Women of influence in the Middle East 2020

“Leadership is an attitude and not gender specific. Any person, no matter what gender, who is proactive and risk adept and has the right attitude, they will make great leaders.”

The Lebanese-Greek national is the CEO of ACE Holding. A fellow of the United Kingdom’s Chartered Insurance Institute, she has been with the company for a decade and served as executive group vice-president for nine years.

She says: “You will have to set a good example for others to follow; that is where your commitment, empathy, honesty and integrity come into play. Good communication skills and decision-making capabilities also play a vital role in the success or failure of a leader.”

Backed by 220 experienced professionals, ACE provides tailor-made solutions and comprehensive claims and risk management services to clients locally through 16 offices in eight different countries.

Widely considered an industry leader, El Khoury has more than two decades of experience in insurance and reinsurance across the UK, Lebanon and throughout the GCC. And she is something of a pioneer – just 5 percent of senior leadership roles in insurance organisations are filled by women, a fact that she concedes is partly due to  “little preparation provided by these organisations for women to advance”.

She is renowned for embracing change and has been instrumental in steering the growth of ACE beyond Saudi Arabia.

But it is further change in the workplace in general, that she would like to see – particularly for females, although she concedes that governments in KSA, Bahrain, the UAE and Kuwait have already begun taking necessary strides in encouraging more female advancement into managerial and senior positions.

“One of the biggest challenges women still face is managing the work-life balance, especially if they are working while being a parent too. Organisations should empower parents, not just working mothers, in a way that encourages having a healthy work-life balance,” she says.

“Women need to work together to empower each other to create a culture and environment where women are encouraged to think big and strive big.”

Women of influence in the Middle East 2020

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