On the 28th of August, the UAE will celebrate Emirati Women's Day. The theme for this year is "Preparing for the next fifty years: Women are the support of the nation". This year’s theme aligns with the national theme that the year 2020 will be the year of preparations for the next 50 years. The role and contribution of Emirati women in the nation's advancement will be defined, and they will be a strategic partner, alongside men, in anticipating the future, mapping out its course and contributing to its successful delivery.

We dedicate this page to some of the inspirational women at Mubadala, and their vision of the role of women as a support and partner in the process of planning and preparing for the future.

Afra AlMheiri
Junior Operation Engineer, Sanad Aerotech

Afra is a junior operation engineer at Sanad Aerotech, principally assisting the V2500 technical services team in the engineering department.

She is currently acquiring knowledge and exposure from a diverse range of expertise, providing highly distinguished engineering services and solutions to Sanad’s customers, specializing in V2500 engines.

Afra is a UAEU alumnus holding a Bachelor’s of Science in mechanical engineering. She also holds a minor in aerospace with an internationally published research paper on di-electrophoresis and biofuel.

She is driven by a passion for exploration, be it a new character in a book, to discovering new languages and cultures. Politics and books are two of her favorite conversational topics.

1. Tell us about your career journey in Mubadala: the major milestones, challenges and opportunities.

Milestones achieved with Mubadala and their presented opportunities are part of a journey I embarked on as an undergraduate in 2016.

One remarkable opportunity pertains to the Boeing internship experience, which perhaps marks the pinnacle of my educational endeavors.

Another notable milestone was marked when I officially joined the Sanad Group, a Mubadala asset, contributing to the region’s leading MRO company.

At the advent of my career journey at Sanad, I worked hands-on overhauling and building engines for long shift hours, which was an unfamiliar scene in a male-dominant shop floor.

I have long believed this was my first career challenge, but perceiving it so seems like I am doing myself a disservice as this was an opportunity in disguise considering the amount of knowledge obtained.

2. Who are your role models (men or women)?

The role model list could potentially extend to a ten-page booklet, but constraining myself; I shall be picking my top two, namely: Saud Al Faisal and Shannon Huffman Polson.

Saud Al Faisal served as KSA’s foreign minister for four consecutive decades. His distinctive charisma, manners that commanded attention, and tireless advocacy and instigation in numerous causes are but a brief insight into a diplomatic success.

Shannon Huffman, on the other hand, is one of the first women to fly the Apache helicopter in the US army. Her persistence and resilience as she paved her path to leading two flight platoons and a line company are certainly worth looking up to her.

3. Who are the women that inspire you and why?

Kathryn Nowicki, the former manager of design engineering of the Boeing-787 Aft division, and current engineering section head of propulsion at Mooj space and defense group.

Dr. Aisha bin Bishr, director general at Smart Dubai.
Beth Comstock, former GE chief marketing officer and vice chair.
Maryam Al Mansouri, first Emirati female fighter pilot.

These ladies come from different backgrounds, served different sectors, and played different roles. They all, however, share one common strategy: They did things differently.

The managerial image Kathryn personally instilled in me as she led her team to its full potential is impactful.

Dr. Aisha is simply not just another director-general. Her immaculate means in leading a futuristic entity, its services and teams are surely one I deem necessary to be taught in business schools.

Moreover, Beth sets an inspiring figure of an ultimate change-maker as she propelled GE into a rather innovative mindset. She did so by perceiving growth and agility differently.

Maryam, however, chased her dream differently. She set foot in a field people of our country considered male-only.

Today, Maryam is one of our nation’s pride figures with her formidable presence in the cockpit.

4. What inspired you to pursue an interest in the Aerotech sector? What is it about this sector that makes you so passionate for the industry?

Although it is a hackneyed scenario, aerospace became my academic pursuit ever since I delved into Farouk Al Baz’s autobiographies, as encouraged by Prof. Osama Abu Zeid.

The significant contribution of women in the aerospace industry, despite the fact they make up only 24% of its workforce, drives my passion for taking part in my country’s relatively recent involvement in this industry.

5. How do you see the role of Emirati women changing in the years to come, and what are the drivers of that change?

The steadily increasing support Emirati women are being granted from our leaders will certainly make a shift at the future of our nation’s workforce.

Emirati women will indeed be seen more in corporate’s executive level, becoming decision-makers and diligent board members in addition to an array of fields and industries that will refrain from any gender preference positions, opening doors for women and utilizing our endless capabilities and talents.

6. Why do you think it is important to celebrate Emirati Women’s Day?

To cherish women of our past, to acknowledge and appreciate women of today, to encourage women of tomorrow.

Emirati women from all industries and generations well-deserve regard and commemoration.

Athra Al Zaabi
Head of North America at the Private Equity Department of Abu Dhabi Investment Council (ADIC)

Athra currently holds the position of Head of North America at the Private Equity Department of Abu Dhabi Investment Council (ADIC), where she manages the North American funds’ portfolio and leads the sourcing efforts of new relationships as well as managing the investment process.

She is also a member of the Investment Operations Committee at the Council and a board member of Invest AD.

Athra was born and raised in Abu Dhabi and graduated from Zayed University with distinction in a bachelor of Science in Business Sciences Degree.

Subsequently, she also earned the CFA designation.

She likes to keep herself aware of what is going around globally and is always looking to enrich her general knowledge about various topics and fields.

Athra spends her spare time with either family or watching documentaries and inspiring movies that are based on true stories.

1. Tell us about your career journey in Mubadala: the major milestones, challenges and opportunities.

I joined ADIC right after its establishment in 2007, as an assistant analyst and made my way up to my current role. During that time, I came across many challenges and opportunities throughout my career journey. One of the challenges I faced was realizing that men dominated the career I chose to pursue, not only domestically, but also internationally. While it is overwhelming sometimes, this has made me more determined to excel at my job and prove myself.

As a young Emirati, I was fortunate to win the attention of ADIC’s senior management, who have made the development of UAE talent a top priority.

Among the opportunities and empowerment, we have been given, was inviting us to investment committee meetings, where we would typically listen to senior management discussions about investment opportunities, what they look for in an investment, and how they assess the risks associated with it.

This is certainly a differentiated method to be coached indirectly by the most senior management and most experienced members of the Council.

2. Who are the women that inspire you and why?

I have always been inspired by women with determination to follow their passion and dreams as well as who were the first females at their jobs and their success paved the way for many more women to follow.

Since we are celebrating the Emirati Women Day, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, being the first female in the UAE cabinet, is certainly one of the women who have inspired me.

I have always believed that hard work and determination pays off and watching these women succeed, keeps me going.

3. What inspired you to pursue a career as an investment professional? What is that makes you so passionate for this field?

I am very pleased that I became an investment professional, although it was not planned. Halfway through my university years, I started exploring and learning about different jobs and workplaces in Abu Dhabi. That was when I decided to join a Sovereign Wealth Fund as my first option, given their high selection criteria, and I was interested in having the global exposure, learning from, and interacting with international experts.

I enjoy investing in private equity because it is long term in nature and you have to be forward-looking when making your investment decisions, it spans the whole range of industries, reveals trends or shifts in consumer behavior and gives you indications on how economies are behaving.

4. Where do you see the investment profession in 10 years’ time and what opportunities do you think will be available for women?

The investment profession is growing, and I expect it to be one of the least impacted by automation, given the weight of the qualitative analysis in making the investment decisions.

I have already witnessed an increase in the ratio of women in the field since I joined, but expect and hope that the ratio increases at an accelerating rate and wish to see more women at leadership positions.

5. How do you see the role of Emirati women changing in the years to come, and what are the drivers of that change?

Given the empowerment and belief in the women’s positive contribution to the prosperity and growth of the UAE, I expect to see more women holding leadership positions, both in the public and private sectors.

I also expect to see more women in scientific and technological careers.

6. What advice would you give to a young Emirati women planning on starting her career as an investment professional?

The practical life is different from the university days; you will operate with a high level of independence and responsibility. What you learn as an undergraduate represents only the toolkit to start your career journey.

Don’t expect to be spoon-fed the knowledge; rather, you will have to work hard to learn and build your experience and find your own channels for gaining knowledge.

Finally, in order to succeed and progress in any career, you have to have the willingness and ability. I believe that the will drive the ability, because once you have the determination, ability can be developed through training and experience.

Also, focus on the long-term of your career and be prepared to face challenges and disappointments along the way.

7. Why do you think it is important to celebrate Emirati Women’s Day?

To celebrate the accomplishments of the women in the UAE and shed light on their achievements and contribution to their nation, which should not only inspire the people of the UAE but also encourage other countries to follow suit in empowering women.

Dr. Alya Al Mazroui
Consultant surgeon and the acting executive director of Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC)

Dr. Alya is a consultant surgeon and the acting executive director of the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) — the UAE’s state-of-the-art diabetes center — where she works with the team to understand, tackle and prevent diabetes in the Emirates.

Along with her team, Dr. Alya supports the patients, their families and the community in the prevention and treatment of diabetes and its related conditions using holistic clinical care, health promotion and scientific research while providing continuous patient education and professional training.

She earned her Bachelor of Surgery degree at Dubai Medical College. Then she studied at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, where she was the first UAE national to receive a doctorate in surgery under the Swiss system.

She is also a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London (UK), a member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow (UK), and a Surgeon of Excellence in Bariatric Surgery (SRC), USA.

She dedicates most of my time to promoting women’s health and supporting women in the healthcare sector.

1. Who are your role models (men or women)?

Mother of the Nation, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, remains a central figure in my life.

Her characteristics of modesty and magnanimity inspire me and her devotion to advancing the nation while taking exemplary pride in our culture and heritage continues to drive me forward.

2. Who are the women that inspire you and why?

Growing up, I saw Emirati women pioneering many fields. However, in medicine, there weren’t any female surgeons at the time.

I remember being the only female surgeon during my residency program. When I decided on surgery as my specialty, a big part of my decision-making was the opportunity to open a new door for other Emirati women, in addition to being a personal passion.

3. What was your biggest concern working on the frontline response during the early days of the pandemic? Has that concern changed now? If yes, why? Would you do anything differently? How has this changed you as a person?

At ICLDC, we serve a very fragile population, as we mainly look after patients with chronic conditions as well as the elderly who are considered as at-risk individuals.

Consequently, our main concern during the pandemic was ensuring our patients continue to receive the care they need in the safest way possible. We also focused on providing remote care and psychological support to patients who were apprehensive about receiving their medications during the early days of the pandemic, as we successfully arranged for their medical needs including prescriptions and phlebotomy services to be delivered to their homes.

In addition, our caregivers maintained daily contact with patients to ensure their wellbeing while at home.

If the past few months have proven anything to me, it is how much we can achieve together as a team through solidarity, cooperation and innovation.

4. Where do you see the healthcare sector in 10 years’ time and what opportunities do you think will be available for women?

The UAE healthcare sector is rapidly moving forward - even faster than many other places in the world.

The UAE’s proactive response to the pandemic demonstrates the resilience and agility of its healthcare system and places it on top of the safest countries in the world list.

Ten years from now, I see women’s role emphasized even more in management and leadership roles as we have a lot of top-notch females in medicine who are empowered by our leadership.

5. How do you see the role of Emirati women changing in the years to come, and what are the drivers of that change?

I see Emirati women fast-tracking their advancement towards leadership, as every day, women across the country contribute to achieving national goals at all fronts.

The healthcare sector has various opportunities for women to excel and lead, particularly in the areas of clinical research, technology, innovation, and both clinical and administrative training.

6. What advice would you give to a young Emirati woman planning on starting her career in the healthcare sector?

There is no “impossible,” Emirati women enjoy unlimited access to knowledge, experience, and success.

I tell every young woman planning or starting her career in the healthcare sector, to embrace hard work because it will pay off at the end.

Beginnings are not always easy but if you stay determined and work for whatever it is you aspire to achieve, you will succeed.

I’m proud of the young women I see working now in the healthcare sector and I have no doubt they are our future leaders.

Fatima Al Noaimi
Principal - Private Equity Investments, Mubadala Capital

Fatima started her career at Mubadala Capital in 2011 as a fresh graduate. Today, she is a Principal in the Private Equity team where her role is focused on sourcing, evaluating and managing private equity investments across a variety of sectors globally.

She was born and raised in Abu Dhabi and ever since she can remember, Fatima has always been fascinated by the investment world.

In high school, she asked her parents to give her a small sum of capital to invest in the public markets. Even she had no formal experience; she knew investing is what she wanted to do professionally.

As a result, she majored in Business Administration and later pursued both the CFA and CAIA designations.

Today, she is a mother of two young children, Mohamed and Dana, and the investment professional she envisaged all those years ago.

1. Tell us about your career journey in Mubadala: the major milestones, challenges and opportunities.

My nine years at Mubadala have been nothing less than incredible.

I believe the opportunities and exposure at here cannot be matched anywhere else because of our differentiated network of unique global relationships and truly proprietary deal flow. We also have the unique dynamic of being on the buy side and sell side of investing.

Not only has this allowed me to sit on both sides of the investment table, it has also given me exposure to some of the world’s greatest investment minds.

2. Who are your role models (men or women)?

My biggest role model is our Founding Father Sheikh Zayed, whose vision and wisdom was ahead of his time on many fronts, including women’s rights.

He was a big advocate of women’s education and empowerment at a time when a few leaders were.

He paved the way for the UAE to become one of the most progressive environments globally for promoting female leadership and empowerment.

3. What inspired you to pursue a career as an investment professional? What is it role that makes you so passionate for this field?

Private equity is a dynamic field that gives you exposure to various industries with the ultimate goal of finding good companies and helping make them become great.

You can be looking at a US media company today and a French healthcare company the following week. I love what I do because the breadth and depth of it means that I am constantly learning and being challenged. No two days are the same.

4. Where do you see the investment profession in 10 years’ time and what opportunities do you think will be available for women?

The disruption of technology is revolutionizing the way we think about investments.

This opportunity set is expanding horizontally across sectors whether it’s healthcare, consumer or real estate. It is also making investing more accessible vertically to retail investors and younger generations.

5. How do you see the role of Emirati women changing in the years to come, and what are the drivers of that change?

Through the support and empowerment of our leadership, Emirati women will continue to step up and take more integral roles in the development of this nation.

6. What advice would you give to a young Emirati women planning on starting her career as an investment professional?

Private Equity is a highly demanding but equally rewarding profession. My biggest advice is to take advantage of those early years and invest your time and energy into building a strong foundation and skillset. Fully immerse yourself in the role and proactively seek to maximize your experience.

Qualitative and quantitative skills are equally important - focus on developing both. Stay curious and never shy away from asking tough questions.

7. Why do you think it is important to celebrate Emirati Women’s Day?

Emirati women have always been leaders within their households and have emerged to become leaders across various industries, including male-dominated ones. It is important to pause and recognize the work they have carried out in advancing the UAE.



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