Spearheading change

CommsMEA shines the spotlight on the women leaders in the MEA region
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CommsMEA shines the spotlight on the women leaders in the MEA region

Her Excellency Dr. Aisha Butti Bin Bishr, Director General, Smart Dubai Office

Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr is the Director General of the Smart Dubai Office, the government entity charged with overseeing Dubai’s citywide smart transformation, engaging with leadership in the public and private sector to make Dubai a global benchmark smart city.

Prior to her appointment as Director General of the Smart Dubai Office, Dr. Bin Bishr was Assistant Director General of the Executive Office, where she led the Smart Dubai task force team from the time of the announcement of the Smart Dubai initiative in March 2014, to the formation of the Smart Dubai Office.

Prior to that, Dr. Bin Bishr worked in the Ministry of Labour as an assistant undersecretary for support services responsible for developing and implementing strategic management, partnership development and change management policies. With 20 years of experience in information, communication and technology (ICT) development in public and government sectors, she possesses analytical, coordination, communication and advocacy skills relating to ICT, public reform trends and strategies.

Dr. Bin Bishr holds a PhD in management, science, technology and innovation and Master of Philosophy (MPhil), policy and research on engineering, science and technology from Manchester Business School; Bachelor of Science (BS), applied science (business information technology) from Higher Colleges of Technology, and a degree in public finance management from Dubai School of Government as well as a graduate of Orchestrating Winning Performance from IMD.

She is a graduate of a two-year young leaders program organised by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Leadership Development (MBRCLD).

Eaman Al Roudhan, CEO, Zain Kuwait

Eaman Al Roudhan is the first woman appointed to a CEO role within Zain group's operations. She believes the right regulatory framework and public private partnerships can contribute to the digital development of Kuwait.

A results-focused telecommunications executive, Al Roudhan brings over 20 years of experience to the position, 18 years of which were spent in various executive management and leadership roles within Zain Kuwait as well as several Zain Group affiliates. Prior to her new appointment, Al Roudhan was the chief regulatory officer of Zain Group.

Al Roudhan is a member in a number of international standards and regulatory affairs bodies such as the GSMA Arab World regional interest group and the GSMA chief regulatory officer group (CROG).

She holds a BSc in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering from Kuwait University and has attended programs at Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT), and executive programs at Harvard Business School.

Muna Al Hashemi, CEO, Batelco Bahrain

Muna Al Hashemi was appointed as CEO for Batelco’s Bahrain operation in August 2015, following seven months as acting CEO. Previously, she had been heading Batelco’s consumer division since 2008.

Al Hashemi began her career in the engineering department and gained valuable experience as she progressed through a number of divisions, including customer services, accounts, product marketing, product development and customer marketing. The depth of knowledge of various functional units and processes that Al Hashemi gained in her diverse roles including the experience gained over seven years as GMof the consumer division and seven months as acting CEO, provides her with the necessary skills for the challenging task of leading Batelco's Bahrain operations. Additionally, she is a member of the Board of Directors of Umniah, Batelco’s sister company in Jordan.

She holds a Master’s degree in telecommunications and a BSc in electronic engineering.

Jyoti Desai, Chief Operating Officer, MTN Group

Jyoti Desai reports to the executive chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko. Desai has 14 years’ experience at MTN.

She started her career at the Standard Bank of SA Limited. She moved to Telkom SA in an executive position before joining MTN Nigeria as chief information officer.

She later moved to Iran in 2005 to start up the Iran operation as COO of MTN Irancell before taking up her current role.

Desai’s formal qualifications include a BA (Hons) and BCom degree.

Rafiah Ibrahim, President, Ericsson Region Middle East and Africa

Rafiah Ibrahim has more than 30 years' experience from the telecommunications industry of which 20 have been in Ericsson. With each venture that Ibrahim took along the different routes of her journey, she gained solid and diverse experience. She has held positions of responsibility in different Middle East and African markets during her tenure. As the president for Ericsson Market Unit, North Africa, she reinforced her understanding of the African market. Empowering people on all levels has been her drive.

The ICT industry is witnessing a fast transformation to the networked society and Ibrahim feels proud to have been a part of this transformation in the region, and to have led Ericsson as the teams support customers and drive their transformation agenda together.

Ibrahim graduated from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London, United Kingdom, with a Master’s degree in digital communication engineering.

Hala Badri, Executive Vice President, Brand & Communications, du

Badri has laid the foundation for aspiring young Emirati women in the Middle East, by forging an impressive path in the ultra-competitive, dynamic telecommunications sector since nearly a decade. Throughout her career she has positively influenced three business sectors critical to the UAE’s economic development: telecommunications, oil & gas, and real estate.

In her current position at du, besides directing the brand’s development through strategic communication, Badri spearheads all sustainability programmes, relentlessly steering the telecom operator’s sustainable development initiatives to benefit the UAE society.

Her passion also extends to female empowerment and she has championed women in ICT throughout her career, breaking stereotypes along the way. She is the vice chairperson for the Dubai Women Establishment, a role which gives her unique insights and allows her to be a role model for the active participation of women in creating value for the economy and society in the region. She is also a board member for Dubai Media Incorporated, the Dubai Cares Foundation and INDEMAJ and has also been appointed as a non-executive director on the board of Dubai Properties Group.

Prior to joining du in 2006, Badri served as corporate communications manager, group brand management department, at Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), a position she held for eight years.

Badri holds an MBA in managing e-Business from Zayed University, and a higher diploma in communications technology (journalism) from The Higher Colleges of Technology, from which she graduated with distinction and highest honour. Badri also completed the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Leadership Development Programme in 2007.

During her earlier education, Badri was twice awarded the Sheikh Rashid award for scientific excellence, for outstanding academic achievement. Badri has also recently completed the International Directors Programme with INSEAD.

Anneliese Reinhold, General Counsel & SVP Legal & Regulatory Affairs, du

Reinhold is an independently recognised, award winning Middle East based General Counsel. She has extensive experience in highly regulated industries and emerging markets, gained through 25+ years in businesses and law firms spanning the Middle East, UK/EU and Australasia regions.

She is focussed on strategic and corporate risk and is backed by a wealth of experience in strong team management and leadership.

Reinhold established & built du’s award-winning legal and regulatory team, which in 2014 became the first in-house legal department of a locally owned company in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region to receive the prestigious Lexcel practice management accreditation from the Law Society of England & Wales.

Currently she is also serving on the global Board of Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), the world's largest bar association for in-house lawyers and is a member of the Finance & Audit Committee.  She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors International Company Directors Course (Shanghai), a Barrister & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales (Australia), and holds a Bachelor of Laws degree and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Melbourne.

Hanadi Ayoub, Vice President – Delivery Management, du


Vice President – Delivery Management


Hanadi Ayoub joined the Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company – du in 2006. Today, she is Vice President Corporate Delivery Management. Throughout her 20-plus year career in Information and Communications Technology, Ayoub has pushed the needle of influence for women in the ICT industry, having received numerous awards and recognition along the way. She is a proven leader with a passion for innovation and telecoms.

In her current role, Ayoub is responsible for the development and execution of strategic transformation programs across various division within du. In addition, Hanadi is passionate about social responsibility; she is currently a volunteer coach in the Coaching and Mentoring programme at du.

In addition to her work with du, Ayoub is a public speaker on key industry trends at conferences across the Middle East. She is the Chairperson of the SPUG Advisory Board, and a member of the Computer Engineering Advisory Board at American University in Sharjah.

Ayoub was among the top eight performers at du nominated for the INSEAD Executive Leadership Program, which she completed in 2015. She was nominated for the Distinguished Engineer at Dubai Government Award for being the first female to receive an MCSE certificate in Dubai. Ayoub was also on the Dean’s Honour List for achieving the highest GPA at the School of Engineering.

Ayoub holds an MBA from the University of Wollongong and a Master degree of project management from Regis university. She is fluent in Arabic and English.



Khawla Al-Jaber, Group Technology Strategy Director, Zain Group, Kuwait

Al-Jaber is a highly experienced telecommunications professional with demonstrated track record in the concept design, implementation and oversight of broadband, DATA, and services.

Besides the requisite knowledge of Zain's business and how technology drives that business, Al-Jaber has excellent insights into consumer behaviour and trends. This ability has helped her to work at a senior strategy level while maintaining a good sense of what the individual user of technology expects, and what works and what does not.

She has been the catalyst in the creation and implementation of numerous product strategies and business operating models across the Zain Group.

Al-Jaber had first joined Zain in October 1995. She started her career as the chief engineer at Kuwait University.

She holds a BS degree in computer engineering from Jami'at Al-Kuwait.

Irene Charnley, Founder and CEO, Smile Telecoms

Smile Telecoms Holdings, which owns and operates LTE broadband networks in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, caught the attention of the entire MEA telecoms community when it raised $365 million funding in September 2015.

Irene Charnley is a social entrepreneur and widely respected telecoms visionary who was instrumental in transforming MTN into one of the most respected telecommunications operators in the EMEA region. She brings a wealth of strategic, business development and operational experience in the telecommunications arena from her top executive positions held within the MTN Group. She was instrumental in the full listing of MTN Holdings through M-Cell Limited and played a leading role in its transformation into one of the pre-eminent black-empowered companies on the JSE. Prior to MTN, Irene was an executive director of the industrial conglomerate, Johnnic Holdings.

Marwa El Ayouti, CFO, Vodafone Egypt

El Ayouti enjoys more than 15 years of experience, primarily in finance, where she spent more than 11 years in Vodafone.

El Ayouti joined Vodafone Egypt in 2000, and has held various positions within finance and marketing, including, planning & decision support, head of investor relations, international & roaming, and head of strategy. She was then appointed as financial controller of Asia, Pacific and Middle East in Vodafone group in the United Kingdom. After spending two years in the United Kingdom, Marwa returned back to Vodafone Egypt in 2010 as finance operations director.

Prior to joining Vodafone, Marwa spent a couple of years in the Egyptian banking sector.

Marwa graduated from the American University in Cairo holding a BA in economics and minor in Business Administration, and completed her MBA, with a distinction, in international business from Maastricht School of Management.

Amaal Al Lawati, Chief Customer Experience Officer, Ooredoo Oman

Al Lawati graduated from the College of Science at Sultan Qaboos University in 1995. She has 20 years of experience gained in the telecoms and banking sectors of Oman.

Al Lawati Joined National Bank of Oman in 1995 as a management trainee and was promoted to officer in the trade finance section. In 2000, she joined Majan International Bank as Assistant Manager in Trade Finance.

In 2004, Al Lawati joined Ooredoo (then Nawras) as section head in the finance back office and was soon responsible for managing 50 team members in her capacity as department head in the billing and collections team.

In 2013 she was promoted to Director. 2015 saw her promotion to chief customer experience officer with approximately 300 employees under her responsibility. Leading the company’s customer engagement strategy, Her role focusses on continuing the growth of Ooredoo’s call centre service, and driving the evolution of its customer experience.

Majd Shweikeh, Minister of ICT, Jordan

Majd Shweikeh is also the founder and president of Masharek, an exclusive strategic partner of 360Solutions LLC, is a CMA, a holder of GSMP certificate, certified professional coach and brings over 25 years of executive experience with a vision and devotion to empower and share success with others.

From 2010 till 2012, she was the group CEO of VTEL Middle East and Africa; leading 4 different telecom companies, in GSM, Wireless Local Loop, Fiber Optic and CDMA in Jordan, Iraq, and Africa.

Shweikeh was the VP of Jordan Telecom group and CEO Orange Mobile until 31st May 2010. She holds a first class Honours BSc in Finance from Yarmouk University and she received the Certified Management Accountant certification from the USA in 1999; and in 2012; Shweikeh received the Global Senior Management Certificate from University of Chicago and IE University in Spain.

Serpil Timuray, Regional CEO – Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific Region, Vodafone

Timuray was appointed executive committee member of Vodafone group and as regional CEO of Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Pacific as of January, 2014. Prior to this role, she was CEO of Vodafone Turkey since January 2009.

Timuray also serves as a non-executive board member to Vodacom Group, since September 2012. She was appointed to the Boards of Vodafone India, Vodafone Hutchison Australia, Safaricom Kenya since November 2013 and Vodafone Qatar since June 2014.

Timuray joined Vodafone from Danone group, where she was the GM of Danone Turkey from 2002-2008. She began her career in marketing in 1991 at Procter & Gamble and was later appointed to the executive committee of P&G Turkey.

Timuray also sits on the Board of Trustees at Koç University. She is a graduate of Bogazici University in business administration.

Lucy Quist, Managing Director (CEO), Airtel Ghana

A multiple award winning telecoms CEO currently heading Airtel Ghana, Quist is a British and Ghanaian international business leader. She is the first Ghanaian woman to lead a multi-national telecommunications company; she was named INSEADer of the month for this achievement.

Her vast experience in telecommunications covers both mobile and fixed telephony for consumers and businesses. Her strength in Sales and Marketing is bolstered by her technical understanding of the industry. She is a Chartered Electrical and Electronic Engineer (UK) and speaks French. She has a proven track record of leading teams to deliver superior results.

She is a strategic thinker who believes that the future of telecommunications lies in digital services to deliver large scale services for the health, education and financial sectors.  Her passion lies in developing people to reach their potential.

Niamh Spelman, President, Middle East & Africa, Vodafone Global Enterprise

Niamh Spelman leads the Vodafone Global Enterprise business across Middle East and Africa, based in Dubai. Spelman is responsible for growing the business of the Middle East and Africa headquarters positioning Vodafone as a total communications partner for strategic clients. Her mandate also includes managing relationships with Vodafone's strategic partners and Vodafone entities throughout the region.

Prior to joining Vodafone, Spelman was senior vice president, emerging markets at Fujitsu, responsible for P&L performance of the business across Russia, CIS, Turkey, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa and India.

Spelman lived and worked in Russia for 7 years where she was responsible for HP product, services and channel business.

Spelman is a graduate of modern languages, Russian and German, from Trinity College in Dublin.

Cynthia Gordon, EVP, CEO Africa, Millicom

Cynthia Gordon joined Millicom from the Qatar-based Ooredoo in September 2015 as EVP, CEO Africa division. Under her leadership, the Africa division is being optimised to focus on delivering organic growth in the region.

She knows the telecoms industry inside-out, and brings her commercial acumen to support the delivery of Millicom’s strategy to build and grow its digital services in Africa while creating value for the shareholders Gordon is a highly respected commercial leader and joined Millicom with a great deal of relevant experience as the telco builds its business in Africa. She has more than 20 years of telecom sector specific experience, leading mobile, broadband and fixed-line operations in emerging markets across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Russia. She developed her Africa experience while at Orange, where she was vice president of partnerships and emerging markets, and Ooredoo where she was chief commercial officer, reporting to the group CEO. Gordon holds 110 Millicom shares.

Rana Srouji, Director of Strategy, Zain Jordan

Srouji held the position of marketing director at Zain Jordan prior to her current role. She has successfully led the marketing team to design and implement marketing strategies. Before that, she held the role of customer care director. In matters of planning and execution, she has always proven to be a person who can take charge, successfully develop plans and implement them.

In addition to her comprehensive understanding of the business and the customers, her considerate ability and acquaintance with the customer insights has been of great role in empowering her as a marketing leader.

Srouji started her career with Zain Jordan as corporate sales account manager in 2004. Later on, she was promoted to corporate sales development manager, and then moved to customer care as head of operations and customer satisfaction. She has an MBA from Amman Private University.

Venessa Naidoo, CFO, Smile Telecoms

Venessa Naidoo, chief financial officer and a chartered accountant by profession, has over 20 years’ business experience in sub-Saharan Africa. Venessa has held various executive positions including chief financial officer for Africa’s largest media and entertainment group previously listed on the JSE. She has valuable experience in investment acquisitions and disposals, start-up of new ventures, entrepreneurial services, audit and forensics.

Topyster Muga, Head of Airtel Money, Airtel Kenya

Muga is recognised for innovating the Airtel Money Pesa Card - a Visa branded card mirroring the Airtel Money account. Prior to this, she was working as the principal product manager for M-Pesa, Vodafone in England.

Muga developed a liking for technology due its dynamism and perpetual opportunities for innovation and had started her career as a systems support staff at Barclays Kenya in 2003. An interview in the Business Daily Africa describes her as :“Topyster is the girl who rose from the sugar plantations of Mumias. Rose as the only girl between five brothers, giants in height, who dwarfed her not-short 5’11” frame.”

Muga did her BSc in IT at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. She later did courses at Strathmore University and won the Nelson Mandela scholarship to undertake MBA at INSEAD Business School.

Article Context: 
Soumya Smita Prajna
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Published Date: 
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Modified Date: 
Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - 15:27
Extra Data: 

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