UAE: Meet trailblazing Emirati nurse who rose to become deputy CEO

Aysha Ali Ahmed Al Mahri, a mother of two, has been able to manage a work-life balance while scaling new heights and soaring ambitions to do more


Ashwani Kumar

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Sat 11 May 2024, 3:09 PM

Last updated: Sun 12 May 2024, 6:49 PM

Aysha Ali Ahmed Al Mahri is an accomplished Emirati healthcare professional who, in a career spanning 27 years, shattered the glass ceiling by proving her leadership skills in different roles.

Right from her student days, she was determined to succeed and scale new heights in her life. A young Aysha would dabble in a full-time degree course and a regular nursing job by finishing shifts and running to attend lectures. Her relentless pursuit for excellence has culminated in her current role as the deputy chief executive officer at Burjeel Medical City (BMC), a leading quaternary care hospital under Burjeel Holdings in Abu Dhabi.

Her career started in 1997 at a hospital under the Ministry of Health as a nurse after completing her diploma in nursing. Over time, her speciality and focus shifted towards critical care and paediatric health.

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Later, she pursued a bachelor’s degree from the University of Sharjah and became one of the top 10 students who graduated from the college. It was followed with a leadership certificate from McMaster University, Canada.

“I opted for nursing at a time when we were beginning to see more Emiratis join the profession. The community around me was incredibly supportive, and their encouragement played a huge role in shaping my career path. It was this support that pushed me to strive for leadership positions within the field,” Aysha told Khaleej Times marking the International Nurses Day, which falls on May 12.

She noted that her experience in the field has moulded her to become a better professional.

“My first lesson as a nurse was to treat every patient as if they were family. This principle has deeply influenced my career and shaped my outlook as a nurse and a nursing leader. Every day in this job brings new challenges and learning opportunities, and I am profoundly grateful for each one.”

Remain eager to learn

After almost 12 years in various capacities in the nursing fraternity, Aysha aimed to broaden her focus beyond the clinical aspects of healthcare, beginning to engage with the overall operations, regulations, and guidelines that constitute the foundation of the healthcare ecosystem.

She worked at several places before joining the commissioning team of the Al Jalila Children's Specialty Hospital, Dubai, as the chief nursing officer (CNO) leading the nursing operation. Following a stint of about four years as the CNO across hospitals and medical facilities, she joined hands with Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) as the group CNO. Shouldering more responsibilities, Aysha decided to acquire more knowledge in the field to take her journey forward.

While serving as the CNO, she received two master’s degrees — one in healthcare management from the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland, and another in health economics from Sorbonne University, France. She was the first female Emirati from the Middle East to be conferred with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Change Maker Leadership Agent Award in 2020.

Shifting to the private sector

As the UAE leaders encouraged Emirati nationals to work in the private healthcare sector, Aysha realised it was the right time to embark on a fresh journey. After working in the public healthcare sector for years, she made the shift to the private sector when an opportunity came calling.

“As nurses, we gain an in-depth understanding of the healthcare system from the inside out. With each passing year, we learn more, not only about patient care but also about the intricacies of the system itself.”

Aysha joined Burjeel Holdings in 2023. As the group CNO, she was able to display her capabilities, and in a short span, blazed the trail to become the deputy CEO of Burjeel Medical City (BMC). She urges individuals to learn and equip themselves with the latest skills and knowledge.

“My advice to those in this field is to focus on honing your expertise and take advantage of every opportunity for growth that comes your way. Your potential in this profession is truly limitless. I can attest to this from my career journey, where I've seen first-hand that the more you learn, the more you can contribute.”

Aysha, a mother to two children, has been able to manage a work-life balance while scaling new heights and soaring ambitions to do more.

“Nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. Looking ahead, I envision a future where nurses not only support the healthcare system but also lead innovations in patient care.”


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