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Published: 29 March 2017

Qatari businesswomen inspire cross-border friendships

Yesterday a colleague and I had the privilege of meeting a group of business ladies from the Qatari Businesswomen’s Association at the UK Qatar Forum. As a firm we were proud sponsors of the forum, but I must confess I hadn’t expected a highlight for me to be inspired by and reminded so clearly of what can be achieved when women collaborate together and share in the joy of other’s successes.

Despite different experiences and perspectives, we all agreed that empowering women to play an active role in economic development can only result in a positive outcome. This is about creating role models and support for women to grasp opportunities and believe not only in themselves but also the contribution they can make – how we achieve this may not look like our male colleagues or peers – isn’t that the beauty of a diverse team?

The ladies we spent time with had a diversity of backgrounds - professionals, creative industries, engineering and more. The support and respect they had for each other was clear. As they shared their business stories, the pride in each other’s success was palpable and their desire for the Association to remain valid both now and for future generations enlightening. What this wasn’t a discussion about rights or wrongs – it was about the here and now AND the future.

Geographies and environments may separate us but some common goals emerged:

  • Mentors, role models and advisers are essential to help us share ideas and grow. It’s often the most simple – I was reminded once tools such as Facetime/Skype meant that I could be sitting with my daughter helping with homework even when physical miles were in the way. Often we didn’t talk, I worked, she worked but if she wanted to ask something or just chat, I was in the room for her. For me that was a revelation – without the network I was supported by I would never have had the idea….or certainly not as quickly!
  • The power of collaborating together is not to be underestimated. Supporting each other and celebrating success is incredibly powerful and gives confidence to all those who see it. Equally, having the network of support when things are perhaps not going to plan should never be underestimated.
  • Whatever your generation, you’re a role model for the next one or two or three….make time to be there to play your part. The Qatari Businesswomen’s Association now has students as members….they see this as key to the future and who would disagree? One of the group we met was one of their “next generation” and her respect for the group which she described as all her powerful role models was evident.
  • And finally, this is not about what’s wrong, we all agreed it’s about working in an environment where everyone’s contribution is valued, regardless of gender or background. We all want to see successful economic development, and associations such as the Qatari Businesswomen’s Association is committed to supporting women to play a vital role in this.

I’m certain the group will have a successful trip to the UK…..and I’m certain that if I find myself in Qatar I will have an association I can call on to help me.

"We’re delighted to be at the beginning of a partnership between two teams who share the same winning spirit and focus on supporting talent to achieve their potential. Everyone here has a great sense of pride and excitement to be working with Team England – a team that, after all, reflects just how much can be achieved by a diverse and varied group of individuals all focused on one goal. We can’t wait to get started."

Joanna Thornell, Client and Markets Director, Shakespeare Martineau