UNITED FRONT

Ohlala is proud to be part of history once again as Official Media Partner for the Second Edition of the WOMEN POWER SUMMIT (WPS) in the MENA region, launched by Obai and Hill. We interview some of the ladies who were integral in this movement and we are excited for what the future holds.

EMAN AL MANNAI

“My main message would be to always believe in yourself no matter what, invest in yourself by education, relationships and networking.”

With 14 years of experience in Bahrain’s real estate market, EMAN AL MANNAI, as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for The Bahrain Bay real estate project, Golden Gate, has achieved outstanding marketing success for several leading real estate projects and has supported her career with her academic expertise and relevant certifications.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your job role
I had a religious upbringing, and my father was my role model of leadership and professionalism. For 15 years, I successfully managed 10 towers of freehold – I received the “Certified international real estate expert” license which gave me the right to buy and sell in 62 countries. I published the first specialised real estate book to incite positivity and ambition amidst the young generations.
I’m proud to say that I was named the most influential woman for three consecutive years in one of the magazine’s polls. Some hard family circumstances shaped my way and made me an inspiration to others. My “Grandmother’s golden bell” crowns my life and professional experiences which integrates with the “Golden Gate” project that the design combines Bahraini sail and Indian gold.
I founded a flexible payment mechanism for investors and a program that establishes long-term relationships for residents. I love travelling, driving Formula1 cars, soaring and diving. As you can see, I’ve had and continue to have a busy life!

What role do you think global media plays, or can play, specifically in promoting gender equality?
This is very important and absolutely needed. It showcases their achievements to give them the full support to be a role model for others to be influenced and act upon.

Do you think that women’s positioning in business is fair?
Or do we still have a way to go? I believe that In Bahrain it is fair – however, in the world we have a long way to go. There is a huge support mechanism from the supreme council of women alongside the media.

What advice do you have for other women who are looking to start a business or continue to grow in their career?
My main message would be to always believe in yourself no matter what, invest in yourself by education, relationships and networking . Don’t give up if you never fail you will never learn. Never stop, keep going and build your own empire.

ESMAHAN BOKHOWA

ESMAHAN BOKHOWA, the General Manager of Saar Mall is young, enterprising and dedicated to her work. With a strong background in finance and management she is at the helm of an enterprise and also an advocate to a variety of business groups and charities in Bahrain.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your job role
I started as a trainee accountant in 1995 and went on to become the head of Finance at Bokhowa Group. I studied accounting at the University of Bahrain and have an MBA from Torrens University in Australia. In 2013 I took on management responsibility for Saar Mall, a new community shopping mall concept, developed and owned by the Bokhowa Group.
I’m an active member of a number of business groups and charitable societies such as the Entrepreneurs Organisation (EO); the Bahrain Business Women’s Society; the British Bahrain Business Forum (BBBF) ; American Chambers of Commerce AmCham Bahrain, Inspiration Economy Society, Afaq Bahrain Economic Union, Mentor in 4th Mashroo3i Youth Business Awards, was Mentor in Tamkeen’s pilot Entrepreneur Mentoring Experience program. Member of Advisory Committee for Construction, real estate and services sector.

Name a strong female role model that has provided you guidance to where you are today.
There were lots of women in my life who inspired me, but the most important woman was my mother, she is so punctual, dedicated, caring and courageous.

What do you hope will result from WPS 2019 in terms of actions and takeaway messages for the participants?
I hope all the women who attended will learn from other women’s experiences. I left WPS 2019 learning so much from the other speakers and I felt inspired as a whole.

The buzz word surrounding WPS 2019 is “movement” – how do you see yourself engaging with the movement of Women Leaders in the Middle East?
I feel grateful that I’m not the only woman who is running a business, which is a huge relief as I continuously receive support from my family and from other women like me too.

“There were lots of women in my life who inspired me, but the most important woman was my mother, she is so punctual, dedicated, caring and courageous.”

What role do you think global media plays, or can play, specifically in promoting gender equality?
Media has a huge role in showing the world that us as women continuously create marvellous achievements.

Do you think that women’s positioning in business is fair?
Or do we still have a way to go? We are definitely improving when it comes to females positioning in business, but we still need more time to get to an equal standpoint.

In your own words, what did this years WPS 2019 represent?
I’m so amazed and impressed at how many successful women there are in our society and the goals that they have accomplished.

What is the main thing that you’ve taken away from WPS 2019 yourself ?
I’m humbled at hearing about lots of other women’s experiences and I’ve allowed myself to reflect on my own journey.

What advice do you have for other women who are looking to start a business or continue to grow in their career?
I deal will lots of tenants each day, and some of them are new in starting their businesses, I noticed that some fail and some succeed, the failed ones didn’t do their business plan nor the financial studies, but the successful ones educate themselves by asking, learning, and were mentored, and had a business plan. I always advise people to plan ahead and for the ones who grow their career, of course, again, plan your goal and be INNOVATIVE and be different.

HALA AHMED SULAIMAN

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your job role.
As a sole founder I Beyond Borders Consultancy was established in September 2016 offering strategic management and Communication services. My experience mounts up to 25 years in the fields of Strategic Management and Communication and launching start-ups in both the Public and Private Sector. I’m very proud of AlRawi which is an audio-based social network, application and platform that crosses all borders with its digital capability in audiobook creation and publishing of rich and engaging Arabic content, scalable to multiple languages. This Company was co-founded with myself and two of my partners Mohamed Ebrahim and Ameera Al Qubait. AlRawi as an application currently has more than 500 books in 10 different categories that has won several regional and international recognitions, continuing to grow at all levels.

Name a strong female role model that has provided you guidance to where you are today.
My mother and late father are my role models. They have brought me up to be educated and independent and to believe in my abilities and to pursue my ambitions to the maximum. Role models start from home.

What do you hope will result from WPS 2019 in terms of actions and takeaway messages for the participants?
The event is an opportunity to network, develop B2B opportunities, learn from each other’s experience and take away best practices and/or how to avoid potential downfalls. There are many great stories out there. WPS should also transform into or work with a digital website and platform as a promoter for women achievements irrelevant of their nationality.

HALA AHMED SULAIMAN, is the Founder and Managing Director of Beyond Borders Consultancy which is focused on providing strategic management and communication consultancy and is also a Co-Founder of AlRawi Media WLL, an innovative and award-winning audiobook application specialised in Arabic Books.

“They have brought me up to be educated and independent and to believe in my abilities and to pursue my ambitions to the maximum.”

The buzz word surrounding WPS 2019 is “movement” – how do you see yourself engaging with the movement of Women Leaders in the Middle East?
We do not need a “movement”. Women are appropriately empowered in Bahrain and we are looking at advancement opportunities for women in the various sectors. What we need to do as women is to seek opportunities and personally achieve our own potential. We need to ensure that education, job opportunities and equal opportunities are sustained for all genders with a focus on women as they are also responsible for the upcoming generations.

What role do you think global media plays, or can play, specifically in promoting gender equality?
I like to call it promoting “equal opportunities” rather than “gender equality”. The media needs to work with the various stakeholders to ensure a social and community-based mindset is developed. Selection or opportunities should not be based on gender – the mindset needs to develop and create a mindset whereupon when applying for an opportunity or when candidates are sought – they are selected based on competency and capability.

Do you think that women’s positioning in business is fair? Or do we still have a way to go?
Statistically, women in Bahrain have become more engaged in the world of business due to the vast amount of enablers and opportunities through the entrepreneurial ecosystem, e.g. Startup Bahrain, Tamkeen, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Bahrain Development Bank, Bahrain Economic Development Board and of course the Supreme Council for Women. All of these organizations are playing a role within their set of roles and responsibilities to ensure appropriate programmes are developed. However, I believe there is still a lot of work which needs to be done in the areas of financial literacy, issues related to legal implications, investments, shareholders and partnership topics/issues.

In your own words, what did this year’s WPS 2019 represent?
I think the event is successful. It should continue for many years to come. It should become a GCC and regional brand with the aim to create networking opportunities, B2B opportunities, an educational and knowledge platform. Ideally would love to see all organisations with the purpose of serving women, be more actively engaged in this event. It is an effort by a young woman and her team in the private sector which should be commended and taken further.

What is the main thing that you’ve taken away from WPS 2019 yourself?
There is still so much to learn from other people who have had different experiences. We need to continuously work on appreciating and understanding each other, our challenges and try to work together to guide each other in the various areas and sectors. WPS can be an amazing platform for mentors and mentees. In each one of us is a special story and achievement which is worth sharing and perhaps with such events, gatherings and forums we can guide each other and give a helping hand based on our areas and years of expertise.

What advice do you have for other women who are looking to start a business or continue to grow in their career?
The opportunities are out there. Go out and Grab them. Read, educate yourself and seek the information. Achieve your potential to the best of your abilities. It is ok to fail because we will learn from our mistakes and it is ok to fail knowing that you have tried your best. Continue trying and doing your best until your passion, hard work and dedication takes you to the right steps towards opportunities, growth and success.

SAHAR QANATI

SAHAR QANATI, PR Director at GFH Financial group is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to business. Over a decade of experience spanning from her time in Ernst & Young Bahrain, has allowed for the diversified strength that this woman showcases on a daily basis.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your job role.
I am currently a PR Director in the Corporate Communications Department at GFH Financial Group, where I handle the development and execution of the Group’s PR, events and marketing communications activities. I have more than 12 years of experience in internal and corporate communications and prior to joining GFH, I worked for six years at Arab Insurance Group (ARIG), the region’s largest insurer, where I was an assistant manager in the company’s Human Resources department, providing support on internal communications, employee engagement and events. I began my career with Ernst & Young Bahrain in 2006 and I hold a B.Sc. in Computer Engineering from the University of Bahrain. Finally and most importantly I am a mother of two little angels, Sofia and Bader who are my life!

Name a strong female role model that has provided you guidance to where you are today.
People always compare me to my late grandmother, Zahraa Baljeek. She was a woman of character with a strong personality and special traits of decision making and determination. Although I was very young when she left us, I am proud to have taken some of her characteristics, which have made me who I am today.

What do you hope will result from WPS 2019 in terms of actions and takeaway messages for the participants? What is the main thing that you’ve taken away from WPS 2019 yourself? In your own words, what did this year’s WPS 2019 represent?
The mentoring sessions during the summit were a great platform for students to meet women in different careers and learn a lot from their experiences, which will help them have more clarity when choosing their future careers. I honestly left the event feeling more confident, positive and looking forward to achieving more after seeing all these strong women leaders! And, I think it was the overall ambiance of the summit that made us want to be more competitive and achieve more. Being a mother and juggling motherhood and career, I was inspired by the stories of mothers who own businesses or are successful employees and learned valuable skills from listening to how they have dealt with guilt about being working mothers and wanting to shine. I must say I was impressed and I think this is what WPS represented this year… “successful mothers in the business world”.

“She was a woman of character with a strong personality and special traits of decision making and determination.”

The buzz word surrounding WPS 2019 is “movement” – how do you see yourself engaging with the movement of Women Leaders in the Middle East? Do you think that women’s positioning in business is fair? Or do we still have a way to go?
We are as strong and capable as men and I believe we are given the equality we deserve in the GCC. I have to say, the Middle East is a broad term but in Bahrain specifically, with the support of the Supreme Council for Women, I believe we have reached equality! Today Bahraini women are managers, directors, heads and even board members.

What role do you think global media plays, or can play, specifically in promoting gender equality?
I believe the media has an important role to play in highlighting the importance of diversity and gender equality. This can be done by more frequently showcasing the many success stories and contributions of female executives and through the featuring of female experts in key business stories and interviews more frequently.

 

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