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Hopscotch Hits WIL 2018

4min read.  On November 14 and 15 naseba hosted its annual Global WIL (Women in Leadership) forum at the Intercontinental Festival City, Dubai. Hopscotch was a proud community partner for a 3rd year running, here’s what we got up to at #WIL18.

 

A warm welcome from founder Sophie Le Ray opened the 2-day forum in which she shared some interesting findings from a recent UAE D&I survey naseba and Winston & Strawn conducted which showed that more than half of UAE workplaces believe that diversity is a priority. 74% of women in the UAE aspire to senior leadership roles compared to 66% of males. A very interesting finding was that both men and women in the UAE identified societal / community expectations as the biggest barrier to them following the career of their choice. Furthermore, the study highlighted that flexible working programmes and mentoring were key to boosting D&I in the workplace where 49% of respondents answered YES that their organisation offered/supported flexible programmes such as reduced hours, extended maternity leave and the ability to work from home.



The morning continued with on with the WIL achievement awards ceremony in which Sodexo won the most women-friendly employer of the year and AXA Insurance won 'Best D&I initiative' of the year. Alisha Moopen, CEO of Aster Healthcare took home the 'Women Game Changer of the Year', while Mennassie Taddese Regional President of Pfizer won 'Male Champion of Change' of the year.


Prof. Peter Fisk, business expert, bestselling author, keynote speaker on leadership innovation and growth came to tell us what we could learn from the worlds most disruptive brands and businesses with his insightful talk titled 'The Future is Female.' He highlighted that we are living in a world of relentless change, that archaic ideas are being dismantled and that the future is in fact female. He explains this in the context of the "female" vs "male" brain. New science is now showing that the connectivity of the brain reveals significant differences between men and women. The "female" or "right" brain functions of intuition, creativity, thoughtfulness, collaboration and empathy are winning in the world of business.

 

What better way to follow this session then by one titled, 'Women Gamechangers Disruptors and Innovators', moderated by Radio host Anna Roberts Al Qassimi, with panellists Mariah Idrissi, Katia Adams and Alisha Moopen.

Mariah Idrissi, the first Hijab wearing model in an international fashion campaign shares how stereotypes about her headscarf didn't stop her from pursuing her purpose; "What is your purpose? Stop chasing and start building."

Alisha Mooopen, Executive Director and CEO of Aster Healthcare advises us to "reach out to people. As much as you need help, others also need help." While Katia Adams, Director of Frequentseen shares that "Authenticity is key for us to make an impact."


Day 2 showcased the likes of Viktoriya Tigipko, Managing Partner of TA Venture who shared that "start-ups founded by women tended to outperform start-ups founded by men but were less likely to get funding," during a live Wen Women Win podcast session with Rana Nawas. 

Briar Prestidge, founder and  CEO of Briar Prestidge International moderated the panel discussion 'New Media: giving a voice to the underdogs' with Maysoun Odeh Gangat founder of Nisaa FM the first all-women radio station in the MENA region and Lia Beltrami. Maysoun tells us that 76.8 % of images of Arab women are negatively portrayed, raising the important question, what is the medias role in growing and maintaining gender balance?


Sophie Le Ray moderated a panel of three young Arab lawyers from Winston & Strawn who shared their journeys into male-dominated careers, and how cultural limitations did not hinder their success or progression.


Ida Beerhalter, Co-CEO of IOME, a private investment partnership of women principals from the Gulf with its head office in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hit some hard truths in her power-talk presentation titled 'Why it is smart to panic in your comfort zone'. The comfort zone, stretch zone and panic zones vary between people, some people may have larger comfort zones and smaller panic zones and vice versa, and perhaps panicking in your comfort zone might be just what a person needs to get out of it. She describes that in addition to the fight or flight responses there are actually two more known as freeze or float. 

 

Before lunch, we were entertained by a surprise live performance by Layla Kardan who debuted her new single and video clip, Goddess.

 

Business Development Director Sabine Yazbeck moderated a panel around 'Breaking the stereotypes ', with Saudi Designer Arwa Al Banawi and Omaira  Al Farooq, Managing Director of ALFAdministration. Both women shared their journeys and struggles around stereotypes in the workplace, Omaira in particularly being reminded of being in her position with a previous employer only because she was Emirati. Arwa said that she was passionate about show-casing her rich culture in her designs and collections, highlighting that many of her pieces are inspired by Abaya, the Saudi national dress.

We ended the forum attending the workshop 'Business Chemistry', presented by Ellevate Chicago's Kate Liebelt. This was a fun and interactive workshop that focused on Deloitte's self-assessment 'Business Chemistry'. Designed for use in a business context, Business Chemistry draws upon the latest analytics technologies to reveal four scientifically based patterns of behaviour, Pioneer, Driver, Guardian and Integrator. The system is designed to provide insights about individuals and teams based on observable traits and preferences. After completing a short version of the self-assessment our Hopscotch team discovered that Tanja, our Social Media Manager was an 'Integrator' and Abeer our New Business Consultant was a 'Pioneer'. Everyone is a unique combination of all four patterns, but most people strongly associate with one or two patterns that characterize their business behaviours.


 In summary, the WIL forum provided endless opportunities for motivation, growth, empowerment, and knowledge. It curated and showcased an incredible selection of global thought leaders, role models, game-changers, and innovators which left us feeling inspired and moved. We cannot wait to see what they have in store for 2019!

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