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The Game-Changing Saudi Female Executive At The Public Investment Fund

Meet Shihana Alazzaz, another beacon of women's empowerment in Saudi Arabia!

Shihana Alazzaz is the general counsel and Secretary-General to the board at the Public Investment Fund (PIF). She recently stood out as the woman sitting across Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman at a defining meeting that took place in the Kingdom on the 24th of January 2021.

The Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 boosted women's participation into particular industries and career paths that were previously closed off to them. Since 2016, Saudi women have been offered the tools, education, and opportunity to set the bar for generations to come in once male-dominated positions. In the past four years, women reforms in Saudi Arabia allowed them to drive, travel without the permission of a male guardian, diversify their work opportunities, and much more.

Upon seeing Alazzaz at the historic meeting that took place on Sunday, many people voiced their pride on social media after seeing the female pioneer sitting across from the Crown Prince. “An excellent model for Saudi women. Her competitiveness at work is the same as any man,” one tweeted. It was in 2017 that Shihana first joined PIF as the head of transactions in the legal division, and is now a member of the management committee there, and other executive committees in the fund. Alazzaz also chairs and serves on several boards and board committees of PIF portfolio companies.

Image via Arab News 

How did it all start out?
In 2002, at 16, Alazzaz lost her father to cancer, and that was when she had appeared in court and fought for her family’s inheritance. With only a handwritten note from her father prior to his death, she battled in court to fulfill her father’s last wishes; that her family’s legal guardian be her mother’s brother. Even then, having to deal with such a great loss, she worked hard to obtain her education and carve a path of success for herself as she travelled to the UK to achieve her degree in law at Durham University, with the support of her mother. According to Arab News, Shihana continued with her studies and got her license to practice law at the Supreme Court of New York and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice.

For any Saudi woman, this was a major win - as female lawyers were only granted a license to practice from 2013 by the Ministry of Justice. Before she earned her current position at PIF, the young Saudi achiever practiced law for 9 years at several international law firms, where she gained exposure to legal advisory services, transactions, and litigation across various sectors, and has since been recognized for her work locally, regionally and internationally.

Shihana has been noted in the Forbes Middle East’s 100 Most Powerful Women of 2020, and received multiple awards including Finance Monthly Deal Maker Awards 2016, and the Women in Business Law award presented by the International Financial Law Review (IFLR).

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