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7 Questions on Leadership with Sarah Amanina Haji Ahmad

Name: Sarah Amanina Haji Ahmad

Title: Chief Operating Officer

Organisation: HiTUNE Group of Companies

Experienced Administration and Human Resource Manager with a proven track record of over a decade in leading teams and driving operational excellence. I excel in managing diverse departments including Human Resource, Finance, Administration, Cold-Chain Logistics and Business Development. My expertise is supporting emerging Start-Ups and Small, Medium Enterprises (SME) and FDI's by streamlining process and implementing best practices, and mentoring emerging talents.

My Vision is striving to transform my homeland, Brunei Darussalam, into a global Halal Trade hub/epicenter across the Air and Seas.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Sarah's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

In leadership, balancing on navigating resistance and people dynamics is a profound challenge. Mastering the delicate art of winning hearts an minds require keen adaptability amid the ever-evolving landscape of today's world. Recognizing the importance of empathy, patience and listening is a cornerstone of effective leadership

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

When I joined a Joint-Venture FDI Manufacturing Company a decade ago, my initial role as an Executive Assistant to Vice President showcased my commitment. Within the first six months, I demonstrated leadership potential by consistently going beyond my job scope. I proactively ensured the company's seamless day-to-day operations by overseeing and chairing meetings within all departments of company, engaging with Government senior officials, managing products, sales and exports, and addressing the welfare of both local and foreign worker. Recognizing these contributions, I earned the promotion of the role for Human Resource Manager. From there, that was the stepping stone towards my leadership career.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

At the break of dawn, I commence my day with prayers and preparing breakfast for my family. Following the morning school runs, I transition into a day of overseeing operations as the COO, engaging in back-to-back meetings with teams locally and internationally.

After work, I will fetch my girls from afternoon school, head home to prepare for dinner, and after evening prayers, I dedicate an hour or two to self-learning and development by either listening to podcasts or reading - my current read is Simon Sinek's The Infinite Game. I am slowly going through my reading list 2023 that I aim to finish by end of 2024.

By day, I serve as COO, and by night, I wear the hats of CEO and Founder for our Food & Beverage Company, The NABB Company (also known as Nasi Ayam Bang Bidin Company). After dinner and reading, my focus shifts to growing sales, updating the company's social media planning, and engaging with customers. I meticulously plan the financial aspects and marketing of the business such as planning posts, communicate, and handle orders as well as strategically planning on the expansion of The NABB Company (Nasi Ayam Bang Bidin Company) as we aim to have a second branch and a fine-dinning outlet in the next few years.

As the clock strikes midnight, I wind down, ensuring I recharge for the next day.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

In navigating uncertainties and constant change, I've learned to embraced crucial lessons in leadership - Empathy and Patience. Adaptability in the face of adversity is key. These qualities, particularly vital in leading a diverse workforce spanning different generations and backgrounds, promise long-term success.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Discovering 'Together Is Better' by Simon Sinek after reading 'Leaders Eat Last' has been enlightening. It's a reminder that leaders, despite their roles, are fundamentally human and not solely born but shaped through experiences. The essence of a strong support network and foundation, both professionally and personally, resonates. The book emphasizes that every individual possess a valuable voice, and when united together, these voices creates a powerful harmony. I appreciate the simplicity and the accessibility of these concepts, making it a masterpiece suitable for all ages.

In the realm of leadership, the daily operations often become overwhelming, compounded by unexpected adhoc tasks beyond our typical responsibilities. Meeting deadlines and appeasing demand from superiors adds an extra layers of stress. In these moments, it's crucial to recall the strength of the team working alongside us. The commitment to shielding and sharing the burdens with our teammates is paramount. Acknowledging our human limitations, the notion that facing challenges together is more effective than enduring them alone becomes a guiding principle.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

For aspiring leaders, a key piece of advise is to cultivate empathy, a rare and valuable commodity. When you have empathy, watch and witness the profound transformation of those around you when empathy becomes a guiding force.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

Reflective on a pivotal moment in my career, I encountered a challenging period of profound changes and uncertainty within an organization. Despite, the absence of a designated leader to navigate our team through these turbulent times, I chose to stepped up. Although lacking formal authority, I raise to the occasion by providing support and guidance to my colleagues across various divisions. Prioritizing their well-being, I fostered a sense of safety, addressing inquires and frustrations with patience and empathy. My commitment aimed to cultivate a positive work environment, demonstrating my dedication to both the team and the organization during critical moments as I believe if the Team excels both in performance and attitude, the organization will succeed in the long-run.

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