A Multicultural Maverick
After making the journey from disc jockey to international shipping executive, Tammy Hamawi has set sail on another business adventure based on the Gold Coast
I was born in: Kuwait in 1967
I arrived on the Gold Coast: on holiday in 1997 with my then husband Bruce Scott and our daughter Bianca.
I moved here: in 2003 from Sydney, I needed a balance between my intense business life and my personal life.
I started to call the Gold Coast home: almost immediately after arriving here. It’s such a beautiful place with the dynamics of a big city while retaining a charming, relaxed lifestyle and a friendly sense of community.
People rarely come with a broader multicultural pedigree than Tammy Hamawi.
Born in Kuwait in 1967, her paediatrician father Mark, who is Arabic, and French mother Norma travelled extensively.
Tammy attended school in Israel, Kuwait, England, the US and Australia which certainly gave her an appreciation of life from many perspectives.
“My childhood was very Western and it taught me that the differences between Arabs and Jews or anyone should not really matter,” says Tammy.
“My father had medical practices that operated between Kuwait City and Al Jahrah, which borders the desert, and he could be treating desert Bedouins one day or the children of very successful business people the next.
“My childhood was always on the move. A different school meant I was always new and foreign wherever we went. As a result I speak English, French, Arabic and some German.”
By the time she finished school, Tammy was living in Sydney and, as a self-confessed maverick, was looking for something to do during the summer break while waiting to start her university studies.
“In 1985, I was enrolled at a university and really enjoying being a DJ at night,” she recalls.
“I applied for a position with a shipping company. By coincidence, the company turned out to be that of my brother-in-law and, after I got the job, I soon realised this was something I could really grow to love.
“It sounds like a cliché, but the romance and mystery of a port and having ships sailing around the globe appealed to me.
“After three months of learning the container logistics side of the business, I was promoted to husbandry and sent to the wharves.
“What most people don’t realise is that you have to quickly understand the politics of the wharves. A wharfie or the managing director both need and demand equal attention.
“From the moment I started I wanted to be in charge of things and, in 1993, after learning all aspects of the business, I was offered the opportunity to become a shareholder.”
So began a sequence of events that took Tammy from her role as national sales manager in Australia to that of line manager based in New Zealand.
Responsible for the trade service between New Zealand, the US east coast, Europe and the Pacific, Tammy rose to become a director and group general manager of PDL (Pacific Direct Lines), overseeing 14 branches and a team of 300.
“I loved the business so much I couldn’t wait to go to work every day. Yes, it is cut-throat and yes, there are major problems to solve all the time, but I’m proud to say I made a real impact on my industry.
“Some significant joint ventures were born under my care and led to a stronger company able to survive tough times and tough competition.
“However, I attribute all my achievements to the people who worked with me and who taught me that partnership and co-operation are the keys in business.”
In 2009, Tammy was ready to develop other aspects of her passion. It meant confronting the fear that everyone has when leaving something successful and familiar to risk something new.
She launched tribunity.com and now classifies herself as a business adviser, mentor and public speaker.
“Shining the light on my clients’ abilities and showing them how courageous they really are is hugely rewarding,” says Tammy.