By Ghadeer Ghloum
KUWAIT: BNK Holding held an event on March 8, 2023 at Volvo Studio to celebrate International Women’s Day. Prominent women were chosen to share their successful journeys with BNK, such as Aseel Al-Turkait, Chief Support Service Officer at Al Thiqa; Hanan Zubaid, Head of Marketing at BNK Automotive and BNK Motion; Lulwa Al-Qaoud, Architectural Engineer, Projects at Arkan Real Estate; Hana Haddad, Pharmacist, Surgical Division at Central Circle Company; Fadwa Darwish, Secretary General at Union of Investment Companies; Sadie Hussain, General Counsel at BNK Holding; Sara Al-Mukaimy, Head of Marketing and PR at Al Safat Investment Co; and Sangeetha Muraleeswaran, Programmer at Gulf Cable and Electrical Co.
During the event, Chairman of BNK Group Bader Nasser Al-Kharafi expressed his support and admiration to all women and shared his own story, which sparked BNK’s continuous support of women. Kharafi said due to his experience of working in environments that segregated males and females, as well as others that brought together both genders during his time as a student and employee, he realized that women are needed for business success.
Among the women speakers, Turkait was the first to share her story as an example of women who were given the opportunity to thrive while working with BNK. “I have finally come to a group, a family, that proudly supports women, sees their talent and gives them the opportunity to thrive,” she said. Turkait also said that being a Kuwaiti woman and a woman in Kuwait, her career journey was not easy, because people, including women, still believe that women should not be working and that they do not have the time to dedicate to their jobs as men can. On the contrary of such societal stereotypes that try to hinder women’s upliftment, “women are definitely breaking the barriers”, Turkait explained.
Zubaid shared her role in releasing herself from societal gender-based job categories by joining BNK’s automotive sector. “Most of the brands and companies are in the automotive sector, and we know the stereotype that automotive is usually a very male-dominated sector. For me, this was the biggest challenge in entering these companies. Will I be able to sit on a meeting table with so many men on a regularly basis? Will I be able to handle this? Thankfully, due to both Volvo and BNK, I was very welcomed and very appreciated.
My experience was considered very positively, and I was able to face all these challenges hand-in-hand with the company. And I definitely broke the stereotype that automotive means males and art means females,” she said. Zubaid further highlighted that BNK automotive allows everyone to share their creativity, as everyone is welcomed and allowed to collaborate in different areas.
Similarly, Qaoud struggled with following her passion due to gender-based categorizing of certain jobs – her passion about structures and how people can embed beautiful architecture in these structures. Qaoud pursued architecture and engineering, where she overcame multiple difficulties through her determination. “My experience was not easy, as the engineering field is known to be a male-dominated field, which makes it extremely intimidating. I struggled very much, but I thank God for it because it shaped me into the woman I am today. Whatever career path you are pursuing, there will always be pros and cons, so you have to focus on your journey through determination, because it is the key to success,” she said.
Besides determination, Haddad added gratefulness as a key factor for women’s and men’s success. “The number one key to moving forward is having gratitude. Be grateful for both your ups and downs. Your path may not be as smooth but you will be rewarded in the end,” she said. Furthermore, Mukaimy said: “If you know yourself very well, if you understand yourself and ideas, you will be able to present them to others.” According to her, a clear presentation of oneself and ideas supports one’s success in their career journey.
In her role in supporting both men and women, Darwish mainly emphasized on the necessity of pursuing education, having experience and belief in oneself. “Believing in your capacity and having a good education will empower you. Because I had a good education and experience, as I was in Kuwait during the Souq Al Manakh crisis, besides working in finance in Lebanon, I was able to push myself to this position,” she said. In conclusion, Muraleeswaran expressed her genuine gratitude for being part of BNK, which gave her a great opportunity to grow and improve both at a personal and career level.