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Yasmeen Fouad Alsalem: Inspiring inclusion and celebrating achievements

International Women’s Day (IWD), observed annually on March 8, is a global celebration of women’s achievements and a call to action for gender equality. It serves as a powerful reminder of the progress made and the work that remains to be done.

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International Women’s Day (IWD), observed annually on March 8, is a global celebration of women’s achievements and a call to action for gender equality. It serves as a powerful reminder of the progress made and the work that remains to be done.

The Times Kuwait features five women from Kuwait published in KPMG Kuwait’s report Global Female Leaders Outlook 2023–24. These Female Leaders who are Shaping Resilience in a Polycrisis share their amazing stories of challenges and success.

The report finds that despite shouldering increased responsibilities, Global Female Leaders remained optimistic about corporate expansion, societal progress, gender parity, and their own professional aspirations. This resilience in the face of a volatile economic and social backdrop sends a positive message.

The opinions and insights of the Global Female Leaders presented in the report reflected their confidence in future prospects and the importance of equality in ongoing transformation endeavors and emphasize that diversity is not just a buzzword that companies are trying to catch on.

The KPMG report also underlines that despite advancements in promoting diversity, inclusion, and legal structures, considerable hurdles remain. Numerous women still encounter bias, often switch jobs to progress in their careers, are underrepresented in leadership roles, and navigate male-centric networks within organizations.

Overcoming these hurdles is crucial to unleashing the complete potential of equal participation. The report illuminates evolving trends that Global Female Leaders are driving within their companies. They are adjusting digitalization strategies, with a greater focus on employee development rather than technology investments, and they are strengthening cybersecurity measures.

This ability to respond to external changes through internal adjustments indicates a promising enhancement of organizational resilience. Global Female Leaders underline that certain personal qualities are gaining prominence, particularly adaptability and foresight.

The fast-paced advancement of technology, evolving stakeholder demands, compliance requirements, and market disruptions, such as those triggered by geopolitical factors, emphasize the importance of quick response and operational flexibility, while keeping strategic, long-term objectives in mind.

These qualities resonate strongly with the Global Female Leaders KPMG spoke to, enabling them to proactively assume leadership roles despite the complexities of the current polycrisis.

KPMG Kuwait hopes that the Global Female Leaders Outlook 2023–24 will offer fresh perspectives and help foster a deeper recognition of the female leaders’ ability to navigate challenges with resilience and agility.

Yasmeen Fouad Alsalem

Director — Corporate Communications, CITRA

How did you navigate gender-specific challenges that female leaders often face in the professional world?

In pursuit of professional excellence, I have always been goal-oriented, patient, and ready to learn. Realizing the importance of guidance and support early, I do not hesitate to ask questions and seek clarification. So, whenever I need any advice, I always reach out to those who have walked the path before me — mentors who offer me clarification and/or encouragement.

Throughout my career, I understood that growth comes from continuous learning, so I attended various professional courses and training sessions. Each session is an opportunity to chip away at the self-doubt that often shadows us.

Moreover, my experience taught me the critical role of direct communication and negotiation. In a world where being heard can sometimes be challenging, I learned to assert my beliefs, even if it meant standing alone.

This assertiveness wasn’t about confrontation but making my voice heard in crucial moments, ensuring that I wasn’t overlooked or underestimated. My managers know my ambitions as I still seize every opportunity.
However, my story isn’t just about professional milestones because I always strive to balance family, personal life, and work. I perfectly understand the value of prioritizing what truly matters.

What do you think are the main barriers preventing the widespread adoption of sustainable practices in Kuwait?

А key issue is the lack of public awareness because many people in Kuwait aren’t even aware of what sustainability means or why it’s important. Even though there are talks about sustainability, we rarely see these plans put into action in the business world. This indicates that there is a need for a concrete strategy for sustainability in Kuwait.

Hence, we’re looking at a challenge that goes beyond simple actions such as recycling. The real solution involves getting government, businesses, and community groups to work together.

Moreover, we must focus on the coming generations. By teaching kids in schools about sustainability — things like climate change and fair trade — and integrating sustainability practices within their studies, we’re investing in a sustainable future. Therefore, the education system plays a very important role in this transformation.

Thus, to make real progress, Kuwait needs laws that require businesses to include sustainability in their plans. We should change the culture to one that values sustainability. Overcoming these barriers requires clear action and strong laws.

What are the three biggest career success factors that aspiring female leaders must work on today?

In short, always keep learning, connect with others, believe in yourself, and stay true to who you are. There’s always something new to learn. The world changes fast and keeping up with new skills keeps female leaders ahead and ready for whatever is next. However, you can’t win the team game alone. That’s when networking and knowing more people in your field can really help as it can open the doors to new opportunities.

Also, self-confidence is essential and so is recognizing and celebrating your achievements. Always remember to leverage the good things you’ve done to push away any doubts. Self-doubt delays progress, so you really need to believe in yourself, plan and remain focused until you achieve what you planned for. Plus, being honest and true to yourself makes you a leader people want to follow.

Our research finds that more top female managers believe that it is possible to grow in your career without changing organizations. What are your thoughts? What measures organizations can take to ensure a smooth career path for women?

In my view, it’s absolutely роssible for women to advance in their careers within the same organization. For companies to facilitate this, first, they need to ensure that promotions and leadership opportunities are awarded fairly, without gender bias. This includes providing support for maternity leave and offering flexible work options to accommodate different life stages, among other things.

Additionally, organizations should invest in targeted training and mentorship programs to develop women’s leadership skills. But beyond policies and programs, it is essential to create a workplace culture that genuinely values and celebrates women’s contributions. This helps women advance and benefits the organization by fostering diversity.

Can you share a few examples on how your organization is enabling gender equality?

CITRA is committed to development, fairness, and equality, and opportunities are open to everyone, regardless of gender. And it is strongly supported by our higher management, creating a culture where everyone has the chance to succeed.

Ms. Yasmeen Fouad AlSalem is the Director of Corporate Communications at CITRA Kuwait. She has more than 17 years of experience, spanning across business development, government affairs, and leadership.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kuwait University.

Click below to read the interviews:

Mai AlOwaish,

Chief Data & Innovation Officer, Gulf Bank

Dr. Fai Ben Salamah

Founder, Cyfay Company for Cybersecurity services, Kuwait

Hanaa Hasan Taha

Managing Director, Chief Financial Officer, Kamco Invest

Karen Cruttenden

Vice President, Victoria’s Secret, Alshaya Group

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