master of Strategic Human Resource Management degree alongside her work, family and childcare commitments. She explains, “I was able to juggle working full time, family and children, as well as my masters degree, thanks to my husband and family’s support and the flexible schedules UOWD offered – I don’t think I would have been able to do it all without that.”
“When I was studying, I had a big project going on at work, as well as taking two challenging subjects. I felt worried about how I would handle all of this at the same time, but then I took a deep breath and tackled the project as well as my term papers and presentations one at a time. I learned that time management and organization is an important skillset to have.”
Revealing what she gained from her UOWD experience, Hend says, “My degree was an eye opener to many personal and professional aspects that I would otherwise not have been exposed to. UOWD degrees are very academically rich, as well as focusing on the applied techniques through multiple workshops. The professors are also very knowledgeable and experienced. I’ve found these skillsets and knowledge are transferable to both personal and professional domains. A particular course which I immensely value and enjoyed taking was cross cultural management, which is very relevant and important in a country as diverse as the UAE.”
Hend considers that the driving force behind all her success is the belief that what doesn’t break you makes your stronger. She takes her inspiration from the words of Winston Churchill: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts” and she says, “Having a sense of accountability and discipline, as well as perseverance and grit, is tried and tested in the face of professional and personal challenges. You have to also trust yourself and realise that sometimes circumstances don’t define you. The important thing is to keep going and never quit.”
Reflecting on the challenges of recent times and what lies ahead, Hend concludes, “I’m proud of how I’ve successfully navigated through these unprecedented and turbulent times. This has provided me with invaluable experience which makes any forthcoming challenges workable. In the future I see myself in finance and pivoting to new grounds in terms of regional organizational corporate and risk disciplines, having worked both in UAE and KSA.”