Our fourth and final week, and we bring you another 10 fearless females from the worlds of academia, human resources, the c-suite, diversity and inclusion, food and drink, broadcasting and marketing.
Possibly our most diverse 10 yet, this group of women have shown us yet again that the only way to keep going, is not only through, but the sky's the limit. Empowering other women is at the top of the agenda too, and as you can imagine, we are here all day for that.
Meet our breakthrough sisters, the inspirational and the brilliant, last 10 ladies in the Raemona 40 over Forty for 2023.
1. Naila Al Moosawi
Founder & CEO - Amal Counsel
A true pioneer, Emirati Naila Al Moosawi became the first female air traffic controller in the Middle East at Dubai International Airport in 1998 being the youngest and only female to obtain her licence at age 21. Leaving that role in 2001 to start her family, Naila then became the first woman site manager at ENOC.
Since then, Naila has held senior roles across the UAE in HR advisory and consultancy, with major organisations and executive board memberships and with an MSc in Psychology from Middlesex University. Naila is also a CIPD Associate and a Directorship Program Graduate from Hawkamah Institute of Directors - alongside becoming a proud mother of five.
Post-pandemic led to not only a dramatic shift in the paradigm of human life worldwide and an unprecedented challenge to public health, but also to Naila’s focus.
She founded and launched Amal Counsel as a community of counsellors and associates serving as volunteers. Aiming to support and engage through a safe emotional wellness process that is direct and authentic.
Amal Counsel is the only private counselling service in the UAE that is run by volunteers, making support affordable and easily accessible. Amal Counsel offers emotional health and guidance on the values of hope, care, and gratitude.
Instagram handle: @amal.counsel
Director of HR, Middle East at Premier Inn
Arriving in Dubai in 2008, from her native New Zealand, Kathy Sorenson has worked in recruitment and talent acquisition her whole career, with stints in Canada and Qatar along the way. Sorenson’s previous career includes several leadership roles in New Zealand, Canada, and the Middle East, working for well-known HR and recruitment agencies, including Kershaw Leonard, The People Bank, and Chandler MacLeod Group. For six years, she also ran her own Middle East consultancy. Now, with Premier Inn for almost six years, Kathy is responsible for setting and delivering the overall people strategy, ensuring legal compliance and maximising the required technology to deliver operational efficiency for all 11 hotels and 600 employees across the Middle East. Kathy’s role is to lead the people-function and to empower the leadership team by providing the right guidance and tools to make people management easier and explains: “Challenges of the pandemic aside, it’s been a wonderful journey so far. As a company, the focus and commitment to developing and driving team engagement, enhancing company culture, ensuring sound human rights practices, and driving diversity and inclusion is incredibly satisfying, and leading these initiatives and continued evolution is great.”
With 35 years of experience, Fiona began her journey as a graduate in Economics and Politics, and soon after pursued her Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) accreditation. Her finance career trajectory includes titles such as a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in European supply chain, sales and marketing and Country CFO for Ireland, all within Kelloggs, where she worked for 12 years. She has also been the CFO for Pearson Vue and subsequently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) within a Pearson Education division that specialised in vocational education.
Now CEO of Kaplan Professional Middle East, a role she took up in March 2020, Fiona continues her passion and commitment towards the value and need for vocational training. In the UAE, Fiona is vocal on the subject of gender diversity in the workplace and is a frequent media commentator, most recently on the need for more part-time opportunities.
Fiona has dedicated her professional life towards the development of skills and knowledge and says: “When I moved to Dubai, I was pleased to see that the region was already experiencing a cultural shift towards women’s empowerment. It was great to see the efforts being made toward improving laws, policies, and the status of women in society and the workplace. I felt optimistic about the potential opportunities for me as a woman in the region. In fact, with corporations and businesses becoming more and more open to diversity including women in leadership positions, I hope to be the ambassador of this change and inspire women in whatever little way I can and help shape more equitable and diverse workplaces.”
Instagram Here: @fionamcbride
International Marketing Director, WWE
Born and raised in Australia, Taghred spent 12 years as a journalist for both News Limited and Fairfax Media, was a producer at Radio 2UE and dabbled in PR with the then National Soccer League.
In 2005, she co-wrote her first book, The Glory Garage: Growing Up Lebanese Muslim in Australia, a collection of stories about Muslims living in Australia. The book was shortlisted for several awards, and received the 2006 Children’s Book Council of Australia Honour Award. In 2012, she released her second book and debut children's title The Perfect Flower Girl.
Taghred landed in Abu Dhabi in 2008, 32-weeks pregnant with her third child. Taking a hiatus from full-time work, she began freelancing for over a decade in order to focus on her family.
Taghred teamed up with Tracey Holmes to co-host Sports Talk on Dubai Eye, as well as covering some of the biggest sporting events in the region from the Formula One, FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup to the FIFA Club World Cup. Notably, she has spear-headed the marketing and PR campaigns for various live events in the region, including Disney on Ice, Disney Live and Harry Potter in concert, selling out shows across the Middle East.
After the birth of her fourth child, she returned to full-time work, and in December 2018 joined WWE's international team as Director of Marketing in the Middle East & North Africa also covering Australia and New Zealand.
Taghred’s popular Instagram account @arabianmum showcases her passion for causes and unapologetic and admirable stance for the things that she believes in, and gives followers a refreshingly mature outlook and attitude to parenthood and life in the Middle East.
Instagram here: @arabianmum
Founder - The Flock
Arriving in the UAE for the first time in 2012, writer, editor and broadcaster Jennifer started her Dubai journey as deputy editor of Viva Magazine, before turning freelance where she wrote for publications including Emirates Woman, Emirates Man, Cosmopolitan Middle East, The National, Gulf News, The Daily Mail and The Telegraph.
During this period, she also spent 16 months working as a breakfast news anchor at Arabian Radio Network (ARN), first on The Catboy and Geordiebird Breakfast Show, and later on the Business Breakfast, creating bulletins and co-presenting the show's current affairs segments, before moving back into a full-time editor role at the much-missed Good Magazine from Motivate Media Group.
Jennifer created and launched The Flock, to take a new, ethical approach to women’s digital media - offering news, views and interviews for women who want to lead kinder, more sustainable lives. Launched in the midst of a UK-wide Covid lockdown, The Flock's pioneering Pay It Forward Wall generates a free subscription for someone with limited means with every paid subscription purchased, allowing the platform to remain completely free from harmful advertising and accessible to those on low income.
Jennifer is now the senior producer on the mid-morning ‘The Agenda with Georgia Tolley’ show at Dubai Eye, Arabian Radio Network.
Instagram handle: @journo_jen
6. Omaira Al Farooq Al Olama
Founder, ALF Administration, Founder & Editor in Chief, Unfiltered DXB
Omaira Al Farooq Al Olama is an Emirati Ted-Talk speaker and mother of three. Since her inclusion in last year's list, Omaira has gone on to launch the Unfiltered DXB platform as her newest media project.
Following her time at Nakheel as Head of Business Development, Omaira went on to find a training, recruiting and leadership enterprise for Emiratis by Emiratis, Omaira has created Unfiltered DXB as a pioneering new platform to challenge the status quo, amplify the voices of the marginalised, and recognise people who have shown true resilience and strength in overcoming adversity. Unfiltered DXB was created as a movement and a call to action encouraging us of all to bring back transparency, and is dedicated to every person who feels unseen by the traditional media landscape.
In issue one of Unfiltered DXB, Omaira says; “Women in this region are breaking out of their so-called boxes and the stereotypical responsibilities that have been in place for years, and they are ready for new adventures! Women are tackling roles that would have previously been considered impossible and this has shifted perceptions. We need to empower these women and remind the new generation just how capable they are.”
7. Tahany Taher
Vice President, CitiBank
Emirati banker turned entrepreneur, Tahany Taher is the founder of HAYAWIIA, a homegrown brand that offers healthy lifestyle snacks. Born in the UAE, Taher grew up and studied in Mumbai, India. She has an MSc in accounting and economics and headed to the United States to complete another master’s degree in business administration. She also holds ICMQ and IIAC certification from London Institute of Banking and Finance.
Since 2014, Tahany has built a career in the UAE's banking sector, having previously worked as Head of SME, and then Head of Multinationals. Today, she is the a Director at a major international bank.
The COVID-19 pandemic led Tahany to discover the true impact of diet upon our health, and, alongside her husband, launched HAYAWIIA in May 2021 to bring in chemical-free quality food which is affordable the UAE. She saw that parents with children who have food allergies were struggling to afford their dietary needs during the pandemic when many salaries were cut.
Tahany sources the nutritious ingredients from small-scale, female-owned businesses in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. The aim is to offer fresh ingredients for a healthy diet, as well as suitable alternatives for anyone suffering from food allergies. Taher is looking to take her brand to other GCC countries, as well as supplying for the F&B industry through vegan or keto restaurants, and catering to companies providing monthly food programs and says: “The UAE is our land, where all our dreams can come true. The ecosystem here is an extremely supportive one for entrepreneurs and as a woman I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to launch a business here and be able to serve the community.”
Instagram Handle: @tahanytaher25
8. Jean Winter
Business and Food Consultant, Private Chef and CEO, Touch Agency
Jeans relentless commitment to inclusivity sees her joining the list for the second year running. Jean has used her strong restaurant and hospitality connections from her consultancy business to ensure more people of determination can find opportunities within the workplace. Travelling constantly from her Dubai base, she supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds - with Touch providing the children with everything from culinary skills, internships, stable housing and clean water.
Jean says: “I have always created my own path when there was no path and I have never been afraid to venture into the unknown. The key to it all is to do it with a smile and involve good people along the way.”
9. Emma Banks
Hilton's vice president of F&B strategy and development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa
Another list returnee, for the past 12 months, Emma has been the public face of the hospitality industry, with a seemingly never-ending roster of new openings and launches across the UAE’s Hilton properties. Emma is responsible for food and beverage (F&B) strategy and development across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) supporting Hilton’s trading and future pipeline of hotels.
As an original UAE Golden Visa holder, for her services to hospitality and the F&B industry, Emma has enjoyed a fabulous career trajectory across her time in Dubai since arriving in 2013, and has been working with Hilton since 2019, prior to which she was at the Jumeirah Restaurant Group (JPG) as managing director. In December 2020 Emma was elected a Member of the Board of Governors and Member of the Board of the Academic Committee of Dubai College of Tourism (DCT). She is also an advisor on the campaign to make Dubai one of the top gastronomic culinary destinations in the world, which is supported by Her Excellency Laila Suhail, CEO of Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.
A huge advocate for the responsibility of F&B and hospitality in sustainable practices and the empowerment of women in the industry, Emma says: “I am a firm believer in meritocracy and balance, but as just one example that needs to be addressed globally across our industry, there needs to be a stronger framework for female progression.”
Instagram Handle: @ladybanks_
10. Leigh Powell EdD
Senior Learning Designer, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU)
Since finishing her EdD, Dr. Leigh Powell has been working hard on a new career in research, after many years of success within both edtech and faculty development.
Now working on truly innovative projects at Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU), to make an impact on public health, Dr. Leigh spent seven years at Khalifa University as a researcher and then Instructional Technology Specialist, after moving to the UAE in 2012 from her native America. Achieving her doctorate in 2021, Leigh’s research focused on how to apply data-driven strategies to promote the development of learning and teaching and gave her the opportunity to work in various capacities on research projects related to public health, teaching practice, and learning design. She is now a Lecturer and Senior Learning Designer with the Institute for Excellence in Health Professions Education.
Leigh has developed multiple projects related to community health education and faculty development. She has a strong interest in learning analytics and how best to leverage and visualise data for the purposes of improving academic experiences.