Estimated reading time: 3 min

Human Resources Coordinator

After completing her MA in HR Management in 2017, Sonja joined RMJM, where she has spent the last three years developing her career. As a self-professed ‘people person’, Sonja loves the opportunity to make the RMJM team feel like part of the family, and with so many nationalities represented in the Dubai studio, she gets the opportunity to celebrate holidays from many different cultures. From Diwali to Ramadan to Halloween each event is treated as an opportunity to engage with and learn from the RMJM community. We had the opportunity to learn from Sonja recently, as we discussed how Human Resources professionals can influence the architecture industry to improve gender diversity.

What do you do?

S: I work as the HR Coordinator for RMJM Dubai. I’m definitely a people person. I’m responsible for the entire employment cycle of our employees starting with talent acquisition up to the time an employee leaves the company. I make sure that the way we do things around here creates positive employee experience throughout their employment as well as encouraging the achievement of our business objectives. 

Who inspires you?

S: I get inspired by the people I’m surrounded by all the time. I’m inspired by our team leaders’ determination and persistence, our architects’ creativity and our interns’ curiosity and confidence. 

I get inspired by people who are passionate about what they do, who are determined and focused but also able to make the journey meaningful and memorable for themselves and others.  

Why did you go into HR?

S: We spend a significant amount of time at work and I believe the quality of our working lives is very important. HR professionals are in a position to influence working lives; we introduce changes that enrich employee experiences and we create a working environment where people can reach their full potential.  I think it’s a challenging but rewarding role. 

How has the industry changed for women during your time in it?

S: Gender diversity is a very popular topic around the world and it has attracted the attention of our industry as well. I can see that awareness is higher and that organizations are introducing procedures and policies that support equal opportunities. I think there is a lot of institutional progress.

What changes still need to come?

S: Introducing flexible working arrangements is something that our industry should be able to accommodate. I agree that, for example, distance working was once incredibly challenging for an architect but today’s technology makes it possible. I guess it requires a bit of change in the mindset but changes like this will help make the industry more accessible to working mothers and architects with families in general.

Besides this, we still need to work on supporting women to grow into leadership roles in our industry. 

What is the best professional decision you have ever made?

S: Unusually, not find a specialisation within HR. Most people find their niche and stay there but I chose to get involved in as many different aspects of the discipline as possible. It might keep me busy but it also has given me access to some wonderful opportunities and has helped me engage with some wonderful people.

What is a piece of advice you would give to women entering the industry?  

S: Awareness of gender diversity has improved tremendously and not only in our industry. Nowadays organisations better understand the value of it. Organisational cultures are being changed to support equal pay and equal opportunities for hiring and career growth. 

Therefore my advice to women who are entering the industry is – be confident, stay up to date with industry trends and most importantly keep learning. Don’t be afraid to express your personality and show your creativity.