For pushing herself—and her fellow rising leaders
Hissah Bin Zuayer has a clear vision for her career—and her country: “I want to help build our nation and next generation in project management.” And she’s well on her own path to fulfilling that mission.
The journey began as she was helping build a new governance function while working at KPMG. The work so aligned with Bin Zuayer’s natural interests and skills that she soon recognized “Project management is my path.” So she didn’t hesitate when a project management role opened in the Vision Realization Office for the ambitious Saudi Vision 2030, the kingdom’s bold blueprint to create a more diverse and sustainable economy. But Bin Zuayer realized she needed to hone the skills that would help her deliver.
“I truly believe that knowledge is power, and to help transform the whole country, I knew I needed to have a solid background in project management, strategy management and change management,” she says.
Earning the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification required toggling between high-pressure days and long study nights. But the effort paid off.
“The PMP certification helps you organize your thoughts and understand where to focus and how to collect all of these disparate pieces of information together,” she says. “Earning the PMP meant I was so much better equipped to handle complex projects.”
After three years at the Vision Realization Office, Bin Zuayer was ready to take on a new challenge, joining Saudi Telecommunications Co. (STC). There she again pulled double duty, studying during her downtime for another certification—and becoming only the second woman in Saudi Arabia to earn the Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)®.
“I like a challenge, and I knew that the PfMP would put me on the radar,” she says.
She didn’t stop there. Bin Zuayer also completed her master’s in business administration and was recently selected to participate in the STC’s High Potential Leadership Program. The ultimate goal, she says: Pass on even more knowledge to the next generation of project managers. As program director, she now oversees 200 consultants with high-level expertise in niches such as the Internet of Things and software engineering.
Bin Zuayer is paying it forward, too. Within STC’s internal consultancy, she leads a track devoted to project management in information and communications technology project management. Along with building tailored development plans for budding project talent, Bin Zuayer coordinates project management mentors and manages partnerships with both PMI and PwC to grow project management skills across STC Group. No surprise, there’s ample rigor in her approach here, too, from baseline assessments and ongoing assignments to seminars, hands-on practice and real-time shadowing of experienced talent.
“You can’t do any consultancy work without project management, so everyone must understand it,” she says. “Project management is truly a cross-functional competency in all domains.”
Q&A: Hissah Bin Zuayer on challenging tradition and making a difference
How are young people changing the world of projects now?
By embracing digital tools and platforms, using agile and lean methodologies, and valuing sustainability and social responsibility. They’re challenging traditional practices and driving innovation.
Fast forward: What’s one way managing projects will have changed over the next decade?
Project managers will need to adapt to new technologies and learn how to integrate them into their workflows to stay competitive in the future. AI and automation have the potential to streamline project management processes, reduce errors and delays, and improve overall efficiency.
What book are you recommending right now?
I am absolutely obsessed with the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It’s a fascinating exploration of the human mind and the way that we make decisions, drawing on insights from psychology, economics and neuroscience. It challenges our assumptions and offers practical strategies for improving decision-making and avoiding common cognitive biases.
What moonshot project would you most like to work on?
I’m passionate about any projects that make a real difference in the world— whether it’s developing new technologies to improve healthcare outcomes or creating sustainable energy solutions to combat climate change or finding new ways to address social inequality. Ultimately, I believe the most fulfilling work benefits others.