My IKEA Journey Until Now - Nadia Elzanaty
Why do you work for IKEA?
Prior to IKEA I worked in Human Resources for 8 years in different roles within the aviation, health care, construction, engineering and telecommunications industry.
In May 2011, I started my IKEA journey at the IKEA Richmond (Melbourne, Australia) store as a HR Business Partner. Very quickly I realised IKEA was different to the previous companies I had worked for. There was a strong focus on driving the business through developing people and putting into practice it’s unique IKEA culture & values.
I’ve now been with IKEA for 6+ years and have grown both personally & professionally. I’ve had the opportunity to open a store in Sydney, Australia, be one of the iWON Ambassador’s (IKEA Women’s Open Network) for IKEA Australia and move abroad as a HR Manager to the UK. What’s kept me here? That’s easy, first and foremost the people! In addition, the constant learning, being challenged and the opportunity to make a difference.
There are a variety of opportunities within the company and I have always been supported when I’ve wanted to pursue one.
How do you make a difference to a better IKEA?
Within my role my key focus is on creating a great place to work for our co-workers. As part of the Store Steering group I have the responsibility to work with the functional managers to make this a reality for co-workers in our store. As a store we also connect with non for profit organisations within our local community that are chosen by our co-workers to volunteer and or hold charity events within store to support the chosen charities. We also connect with local employment agencies to support recruiting diverse co-workers from our local community. All of these actions contribute to creating a better IKEA for our co-workers and the local community.
What have been your key highlights or turning points in your journey?
During my time in IKEA Australia I participated in the Accelerated Talent Program and had the opportunity to develop and roll out a national mentoring approach. I was also one of the iWON (IKEA Women’s Open Network) Ambassador’s for IKEA Australia which enabled me to play a key role in influencing on a national & local level initiatives and ways of working to create a more diverse & inclusive workplace for our co-workers.
The highlight for me in IKEA Australia was the build-up and opening of IKEA Marsden Park (Sydney, Australia). I was the 2nd co-worker to join the team and together with the Store Steering Group recruited, onboarded and developed 320 co-workers from the local community. Many of the co-workers have since stepped up into new roles so I still continue to follow their IKEA journeys ‘like a proud mum from a distance’.
Finally, the opportunity to follow my childhood ambition of working abroad & be supported by IKEA to move to the UK as the HR Manager for the IKEA Manchester store has definitely been a highlight for me personally & professionally. Who knows what my next chapter will look like, but I’m certainly here for the long run and look forward to what lays ahead.
My IKEA Journey until now...
Accelerated Talent Program
What has been your biggest learning?
To believe in myself and to step out of my comfort zone as that’s where I have grown the most. I now encourage those I work with to do the same and enjoy seeing them unleash their potential.
What would you have done differently?
Moving to Sydney to open the 3rd store in the market as a HR Manager, looking back there are things that I would have done differently as it was my first leadership role. In saying that you learn from your mistakes and it shapes who you are today to make you a better leader than you were yesterday.
What are you key responsibilities in your current role?
In my role I’m ultimately responsible for creating a great place to work where co-workers feel inspired, recognized and that they are important to the long term growth of the business.
What skills do you need for your current role?
Being passionate about people and having a strong belief in the talent of each co-worker.
Having a strong business acumen with the customer in focus and the passion to lead the business through people.
Effective communication and ability to build relationships at all levels.
Previous leadership training key for this position
IKEA has provided me with leadership training however where I have grown the most is working closely with my manager to identify what I need to develop in my leadership and constantly working on improving myself as a leader.
What do you want to do next at IKEA?
I enjoyed my role opening a new store, so after the experience I have had in my current role I’d be interested in a HR Expansion Manager role.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about this role?
You have an important role in working with the leadership team as they have the biggest impact over the many co-workers day to day experience. This role is about being hands on and connecting with co-workers at all levels to truly get a grasp of the climate in store. It’s challenging and rewarding all at the same time.