Owning the fashion arena

Nisthula Nagarajan
Filed on March 18, 2021

Cheryl Dias, Founder and Managing Director of The Opulence Events LLC, broke the figurative glass ceiling and made a place for herself in the global fashion events business

Tell us about your role at International Fashion Week (IFWD).
I am the Founder and Managing Director of The Opulence Events LLC under which IFWD is a brand. I am the mastermind responsible for it from inception to date. I operate as the managing director and lead my team with its planning and production. I handle everything on my own; I am satisfied only when I involve myself in each and everything related to IFWD.

Being a woman at the helm of IFWD, what challenges have you witnessed?
The major challenge I experienced was acceptance, given that it is a male-dominated industry, many people found it difficult to comprehend that a woman would be able to establish a stake in the fashion events industry. The criticisms and doubts I faced made me channel intense effort to prove that being a woman shouldn't be a limitation to successfully living out your dream.

The year 2021 is about "Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world". What are your thoughts about it given the realistic scenario in the UAE?
Covid-19 has proved that we have the ability to adapt and successfully work our way around any situation. A perfect scenario is IFWD Season 10 that was held for three days consecutively in November last year, almost immediately after the lockdown lifted. It was a huge success and, most notably, nobody contracted the disease, which shows that with proper planning and execution anything is achievable even during these times. Hence the pandemic is not a barrier to achieving anything for me but we need to keep the measures in place.

How do you think the UAE fares when it comes to equal opportunities for women at the business front?
The UAE in general is a country whose government has been able to set up respectful policies with regards to women, which is commendable and quite beneficial, as women feel more secure and confident to operate in the UAE business environment. The UAE is globally known as a fantastic country for rapid business establishment and growth because of its ability to embrace cultural diversities with respect to businesses and people. Based on this, I think the UAE is doing pretty well with regards to opportunities for women at the business front.

How do you maintain a work-life balance as a businesswoman?
I must confess, it's a handful balancing work and my personal life. I choose to concentrate on work during the weekdays and focus my attention on my family during the weekend, I am also blessed with a wonderful husband and children who are understanding and supportive of me, which is the most important thing and I thank God for that.

What would you say constitutes women empowerment?
Empowerment I believe begins with every individual; it is highly important that every person strives towards being empowered in every aspect of life as this is essential for personal growth. Furthermore, there are quite a number of factors that facilitate empowerment especially for women, such as; knowledge and skill acquisition, determination, focus, passion, creativity and consistency. This is what I personally feel constitutes women empowerment.

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