Louise Beveridge, Business Communicator, Educator and Speaker, speaks to TRENDS on why it is important to enhance the Arab women representation in the boardrooms.
Beveridge participated in the Top CEO Conference & Awards, which was held at the King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia, on April 10 and 11.
How do you look at the ongoing women empowerment drive in the GCC region?
Women empowerment is of significant importance in the Gulf region; for its widespread growth, helping in its endeavor to become global destination for new investments, to become the epicenter of modernization and to develop its capacity to play a constructive role in the 21st century. However, the region needs to look for answers to various questions… such as in this war for talent, can we afford to exclude the skills that women represent? How can we attract the best regional and international female talent toward business and government? It should be kept in mind that if the Gulf does not do it first then other countries and cultures will do it and gain benefits.
What is your opinion about the representation of Arab women in boardrooms?
The inclusion of women in business is always a smarter move. In fact it is of utmost importance to enhance their presence in the boardrooms in this region. Otherwise how can you innovate, decide and negotiate with a society, made up of men and women, if your teams do not include the reference points of 50 percent of the public you seek to service. Also it is a sign of good governance, enlightened management and a source of trust – if they (women) have talent and drive, they deserve the best and need to be included. This issue needs to be genuinely addressed from all angles.
Are GCC’s public and private enterprises prepared enough to defend themselves against the explosion of fake news and cyberattacks?
We all are vulnerable to cyberattacks and we have observed that it is not just the dark web that is a parallel universe but the use and abuse of our personal data. Fake news is a significant business opportunity for some and a threat to our democracies. Cyber warfare at the level of state or business is already a common reality for businesses and public services around the world. The GCC region is as vulnerable as others. The potential disruption and destruction of value that cyber crime and attack represent are preoccupations for boards, executive committees, governments and security services. New regulation will come but in the meanwhile we are living in a few Far West with the good, the bad and the ugly.
GCC region is home to many ongoing mega-projects. What fundamental changes should be made to ensure a successful execution of these mega-projects?
Beyond the financial and management challenges – which are considerable – there is also the human challenge. How do you attract and retain the best local and global talent that these projects require? How do you engage with the multiple stakeholders impacted by the projects over a long period of time? How do you give a purpose and meaning to these projects beyond the operational excellence? What will they bring to the region? What role do they play at an international scale? Are the execution standards of the projects working as examples that create new references for the region… such as environmental impact, use of technology, management of human resource and impact on local populations.
What role could the private sector play in ensuring a wholesome growth in the GCC region?
The private sector has a culture of innovation and agility: it is inherent in its entrepreneurial DNA and in its sense of opportunity and survival. The private sector brings a culture of adaptation and can show the way in which any economy can follow the path of modernization. When it is well managed and well regulated, the private sector sets new standards and creates new opportunities for all.
What role could the Fourth Industrial Revolution play in the transformation of public services sector?
These innovations and technologies will fundamentally alter society, economy and businesses in both public and private sector. The automation through artificial intelligence and robotics of every day professions and tasks; such as administration, accounting, transport, manufacturing, law, financial intermediation and transactions; is inevitable. This presents challenges but also superb opportunities. The region should find out the ways of how the public services in the GCC can understand and embrace these technologies to set new standards.