May 6, 2020
Gender parity in the business world, networking opportunities and Creative Zone’s partnership with Dubai Business Women Council highlighted at the ‘Power Women of the UAE’ Webinar.
Keeping up with the gripping webinars, Creative Zone organised yet another encouraging session with three renowned women, who shared their experiences being women entrepreneurs themselves and how they succeeded being leaders in their respective domains.
This time the panelists were Nadine Halabi, Business Development Manager, Dubai Business Women Council, Rosemin Madhavji, Founder, RR&Co, and Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, CEO, Novo Cinemas. Lorenzo Jooris, CEO, Creative Zone moderated the session and asked several important questions that were raised by the attendees.
On being asked how are they adapting to the new situation, Debbie explained that their teams are working remotely and are focusing on keeping the communication channels active. Novo Cinemas is making sure to check up on their employees and engage them in online learning platforms, Arabic speaking courses etc, the teams also conduct fun trivia activities to keep the spirits alive.
Since Nadine’s network includes several eminent entrepreneurs she revealed how companies are looking to open up. Nadine was of the view that the starting of the lockdown brought a lot of anxiety and fear amongst people but being a part of DBWC, she witnessed many inspiring members who faced these times with resilience and how they adapted to the ‘new normal’ in a positive manner.
DWBC reached out to support members and the members in fact reached out to them and asked how they could help. Several members are doing things online, conducting webinars and other digital avenues to support their respective communities.
Rosemin who is fashion and beauty mogul described how difficult it has been in their industry as well because a lot of inventory was in stock and the production for next season had already begun while the pandemic took a draconian face. Many of the fashion houses are trying to figure out their cash flow, employee engagement, and customer servicing. They are taking things as they come since the whole situation is dynamic and calls for adaptability more than anything else.
One popular question was that where we stand when it comes to women in leadership. Debbie who manages Novo Cinema described that she is starting to see more and more women taking up leadership roles. She advised women in every sphere to remain true to who they are, she quoted her personal experience as once she was asked by her boss that she is soft and needs to be more tough when at a higher position. Debbie said that’s not someone who she is, and she prefers to lead by kindness and empathy and people respond to that better and has only seen efficient outcome with that approach.
“Women leading with kindness is a strength, not weakness. It’s not just about focusing on women but making it a level playing field and making sure there is equal opportunity for everyone to compete for leadership roles. With WFH, both parents are at home with the kids. More dads can now take home responsibilities. I think in the future, maybe we’ll see roles and responsibilities change”. Nadine also opined that in Dubai the glass ceiling has been broken and people get jobs based on their qualification and not gender.
Lorenzo Jooris, took the opportunity to disclose that Creative Zone will be partnering with Dubai Business Women’s Council to support women entrepreneurs. Nadine who was very excited about this venture said that “Our main mission as a council is to support businesswomen in Dubai and the UAE. A partnership with Creative Zone helps us become stronger as they are the lending arm that provides us extra services that we can give back to our members. As a member of the DBWC, if you want to set up a business and need a license, our partnership with Creative Zone will give you discounted rates as well as extra perks. Something I am very passionate about is the launch of an accelerator program that we will be doing with Creative Zone. We are going to bring on board the most successful experts in different businesses who will give talks about the various aspects of setting up a business. This will be open for any woman who is part of our council who has a business idea but does not know how to set it up. It is also an opportunity for women who have their own businesses but wish to scale up. We are super excited about it as this is our way to give back to our members.
Highlights and Questions of the Webinar
I am signing up with Creative Zone (e-commerce start up). What advice would you give?
Rosemin: I am with Creative Zone as well. Good decision to go with them. E-commerce is the way to go. Make sure you are following your customer journey. Invest in technology now and stay five steps ahead. Test your model over and over again with friends and make sure it’s perfect before launch. Have friends test out everything including small details like delivery and packaging. What will set you apart is the customer journey
Nadine: One takeaway for anyone who wants to set up an e-commerce business is always keeping in mind that you are under total and constant scrutiny. You have to match your words with actions. Also make sure you work on your cyber security.
Debbie: E-commerce is the way to go and people are more online right now. And since more people are online, there will also be older people online. So if you are catering to older people, it has to be seamless and easy for them to use. Understand your demographic and be aware that they might not know how to use technology.
- Can women entrepreneurs be part of Expo 2020?
Nadine: There will be a Women’s Pavilion during expo 2020 which will be a platform for women entrepreneurs and startups. If you are part of the DBWC, you will have an opportunity to be a part of this Pavilion. It will be a big support for the economy in Dubai
- I am going to launch an Arabic yoga platform online. It is taking me a long time to reach perfection. But I want to go live. Should I focus on perfection or movement?
Nadine: There is no perfect model. Is any business model completely perfect? The biggest proof is COVID-19. Businesses have had to change their models because they were not perfect for this situation.
Keep testing it and adapting and improving. Move forward and go for it. Keep evolving
Rosemin:This is a great time to test it out. Try doing 30 minute sessions on instagram live and invite friends to do this. Build your community and followers on social media pages. So when the time is right, you already have a community who see your credibility
Nadine:It is important to listen to your audience too and fulfill what they want. Cater to their needs and this will put you on a different level.
- How important is Innovation and creativity
Debbie: Some of the greatest businesses today were starting during the most difficult times in the economy. This hardship will drive people to innovate even further.
- Expo 2020 being rescheduled to 2021
Debbie: The tourism and hotel industry has been hit badly but I’m glad that it has been rescheduled for a better time. You will see a lot more people taking opportunities forward, especially women.
Rosemin: It’s definitely something to look forward to now.
It will be a positive experience for restaurants and entertainment, in fact all industries will certainly benefit
- What’s next for Novo Cinemas? When do you expect for it to be normal and people going back to cinemas?
Saudi Arabia is a market we are looking at. We are not there yet but we are planning for it. I see it as an opportunity for many Saudi women. With Saudization bringing more women into the workplace, we are hopeful that we’ll find the opportunity for women to move into all kinds of roles – whether that’s marketing or operations.
Going back to cinemas will be whenever it’s safe to do so. Safety and health is paramount to us. We are in regular contact with the authorities who have done a great job in managing the situation. When it is the right time for us to reopen, we will be ready. We are engaging with our clients on social media and making sure we let them know we miss them. We are also waiting for content from Hollywood studios as their release dates have been pushed as well. We’ll probably be looking at June/July for this.
- How can we still be connected with people while being confined within our borders?
Debbie: What we are doing right now is helping. Connecting with people around the world online, learning from webinars and online meets.
Having that support network around you helps you feel connected.
Support each other and listen to others, help mentor and give whatever is needed.
Nadine: We are continuing to find ways to connect. We are still going to do this, just that it will be digital. We are still connected with our partner organizations across the world and supporting them.
Rosemin: This format is connecting us online. The beauty industry is also seeing competitors come together to discuss the ways to move forward.
Use this opportunity to engage and connect with people who you thought you never had access to.