Top of Her Game Gamechanger – Mariam Yousef Ahli
“Mariam has an unparalleled business ethic and is a passionate football fan. She is the first female Boardmember in the UAE Football association, as well as being the Senior VP at Al Hilal Bank. As a trailblazer, she was also the first UAE woman to have worked at Carrefour. Breaking stereotypes is in her blood, and this is why we are proud to boast her as one of our changemakers.”
1. What are your biggest achievements?
I cannot be definite about one big achievement in my life. But a common thread follows through ever since I was young. In a nutshell, I have always been ahead of my age. I graduated at the age of 16 from the IGSE British program after attending a public school. I started working at a very young age while I was still attending high school. I worked in multiple International banks. I became a branch manager and handled VIP accounts in my early twenties while networking with senior government officials an accounts of ruler offices. My passion for sports and event activation led me to become the first lady board member at the UAE Football Association. And before I hit my 30s I became the head of Corporate Communications for Al Hilal Bank, a prestigious government owned bank.
2. What drives you to be at the top of your game? What are your success strategies?
The impossible is nothing. I thrive to make dreams and aspirations happen. In any organization I work for, I do not just settle for leadership; rather, I want my company to constantly redefine the industry it is part of, and set new standards for the business with a sharp focus on innovation and excellence. My success strategy is to always consider myself as a constant work in progress, which means that I always have to be better at whatever I do, whether personally or professionally.
3. UAE and the GCC as a whole are going through major changes when it comes to the involvement of business in society. What do you think is driving that?
It should not just be all business as far as enterprises in UAE and across the GCC are concerned. Interaction with the community is crucial to organizational success, and we are seeing many Gulf organizations accepting this as a reality and an important part of their corporate strategy. More and more businesses in the region are aligning their operations with the needs and concerns of society and actively engaging in community-relevant initiatives. A major driver behind this is the importance given towards values by Arab businesses. The prevailing culture in this part of the world is that we need to give back to the community and lend support for social growth and development. So we can expect more companies in the Gulf to treat active involvement in social causes as an essential investment that makes them participatory to the future of the region and reaps many benefits for their organizations along the way.
4. It is important for us to recognise the power of men in supporting women. Is there a man who has played an instrumental role in your personal growth and success?
My father is my biggest supporter. He taught me to embrace my passion, to speak my mind and to opt for what I want. He supported all my career decisions and allowed me to grasp the notion that change is constant and taking risk can end up in wonderful leaps. He also built my self esteem and confidence by teaching me to accept criticism objectively and to ignore fearful ideas imposed by society. My father brought us up in house where there is open communication and playful moments, he taught me to enjoy life and from there I learnt that I need to enjoy what I do in order to excel in it. Hence, I followed my passion and kept on advancing in my career. I am grateful to him, for allowing me to experience both success and failures at an early age. I owe a lot of my success to his constant support.