Nowadays plenty of women are rising the career ladder in many major institutions including investment companies of the country. Today I would like to report about one of the most famous women of our country – Maha Al-Ghunaim.
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Maha Al-Ghunaim is a Kuwaiti businesswoman. She is 56 years old, married, and had four children. Al-Ghunaim was born in a noble Kuwait family. Her father headed the parliament and succeeded by his own. She holds a BS in Mathematics from San Francisco State University, California, USA (“Maha K. Al-Ghunaim” par. 1). She is the founder and now the chairperson of Global Investment House, which is one of Kuwait’s and the region’s largest investment companies. Maha Al-Ghunaim started her career life working in various investment companies. At the time when she began her career from the 1980s and until the 1990s, there were a few women in the business and investment world.
However, she had relationships with many family businesses, and it was her advantage. After graduating the University, she became the first woman-tradesman started working for a trading company that was owned by the Kuwait Investment Authority for a couple of years. Then she worked for a Kuwait Investment Company as an assistant of a general manager of assets management. However in 1991, this company merged with the Kuwait Investment Company, and they became like the investment arm of the government. So, this gave her a good experience of different activities in the local and international markets.
However, her most important achievement was in 1998 in founding Global Investment House. So why did she decide to start the company? As Maha Al-Ghunaim stated, “after a while, you realize that you can achieve your dreams without having to report to someone”. So she decided with her friends who had been working with her at the Kuwait investment company for a long time, to go out on their own and create what they thought a first-grade investment company should do, without referring to a board, or someone who would always object.
Therefore, in 1998, together with four co-founders, she established the Global Investment House, which had $ 3.7 billion in management (“100 Most Powerful Arab Women” par. 3)? Although, most importantly, she had managed to keep an investment company from collapse during the financial crisis of 2008-2009. Thus, she created one of the largest investment companies in the Persian Gulf and kept it afloat during the last crisis. Moreover, she married and had four children simultaneously with the business. All this in conservative Kuwait, where now only 15 percent of women employed compared to about 73 in Canada, for example.
That is why Arabian Business included Maha Al-Ghunaim in one hundred of the most influential Arab women (“100 Most Powerful Arab Women” par. 1). Also, she is among the ten leading Arab women entrepreneurs. According to The Wall Street Journal, she was ranked on the 89 place of the most meaningful women in finance in the world (“The Most Important Women in Finance” par. 1). Additionally, “she received several accolades from industry leaders including the “Banker Middle East Industry Award” (BME) for her outstanding contribution to the finance industry” (“Over & Above” par. 2).
In an interview, Al Ghunaim talked about the challenges and opportunities she has faced in more than 25 years in the Middle East’s financial sector. But as she mentioned, the biggest challenge, for her is not dealing with clients or shareholders. It’s trying to manage her role as a mother and a wife at the same time as her role as a chairperson and CEO. “There is a lack of a culture that supports good work rather than gender,” claims Al-Ghunaim (Hamdan par. 20). Indeed, it is rather complicated to move up the professional ladder for a woman in our country.
Speaking of the meaning, in other words, the motivation that led her to the pleasure and success, one may note relationships in her family. To combine family and work enjoying financial well-being and at the same time swimming in the love of friends and relatives, Al-Ghunaim had to make every effort. Support of the family, particularly of her husband is the key to professional success. “Follow your passions and start a business that you love, and give it all you can,” states Al-Ghunaim (Schoefflin par. 1).
Even if a man found a balance between family and career, he would be happy and successful as the family is a place of rest, inspiration, confidence, and mutual aid. It helps to create an atmosphere of psychological comfort, to maintain a high vitality, and to understand the usefulness of every family member, the value of Al-Ghunaim as a leader and mother in that case. The especially important thing is the support of the family in difficult moments of trials and tribulations of life when the whole world seems hostile, and only the family gets support and helps to cope with the situation.
And as Maha Al-Ghunaim stated, “though Global Investment House’s expansion requires a lot of traveling”. Usually, a male CEO will rely on a very efficient wife who takes care of the house. But when the wife and the husband are both very busy CEOs, that’s a real challenge. But that wasn’t a big issue for her as she is optimistic and loves her work”. So that’s why managing her role as mother, wife, and CEO of Global Investment House was one of the biggest challenges she faced.
Despite all the challenges, Al-Ghunaim succeeded both in personal and professional life.
“100 Most Powerful Arab Women 2013.” Arabian Business. Arabian Business, n.d. Web.
Hamdan, Sara. “For Women, Diploma Doesn’t Mean a Career.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 2010. Web.
“Maha K. Al-Ghunaim.” Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg Business, 2016. Web.
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“Over & Above.” The Business Year. The Business Year, n.d. Web.
Schoefflin, Kara. “Follow The Leader: Maha Al Ghunaim, Vice Chairperson And Group CEO, Global Investment House.” Entrepreneur Middle East. Entrepreneur Middle East, 2015. Web.
“The Most Important Women in Finance.” The Wall Street Journal. The Wall Street Journal, 2009. Web.