Reem Alhajri is an inspiring role model of contemporary Kuwait. A double major in Business Administration and Management Information Systems from Kuwait University, Reem is a strong, high-spirited and independent working professional. With different facets to her personality, Reem is professional investment manager, an artist par excellence and an activist advocating woman’s causes. As she puts it, “…by day I am a portfolio manager and by night an artist.”
Reem is Vice President – Asset Management at a leading Kuwaiti investment company and has over 15 years of experience in portfolio management. She is currently managing several key assets in Kuwait as well as the GCC region.
Speaking about some of the challenges that she faces in her line of work, Reem said: “The main challenge that I, and other women in my field, face is the constant quest for information related to our everyday work. Kuwaiti men have an advantage as there is abundant exchange of news, information and facts in men’s social ‘diwaniahs’, a gathering to which women are traditionally not invited. So, getting ready access to market information, especially for research purposes, is a bit challenging."
Going on to explain the secret behind her success, Reem was of the opinion that ethics was an asset that makes up a woman’s character and this was especially true in the financial world. “Before the economic crises, there were lots of unethical practices in the stock market. And as a woman, I would always be the whistle-blower; seeing any unethical financial practice, I would immediately report it to my superior. Also, by nature, women are more curious and can find loopholes more easily than men; they tend to identify the small details in things that can later cause big problems.
And this has helped me to build systems for monitoring our everyday financial practices. I always tell my boss, we have to abide by global practices; we have to have policies and procedures. So, I think an ethical behavior is the secret behind my professional success.”
Asked what advice she would give to future generation of Kuwaiti women who want to make a mark in society, Reem replied: “Go and do whatever you want, and never underestimate your potential or talent. If you like to cook, take up cooking lessons; if you like to paint then take painting classes. You never know what opportunities may arise from trying small things, so never hesitate to try anything you want to and fulfill your desires and dreams.”
[Lady in Limelight is a weekly column by Shireen Passi Chopra that will focus the spotlight on one woman in Kuwait who stands apart from her contemporaries through her work, her accomplishments, her talent or inspirational character.]