By day, Sara Galadari is a Senior Procurement Officer at Emirates Global Aluminium negotiating and securing multi-million dollar strategic raw materials contracts. At night, she is a bestselling author.
Sara has already published four books. Her latest is ‘The Elemental’, a dark fantasy novel that topped the Amazon UAE bestseller list in 2021.
Once upon a time, Sara considered a fulltime career in writing. But a passion for working in what some women would see as an unconventional field propelled her towards the biggest industrial company in the UAE outside oil and gas.
“I am really passionate about helping women break the glass ceiling,” Sara says, “and I really wanted to do something that was different and a little out of my comfort zone.
“As an Emirati woman, I wanted to develop my career in a field that breaks the boundaries of gender stereotypes while directly contributing to the progress of the UAE’s skyrocketing growth on the world’s stage. There are many amazing Emirati women at EGA, and I wanted to be one of them.”
EGA has set a target to increase the proportion of women in supervisory positions across the company in the UAE to 25 per cent by 2025. Sara welcomes the drive to gender diversity. “Our women at EGA are part of making history, and I am proud to be part of this change at one of the UAE’s oldest companies.”
It is little wonder that one of the main aspects of ‘The Elemental’ is time travel, as Sara seems a master of time management. Sara says writing helps produce her best work at EGA. “It is all about balance, writing is my creative outlet.”
Sara first encountered EGA as a high school intern in 2009. She enjoyed the environment so much that after completing a Master’s degree in Communication from Portland State University and pondering the perennial student question of ‘what do I want to do with my life?’, EGA came to mind.
“One thing that the UAE Government does for students studying abroad is a career fair every year,” Sara says. “I was in Washington DC and there was an EGA booth. The team was very welcoming, and the rest is history. Now I am here!”
Sara has been at EGA now for four-and-a-half years and her role at the company involves procuring major raw materials for Al Taweelah alumina refinery and trading for Guinea Alumina Corporation’s bauxite mine.
She has become an expert on the markets for these commodities and has built relationships with suppliers and customers around the world.
“In the strategic raw materials department, our spending is a very significant part of EGA’s entire procurement budget,” Sara says. “We buy and sell millions of tonnes every year. We handle contracts worth millions of dollars every single day. These are big ticket items and getting it right is a weighty responsibility.”
Although her background for this role is perhaps unusual, Sara says the work is “not something you can say ‘I went to school and studied this’. You really learn on the job, learn from your colleagues, and learn from being exposed to different scenarios on a day-to-day basis.” Proactively finding, applying, and sharing knowledge is one of the behaviours instilled within EGA employees under the value of innovation and continuous improvement. It is a value Sara has much experience with.
“When I was speaking to EGA they said ‘you have a unique opportunity in strategic raw materials where you could use negotiation’ – and one of the things I studied was strategic communication. It was something that sounded exciting, a challenge and something new - I wanted to try it out.”
In addition to her day-job at EGA and night-time writing, Sara is a member of the EGA Women’s Network, where she advocates for women’s roles in the organisation. She is on a large team that works to embed EGA’s culture throughout the company. And finally, she is also an EGA Ambassador, encouraging students at universities in the UAE to consider pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“I like to be engaged with the community,” says Sara. “I’m a people person and I love to connect with others.”
Hailing the EGA Ambassador programme – “a great way to represent women and show future generations that your gender will not hold you back in your career endeavours” – Sara comments: “If I inspire one student, then I’ve achieved my goal.”
EGA aims to become the #1 industrial employer of choice in the countries where it operates by 2030. To achieve this goal, EGA provides best-in-class capability building, excellent career opportunities, and champions diversity in the workplace.
Sara’s inspiration as a young girl came from the written word and the books that she avidly devoured. Her Amazon bio cheekily reads ‘she often spent her youth visiting libraries and checking out dozens of books at a time (taking advantage of both of her brothers’ library cards to cheat the system and check out more books for the week)’!
“I remember when I was little I’d walk through bookstores and say to myself ‘one day I’m going to have a book with my name on it’,” says Sara. “I never thought that would be true, so to do that is surreal.”
“Surreal” is the same description she gives at being a best-selling author, adding that her No.1 ranking in the Amazon UAE list for 2021 made both her and her family and friends “incredibly proud”.
However, do not think bestselling means bank busting – as the vast majority of authors know only too well, writing a book is very much a labour of love.
“I set the price low just because I wanted people to read it. I just wanted to share my love of writing with people,” says Sara.