ABCK-AmCham Kuwait hosts a Women in Leadership Panel Discussion
April 4. ABCK-AmCham Kuwait’s Women in Business Focus Group hosted a virtual panel discussion on “Women in Leadership: Secrets to Success.” The panel discussion was led by Her Excellency Alina L. Romanowski, U.S. Ambassador to the State of Kuwait, Mrs. Eaman Al Roudhan- CEO of Zain Kuwait, Ms. Khadija Oubala- CEO of the Sultan Center Group, and Dr. Abeer Al Omar- Senior Executive Corporate Communications & Government Affairs at EQUATE Petrochemicals Company. The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Arezou Harraf, Chair of the Women in Business Focus Group and CEO of Learn & Evolve.
Dr. Harraf started the discussion by emphasizing that “Women’s participation in the economy can increase employment rates, reduce poverty, and help in economic diversification.” Dr. Harraf added that ABCK’s Women in Business focus group aligns with Kuwait’s Vision 2035, which includes advocacy for women in the workplace. She announced that ABCK -AmCham Kuwait will become signatories to the Women Empowerment Principles of the United Nations Global Compact as part of the organization’s efforts to advance gender equality.
Her Excellency Alina L. Romanowski, U.S. Ambassador to the State of Kuwait, discussed ABCK-AmCham Kuwait and the U.S. Embassy’s efforts to strengthen both cultural and economic connections between the United States and Kuwait. She pointed out that ABCK-AmCham Kuwait is celebrating its 36th anniversary and congratulated the organization on their recent launch of Women in Business focus group.
Dr. Harraf opened the panel discussion by asking Ambassador Romanowski about the skills that she acquired during her time as an Ambassador and as a government official. H.E. Ambassador Romanowski responded that she has developed skills like public speaking and dealing with the media, and as an Ambassador, “you have to be articulate to policy issues and what we stand for even if you might disagree with others in the arena.”
Dr. Harraf asked Mrs. Al Roudhan -CEO of Zain Kuwait, about the most significant barriers in her career. Mrs. Al Roudhan replied, “The main difficulty most women face in big organizations is the fact that management (and the system) sometimes does not fully prepare and expect women to get the top executive posts.”
Mrs. Al Roudhan added that women do not get as much proper training as male colleagues. For example, men are usually tasked with more difficult or challenging tasks than their female counterparts. She noted that society expects women to be “nice and soft spoken,” but society also expects leaders to be assertive. She mentioned that in the beginning of her career she struggled to balance this, but with time she was able to learn from her experience about how to be a kind yet assertive leader.
Dr. Harraf asked Ms. Khadija Oubala – CEO of The Sultan Center Group, about her definition of success; Ms. Oubala replied that “Success is a moving target.” She noted that her definition has evolved since she was younger, and added “success is, being able to look at what I have achieved in my life at any given moment and feel fulfilled and satisfied with what I have accomplished. Not only professionally but also personally and socially. It is also to have no regrets but rather to know that you made the best of which you are capable.”
Dr. Abeer Al-Omar- Senior Executive Corporate Communications & Government Affairs at EQUATE Petrochemicals Company was asked about her inspiration for success. “Since starting my career, I’ve learnt to take inspiration from as many people as possible – one person is my mother who as pioneer of education in Kuwait, taught me to trust in myself and what I believe in. There is no easy route to climbing a career ladder, but there is every opportunity for you to do so if you are determined and motivated.”
The moderator asked Ambassador Romanowski about the skills she finds most important to live a successful life based on her definition of success. Ambassador Romanowski replied, “I think it is really important to know what is important to you, and what are your priorities.” Her Excellency said that balance is the key factor to success depending on what the person is focusing on, as everyone prioritizes different facets of their life. Based on that, people will find their own success.
The panel discussion came to an end as the panelists were asked for the advice that they would give to young women entering the business world and what skills would be the most important for women in leadership positions. Dr. Harraf opened the floor for questions for panelists about their leadership skills and experiences. The moderator ended the panel discussion by thanking the attendees for their participation and acknowledged ABCK-Am-Cham Kuwait’s mission of promoting women in business.
ABCK-AmCham Kuwait: A non-profit organization operating since 1985 composed of 500 corporations, small and medium sized companies, and prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs, both American and Kuwaiti. ABCK-AmCham Kuwait has acted as an advocate for American interests in the State of Kuwait. For more information, please visit our website at www.amchamkuwait.org or follow us on social media @abck1985.