Being a Confident Leader

An interview with Huda Al-Lawati; Founder and CEO at Aliph Capital


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While women are taking on more board roles across the Middle East, there is still a long way to go before women achieve equality in leadership. We speak to Huda Al-Lawati, the Founder and CEO of Aliph Capital, on the defining learnings that shaped her career.





More often than not I think their behaviour is about them and has nothing to do with me at all. I keep focused on my aims and ask myself ‘what will happen if we don’t get this done?’


What one learning has had the biggest impact on your career?

The most important lesson has been to have the confidence to do things your own way, and that means having a thick skin at times. You need to be true to yourself, which includes not taking every comment or opinion too much to heart and keeping your focus.


What drives you to succeed?

I enjoy doing well and achieving goals – it is something innate to me.

It is important to recognize, though, that others aren’t always as goal-orientated and that we are all different.


What key drivers have enabled you to get to where you are today?

First and foremost, I would have to say, my family. When I was growing up, pursuing professional success was not as common for a woman, but my parents and grandparents always encouraged hard work and achievement. I grew up with a strong sense that the world was my oyster.

A love of learning has been crucial. I would not attribute my success to one specific subject, but rather to the process of learning and being continually open to it.

Another important aspect of my success has been relationship-building. Networking and developing strong professional relationships have been invaluable to me. I always assume the best intentions from others and understand that everybody has something to offer; it is important not to write anybody off.

Finally, I would say my husband has been a key driver in my success. He is a huge enabler, both because he is very cerebral and I can always debate things with him, and for emotional stability. He has been amazing.


What one piece of advice would you give to future female leaders or future women on boards today?

I appreciate that I am probably a role model for females in the Middle East. However, as much as I am a huge supporter of females in business, I would urge women to have confidence in their abilities. Careers should not only be about being a woman, but rather about what you can do, what your ambitions are, and how you present yourself. Obviously, you should not be oblivious to equality issues, but if you excel at what you do then that should be your asset.


How did you develop your thick skin?

I came to realize the importance of keeping your cool and staying calm. I have had situations where someone has been trying to undermine me in a meeting, and it is initially very upsetting. However, more often than not I think their behavior is about them and has nothing to do with me at all. I keep focused on my aims and ask myself ‘what will happen if we don’t get this done?’


Can you describe a defining moment that has impacted your career?

I recall a transaction I worked on in 2007, which was the first billion-dollar transaction in Turkey. I was in a situation where I was not very senior, but the senior people involved did not really know what they were doing and so I ended up learning a great amount from that deal. I saw the whole process play out and understood the mechanics of the deal.




Huda Al-Lawati is the Founder and CEO of Aliph Capital, an ADGM based private equity fund manager focused on midmarket and emerging high-growth enterprises in the GCC. She has served on multiple boards and committees across the region including Tim Hortons, Panda Retail Company, Herfy (Tadawul), AlKabeer, Savola Foods Company, SMG, The Entertainer and Kudu. She is also a Member of the Board of Directors the Young Arab Leaders and the Young Presidents Organization.




The interview was conducted by Mina Paul, Consultant at Russell Reynolds Associates, Dubai. Mina is passionate about building authentic and long-term partnerships with clients, teaming up with leadership teams to identify and attract diverse talents.






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