General Manager of Amin Kawar and Sons, Shipping and Transportation
Nadia Shahin has earned the quiet hour she enjoys each morning. After 30 years working for Kawar Group and raising two children, she now relishes the cup of coffee she drinks every morning while listening to the news before starting her long day.
Shahin joined Kawar Shipping right after graduating university, and became its general manager, the first non-Kawar to fill this post, in 2010. Throughout her career she has managed to conquer an unforgiving industry largely dominated by men. She has also worn many hats, spearheading the shipping company – and the Kawar Group’s – development on many levels.
She was the legal department’s claims manager. Then she established the shipping company’s HR department in 1995, gradually creating recruiting processes, developing training manuals, and turning the small unit into an HR department for the whole group. She also led the quality assurance and control effort, by establishing and thoroughly documenting all the standard operating procedures over 16 months, thus helping the company obtain their ISO certification from Lloyds in 1997.
“I used to go to Aqaba and at the time it was weird for a woman to be in the port, and I used to put everything in writing,” said Shahin, who also worked in disbursement, the company’s accounting department, and was a crucial player in many of the group’s companies, helping fill any shortage.
Shahin highly praises the Kawar family for being forward thinking, believing in her capabilities right from the start and providing her with the necessary training and support to reach this position in what remains, predominantly, a male-dominated industry. “By promoting a woman to a prominent leadership position, I think it’s very reasonable to say that the Kawar Group not only demonstrated a bold vision for the future, but also an eagerness to shatter artificial ceilings that have held women back for too long,” she said.
According to Shahin, who in 2007 received a scholarship in executive business management at INSEAD, sponsored by the Herald Tribune based on a research on women leadership, women in the corporate world often have a broader view, can multi-task, are career-driven, and are more in touch with their emotions – all of which actually helps them understand how the customer is thinking and feeling. “Why do women sometimes do better? Because they have emotional intelligence. So emotions are an advantage, not a drawback, although it’s been used against women for so long.”
Emotional intelligence also defines Shahin’s management style, which she describes as collaborative. She strongly believes in teams and that the best decisions are made when more people are involved in making them. Her emotions also help her understand her employees’ circumstances better.
Although she still believes there is a lot to be learned and done in her current position, her goal is to have a clear succession plan in place to ensure continued growth and stability.
Shahin is adamant that her greatest achievement has been reaching the top without compromising her role as a wife and mother. “Both complement each other. If I became a GM without my family I wouldn’t have felt that I did something great. To reach top positions women shouldn’t have to give up on their personal lives.”
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