Women in business came together at The St. Regis Dubai on May 11, 2016 for the second edition of the Achieving Women Forum, which featured some of the region’s most prominent female figures in business sharing their insights with the 300 attendees of the half-day conference. The 2016 Achieving Women Forum, staged under the Entrepreneur Industry Intel banner, was moderated by Maya Hojeij, Editor in Chief and Presenter of Mal, a daily business news show on Dubai TV, and began with opening remarks by Entrepreneur Middle East Editor in Chief, Fida Chaaban.
Chaaban addressed the assembly, explaining that it was thanks to her own career experiences, both positive and negative, that she became an advocate for women in business to have dedicated spaces where they can “capitalize on the value their peers bring to the table, and maybe even look for help and mentorship when they need it.” Chaaban also noted that she was there at the event to learn as much as the audience, and encouraged them to use the day to build their respective networks.
The keynote address for the 2016 Achieving Women Forum was given by Huda Al Lawati, who was most recently a Partner and Chief Investment Officer for the MENA region at The Abraaj Group. Al Lawati, who has more than 12 years of experience in private equity and finance, also participated in the first panel discussion of the day at the forum, which was centered on moving past barriers to growing one’s business. In her opening speech, Al Lawati drew upon her own experiences in the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to encourage others to follow their own dreams and aspirations with respect to their careers and business endeavors.
In the Voice of Entrepreneurship segment of the conference, a fireside chat was executed with H.E. Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office, the government entity charged with overseeing Dubai’s citywide smart transformation, engaging with leadership in the public and private sector to make Dubai a global benchmark smart city. During her conversation with Chaaban and Hojeij, Dr. Bin Bishr highlighted that now is the golden age in terms of opportunities for women in the region, urging the entrepreneurially minded members of the audience to be truly passionate about what they do, as that is a key factor that will decide their success in their respective enterprises.
The first of the Talking Series brought forward ideas under the title of Jumping the Fence: Barriers to your Business Growth, which had as its panelists keynote speaker Huda Al Lawati, Naseba co-founder and CEO Sophie Le Ray, and Balthazar Capital founder and Managing Partner Heather Henyon.
The second discussion for the day brought forward tenets of strong networking and how that can be leveraged to help women in business, under the title of Navigating Networking: Making Relationships Count for Your Enterprise, and was headlined by Ema Linaker, Director of Digital, Edelman MEA, Sirine Fadoul, Incubation Manager at DTEC/DSOA, Stephanie Fernandez, Head of Search & Staffing MENA at LinkedIn Talent Solutions and Zeina Sleiman, Associate Director of Institutional Relations and Alumni Affairs at INSEAD.
The third and final panel of the event revolved around financial literacy, funding and strategic steps toward seeking capital injections under the title of The Rules of Engagement: Making Working Capital Actually Work with panelists Mona Ataya, founder and CEO, Mumzworld, Joy Ajlouny, cofounder and Creative Director, Fetchr and Tena Pick, co-founder and CEO, The Sustainability Platform.
The 2016 Achieving Women Forum was conducted with the support of Platinum Ally, AJSM Investments, Luxury Partner, Cadillac, Hotel of Choice, The St. Regis Dubai, Gold Allies Sama Santé Medical Center, Skyline University College and Cosmetrix by Saudi German Hospital Dubai, and Silver Ally, compareit4me.com.