Tatiana Rahal loves the varied exposure that talabat has offered her, be it leading new markets and multinational teams or trying new roles

Prior to working with talabat UAE, you were the MD of talabat Oman and have also previously worked in sales excellence in the UAE market. What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

Every role and market is different, and brings with it a new set of challenges and learnings. talabat Oman was more of a startup and a “building phase”. My goal as managing director for two years in Oman was to build the team and company, ultimately generating orders and accelerating growth. In my current role as Managing Director at talabat UAE, I am joining a more established market as well as organisation, and with it my objectives have shifted towards maintaining talabat’s leadership position and improving on the existing framework.

I believe it’s vital to keep the learnings from past roles and experiences, however as a person I am very much focused on the present moment. When I look back at my professional journey, I would master the role I am in before pursuing the next one, therefore the highlight is every challenge I am faced with in that phase. That being said, today I am most excited about my current role and look forward to achieving new milestones.

What has been the key to your professional success? What (or who) has contributed to leading you to where you are today as a woman managing director?

I will start with the “who” - my parents. Empowerment starts at home, and they made sure to treat my brother and myself equally. I was always encouraged to be completely independent and was made to feel there are no limits to the success I can achieve. I also never heard “you can’t do it but your brother can”, whether it was allowing me to enroll in Kung Fu classes or making me do the house chores I wasn’t too fond of - fair is fair.

When it comes to the “what”, if I were to sum it up, I would say it comes down to three main factors at work. The internal support, specifically the mentor and mentee dynamic. I was very lucky to have worked with great mentors such as Alice Klat at booz during my consultancy days, and Toon Gyssels who taught me so much after I joined talabat. Secondly, feedback; always being open to receiving it and even actively requesting it. And last but not least, going for the opportunities where I will learn most rather than the title, money or something I am comfortable with.

In your opinion, what are the biggest obstacles preventing women from reaching higher positions in business?

I believe the company culture and in turn the manager you work with make a huge difference as they are the ones who push you to grow and put in place a system that enables success. For example, a company that allows a flexible working model, with flexible hours and remote working option, as well as a culture that is more output driven rather than clocking in hours, helps working mothers have a better work-life balance. Flexibility is vital, especially in higher positions, where we lose a lot of women at senior levels due to the pressure they face to choose between motherhood and work.

Another observation I made over the years is that at times, some women tend to be more accommodating by nature and less vocal about their achievements. It is important for women to build their network, be confident about their results and keep their growth plan in mind.

What do you like best about working with talabat?

What I love most about my journey at talabat is the varied exposure it offers, whether leading new markets and multinational teams or even trying new roles. Being a very energetic and curious person, the fast paced startup culture, with a flat structure and an array of growth opportunities is a great fit for me, allowing talabat to continuously offer employees new challenges to master, nurturing internal talent and supporting individual development within the company.

Building on that, I believe it is very important for one’s values to match those of the company they are part of in order to succeed. talabat’s values match mine - I am a big advocate of diversity, inclusion and support, which lead to a positive team synergy and a super rich environment with learnings at every turn.

In your opinion, what more can businesses do to support women in leadership roles?

Be flexible on ways of working, each person has different needs; be output focused rather than stuck on where they should work from or at what time. A lot of companies lose women when they become mothers as they do not accommodate for the change in lifestyle such an event has on a woman's life.

At talabat UAE, a key initiative we have as part of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion agenda is to create a culture where ‘you can be you’ at work. This is aimed at encouraging employees to adopt a more flexible approach to the work environment, such as a hybrid home and office model, which hugely supports working women (and men) finding that work-life balance.

We are also proud to offer our female employees 90 days paid maternity leave, and we have set up in our Dubai location a private feeding room to support them during that transition back to work while still nursing their baby. By creating a company culture geared towards supporting women, 42% of our management positions are occupied by women, which is higher than the global benchmark and is in line with the UAE’s stance on equity for women in the workplace.

What are your goals for talabat across the next two years?

From a team perspective, my objective is to keep building on talabat’s values, with focus on increasing teamwork, inclusivity and mentorship. By understanding the difference in communication styles, you can customise your management approach to individual needs, further leading people in the right direction, providing them with opportunities to grow and most importantly listening to them. I will also continue to grow our representation of women in leadership positions in the organization through recruitment efforts, internal growth development and movement of female talent.

When it comes to business goals, my aim is to deliver more value to our ecosystem, from customers and partners to our riders, who are our backbone. This will be done through improved operations, as well as the expansion of our Qcommerce and our services. For instance, offering a more efficient and seamless experience on the app allows us to give time back to customers, help partners grow their business and increase job opportunities for riders.

What advice would you give to young women who are just beginning in their careers?

A job is a paid learning opportunity, at the start of your career choose the job where you will learn the most. Titles and salary will follow as you gain experience and build your name.

Focus is key, don’t try to do everything, do less but better and always remember that mistakes are normal, this is how we learn. So fail fast and move on, don’t ruminate or associate your self worth to it. And finally, make sure you are not only focused on doing the work but also building your network - relationships do wonders.

Who inspires you? Is there a certain figure or saying you live by?

In terms of public figures, I admire Michelle Obama’s stance on inclusion and women empowerment, and I find Maya Angelou very inspiring on a personal level. However, I didn’t work with them; it’s different when you work with someone, that’s why the people I work with are the ones that impact me the most.

Throughout my career, I was very lucky to work in several countries and experience different cultures with great managers and leaders who pushed me and inspired me to always be a better version of myself. At Booz, Alice Klat taught me how to think about an issue and create the analytics framework, and at talabat, I learnt from Toon Gyssels that culture and values are key to the success of any leader, as well the importance of leading by example.

You also learn a lot from the people that report to you. My head of logistics in Oman team once told me to look at your hand, not all the fingers are the same, each finger has a function. That taught me that you can't expect the same thing from everyone, as people have different capabilities and we should talk to each person in the language that motivates them.

On a last note, I really believe in taking care of yourself to be a more effective leader. A career is a marathon not a sprint.

Fun fact about you?

I have an aerial yoga teacher certificate, I gave a class once in Dubai!