Poppy Rahman, Head of Human Resources (HR) Schools, Students, and Teachers (SSAT) network

Residing in London from an early age Poppy Rahman grew up to be law professional on completion of her LLB Law Degree. She then moved onto becoming an internationally famous Human Resources professional after completing her Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in this field. She previously served as an HR Business Partner at Lambeth Living and a Contracts Manager at the Commonwealth Foundation.

“Being a woman, one has to work twice as much to get half the recognition even in this progressive part of the world. The fact that I fall amongst the very few young women who represent the senior management in various firms, itself depicts that a lot still needs to be done to bridge the gap when it comes to age and gender.”

As Bangladesh stands at the balance of progressing towards a middle-income nation, NRBs such as Poppy Rahman further accelerate its growth with their efforts. Individuals such as her are creating an impact for the Bangladeshi image on a global platform. ICE Business Times converses with Poppy Rahman on her views on making the society better and the nation’s global image.
Poppy bears strong cultural bonding especially with the country and its people and particularly with Sylhet. She understands that her occupation creates opportunities to start change, “I feel very passionate about helping out the youth in shaping a better quality of life and as the Head of Human Resources of an international firm that emphasizes on education, my work typically allows me to do so. It has always been my urge of contributing to the societal learnings through work that has driven the factor of success.”

Poppy shares how belonging to a different diaspora, her parents initially had to go an extra mile to break the language barrier and adjust to new way of living on their arrival at the UK. She then sheds some light upon how her career path was followed by gender discrimination, “Being a woman, one has to work twice as much to get half the recognition even in this progressive part of the world. The fact that I fall amongst the very few young women who represent the senior management in various firms itself depicts that a lot still needs to be done to bridge the gap when it comes to age and gender.” The NRB further elaborates, how coming from a different origin makes it even more difficult for them while competing for a job in the wider market, “A whole lot gets added to your plate when you belong to the minority. Despite having the necessary qualifications required for a job it often gets challenging for an individual coming from a different background, culture and religion to prove his or her worth. So in my case, I had to be extremely dedicated and worked even harder than the other competitive individuals to secure the position I have now.”

Bangladeshis have taken a step further into proving their worth in countries like UK and are doing great outside regional boundaries describes Poppy, “The Bangladeshi community-based in the UK is doing extremely well now compared to how they were performing 20 years ago. If you look at areas such as East London, many Bangladeshi had previously come here and lived in the poorest of conditions in a 3 bedroom flat as a family of 5.” She is hopeful as she had seen the progress of the Bangladeshi community in the UK, “If we look at it now, from where they were and to where they have reached at present is something applaudable. However, I think there’s still a lack of understanding of what they need to do to progress further. This is something I believe comes from families in apparent.”

Poppy carefully stresses on factors that are still refraining the country from utilizing its full potential alongside newer developments that define its progress, “Bangladesh has still a lot left to catch up concerning the change in mindset and geographical divide.” Poppy states there is a stark contrast between the 2 environments she has been a part of, “If we take the example of Sylhet where I come from, there is still a major divide that exists between different communities. The fact that the cultural and societal norms often dissect the communities, sometimes cautiously and many of the times unknowingly through racial discrimination, itself holds the country back regarding unity and a broader mindset.” Poppy credits her upbringing in a progressive nation that allowed both cultures to thrive in her mindset. She believes Bangladeshi can do much more to eliminate these barriers.

Concept of culture is man-made and adapting to a new environment isn’t a catch-22 for people settling from one part of the country to the other according to Poppy. She asserts, “Culture is something that can be confined to self-learning. Culture and religion can both be defined separately as religion teaches us to integrate people whereas culture promotes the idea of sticking to yourself. It is highly important for us to integrate the good facets of other different cultures into our mindset by excluding its negative aspects. We must not reside to the idea of ours being the best out there.”

Poppy articulates how limiting oneself to the norms of one particular culture refrains a person from a wider spectrum of learning, “As a Bangladeshi, you would often find it easier to communicate with people of your origin, but the problem is, in this way you limit yourself from learning a lot more that the people from other cultures have to offer.” She wants individuals in the job market to understand and accept diversity in many companies, “You have to understand that once you get a job in the foreign land, a majority of people you have to work with, will be people from a different origin than yours. This is amongst the few substantial reasons why it is necessary to think beyond racial features and adjust accordingly.”

The HR Head further proclaims how leadership needs to be redefined in Bangladesh’s context to boost growth, “In Bangladesh, we must allow subordinates the space to innovate and give them a platform to discuss ideas as they flow rather than just confining to authority.” Poppy emphasizes that age old practices are not very efficient. She wants to see a Bangladesh that embraces the new and what it has to offer, “We should now move ahead from the traditional ‘command and rule’ approach to a more ‘influential style’ of leadership that will harness the potential of the human resources at their best. This will allow the people to learn more and be better at what they are doing.”

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