Achieving Women Forum 2017

Today, I was fortunate to be invited to the Achieving Women Forum by Entrepreneur Middle East. I was extremely inspired so I wanted to give you an overview of the event's discussions. 

Briar Prestidge Entrepreneur Middle East's Achieving Women's Forum  2017

Starting at 9 am, I arrived at the W Hotel Al Habtoor to an array of women of all ages, networking over coffee and breakfast bites. 

Moderated by Fida Chaaban, former founding Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East, the forum was divided into three subjects of discussion, with expert panelists drawing from their personal experience and answering questions tweeted by the audience. 

Lubna Quassim, Executive Vice President and Group General Counsel of Emirates NBD

Lubna Quassim, Executive Vice President and Group General Counsel of Emirates NBD

Key points from #EntMEWomen:

Keys to the Kingdom: Getting into The c-suite

Panelists: Carla Koffel, Rana Nawas and Lubna Qassim

  • Women feel at a disadvantage to their male dominated, C- Suite level colleagues, and face challenges being the only woman in the boardroom. 
  • A theme of "Owning It" - your finances, barriers in the workplace and unconscious biases. Women's lack of financial education was an area that many agreed needed developing especially, whether by taking their own initiative, attending meetups or forums. 
  • Speak up and demand attention when you are "man-teruped" by your male colleagues. Find opportunities to make your voice heard, or a male leader to stick his neck out to help create that opportunity.
  • Engage in networking events - you cultivate your own network and opportunities.
  • Be authentic, and the best version of yourself. Be fearless and take ownership of your career.
  • 'Competence vs likeability' - the more competent you are, the less likeable; so pick one and go with it.
  • Pause before you speak to refine your message, think about who you are speaking to and tailor your message.
  • Don't seek approval unless it's from a reliable source - not everyone will like you.
Donna Benton, founder of The Entertainer

Donna Benton, founder of The Entertainer

The hard sell: building your (and your business') brand value

Panelists: Kat Budd, Serene Touma, Farah Moumneh, Tara Rogers Ellis

  • Use media to reach your audience. Look at this as a long-term investment, not cost.
  • Understand your brand values- what differentiates you from the rest? As everyone is now their own personal brand, it's important to find a way to stand out.
  • Be careful about what content you put out now that everything is through social media.
  • Know your audience - NOW money interviewed their customers so they could get a deeper understanding. Delighted is a customer feedback platform for this.
  • Be an active contributor and engage with your audience. Every email you receive personally addressed to you- reply to it.
  • Find a way to reach the people that had an 'average' experience with your brand to see how you can improve. Figure out what your user wants.
  • Rather than it be about you, tell your audience why you care about them to make them feel valued. Go to your audience, don't just expect them to come to you. 
  • Know your story and have communication guidelines -  really focus on what you are and what your represent.
  • Build your contact list and engage with everyone.
  • You are your brand, and your employees are an extension of your brand.
  • Don't spend time at the start worrying about creating the the branding details, it's more important to get your content out. However, remember to trademark your name.
  • Adapt your content especially for each social media platform.
  • Start with your merchants - and then build your customer base through word of mouth.
Sherene   Lee, co-founder of Melltoo.

Sherene Lee, co-founder of Melltoo.

Scaling through sales: funding your enterprise's growth with your customers

Panelists: Donna Benton, Alanoud Faisal, Sarah Jones, Sherene Lee

  • Sales come when your audience is your community, not customers.
  • You will always get criticism (if it's constructive it's okay, but people can be jealous). Surround yourself with people who believe in your vision.
  • Stay with your focus - for instance, everyone tried to tell Donna (founder of The Entertainer) that she should do a 'daily deal site' like other startups.
  • If you aren't making revenue from your startup in 2-3 years then it should become a hobby.
  • It's not just the founders of start-ups who are entrepreneurs - you can have corporate brand entrepreneurs and visioners also.


Thanks Entrepreneur ME for a fantastic conference, and congratulations to the panelists for leading incredibly thought-provoking discussions - the information I've learnt is hugely beneficial.

For more information from today, you can visit their twitter (#EntMEWomen) or Instagram (@EntMagazineME).

If anyone has any questions please email me at or comment below.

Many thanks,

Briar Prestidge