The Recap Of The RiiSE Conference: Achieving Women Forum 2019

The RiiSE Conference: Achieving Women Forum, presented by Accor, in association with Entrepreneur Middle East, and du, brought together expert speakers from around the world and over 300 attendees,
5 min read

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Bringing together expert speakers from around the world and over 300 attendees, the RiiSE Conference: Achieving Women Forum 2019, was held in October 21, 2019 at the Sofitel Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa. This year’s annual event dedicated to women in business was held in partnership with RiiSE, Accor’s global parity and diversity platform that boasts of a global membership of over 25,000 men and women from over 4,000 hotels and 100 countries.

Wissam Younane, CEO, BNC Publishing

The RiiSE Conference: Achieving Women Forum, presented by Accor, in association with Entrepreneur Middle East, and du, was held with the support of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Dubai Startup Hub, as well as Platinum Ally, Berkeley Assets; Gold Allies, Okadoc, Regus, and Multibank Group; Silver Allies, Virtuzone and Savills, Education Partner, The University of Manchester, and Ecosystem Partner, the Dubai Business Women Council. 

Sebastine Bazin, CEO, Accor

It commenced with opening remarks by Wissam Younane, CEO of BNC Publishing, the media publishing house behind Entrepreneur Middle East, who commented that the partnership with RiiSE boosted Entrepreneur’s mission of elevating the conversation around women in the region’s business arena.

“It is a platform created for you, that was then adopted by you; our community of achieving women who turned this annual event into a tool, and that is what has taken it to the next level.”

Maud Bailly, Chief Digital Officer, Accor

Sebastine Bazin, CEO of Accor, remarked on the conference’s objective of providing a platform for diversity and inclusion, and how it aligns with their group’s mission to advocate for gender parity, while Maud Bailly, Chief Digital Officer of Accor noted the significance of the platform as a driver of growth for women in the business arena.

Hanan Ahmed, Senior Vice President – Corporate Governance and Company Secretary at du and Chairwoman of EITC Women Council

Getting the conference started on her welcome note, Hanan Ahmed, Senior Vice President – Corporate Governance and Company Secretary at du and Chairwoman of EITC Women Council, pointed out the rising opportunities for today’s women in business in the region, and how the future requires a more united front from both women and men. “Together we are stronger, together we can rise.”

From left to right: Julia Chatterley, anchor and correspondent, CNN; Sebastien Bazin, CEO, Accor; Hannah Beswick, Partnerships Development Specialist, UN Women; Dr. Nazli Neftci, clinical psychologists and psychotherapist, Hamdi Kulahcioglu, General Manager – The Deal, Chalhoub Group; Lily Hoa Nguyen, owner and Executive Chef, Vietnamese Foodies; and Jessica Smith OAM, paralympian, author and speaker.

Moderated by Julia Chatterley, anchor and correspondent, CNN, the first of the panel discussions under the title Overcoming Adversity explored perceptions around roadblocks in lives and careers, the different ways they can be overcome, and how such situations can be turned into learning experiences. The panelists included Sebastien Bazin, CEO, Accor; Hannah Beswick, Partnerships Development Specialist, UN Women; Dr. Nazli Neftci, clinical psychologists and psychotherapist, Hamdi Kulahcioglu, General Manager – The Deal, Chalhoub Group; Lily Hoa Nguyen, owner and Executive Chef, Vietnamese Foodies; and Jessica Smith OAM, paralympian, author and speaker.

Erik Weihenmayer

It was followed by a keynote speech by Erik Weihenmayer, the world’s first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest, who gave his personal take on overcoming barriers and fears, and engineering your own path for the future.

From left to right: Julia Chatterley, anchor and correspondent, CNN; Roula Jouny, Group Managing Director, FTI Group; Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, CEO, Novo Cinemas; Dr. Alia Al Serkal, Vice President – People Learning and Growth, du; and Assia Riccio, founder, Evolvin’ Women

The second panel discussion, titled Breaking The Glass Ceiling, looked into tried-and-tested techniques and tactics that female executives have (and should make use of) to advance themselves in the workplace, with them sharing actionable advice that can be implemented to advance women’s careers. The discussion was driven by panelists Roula Jouny, Group Managing Director, FTI Group; Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, CEO, Novo Cinemas; Dr. Alia Al Serkal, Vice President – People Learning and Growth, du; and Assia Riccio, founder, Evolvin’ Women.

From left to right: Maud Bailly, Julia Chatterley, anchor and correspondent, CNN, Chief Digital Officer, Accor, and Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister

The forum came to an end with a fireside chat featuring Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister, and Maud Bailly, Chief Digital Officer, Accor, both of whom advocated for more women in leadership roles to foster new ideas, creating new avenues for diversity, setting out mentorship initiatives, and more.

The RiiSE Conference: Achieving Women Forum, presented by Accor, in association with Entrepreneur Middle East, and du, received a lot of engagement on social media--check out highlights on Twitter and Instagram by following the #EntMEWomen hashtag.

Related: The Recap: Achieving Women Awards 2019

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Jumpstart Your Business. Entrepreneur Insider is your all-access pass to the skills, experts, and network you need to get your business off the ground—or take it to the next level.
Create your business plan in half the time with twice the impact using Entrepreneur's BIZ PLANNING PLUS powered by LivePlan. Try risk free for 60 days.

Latest on Entrepreneur