Roshan - Shireen Rahmani, Director of Human Resources

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Company: Roshan, Kabul, Afghanistan
Entry Submitted By: Hill+Knowlton Stategies
Company Description:Roshan (Telecom Development Company Afghanistan Ltd) is Afghanistan's leading total communications provider with over 6.5 million active subscribers and a network that covers over 287 districts and cities in all of the country's 34 provinces.
Nomination Category:Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category:Female Executive of the Year – Consumer Products –11 to 2,500 Employees

Nomination Title: Shireen Rahmani, Director of Human Resources

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated executive since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

Afghanistan is one of the most challenging places in the world to be a woman, let alone a successful businesswoman. In a country where more than 85% of women have no formal education and are illiterate, Shireen Rahmani is defying the odds and today, is one of the most powerful women executives in the country as Director of Human Resources for Afghanistan’s largest telecommunications provider, Roshan. In her role, Shireen is helping lead change for Roshan’s over 1,100 employees and championing economic opportunities for Afghan women everywhere.

Perseverance defines Shireen. Born and raised in Afghanistan’s Badakshan province, she dreamt of becoming a doctor. However, a ban on women pursuing educational and professional opportunities from a growing Taliban influence in the late 90’s forced Shireen to leave Balkh University in the middle of her studies. This did not deter Shireen from pursuing a career, however. Instead, it ignited a passion in her to empower Afghan women and pave the way for change for future generations.

In 2003, Shireen began her career at Roshan as an executive assistant to CEO Karim Khoja, quickly emerging as a true leader and pivotal force within the company working directly with senior management as Roshan launched and began operations in Afghanistan. Shireen was named Director of Human Resources in 2011 and today leads the largest private workforce in Afghanistan.

Under her leadership, a team of 16 human resources professionals have succeeded in developing HR strategies aimed at building the capacity of Afghans and increasing human capital in an environment that 12 years ago, seemed inconceivable. When Roshan launched, it was difficult finding qualified Afghans who could manage a telecommunications network. However, Shireen was committed to cultivating local leaders--noting it was essential to the long-term success of Roshan--and hired candidates based on what she thought they were capable of with proper training and mentorship opportunities. Shireen has played an instrumental role in transforming Roshan’s corporate culture and as a result, Roshan’s Afghan workforce has grown from 0% in 2003 to 96% in 2015, including 73% of company management. As an Afghan woman’s rights leader, Shireen has recruited and trained female staff members who now form 19% of Roshan’s workforce.

To achieve this, Shireen sought out to prove that women can and should work in Afghanistan, contrary to societal belief. She focused on providing a safe and productive environment, unveiling initiatives geared specifically to women including a transportation service directly from home to Roshan’s headquarters, serving lunch within the secured compound and sponsoring children’s education. Through specialized mentoring and training programs, Shireen invites successful female legislators and CEOs from around the world to share their experience with Roshan’s female employees. Despite Afghanistan’s challenging environment, Shireen has never succumbed to fear, adopting the motto, “We Can.” Thanks to her tireless efforts, women now represent 17% of company management, a remarkable achievement in male-dominated Afghanistan.

Having overcome extreme adversity, Shireen has truly given Afghan women hope for their own future. She has helped create a dynamic working environment at Roshan where women thrive alongside their male colleagues. A pillar of strength, Shireen’s impact can be felt throughout not only Roshan, but across Afghanistan.

Provide a brief biography of the nominated executive (up to 125 words):

Shireen Rahmani is Director of Human Resources at Roshan, Afghanistan’s leading telecommunications company. She joined Roshan in 2003 and now oversees all 1,100+ employees, the largest private workforce in Afghanistan.

Shireen effectively developed HR strategies to build Afghan capacity, increase human capital, and spur local leadership. Because of her efforts, Roshan’s workforce is today 96% Afghan. An Afghan womens’ rights leader, Shireen implemented the country’s first sexual harassment policy and Roshan is recognized as the safest work environment for women in Afghanistan. As a result, today women comprise 19% of Roshan employees and 17% of management.

Recently, the Afghan Senate commended Shireen for supporting localization. She was named to CHRO Asia’s 100 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in 2015. Shireen graduated from University of Liverpool.