Breaking Stereotypes, Leading With Persistence

November 22, 2023

Fatema Abdulla Hadroom Alghfeli, a manager at Weatherford Oil and Gas, has always strived to do more for her community. Participating in Counterpart’s Global Women in Management program—a program that trains women worldwide in leadership, management, and technical skills—helped her move towards achieving this goal.

Alghfeli was raised in a strict family in Dubai—a place with a history of limiting how far women could go in the workforce. Despite the obstacles, Alghfeli graduated from the Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi and set her sights on a career path that would enable her to make a positive impact within her community. She started her professional journey in 1997 at a United Arab Emirates bank that had mixed gender employment. Building on her years of hard work and wanting to achieve even more, she applied for and was chosen to participate in the GWIM program in Washington, D.C. in 2012. There she participated in capacity building sessions and received mentoring to help her further her career. Counterpart reconnected with Alghfeli recently to learn how her experience back then affects her work today.

Fatema Abdulla Hadroom Alghfeli used the leadership training she received from the Global Women in Management program to become a champion of women’s inclusion in the workplace in her country.

According to Alghfeli, the management program helped her discover who she wanted to be and how to be more influential in a traditionally male-dominated workplace. “I remember the energy of women being together as one supporting each other. I remember that very well, as there was a lot of passion. We had a cause and cases to support,” she told us. Meeting like-minded women and learning from expert facilitators on a variety of leadership and self-improvement topics helped Alghfeli realize she could advance her career in banking and later oil and gas—both traditionally male-dominated industries. It also helped her learn how to better accept things she could not control or change, making her a stronger leader and bringing her peace of mind.

Alghfeli believes in leading by example, and often opposes policies that support gender inequality in her community. In her professional role, she values acknowledging the personal side of her colleagues. Learning how to motivate individual people uniquely as a manager is one of the most useful skills she gained during the program. Alghfeli says every true leader should prioritize their team’s progress and growth; the Global Women in Management program gave her the tools to do this.

Fatema Abdulla Hadroom Alghfeli at the Abu Dhabi International Progressive Energy Congress Exhibition and Conference.

Over the course of her 25-year career, Alghfeli has consistently advocated for the equality of women and men, not only in equal pay but also in promoting more women to managerial positions and increasing accessibility to traditionally male-dominated sectors. As a leader, she believes it is crucial to pass knowledge down so that her employees can one day carry on this critical advocacy work. Alghfeli strives to set a positive example, share knowledge with her peers, and uses lessons learned from the management program to execute her vision of an inclusive workplace.

Alghfeli continues to generously share her knowledge with young women in the Middle East North Africa region. Her experience helped her learn and share “how to take action to change laws, policies, and procedures; how to create vulnerability in workplaces; how to enable employees to become leaders; and how to find the balance in your job.”

The Global Women in Management program is a project funded by ExxonMobil Foundation. Since 2005, the program has provided over 1,000 women from 77 countries with leadership, management, and technical skills through residential workshops, coaching, and network support. More than 300 of those alumni have received additional training and technical support in coaching, advocacy, mentorship, program design, and facilitation skills.