Muzna Al Otaiba, Managing Director at MHAO Group, is an epitome of an empowered woman. Muzna runs 5 companies with more than 200 employees, which operate all over the UAE; all this while taking care of her family and enjoying her social life.
She believes that “women’s role in society has increased significantly, where we now play a bigger role in both private and public sectors; in every field that was previously dominated by men. As women, we feel the need to continuously prove that we can achieve anything we dream of and that we are more than what society expects of us. We need to break the societal glass ceiling by exceeding expectations and by doing everything to achieve our goals, no matter how challenging they may be”.
What, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge for the next generation of female leaders here in the Middle East?
I believe that the biggest challenge for women is the need to balance work and family responsibilities. Women in the Middle East face pressure to prioritize being a wife and mother over their careers. It’s a tough situation, but with the right support in place, both at work and at home, this issue is becoming less challenging, particularly in work places that encourage flexible working arrangements.
What professionally energizes you the most?
HAPPINESS. It’s known that happy employees bring happy customers. Healthy work culture and a competitive environment is the motivation that every professional need to do a good job. A good work culture promotes high peer-to-peer learning, genuine feedback, complaint redressal, suggestion implementation and tends to increases overall work efficiency. I derive my energy from people and their behavior around me, and happy employees always impacted positively the entire work environment.
Which female figure has inspired you the most?
Many industry women leaders inspire me, but I would have to say that my greatest inspiration comes from my mother. She has shown how a woman is capable to endure difficult times and persist in moving forward and grow in an evolving society. Her life story gives me the empowerment to defeat and rise over obstacles I face.
What advice do you have for women that are relaunching a career after a long professional break?
Firstly, embrace your break. Secondly, use it as an opportunity to highlight the unique transferable skill you’ve learned during this period of time. And not the last, look for a company that’s right for you. Especially for women, the transition from employee to mother to working mother can be a remarkable shift, but remember that you’re not alone.
How do you promote equality in the work place?
Delivering workplace equality makes good business sense since there are so many talented people. From experience, I can state that gender bias affects everyone which keeps men and women in explicit gender roles that don’t work for everyone in our world today. So, promoting equality in the working place is starting with training staff to be sensitive to these issues and taking their time during hiring to ensure all options have been explored.
How did you gain your confidence as a leader?
Once you have a strong team and people around you with a unified vision, it will only strengthen the leader. Confidence is as important to leadership as oxygen is to breathing.
How do you engage with and empower others?
Of course, empowerment and engagement don’t just happen. Empowering people is to give them a voice, a way to express and engage in constructive communication.