It is true that strong, successful people may assert themselves on the scene and gain some degree of prominence, but this is not a common law. Therefore, we find that many people who have contributed in one way or another in many fields may not attain the fame they deserve.
Among these figures is the Saudi businesswoman, Lubna Al-Olayan. It is a descendant of the famous Olayan family, which is considered one of the families that contributed a lot to the Saudi economy. Who is Lubna Olayan? What are her achievements that made her one of the most influential figures in the world?
Get to know her closely through some facts and details about her life and career.
Sometimes the upbringing is a major reason for success and excellence in life, it may be the case with Lubna Al-Olayan, the youngest son of Suleiman Al-Olayan, a famous businessman with a strong influence on the Saudi economy.
Lubna was born on August 4, 1955, in the city of Unaizah in Qassim region in northern Saudi Arabia. After that, Lubna obtained her BA in Agriculture from Cornell University in the United States of America. She also holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Indiana.
She also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws in 2011 from Trinity College, Ireland. After that, Lubna Olayan occupied all her career and is still, of course, many and many important positions, which gave her great experience to manage a large economic entity such as the Olayan Group of companies.
This group started with a shipping company that her father founded in 1947, and then developed to reach about 40 companies in different industries and fields such as restaurants, hotels, plastics and others.
Olayan worked at Morgan Guarent Bank in New York City for two years from 1979 to 1981, and as a financial analyst at JP Morgan from 1979 to 1983.
This period gave her some experience, returning in 1983 and working in her father’s companies as an assistant Mali served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Olayan Financial Group until 1986, in order to become the CEO of this huge economic group.
Lubna Al-Olayan, who she is, but Lubna Al-Olayan’s growing up in such a family that contributed to the prosperity of the Saudi economy in the 1960s and 1970s was not the only reason for her success and her emergence as a strong woman capable of achieving her dreams.
Lubna’s personality is what imposed her control and made her have the attention and admiration of everyone, as she possesses many management skills, especially with regard to economic entities and the field of banking. That made the CEO of Saudi Hollandi Bank, Bernd Van Linder, praise her performance and banking experience.
She was chosen and elected as a member of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Hollandi Bank as a representative of the Olayan Group of Companies in her capacity as the Group’s CEO in January 2005. She is considered the first Saudi woman to hold this position.
This was not the only position Olayan held, and she was the first Saudi woman to hold it. She is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of SABB, the Saudi British Bank. And that came after an agreement between the Saudi British Bank and Alawwal Bank, which resulted in a merger between the two banks. Lubna Al-Olayan will remain in her position until the end of the current session of the Council.
Lubna’s ambition and success did not stop there, but she also occupies other important positions as she is a member of thedirectors board of of the giant company in the field of marketing (WPP), which is considered the largest public relations company in the world, as it provides marketing and advertising advice to many large companies and institutions.
She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Arab Thought Foundation, which is an independent non-governmental organization that aims to spread knowledge, encourage youth to innovate, and empower them in the labor market through several projects and programs, and open avenues for dialogue.
It was established in 2000. Lubna Al-Olayan is also a non-executive member of the board of directors of the Saudi mining company “Aden”, the only woman on the board of directors, and she joined him in April 2016. She is considered in this position as a representative of the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Olayan is not only satisfied with these multiple positions, but is also a member of the board chairs of a number of large investment and industrial companies, such as the British Rolls-Royce Group, Turkey’s Akbank Bank, WPP Media Group, Schlumberger Petroleum, and her position in the Saudi Hollandi Bank.
She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Executive Committee of the Arab Business Council of the World Economic Forum. When the Public Investment Fund decided to form an advisory board for the Future Investment Initiative for the year 2018, it chose 11 chief executives from different countries of the world, who have experience and influence in the financial and business sectors, and Lubna Al-Olayan was the only Saudi in this council.
Lubna Al-Olayan believes in the importance of education and that it is a necessity and a right for everyone without discrimination, because individual education is the basis for the progress of countries and the achievement of many future achievements.
She is also a member of the advisory team on the board of directors of Effat University, an educational edifice for women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
As for her role in supporting women, Lubna Al-Olayan is not only one of those who have broken many taboos, especially with regard to Arab women in general and Saudi women in particular, but she tries a lot to confirm her support for the position and importance of women’s work in society.
Through her positions in educational institutions, she always tries to encourage the idea of education, which she believes that many women are still deprived of obtaining it. It also calls for opening more areas to receive women in the labor market because they believe in empowering women and not achieving progress without them.
Olayan mentioned her ideas and support for women in more than one talk, including her talk about women’s rights at the Jeddah Economic Conference in 2004, which was attended by Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and former President of the United States of America Bill Clinton.
She reiterated her words about the necessity of equality in the rights and duties of women and men, and that women’s participation in work in society is important for its advancement, as part of the activities of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland in 2005, in which she spoke as a member of the board of directors of the International College for Graduate Studies in Business Administration.
In 2004, Olayan founded the “Olayan National Women’s Action for Employment and Development” program under the name “OnWard” to effectively spread her ideas. This program aims to increase the number of women working in the labor market, who constitute an already small percentage.
Therefore, the program works to train women affiliated with it, many of whom are university graduates, in addition to developing their skills and abilities to hold administrative and executive positions in the future.
Lubna Al-Olayan is always trying to support women and encourage them to have confidence in themselves, especially those who work with her.
She has tried to implement the principle of empowering women who believe in it through her economic group, as it opens many job opportunities for women, supervises them and encourages them in various ways. Even some of the program’s students are highly praised for their efforts at work and their self-confidence, which they also try to transmit to others.
Although she always supports women’s issues, Lubna Al-Olayan is very proud of the presence of three men who influenced her life and who played a role in her success and constant support, and they are her father, businessman Suleiman Olayan, her brother and her husband.