Q&A with Laila Faridoon
Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Laila Faridoon, Digital & Business Advisor
How could you describe your career path in a few words?
My main objectives in life are to make a difference and leverage science and technology for the good of the humanity. With that in mind I have studied computer science, since my childhood I was so astonished by the invention of a machine that can imitate human’s brain and of course make a positive difference in our life, it was the third industrial revolution that moved the whole world into the digital age. I can say that I have a very rich career with 20 years of experience. I had three major turning points in my career that helped shaping my experience, the first when I became the manager of IT PMO, the second when I moved from IT to Corporate management as an executive director and the third was three years back when I decided to move from government to my own business (Looking Forward Consultancy). Today I am a thought leader, public speaker, and author, specialized in business and digital consulting services with deep expertise in innovation, project and corporate management. I’m currently pursuing my Ph.D in the field of Big Data Analytics in King’s College London for I want to be part of the fourth industrial revolution that changed the way we live and work.
What was your most challenging experience, and it has changed your mindset?
I can recall two, the first was when I became the executive director of the chairman office in RTA Dubai. The main challenge was to prove myself and that I’m capable of leading like any man. It was as I said a turning point in my career that gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills and understand office politics. It also helped changing my perspective at work and how to avoid taking conflicts as a personal issue. Honestly, the biggest challenge was the authority I had, it simply was a big test of my personal values. I am a proud woman and proud of what I have achieved. The second one was moving from Dubai to London to pursue my Ph.D. It is a life-changing experience that I am enjoying very much. I got the opportunity to meet and study with diverse groups of different nationalities and cultures. It simply confirmed my beliefs that learning has no time, no age, and the concept of learning and unlearning serve us most.
When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain contexts, what do you think?
Understand and understand. I don’t react at all. I try to understand the perspective and then take necessary actions. There were situations that I could resolve on my own and there were others that I needed to consult experts for advice. Most important is not to judge and form our own conclusions without having the full picture and information.
Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader/manager?
I have issued a podcast on that and can summarize it here in four points.
Emotional Resilience: This is something I adore about us women, resilience, that we all master in our household and totally forget it in the workplace. I advise a female leader to always remain in control and ensure that her behaviours reflect that, trust and have confidence in yourself, in your beliefs, and in understanding your own emotions.
Team Trust: Have faith in your team, trust them, especially other women, we women should support each other. Leaders must be consistent regardless of the team gender, be honest with yourself, and your teams, celebrate their success and achievements, be it personal or work related.
Being politically Savvy: this is very important, leadership is a tough yet a fun game, I know many think that office politics is dirty game and non-ethical, however reality is we have to play it well, know the game and know your values, understand when to play what role, my advice here is to ensure that it doesn’t get against your values or ethics, and be ready to face it if it does.
Self-Marketing: I have noticed that at the workplace, most of women find it very difficult to share what they do and highlight their own success; we simply feel so for its not part of what we were raised to do, that is a negative belief of limiting ourselves. Learn how to show up, not show off! It may be seen as bragging but its ok, just be yourself, don’t fake it, know your strength and choose the right channels and the right cause.