TheFace: Haifa Abuzabibah, Saudi human resources leader

TheFace: Haifa Abuzabibah, Saudi human resources leader
Hayfa AbuZabibah and her Son Abdulrahman & Panda the Cat! (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 11 October 2019

TheFace: Haifa Abuzabibah, Saudi human resources leader

TheFace: Haifa Abuzabibah, Saudi human resources leader

I am a human resources leader at a prestigious private company. In the summer of 1983, a traditional Saudi family broke out of their cultural bubble and began a new life experience. My father applied for early retirement after 20 years of working in a big company. In one month, we had packed and moved to the Sunshine State: California.

We were a typical Saudi family of six children, which was not a normal sight in California. My youngest brother was barely 2 years old and my older sister was around 13. I am the second oldest and had just turned 11. I didn’t know a word of English except “yes” and “no.”

My father went to the US to complete his higher education. He took a risk and traveled with his whole family for the purpose of education. Education and learning became forever ingrained in me.

Being immersed in America was easy for me because I was young. I learned the language and acquired an American accent quickly enough. More importantly, I thrived on practicality, inclusiveness and multi-cultural landscape inherent in the DNA of America.

Returning to Saudi Arabia in 1997 was easy, too. I landed my first job in human resources, started a family and managed to balance family and a fulfilling career.

I have two children. Bayanne is 18 years old and Abdulrahman is 16. As my father invested in me, I now invest in my daughter’s college education at Dar Al-Hekma College.

Before college Bayanne, along with my son Abdulrahman, went to an international school. Their father and I wanted them to gain a global perspective and become responsible global citizens.

Challenges in life helped me become empathetic. I feel strongly that everything happens in life to help us understand that life is a journey. Discovering that people and materialistic things come and go, I knew that what remains constant is Allah. 

When I was younger, my parents solved all my problems. As I came into adulthood and became a parent myself, I noticed that problems got bigger and more difficult and that only God can help me overcome them and improve the quality of my life, and I seek his guidance to become a better person.

I truly saw life as a mirror, as it was important for me to reflect by assessing where I was in life. So I like focusing on what I can control and I know that I always have choices in life, because I do not like playing the victim.

In my opinion, my greatest achievement in life is being an independent mother, leader and a corporate citizen. I aim to become my best self, help others who cross my path to fulfill their potential and have a positive impact where I can. My curiosity for learning and my wish to inspire others to learn continues to grow.

My favorite quote is by someone I think of as my hero — Oprah Winfrey — and it reads: “When you do your best, people notice. So, wherever you are, always do your best, and doing your best puts you at the next level.”