Striding steadfast on a path to achieve her key goals in life, Ameena Ziauddin, Development Director at Norfolk Foods, has stood her way through the hardships and challenges the corporate world has thrown at her. Through perseverance and assiduity, Ameena has been able to carve her career into representing a true model of professionalism as she enthusiastically looks forward to the bright future and development of Norfolk Foods as a unit.
Ameena is extremely fortunate to have a very strong support system empowering her at every stage of life. She pays her tribute to the notion her parents instilled in her from a very early stage to always maintain her education and career as an important part of her life. Growing up, she was given all the support to ensure she met her goals and identified her true purpose as a unique individual. “I was never told that I cannot achieve something because I am a woman.” As Ameena tries to establish the foundational base she built her strong personality on, she looks back at her initial achievement as an engineering student at university. Ameena was one of the five women in the class of over 150 students. She has always been driven to achieve her rightful place as she puts in her foremost effort to contribute the best to anything she is involved in.
Especially appreciating the female mentors and role models who have guided and supported her throughout her journey, Ameena humbly looks back at her unique achievement of being selected for the Windsor Fellowship Leadership training program supported by the Prince of Wales Trust. As she claims, the 2-year long program helped her learn leadership and communication skills, while the fellowship showed her how to transfer those skills into the boardroom. Always taught to think outside the box, Ameena started her career journey at the absolute grassroots level. Working in kitchens and factories during her summers after her ordinary levels and throughout the university, she exposed herself to a variety of industries and leadership styles.
As Ameena calls back a statement that stood with her during the time she started her employment at Norfolk Foods as a cleaner on the factory floor she claims that her vision for her future was based on the words of motivation offered to her through a solid support system. “My MD said that this was one of the most important roles in the company, as, without a clean factory, nothing could operate, and we could only maintain our quality with the highest cleaning standards.” Ameena is now at one of the highest ranks in the company and still holds the empathy and concern she was allowed to build herself upon, near and dear to her heart as she courageously leads the team of Norfolk Foods forward among the constant internal and external challenges.
“Female leaders can thrive using empathy. Being strong and being relatable at the same time helps you be approachable to your colleagues, who won’t hesitate to come to you for advice or help. On the flip side, people see empathy as being ‘too emotional.’ The balance of being empathetic, doing the best for the company, and being true to yourself is challenging yet crucial.”
Taking a balanced approach to leadership, and using empathy as the key ingredient, Ameena has evidently made her mark and contributed to a positive impact within her corporate family. While she admits that her key ingredient for her successful leadership style is honesty, she also admits the importance of integrity. “As a leader, sticking by your morals and beliefs is paramount. Ethical behaviour, honesty, and respect that starts at the top are key to creating a company culture with those same values.”
While Ameena emphasizes the importance of internal qualities for leadership, she also highlights the external challenges that women in business, in particular, may face. The notion that women need to minimize their femininity in order to succeed is something Ameena strongly stands against, as she refuses to mould herself to fit into the “boys club.” Following the path of her mentors, Ameena embraces her femineity as she contently fulfils her many roles as a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a leader. She believes that there are unique lessons to learn from all our roles in life, and fulfilling all those roles while remaining true to your unique self is how one can achieve contentment and happiness in life.
“ Sometimes, as women, we play down and almost apologize for our knowledge, skills, and abilities. Do not underestimate your capabilities. Be confident! My boss always told me to never take ‘no’ for an answer. I feel that’s been something that has helped me push through difficult situations. Women have the grit and perseverance to be able to handle almost anything.”
Ameena strongly believes in the capabilities she carries as she works to improve herself to reach new levels of goals. She still thinks that there are more spaces for women to grow into and fill, as she claims that the industry, she works in is still male-dominated and she often finds herself the only woman in the room at meetings. As she hopefully looks into changing this while expanding horizons for women in this progressive era, she is fixed on contributing to creating a true support system catering to her fellow women and employees.
“I believe that women supporting women is very important. We have a duty and responsibility to be positive role models and mentors. Help the next generation of leaders learn, grow, and become people that other women will want to follow!”
While looking forward to directing her career in a direction that will help many aspiring leaders and individuals, Ameena sees herself staying an engaged leader, by listening, learning, and adapting herself to bring more positive change to Norfolk Foods, as she pledges herself loyal and dedicated to keeping the organization ahead of the game.