Lubna Olayan is one of the most prolific Saudi women of this new age. She was born in August 1955 and of age she has been able to acquire the title “most influential business woman in the middle east of all times”.
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She acquired this designation whilst working at her father’s company, the Olayan Financial; a business that operates in Riyad where she is the CEO.
This company boasts being the most successful and efficiently run company in the middle east, with resources and operation consisting of manufacturing, investment (they are the largest stock market investor in Saudi Arabia), and distribution just to name a few. The company in essence is a conglomerate (Al-Ghazali and Sadi 9).
Achievements and Leadership Style
One of her greatest achievement took place at the economic Forum in Jeddah when she was invited to speak. This occurred in 2004 and it was a defining moment for her since she was actually allowed to speak in the presence of men in Saudi Arabia, which is unheard of in this region.
In her speech, she reiterated the need for a fair open society where jobs are accessible by anyone willing to work despite their gender. She also spoke of the need for the country acquiring and maintaining tolerance to other countries despite religion, gender or creed. This according to Forbes Magazine was the deciding moment for the Muslim woman all over the world.
As a result of her active role in advocating for women’s rights, she has been termed as one of the greatest philanthropic women leaders of all time. Her passion for seeking financial education and always clarifying the need for individuals to respect everyone despite of their gender has placed her in the world map as one of the most adored women leaders and role models.
At reported in the Time website, although she has been actively involved in fighting for women’s rights, her humbleness has made her to downplay her constructive contribution on the perceptions of Arab women.
She has always reminded people that all women can do and even perform better than men as long as they are given the opportunity (Talal Al-Saud 80-82).
Generally, through her advocacy for social change, Middle East is slowly embracing the need for social change and creation of leaders who respect and appreciate the potential of people. Lubna has achieved this by using her position in different boards of big companies to influence people towards appreciating humanity.
In addition to this, she has actively been involved in philanthropic and numerous education programs, whose main aim is to explore people’s identity.
Her overall ranking amongst the most powerful women in the world is ninety seven according to Forbes magazine, but according to the Fortune magazine, she has been ranked among the fifty most influential women globally.
Lubna Olayan holds a BS in Agriculture from Cornell University and an MBA from Indiana University, Bloomington and she is in charge of forty companies. Her rise to the top was fast ,because of her superior intellect, which made her to be selected to the board of Chelsfied PLC until 2004.
In 2004, she became a member of the board of the Saudi Hollandi Bank PLC, after which she was appointed a non executive director of WPP’s board. Later on, she was also a board member of the International Advisory Board of the Council Foreign Relations and World Economic Forum and a member of the international advisory board of both the Citigroup and the Rolls-Royce Company.
In terms of awards, she once received a Cornell entrepreneur of the year present. She is a believer in hard work and persistence; a motto she instills in all her companies. She also believes in giving the best jobs to the best suited person irrespective of their gender.
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It is all this plus other qualities that have made her to be one of the successful women entrepreneurs and leaders of all time (Al Shahrabani and Boer).
Al-Ghazali, Basheer Mohammad and Sadi, Muhammad Asad.”Doing business with impudence: A focus on women entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia. African Journal of Business Management 4.1 (2010): 1-11 Print.
Al Shahrabani, Achmed and Boer, Kito.”Modernizing the United Arab Emirates: An Interview with the Minister of Economy Lubna Al Qasimi.The McKinsey Quarterly (2008). Print.
Talal Al-Saud, Alwaleed. Lubna Olayan. Time, 18 April: 2005. 80-82 Web. <http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1972656_1972717_1974067,00.html>