Amina Bilal: Making a difference in logistics industry

What you need to know:

Ms Bilal is skilled at recognizing business opportunities and putting together bids to win new business, managing contracts, developing, and implementing strategic plans and driving business growth and profitability

Dar es Salaam. Amina Bilal, a certified public accountant (CPA), with 14 years of experience in the Tanzania Logistics Industry, says that passion and believing in herself have been a key milestone to achieving success in her career.

Working as a commercial manager, Ms Bilal serves both as an integral part of Senior Management Team (SMT) at Swissport Tanzania Plc and as a principal advisor of the chief executive officer in all commercial matters of the company.

She believes that women inclusion in the logistics industry is not satisfying compared to other industries.

She says collaborative efforts are required to encourage women pursue logistics, accountancy and finance related courses in order to bridge the gender gap.

This stems from the fact that the representation of women in the logistics industry is notably lower compared to other sectors.

Nevertheless, she says, she has observed that in recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of women entering the field.

She expresses hope that in the future, the representation of women will become more prominent, especially considering the ongoing initiatives spearheaded by the government and other key stakeholders in the aviation sector.

She narrates how she found herself in this sector; “I remember how my elder sister, during her time in secondary school, would give me her books so that I could write notes for her. I used to use to write bookkeeping notes for her and that’s the first time I became aware of the field.”

Over time, she found herself increasingly drawn to commercial subjects.

Determined to emulate her sister's success, she embarked on her own academic journey, enrolling at Mzumbe University in 2005. In 2008, she proudly graduated with a Bachelor of Accountancy in Finance.

Explaining her approach to managing her daily workload, she emphasizes the critical importance of prioritization.

She articulates that focusing on the most essential tasks is indispensable for efficiently accomplishing her daily responsibilities.

“I develop a precise to-do-list of things by prioritizing what is most important to me, for the business and on a personal level. I always maintain a buffer to accommodate daily requests which fall out of the plan. As and when necessary, I use the power on ‘No’ to stay on track,” she says.

Ms Bilal is also skilled at recognizing business opportunities and putting together bids to win new business, managing contracts, developing, and implementing strategic plans and driving business growth and profitability.

She is also well-equipped in negotiation, strategic selling, problem-solving, inter-personnel, and communication skills, contributing to the acceleration and achievement of organizational goals.

“My career journey has been a success because of various factors but, the most vivid one is the clear picture of the career roadmap,” she says.

“I have a clear vision of where I want to go. I believe in perpetually embodying the role of a student.

Learning is a constant journey for me—I never cease to gather knowledge and draw insights from every conceivable source. Whether it be from my seniors, colleagues, mentors, friends, or even customers. I embrace the courage to never underestimate myself when faced with roles or tasks that may seem daunting or uncomfortable. Instead of shying away from challenges, I confront them head-on, recognizing them as opportunities for growth and development,” she says.

When discussing the challenges she faces in carrying out her responsibilities and her strategies for addressing them, Ms Bilal emphasizes that Swissport has established right systems and laid down proper procedures which guide them as they execute their daily tasks, which simplify their work.

“Furthermore, we always work as a team. There is no standalone task to be accomplished or completed by a single individual. This cohesion brings a sense of comfort in addressing tough assignments and most of the time we sense as if we are addressing a situation rather than a challenge. We as well have strong leadership, our chief executive officer is always ready to guide us and ensure we deliver to the company’s expectation,” she says.

She encourages women to seize every available opportunity and dispel the misconception that accountancy exams are difficult. Rather, with passion, focus, and a positive mindset, these exams can be navigated with simplicity and success.

She says her Bachelor of Accounting and Finance (BAF) at Mzumbe University set a foundation for completing stage E & F of NBAA.

“My passion for accounting and numbers was an added advantage,” she adds.

Ms Bilal has been mentoring a number of people by sharing knowledge, skills and experience in a formal and informal structure; some at work and some outside of work and mostly into commercial, accounting and finance and soft skills related subjects.

She emphasized the importance of understanding mentorship before mentoring others.

A mentor must have a clear understanding of the mentees’ goals, targets, vision and dreams before starting mentoring anyone.

Ms Bilal adds that a mentor must be willing to share her personal experience on the subject matter so much as to ignite the mentees’ interest on the subject.

Dwelling into the specifics is key, she notes.

At work she oversees the execution of business development objectives, new business bid preparation, commercial proposals and agreements in accordance with the SOPs.