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An Emirati woman with an extensive career and educational history, an author, public speaker and podcast host, Laila Faridoon is first and foremost, a leader and positive voice for women dreaming BIG.
Her book, “Looking Forward To The Bright Side” explores her personal journey in finding her strengths and obtaining a leadership role, which led to become a Goodwill Ambassador by the League of Arab Organization. From breaking down barriers within a male dominated culture and workplace to using her voice and platforms to elevate and empower women, Laila Faridoon is an influential force in the UAE and the region.
Tell us a little about your background and what it is you do...
I am a passionate Emirati woman from Dubai, United Arab Emirates and I specialize in Digital and Business Transformation. I am also an author and public speaker and have also done extensive work in the areas of Corporate Innovation and Project Management by contributing to large projects and principles of next generation project management in EMEA region. I’m currently pursuing my PhD in the field of Fourth Industrial Revolution in Kings College London and am passionate about gaining and sharing knowledge. In simple terms: I’m a very positive person that is looking forward to the bright side.
As well as being a public speaker, a successful digital and business transformation consultant, you're also an author, and a certified spiritual coach, who has written a book, "Looking Forward To The Bright Side." How did that come about, what can you tell us about your book?
I’m a big believer that a person can create her/his own life. We grow up and live according to certain rules and most of the rules (that are stored in our subconscious) are imposed by others around us, it controls how we live, and this allows us to lose control of our own lives. Few only recognize that the inner self can be the one in control, rather than the outside world, and it happened that I am one of those people.
Many people (especially women) do come to me and ask me how I built my career, and how I created this life? Specifically, I remember at one conference, a lady came to me at the end of my speech, hugged me and said “I’m proud of you, how you do this, what is your approach?” I just looked back at her and said “I don’t really have an approach; I just do what I know how to do”. This moment really made me think of “My Approach”, what is usual for me might be useful for them. Since I believe that part of my purpose on this earth is to share knowledge and help people evolve, I decided to share my own road map that I used in my journey to create the life I wanted with others. My book is a practical guide to look for the bright side in your life and learn how to master it, allowing you to create your own reality, manage it, and eventually reach your divine self, based on my own story.
Do you have any more life-changing books in the pipeline that we can look out for?
Yes, I’m working now on a new book re: Faith, honestly not sure yet about the title.
As an Arab, Emirati woman, working within mainly male dominated industries, what kind of challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
One of my main challenges was to prove myself and prove that I’m capable of leading like any man. As women, we are somehow trapped in “always wanting to prove ourselves” to others, especially men, and this is a belief that women are raised with; it’s a negative belief that leads us to impose restrictions on ourselves by ourselves. The moment I realized that it’s not about proving myself to anyone, is the moment that I focused on just being me and started evolving in my journey. I learned that all I need is to act on my skills and capabilities exactly as I have seen men do.
As a female leader, what are the characteristics you think are important to encompass in attaining such a position?
Based on my own leadership journey, the following points that stood out for me as a female leader:
•Being emotionally resilient.
•Trusting my team.
•Being politically savvy.
I have been applying these rules in my own leadership journey and have even dedicated a full episode in my “Faith” podcast about this, it’s called “Episode #4: Faith in women’s leadership.”
Growing up, who were the women that inspired you to keep elevating yourself and your position in the world?
My mother - I gained most of my values from her. It really grounded me and helped me achieve my targets in life, values such as learning, supporting myself and others, discipline, and loyalty. After my father’s death, as a single parent, my mother had to keep it all together and ensure that we proceeded with our lives as planned or as we wanted. The least I could do is make her proud of me and contribute to her happiness after she had sacrificed so much for us. I always look at my mom and wonder how she did it. It wasn’t easy at all! My mom was running our family affairs as a household like her own company, setting the required financial limits and distributing what we had in a way that served us all in a very precise and wise way. I simply adore her!
Last year, you were appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by the League of Arab Organization. What can you tell us about the work you do there?
My main work is promoting Arab woman and helping them to evolve. I focus a lot on coaching women and help them with their personal growth and use a number of different platforms to do so such as public talks, private sessions and publications.
You also have a podcast series, please tell us about that and the topics you cover on it...
All my podcasts are motivational ones geared towards self-development and aiming to help others create their desired lives and achieve their dreams via sharing my own stories, knowledge, wisdom and tips. At present, I have two podcast series, one is called “Looking Forward” and available on Apple and the other is called “Faith” and available to stream on Spotify.
How do you use your experience, platform and position to empower other Arab women who are inspired by you and your achievements?
By sharing my own story, by speaking out and being honest in sharing the struggles and challenges that shaped my values and made me who I am today. It started with my book and was followed by my podcasts. I also do lot of coaching sessions for different women in their career to boost their self-esteem and help them face their challenges at work and in life - just listening to them is a big support.I always advocate for female employees or colleagues; I believe that women should support each other and work together to empower one another. I also ensure that I am consistently participating in various women’s leadership events to share my story and knowledge.
What advice can you give to young Arab women who are working to make a change in the world?
Start by changing yourself first, that comes by knowing “yourself” and “your purpose”; by knowing yourself you will be able to take the right path, and by knowing your purpose you will be able to contribute and make a change in the right field. It’s important to remember that information is power, education is key here and you must never stop learning. Do not rush in your career, it’s important to ensure that you are learning from the right people to be able to execute the required change in the world. Finally, I advise you to have faith and believe in yourself, don’t get trapped in restricting yourself! Believe in other women, advocate for and support them, as it is only when we empower each other, we evolve.
Follow Laila on Instagram (@LailaFaridoon) for all things empowering and inspiring.