As an Official Partner of Manchester City, we interview Dr Nadia Bastaki, Vice President Medical Services, Etihad Airways. Dr Nadia shares her experience of gender diversity in the workplace and details of her progression into a leadership role.
1. Tell us about your progression into your leadership role
I was recruited by Etihad at the very start of my working career in 2007. I joined as a general practitioner (GP), working for the medical services department which, at the time, had just eight staff, including two doctors. In 2009, after further qualification and training, I became the first UAE National Aviation Specialist approved by the health authority and later progressed into the role of first Aviation Specialist in 2012. At this time, I also pursued a master’s degree in Occupation Medicine and was appointed to lead the aviation team in 2013. I became the Vice President of Medical Services soon after this and I now have a growing team of 49 employees reporting into me. In this role, I have created a revenue stream focussing on employee wellbeing; promoting safety and avoiding health risk, which has seen me be a part of many panels and recognition by way of several industry awards. My role has also expanded not only at Etihad but around the globe as I sit on many transport and aviation advisory boards, building the policies for the future.
2. Did you always aspire to reach a leadership role in your career?
Yes, absolutely. By nature, I have always been driven to learn, expand and share my knowledge and be innovative – traits that I believe have naturally seen me progress to a leadership role. I have always wanted to make a difference in the hope that I can one day leave a legacy.
3. In your opinion is there a difference between how men and women plan to progress in their careers?
Generally speaking, career progression should not be dependent on gender. It should be based on an individual’s skillset and capability. I believe any gender bias is down to organisation and culture. Embracing more modern employment practices, including flexible working, is essential for supporting women in fulfilling their passions.
4. Have you encountered any gender linked challenges in your career?
We all face challenges in our careers but I don’t see this to be gender linked.
5. In your experience, do you think women have the same career opportunities as men?
The world today is gearing towards a gender balanced and equal society, especially in UAE. Career success is not about your gender, it is about your skillset, your achievements and your confidence.
6. Have you noticed any differences in career opportunities for men and women based on geography?
The UAE strongly promotes women’s involvement in the workplace. Their participation is actively supported by the Government and several senior leaders, who ensure that women have opportunities to work in all industries. Today, there exists many women ministers, gender balanced councils and women’s support groups in the region. We also have laws enforcing women’s representation on the Boards of organisations. All of this exposure in the region provides great support to females for fulfilling their career goals.
7. Do you think flexible working has any bearing on career progression opportunities for women or men?
I think flexible working is beneficial to career progression for men and women alike. It allows for better time management and productivity, which in turn leads to happier people and better results for employers. For employees with children, the obvious benefit is that flexible working allows them to more easily manage their family commitments.
8. What do you think organisations can do to better promote diversity and inclusion?
I think this should come directly from the top and has to exist as part of the organisation’s overall culture. It shouldn’t be something that is formally imposed, equal opportunity should be recognised as a norm with employment based on individual capability, not influenced by gender.
9. Going forward, what more do you think can be done to create a culture that enables women to thrive in their careers?
I think role models and peers groups are important within organisations. By encouraging females to network and celebrate in their successes, their confidence will grow and enable them to fulfil their career goals.
10. Do you have any advice for female professionals who are looking to work in a management or leadership role?
Believe in yourself, focus on your goals and have a clear plan on where you want to progress to in your career. No individual can stop you except yourself, you own your career.
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