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Nadine Mezher: Owning Your Financial Independence


Most women on earth will have to make financial decisions on their own at some point in their life, due to divorce or longer life expectancy. We therefore need to educate, enable and embolden ourselves – as well as our children – so that we can all own our financial independence. This episode is for people who want to learn about investing cheaply and/ or people thinking of entrepreneurship.

Nadine Mezher is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of award-winning Fintech start-up Sarwa, the first automated investment advisory platform in the Middle East – one that’s accessible from all over the planet. Sarwa is trying to make investing more accessible to the masses, through low minimum investment amounts and extremely low fees. Like other robo-advisory platforms, they’re democratising investing. And there is clearly demand: just 2 years into its existence, Sarwa has won loads of competitions and raised 3 rounds of funding…

Nadine co-founded Sarwa after years of being a retail consultant to large public and private sector clients. Prior to that, she was in fashion management and marketing across various industries. Nadine was named MENA Achieving Women 2019 by Entrepreneur Middle East Magazine.

What did we talk about? Initially, it was trees… I know it sounds weird, but this bit is going to interest & surprise you. It takes us a few minutes to get into investing: the mistakes that people typically make, and how we can avoid them using the 4 rules of investing. She had some data to back up what I knew anecdotally: that most everyday “financial advisors” underperform the market. We discussed her experience as an entrepreneur and the challenges she faces every day, both in business and as a mom. And finally, we talked about the ingredients of success as well as the failures along the way.

My favorite quotes of the episode were:

  • “You only incur the loss when you pull out of the market”
  • “I’m not someone who thinks that there’s one career path per person”
  • “Failure is part of the learning process for me”

You can find Nadine on LinkedIn or at www.sarwa.co.

As mentioned on the show, we’d like to highlight some young women-owned start-ups over the 2019 Christmas holidays… Please email producer@rananawas.com between December 16th & 23rd a 30-50 second video telling us about your business. Two videos will be selected per week – four in total. Please keep the video snappy – and if you’d like some help creating it, check out my new YouTube video on crafting a badass Elevator Pitch.

Do keep an eye on our social media platforms as some changes are planned for 2020! If you enjoy the podcast and are an iTunes user, dropping us a rating and review would be the best Christmas present ever 😊

The team here wishes you a glorious festive season – you need it and deserve it. We’ll be back on air on Monday January 6th. Happy Holidays!

Norma Taki, Partner at PwC: Winning in the Corporate World


Norma Taki is a partner at PwC, has over 21 years of experience with the firm and leads their Retail and Consumer Markets Practice across the Middle East. She has executed numerous financial due diligence deals and valuation projects across various retail sectors, from fashion to F&B to manufacturing. She also has extensive experience in financial due diligence in the Healthcare, Education and Telco sectors. On top of her day job, Norma leads PwC ME’s Diversity and Inclusion initiative.

We talked about the fundamentals of corporate life, and the way women’s challenges change over time as you rise in the pyramid and become more senior. We discussed managing the Imposter Syndrome and navigating the sensitivities of self-promotion. We talked about mentorship and sponsorship, the myth of women “opting out” and the role of a D&I leader. Finally, we got technical as I wanted to learn from the ultimate industry expert what the retail trends are globally and how they compare in the Middle East.

There are so many quotes I could pull out, but I’ll restrict it to these two:

  • On celebrating one’s successes: “I will share why I’m proud we won this project”.
  • On the Imposter Syndrome: “you’re in year 1, I’m in year 35 – if at year 35 I don’t have the success that I do – then I’ve failed.”

You can find Norma on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Please do get in touch with the team at When Women Win and let us know what you think of this episode or the show in general. You can reach us via InstagramLinkedIn – or the web contact form.

Thank you!

Arlan Hamilton: Built a Venture Capital Fund While Homeless


This episode was recorded in front of a live audience at the 2019 Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival, an incredible get-together that’s been running for 3 years… Each of those 3 years, I’ve been invited to do a When Women Win interview live on stage. It’s when I first met the Melltoo founders, a hilarious husband/ wife entrepreneurial team; where I interviewed Donna Benton – one of Dubai’s most successful entrepreneurs EVER, and this year’s guest was a remarkable human who flew over from Los Angeles to join us…

Arlan Hamilton built a venture capital fund while homeless. She is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a fund that is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders from underrepresented groups.

Started from scratch in 2015, Backstage has now invested nearly $7m into 130 startups led by underestimated founders. Arlan has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, and was recently named on Fortune magazine’s 40 under 40 list.

We talked about Arlan’s journey, from sleeping rough to building a multi-million dollar fund. We discussed the underrepresented founders she invests in and what she has learnt from them; advice for entrepreneurs and investors; and the two factors she has found that often differentiate the more successful start-ups from the rest. We talked about looking after yourself as well as others, and how to cope with the immense stress of having others – families – relying on you. We talked about Arlan’s podcast “Your First Million”, her upcoming book “It’s About Damn Time”, the meaning of failure and the impact of success.

There were so many fantastic quotes – here are just two:

  • “Investors should invest in start-ups led by people who have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder”
  • “The seed doesn’t see the petal”

Arlan had two book recommendations: her own book which is available on pre-order, to be released in May 2020 😊 “It’s About Damn Time”, and The Memo by Minda Harts.

You can find Arlan on Twitter and Instagram @arlanwashere.

Please do get in touch with the team at When Women Win and let us know what you think of this episode or the show in general. You can reach us via InstagramLinkedIn – or the web contact form. Thank you!

Dima Ayad: the Business of Inclusive Fashion


Dima Ayad began her career in hospitality, developing restaurant and entertainment concepts for leading hotel chains like Kerzner, Raffles and Jumeirah. During her 15 year tenure, she launched restaurants like Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen, and award-winning music festivals like Sandance.

Whilst still working full-time in hospitality, a difficult personal experience led Dima to address a problem that she had struggled with for years: her clothing size (12/14 US) just wasn’t available. She began making her own evening gowns, and eventually created her eponymous label (Dima Ayad) for women of all shapes and sizes. A few years in, the brand took off and Dima left hospitality to devote herself entirely to her mission: to make luxury fashion accessible to women of all sizes.

We talked about how she was essentially forced to address the market gap, and how she has scaled her business – failures, challenges, and tips for success. We discussed what “plus size” and “luxury fashion” actually mean, why clothes are not available in sizes that would fit more than half the population and how the global idea of beauty has morphed over time from Marilyn Monroe to Kate Moss. We also touched on sustainability in fashion and how wasteful it is as an industry. Maybe the biggest lesson I took away is the massive impact that clothes can have on your mood and your day, how clothes can be empowering or the opposite. Dima gave a fantastically relatable example – I hope you’ll listen to it.

My favorite quote was “There’s something so beautiful about being yourself”. And Dima’s book recommendation was Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie.

You can find Dima at her website or on Instagram.

Please do get in touch with the team at When Women Win and let us know what you think of this episode or the show in general. You can reach us via InstagramTwitter, LinkedIn. Thank you!

Anne-Marie Slaughter: Journey to Parity For Men and Women


Anne-Marie Slaughter is the CEO of New America, a think and action tank dedicated to renewing America in the Digital Age. She has been a law professor at Harvard, as well as a professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and has written or edited 8 books. From 2009–2011, Anne-Marie served as director of policy planning for the United States Department of State. It was this experience that led her to pen a ground-breaking article in 2012: “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All”.

Anne-Marie’s point of view was a shock to the corporate system. Here was one of the most powerful women on planet earth saying that combining family and career in today’s work construct was just not possible. In the first four days after publication, the Atlantic article attracted 725,000 unique readers, making it the most popular piece ever published in that magazine.

I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Anne-Marie recently, at the Nexus Summit in New York. I wanted to know whether her views had changed in any way over the past 7 years. We also talked about how people react to businesswomen taking time out for personal reasons and how organisations need to level the playing field. We discussed the role of men and what they need from the parity movement. We talked about her latest book, The Chessboard and the Web; and Anne-Marie shared a sure-fire tip on how to get more done in a day.

My favorite quote was a sobering one: “Life happens… somebody has to make the choice for care over career, and our society is structured such that people who do that are radically devalued”.

You can find Anne-Marie on Twitter and at https://www.newamerica.org/

Please do get in touch with the team at When Women Win and let us know what you think of this episode or the show in general. You can reach us via InstagramTwitter, LinkedIn – or the contact form on the home page. Thank you!

Supercar Blondie: the World’s #1 Reviewer of Supercars


Alex Hirschi, otherwise known as Supercar Blondie, does video reviews of the world’s fastest and rarest cars. She is an Australian woman living in Dubai, and has 16 million followers across multiple social media channels.

Alex & I talked about her journey from small town Australia to becoming the world’s most popular supercar reviewer: the challenges in starting a side hustle while having a full-time job, working with your spouse, trying to break into a male-dominated world, coping with bullies, how blonde she actually is – and much, much more! Hundreds of fans sent questions in via the When Women Win Instagram page, and many of them were answered.

This show was raw and real. One of my favorite quotes was her advice to women who are struggling in male-dominant worlds: “keep showing up”. Supercar Blondie’s book recommendation is I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.

You can find Supercar Blondie on Instagram and YouTube.

Why not get in touch with the team at When Women Win and let us know what you think of this episode or the show in general? You can reach us via InstagramTwitter, LinkedIn – or the contact form on the home page. Thank you!

Elissar Farah Antonios – CEO of Citi UAE & Levant


Elissar leads Citi’s largest and most diverse franchise in the Middle East and Africa, where she oversees Corporate, Investment Banking and Wealth Management services. Her banking career started 29 years ago in the London office of the Bank of New York. On her way to Citi, Elissar spent a few years with Credit Agricole Indosuez and ABN AMRO.

Elissar was ranked by Forbes Middle East among the top 100 most powerful and influential Arab businesswomen in 2017 and 2018. She is active in various community service organizations: Elissar is the senior sponsor of Citi’s UAE Women Network and is on the Advisory Board of the Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut. She has also been an Advisory Member of the Lebanese Banking Association and helped launch the United Nation Global Compact Network in Lebanon.

Having such a seasoned banker on the show, I had to get some advice on wealth management – an issue that plagues many When Women Win listeners. We then got into the gender pay gap, as the Financial Services industry in general performs badly here. I was surprised to learn that Citi had done a deep dive on this issue – and had made their findings public.

We discussed why women are leaving the corporate world and how to retain them. Spoiler alert: this includes paternity leave! We went deep into challenges that Elissar faced at very stages of her career – from her starting out, to mid-career to much more recently. And finally, we discussed the importance of balance in one’s life – and how to get it. Another spoiler? Nope 🙂

My favorite quote of the episode was: “The position itself doesn’t give you the authority. You EARN the authority and respect with time, as you demonstrate the value”.

You can find Elissar on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Please do get in touch with the team at When Women Win and let us know what you think of this episode or the show in general. You can reach us via InstagramTwitter, LinkedIn – or the contact form on the home page. Thank you!