I present to you Running In Heels: a new feature series on the many women in Kuwait who are worthy of our appreciation. Women you may know, women you should know, and women you’ll definitely be hearing more about in the future. All beautiful, vibrant, game-changing women who have caught my attention and that I think definitely deserve yours as well.
Lana Al-Resheed is the kind of woman you wanted to be when you grew up. She’s a powerhouse in her chosen field, an innovator, a talent supporter and, ultimately, a game-changer.
When I first heard about Lana Al-Resheed it was in the summer of 2011, in an interview she gave to CityPages magazine (for which I used to write sporadically at the time), and I was immediately intrigued and excited to read about her success.
That’s because, whether she realizes it or not (I’m inclined to believe that she does), Lana Al-Rasheed has made an incredible jump for women in Kuwait. Lana was not only the first Kuwaiti to occupy the position of Assistant Director of Sales in Marketing in the hotel sector, but she was also the first Kuwaiti woman to do so. She then went on to be a Director of Marketing and PR and she co-founded The City, a nation-wide magazine that focuses on a number of issues and interests around Kuwait and boasts of an impressive writing staff.
If you don’t realize why all these accomplishments are note-worthy and are making an active change in the role of women in Kuwait, then let me lay it down for you. In an economy in which only 4.58% of positions of enterprise leadership in Kuwait are headed by women, seeing Lana Al-Resheed excel as well as she has is nothing short of astounding. She has not only succeeded among men, but (and I’m sorry fellas) she’s outshining men at their own game. But Lana Al-Resheed isn’t doing this through any aggressive, destructive power play, instead she’s made her name and reached her position through a much more smart and fluid method. She’s excelling in a male-established, ever changing market by charismatically and sharply navigating her way through that well established system. She respects the system for what it is and then she adds to it her own contribution and her own name brand of achievements.
Women who prove they can win in this way are the most advancing and important women that our society has to offer. Because they’re the women who can change all of society’s perceptions about what a woman is really capable of. They’re the kinds of women who show that we don’t need to separate ourselves from a market that is too ‘aggressive,’ ‘competitive, or ‘fast-paced’ for a woman to take part in. Not only can we merely take part but we can also dominate and flourish in that very same kind of work dynamic.
That is who Lana Al-Resheed is. A game changer of the most subtle and clever kind. The kind that makes the ground shift beneath your feet but you don’t realize it because you’re too busy marveling at just how well she does it. Oh, but you better realize it.
Lana Al-Resheed gave me the pleasure of interviewing her to probe her mind on some key issues within the field and on some of her main, astounding, and various accomplishments. I also tried to reach an insight on who Lana Al-Resheed is on a more personal level with a few non-business questions as well. I hope you guys will enjoy reading into the intriguing experiences and opinions of this important woman in our society and that you will appreciate all that she’s contributed to women as capable, inspiring, and powerful members of Kuwait.
1. How did you first begin your career in marketing and why did you decide to follow this professional path permanently?
I love it. It is full of challenges. In the field of marketing, creativity is a must and you have to know the rules of the game. The rules change often, so you have to be up to date with the rules of the game. That’s how I like to look at it.
2. Not only were you the first Kuwaiti Assistant Director of Sales and Marketing in the hotel sector, but also the first Kuwaiti woman to occupy such a demanding job in this sector. How does this experience—both being the first Assistant Director and the first Kuwaiti woman in this job—give you an advantage? What were the challenges that you’ve faced and learned from in this unique sector of marketing, and as a woman as well?
It was coincidental! The market is very tough, but that tough market and experience is what gave me the biggest advantage in my career. I was learning as I went by. I feel that after the years I spent in marketing I can fairly say that I know quite a lot about the local market. I have met thousands of people — is it too much to say thousands? Honestly it feels like thousands of faces. I have made great memories, and it’s something that makes you smile when you realize you’ve helped in setting up many happy occasions and celebrations in your career. Weddings, anniversaries, dinner parties, award ceremonies, so much happiness and joy.
Overall there were many ups and some downs. Perhaps the downs were also many. I don’t like to look at the downs a lot. I just focus on getting over them and then forgetting they ever existed. It’s very tiring when you focus on your failures, so I learn the lessons and move on.
3. Because of your joint work in both the hotel sector and in marketing, I was wondering what your thoughts were on Kuwaiti tourism: do you have any ideas as to how Kuwait can revitalize its global image and ignite some tourist interest in the future? Do you have any opinions on Kuwait’s current tourism status?
I think we can really achieve a lot if we put our heads into it. I don’t want to sound too cliche but I really must, so here goes: we have what it takes here in Kuwait, we’re just not focused. We have a lot of land that’s not occupied and we have a lovely coast. The weather is not that big of a deal if you think of indoor activities. I don’t want to say ‘look at Dubai!’, instead I’ll just say let’s look at successful examples here in Kuwait. The Avenues Mall is one great example.
But if I was to rate the current status of tourism in Kuwait I would say it is honestly a disaster. It still feels like we’re in the 1990’s. I’m talking about the government sector of course. The private sector isn’t doing that great either. Regarding plans, we all have lots and lots of plans. I think everyone in Kuwait has at least a dozen ideas about this subject.
4. Going from a top-level director in the hotel sector and marketing, starting The City magazine was quite a departure. What was your initial idea behind The City? Why did you decide a magazine was the best medium to get this idea across?
I guess the fast success of theCITY Magazine answers this question.
5. What new and interesting challenges or experiences does working on a magazine offer you? How does it help expand your already vast knowledge of the marketing field?
Working in a magazine is extremely hard and very challenging. We have to think of a lot of things on a daily basis. For every issue we need to come up with new highlights and people to feature in the magazine and interview. So far we’ve been lucky and the number of writers continues to grow steadily, so that’s really good and comforting for us.
6. What do you hope to accomplish through The City magazine in the long run?
To see the magazine on shelves in bookstores abroad. I want the whole world to see the Kuwaiti achievers that we feature in the magazine.
7. As a woman who has made such great and notable progress in so many sectors of your field, how do you think your achievements might have changed the way society views the abilities of a woman?
I never paid attention to what people said. From the first day, I promised myself that I will focus on my job and that I don’t really care what society thinks in its backward mentality. In all honesty a lot of people around me were supportive, because they know that work is work, and I truly believe that great work shines and shows the world who you really are.
8. Do you think there are areas where women in Kuwait need to be better represented?
Women are doing fine. I think we all need to get our work done perfectly, whether men or women. We in this part of the world tend to talk more than we achieve, and I think it’s about time that we change this.
9. What do you think is your greatest quality?
I know what I want.
10. Your greatest fault?
I worry too much.
11. What is your most complete idea of happiness?
Peace of mind.
12. Who are your real-life heroes?
My father, the love of my life. And also my partner in theCITY Magazine, Khaled Al-Qahtani.
13. Your favorite thing to do?
14. A talent you wish you had?
I’ve always wanted to be a horse rider and win medals but never did.
15. How would you like to be remembered?
I’d really like to thank Lana Al-Resheed for contributing to this post and for providing such interesting and important insight on her unique experience and on herself. Be sure to stay tuned to Running in Heels as I’ve got some more downright awesome women in store within the few coming days inshallah. I know that today is International Women’s Day so I’d really like to wish all my fellow womankind nothing but unity, respect, peace, and endless success. We kick butt and we know it.
All my love!