Reem Abdullah Al-Ghanim2018 Rising Alumni

Reem Abdullah Al-Ghanim

Reem Abdullah Al-Ghanim, who has a master’s in human resource development, wins the award for traveling the furthest to join us. Only by 3,000 miles though! She lives in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia and is a division head at Saudi Aramco, an energy company. CEHD associate Dean Ken Bartlett nominated Reem because of her work to develop women leaders and inspire girls to pursue STEM. Her current role overseeing women’s development and diversity at Aramco is sparking significant change at the company by increasing the pipeline of talented women and fostering women’s career advancement. At a national level, Reem is leading a project to establish a country-wide leadership development institute to train high potential future managers.


Division Head, Saudi Aramco

CEHD Degree

MEd Human Resource Development, 2009

Please list any professional accomplishments you wish to mention.

Launched the Women's Degree Sponsorship Program at Saudi Aramco (2006-2010). Lead the conceptual design, structuring and implementation planning for the Saudi Aramco / Corporate Learning Campus, the Corporate University (2014). Launched the Women Development and Diversity Organization at Saudi Aramco, enabling stronger intake of females into the talent pipeline, supporting Women Development, advancement and retention (2015). Launched the STEMania program, an after school program for girls studying in grade 1-9 at public schools, which inspires them to pursue STEM careers and further develop the STEM pipeline for Saudi women (2015). Founding Member of the Advancing Women in Leadership Council – Europe/MENA Region (2015). Founding Member of GROW, the Gulf Region Organization for Women, which is made up of over 35 partners from different industries, government and semi-government organizations, and academia (2016). Committee Chair of the Leadership Excellence for Women Awards & Symposium (2016-2018).

Please list any past or current volunteer activities.

I’m an active mentor at schools and universities. I work with students and support their interests and aspirations.

Please list any awards or honors from your collegiate, professional, or volunteer experiences.

Received the "Learning at the Core" award, at the 10th annual GetEnergy Awards ceremony held May 8th, 2017, honoring commitment placed in heading the diversity strategy through corporate and community programs that develop the pipeline, perception and support the pathway for advancement of gender diversity in the energy industry.

What professor(s) or course(s) were most influential during your time in CEHD?

Dr. Gary McLean has been very influential in both my degree from the University of Minnesota and career at Saudi Aramco. Although he has left the University, he enabled me to fall in love with HR Development and with the university, before I ever saw it.

What was the impact and benefit of your educational experience in CEHD?

I have often referred to learning received from the different courses I attended, such as Evaluation and International HRD, and because of how the professors enabled us to learn, I could develop my own "point of view" quickly on the topics, and discuss/debate that point of view with my colleagues at work.

What is your favorite memory from the University of Minnesota?

My favorite memory was actually visiting the University in 2007 and getting my university ID 8 years after I began. The opportunity provided by the University of Minnesota and Saudi Aramco was outstanding. University of Minnesota professors would travel to Saudi Arabia and deliver the 40 hour content, assignments, and final exam on site, to the cohort of learners from Saudi Aramco. I began my degree in 1999 and graduated in 2008. In the summer of 2007, I visited Minnesota and the University campus with a colleague who was also part of the Saudi Aramco cohort that later graduated. I was overwhelmed when I walked through the campus. Although it wasn't familiar, it felt like home.

What skills are important to succeed as an emerging professional today?

I believe adaptability is key in today’s world. Your ability to maintain your energy as you adjust your direction is critical in this ever evolving and quick business world.

Who has inspired you the most during your career?

Two people have inspired me the most: My father, after dedicating over 40 years of his life to his work at Saudi Aramco, has spent the last 20 years building his engineering business. And, my husband after working in a job for 12 years, decided to go on a different path and become an entrepreneur. He inspire me to do more, to be more, every day.

They are both always looking for new and promising opportunities, and I am so fortunate they are both in my life every day.

What are your hobbies?

I run to the kitchen and bake something! Baking has become a passion of mine since I began making bread 4-5 years ago.

How do others describe you?

Someone very dear to me once said "Reem, you are made of wood that does not burn quickly". I believe others would describe me as a leader that understands strengths and guides colleagues to optimal performance through learning by doing. I am seen as resilient, strategic and far sighted. As someone who brings hard work, humility and the right humor even in the most stressful situations.

How do you describe yourself?

I believe I am patient, loyal, authentic, light hearted, creative, and have unbelievably high expectations, sometimes. I am interested in finding that spark in every person, in helping people better understand themselves, and how they fit into the larger picture. I enjoy working with diverse people that have different points of view and want to get things done the best way, and see outstanding results.

What's a good book you'd recommend to others?

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

If you could have coffee with anyone from history, who would it be?

I would like to have coffee with Fatima Mohammed Al-Fihriyah Al-Qurashiyah, founder of the oldest existing University, the University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fes, Morocco.

What gets you excited about work?

Impact. Impact is what gets me excited about work…. making a difference in organizations and people’s lives, enabling improvement.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to rule the world, but settled for the amazing job I am doing today :)

Outside of your job, how do you grow professionally?

I enjoy connecting with colleagues around the globe, learning about the amazing work that they are doing, and sharing personal insights. I also find that what ignites my creativity is stepping away from the work that I am doing and getting involved with something outside my normal routine. It amazing how your perspective can change!

What is a "fun fact" about you?

I am a 3rd generation Aramcon, both my grandfather and father worked for Saudi Aramco.