Where no glass ceiling is too high
Three top women executives in media monitoring firm prove they've got what it takes to succeed
There's no doubt that when it comes to opportunities for women in the region, the UAE leads the way. Women in the UAE are taking big strides in the cabinet and board rooms of large corporations.
The UAE is ranked as a leader in gender equality in the region, according to the World Economic Forum's 2014 Global Gender Gap report.
Various initiatives by the UAE government to narrow gender disparity have paved the way for many women to set up their businesses or rise in their career. In line with government policies, organisations are allocating places for women board members and fostering them to grow professionally.
The UAE office of the global media intelligence platform, Meltwater, is one among the leading examples, with three women managing directors. With 50 offices in six continents, Meltwater prides on having a work culture that supports the growth of women leaders.
Rania Zalami, Olga Sidorova and Laila Mousa, managing directors at Meltwater, started their careers as sales consultants a few years ago and have climbed the ladder to the highest ranks in their departments.
The female executives said Meltwater provided them opportunities to prove their mettle and excel in their profession. "We have benefited immensely from our training and leadership programmes, which help us learn, share knowledge and develop," they said.
"We have monthly calls with managing directors of Meltwater's regional offices to share best practices. We also have quarterly reviews and annual leadership training programmes. So, we are constantly learning, innovating and progressing. The company fosters an open culture and we always feel encouraged to set professional goals and achieve them with the support of the higher management," they said unanimously.
Zalami, an MBA from the American University of Sharjah, manages a team of account managers at Meltwater. She is responsible for training her team to become proficient and communicate with clients from different sectors in the Middle East and North Africa.
She plays a key role in client retention and client satisfaction, forecasting, budgeting and liaising with head of HR in Europe to manage local HR matters.
She said the UAE is a fantastic place for women to develop their careers. "The country is at the forefront when it comes to encouraging women to succeed in the workplace," Zalami said.
Sidorova, an MBA and a BS in international business from the University of Bridgeport, leads the company's B2B sales and marketing efforts, consulting businesses on social media and PR strategies and oversees a team of sales consultants. Some of Sidorova's clients include UAE, Saudi and Kuwaiti government entities, as well as leading SMEs in the region.
She has always felt that the UAE is a pro-women country. "There are regular summits and conferences on how to develop women leaders. The UAE government also has many women leaders playing an active role in the country's development," she said.
Mousa, a graduate from Abu Dhabi University with a specialisation in computer science, is responsible for the company's revenue growth and client and employee retention. She also plays an active role in representing the company in leading marketing and social media events in the region.
Mousa has built a name for herself in the industry courtesy her out-of-box thinking and commitment to work, with a main focus on government entities in the UAE and Qatar.
She said the UAE has played a pioneering role in the region in giving women opportunities to grow and pursue leadership roles.
"Women are increasingly moving into executive roles in the region which is a testimony to government initiatives to provide equal opportunities for all," Mousa said.
She added that young women, who are entering the workforce for the first time, should be given more opportunities. "Entry-level training programmes will be very helpful for women to get a foot in the door," she said.
Mousa said women have greater responsibilities after work, especially if they are raising children. "Companies should be more understanding about it."
The three executives said young aspirants should look for a company that invests in their employee and human development, take charge and be driven.
"You need to be proactive and not use gender as an excuse. Determination and drive are important," said Sidorova. "Learn something new everyday and adapt to change," she advised.
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