Ildiko Zavodny, Head of HR at Dyson in the Middle East and Africa, has over 20 years’ experience as an HR professional. Ildiko has worked across a number of industries in the Middle East, leading diverse HR teams for large fortune 500 companies.  Hayley Wilkins, Managing Consultant, Michael Page Middle East Human Resources recently spoke with Ildiko about what it’s like for female leaders working in the Middle East.

How do you think the Middle East market is adapting to female leaders? 

From my personal experience the Middle East market is increasingly adapting to female leaders. Of course, the extent varies by country, industry and seniority. I have personally worked on feminization projects in Saudi Arabia where the aim was to attract and develop female talent into leadership and managerial roles. There is a lot of support in places such as UAE and Saudi Arabia from the government, to develop future female leaders. 

What more could be done?

More government support and publicity for feminization to increase opportunities, help develop programs, build partnerships with schools and organizations, and share inspiring success stories.

From an HR perspective, what should organizations be doing to attract mothers back into the workplace? 

Improving work-life balance, especially for women returning to work from maternity leave. To support them in their roles professionally and as a new parent, reviewing maternity policies (UAE is changing the current maternity law) and improving how companies can support women. For example, allowing shorter hours for the first few months, flexible working hours, or working from home one day in a month.

What is a typical day like for you?

Every day is busy, but I think this is normal as we live in a fast-paced world. Maintaining a work-life balance is challenging but I do my best to manage my time and I try to set positive examples for my teams. My personal well-being is important for me to stay healthy and productive, so I practice daily meditation, eat proper meals and make time for my passions or hobbies. When I work, I focus on it 100%, ensuring I am using my time efficiently. I set my goal for the day and don’t change it unless there is an emergency. I have learned to leave the office at a reasonable time because the work will be there tomorrow and you will never feel like you are completely finished. To enjoy my life and recharge myself outside of work, I attend art therapy workshops, I paint or dance salsa, learn to drive and enjoy camping. I am very social and enjoy spending time with friends but I also like to spend quiet time on the beach or meditating at the desert.  

Are there any particular challenges that women in HR particularly face?

Honestly, I can’t think of anything particular. From my experience, women in HR are always well respected regardless of cultural, hierarchal and gender differences. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Making a difference in people’s lives, whether it be hiring someone for a new job, developing or promoting them into a new role. I also love being a part of a start-up team, bringing success to and building a legacy for the company/brand. 

What advice would you give to other women?

Respect and love yourself and this is how others will treat you. 

What do you enjoy most about being a leader?

Developing others, teamwork and preparing the future leaders.

How can women grow as leaders both in and out of the workplace?

Treat people as you want to be treated, teach them as you would want to learn, and be firm and assertive.
If you are interested in a career in HR or you would like to register a job , please contact Hayley Wilkins.
Hayley Wilkins
T: +971 (0) 4 709 0326