Reema Siyam was a talented student and a prolific reader who wanted a career that reflected her wide range of interests. “My education was always driven by my interests,” she says. “There was never a single moment where my career path somehow manifested itself clearly to me.”
After graduating from Dhahran Ahliyya Schools in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, Reema chose a to continue her studies at a liberal arts college, “because I knew that it would give me the widest foundation for my career and future learning. I pursued a computer science degree because I love programming, problem solving, and creativity.”
Her studies eventually took her around the globe, to earn a BA in Computer Science from Wellesley College in the US, and an MBA in International Corporate Strategy from Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, Japan. Studying in Japan afforded her the opportunity to learn about corporate finance and organization behavior, while also experiencing the power of cultural immersion. She later worked and studied in Geneva, Switzerland as a World Economic Forum Global Leadership Fellow.
After joining Aramco in 2005, Reema worked briefly as a systems analyst before finding her way to Human Resources, where she has served in various leadership roles, and is now the company’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion.
“The global dialogue around the topic of inclusion and diversity is changing and evolving,” she says. “There is a greater understanding that equality, at work and otherwise, is not the ‘problem’ of any one group of people. It is a growth mindset that creates value for everyone in society. When people who haven’t had the opportunity before are able to participate in our jobs and in our economy, we are actually growing the pie, not slicing it thinner, as people used to think.”
Working for Aramco has taught Reema valuable lessons about leadership. “Success at any organization begins with self-awareness and the willingness to learn,” she says. “You need to be able to articulate to yourself your values, your strengths, your challenges and your ambitions. That way, in every situation, you know exactly what you bring to the table and what you need to ask others to bring in order to create success.”
Rather than add to the many voices currently advising young girls and women, she has an important message for the male co-workers and leaders of aspiring women everywhere. “At Aramco, I see proof that women are doing their part, and are able to become amazing team contributors and leaders. I encourage you to think about your role in their success. Increase your self-awareness, contribute to creating an inclusive environment, set realistic expectations, mentor women early in their careers, sponsor them for leadership positions, and take ownership of the role you play in making diversity and inclusion in your organization a reality.”