Dalya Al Muthanna may have made headlines in 2014 when she became the first Emirati to be appointed the President and CEO of GE Gulf, but this enterprising woman has been making waves in the business world long before that as well prior to her career at GE, she had founded and managed a multi-million dollar international franchise for five years. Given her career achievements –including the noteworthy achievement of being the first female President and CEO of GE Gulf- it’s no surprise that Al Muthanna has become an inspiration for women in the region; a responsibility that she’s carrying off with no shortage of enthusiasm and élan. For a woman entrepreneur or as senior management at a multinational corporation, in largely male dominated industries, it’s important to remember that you are opening doors for more women to achieve, and that you’re setting an example for others as a female leader of commerce. “With governments and businesses in the region increasingly focusing on women empowerment and nurturing them for leadership roles, you can make a tangible difference in promoting women at the workplace. This could start with a focus on mentoring young women professionals and your peers.”
Al Muthanna suggests using your experience to educate other women and to foster more female involvement in fields that are usually led by men. Women in the GCC have the potential to be commercial leaders, and the environment here is very much equal opportunity. For a woman entrepreneur or a senior management figure, lend whatever time you can to mentor and help other women reach their maximum business potential. Even focusing on one protege to mentor is a great help. “From my personal and professional experience, I have observed that young women join the workplace with tremendous ambition and positive energy. Instilling in them the confidence that they have the ability to shine through in their careers and achieve their dreams must be the core of your mentoring approach. Often, all it takes is a word of encouragement to bring out the best from others,” adds Al Muthanna. Aside from mentorship, she suggests proactively focusing on individual growth opportunities within your team: “My suggestion for further energizing women empowerment initiatives is to promote not just work-related skills but also enable your team to develop their personal strengths. Preparing a fantastic presentation or preparing a well-researched document is all fine and a part of work. But have you considered evaluating and helping your team to identify what their true passion is? It is important to encourage a culture of dialogue where you can identify latent skills of your team and help them hone it.” Making a difference, according to her, doesn’t just mean getting the job done, it’s about carving out a place for yourself in your industry.
“My final word of advice would be to help women identify their goals and bigger purpose in life. Personal and professional fulfilment, along with true empowerment, comes from an individual accomplishing her goals and working with a clear focus of her purpose. Ultimately, women empowerment is about defining one’s place in the society– and as leaders you can make a big difference to others.”