Equality between women and men in the workplace has been one of the top priorities for Total Group, as gender diversity is a key factor for success in businesses.
By 2025, the group aims for women to account for 30 per cent of senior management and executive positions, and 30 per cent in all management committees.
Total Brunei, at present, has three local female executives as heads of department, making up 62 per cent of the company’s executive committee.
Three outstanding local women shared their insights and career journey during a Coffee Talk event by Total Brunei yesterday, to mark International Women’s Day.
Held at the Business Lounge of Radisson Hotel, the speakers were ophthalmic surgeon at the Ministry of Health Dr Hajah Helena binti Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Jaya Dato Paduka Haji Hurairah, film director and founder of Origin Artistic Siti Kamaluddin and Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam Head of Administration Huda binti Haji Muhin.
Dr Hajah Helena is President of the Brunei Ophthalmology Society, a council member of the ASEAN Ophthalmology Society which represents Brunei as an Asia-Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Council. She was also awarded the 2020 Commonwealth Points of Light Award.
Siti Kamaluddin is the first female local director and considered one of the 50 most influential women in the country, while Huda is a member of the Youth Advisory Group for the Youth Policy and Strategy 2020-2035 by Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, member of United States (US)–ASEAN Innovation Circle. She was the first Bruneian of persons with different abilities to be selected to undergo a six-week Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Professional Fellowship Programme in the US in 2019.
Dr Hajah Helena said people (especially women) cannot always be satisfied with what they have achieved in life because “there is always room for improvement; and you are never going to be perfect or the best of anything”.
She believed that things are easier for people who find passion in what they do, “whether it’s giving back to our family or the community”.
She added, “It has to come from the heart as only then everything will fall into place.”
On toxic behaviour, Dr Hajah Helena believed that people have the choice between accepting it and walking away.
She also saw the COVID-19 pandemic as a blessing in disguise as it helped her escape from a toxic mindset.
Huda, meanwhile, revealed she had faced challenges of proving her worth and responded to those who questioned her capabilities by showing the end results of her work.
Dr Hajah Helena responded to Huda by saying, “It is amazing when another woman believes in you, nurtures you and supports you. It is so exhausting to always have to prove yourself to other people. Eventually you reach a point where you are tired of trying to make everyone happy.”
Dr Helena advised people struggling with the same challenge to not “worry about the noise from outside” and instead “Just know yourself, love yourself and be yourself”.
Siti Kamaluddin added, “Always think of the positive and don’t let the environment stop you from doing what you want. If you want to do something and the platform is not there, you can create it instead of waiting for it to happen.”
She drew the belief from the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, which made movie-making challenging.
Siti said at Origins, where there are lots of freelance crew members who depend on the company for income, she had to get creative by using YouTube to showcase her work.
“If there is no platform available, you can always create your own.
“I count my blessings because we had Bintang Search and it was a success. For a small nation like Brunei, we attracted over one million views,” she said.
Yesterday’s event was aimed at creating awareness and celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women as well as fostering closer ties among employees.
Total Brunei General Manager Nicolas Wawresky and other management members were also present.