Laila Hareb is strong, independent, passionate, ambitious and determinate. Her story inspires and motivates her to dream big and work hard. We learn from her that nothing is an obstacle, everything is just a question of perseverance and work. Laila Hareb is successful because she builds herself making her difficult time her strength. More than a successful professional career, she is a proud mum and a passionate entrepreneur.
CAN YOU PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO THE INFLUENTE COMMUNITY.
I am Laila Hareb Al Muhairi, Assistant for the Director-General in Strategy and International Affairs sector at the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority for the past 10 years. Doing this, made me extremely more passionate about aviation and which in turn gave me the idea to concurrently start my own French fine Jewelry line J’aimeVoler, which translates into I love flying. J’aimeVoler is the first and only authentic luxury jewelry company inspired by aviation in the world. All J’aimevoler pieces are created from aviation inspiration with the precision of our unique jewelers and passionate designers.
Women have to work hard. But they need to work harder in life than other men, having a good work-life balance with kids is extremely hard in our business climate.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR CAREER, WHERE DID THE ADVENTURE START? WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO FOLLOW THIS CAREER PATH?
I have started my journey working in DEWA, in IT after obtaining my Computer Engineering and Science degree from the University of the UAE in Al Ain, although I have studied engineering I felt more of a purpose in project management and strategy development, which lead me to join the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority as they were formulated as a manager in Strategy planning and corporate performance and quickly rise up to the Director of the Department due to my hard work and passion towards the business of transport. After the opening of the metro, which was the project I was passionate about the most I started to look for a new dynamic career that is constantly evolving and innovative which lead me to join the GCAA as a Director of Strategy and International Affairs and shortly thereafter become the Assistant Director General of the sector. I developed a love for aviation so quickly that it became a strong part of me, and I admire it the most as aviation is truly a dynamic international career which leads me to meet people from all over the world that I would not have met before, and made me represent my country the UAE in an environment where we are excelling and providing support for women in Aviation, and STEM careers to build a new generation that is capable to take the UAE forward.
YOU CAME FROM A MODEST FAMILY, DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCE AND LIFE MAKE YOU BECAME THE DETERMINATE WOMEN YOU ARE? IS THIS PART OF YOUR STORY MADE YOU WANT TO PUSH YOURSELF TO DO MORE? DID YOU USE YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCE TO MOTIVATE YOURSELF?
Definitely, I believe so I was always struggling to make it to the top, the life struggles I had as a child helped me grow into the powerful woman I am today, I am a single mother to three children, two girls and a boy that I always had to provide for since my divorce. Nevertheless, women have to work with double the effort to prove ourselves and no matter how successful we are, it’s never easy. Because of the life hurdles I had as a child I was reluctant to give up at a point, I always used it as an energy and a drive to move forward I always wanted to have a better life for my three kids than I had for myself. I owe a lot to my mother as I always believe that I have inherited my fighting spirit and determination from her, Moza Saeed Rashid Al Hebsi, may she rest in peace. She was a warrior princess touch and fearless, and she belonged to the Al Haboos mountain tribe of Ras Al Khaimah. She married my father, a man 10 years older than her when she was only 13, and as he was at sea most of the time for his job, she struggled a lot with seven children.
DO YOU THINK THAT WOMEN HAS TO MAKE MORE SACRIFICE THAN MEN TO FULFILL THERE AMBITION? IS IT DIFFICULT TO FOUND THE GOOD BALANCE BETWEEN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AND YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE? HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO DO IT? AND WHAT ADVICE WILL YOU SHARE WITH WOMEN WHO FEEL GUILTY AND STRUGGLE TO FOUND THE GOOD EQUILIBRE?
Women have to work hard. But they need to work harder in life than other men, having a good work-life balance with kids is extremely hard in our business climate. There are times when I regret not having spent much more time with my children I wish we could work like men as they don’t have the pressure to prove themselves. Women in the UAE are bound by many cultural norms, and to have a powerful personality for a woman is still not openly welcome in all business environments. At work, women are often told off for taking a short break or answering phone calls from home. It should not be like that. We should not feel guilty for being mothers and having children.
THERE IS A LOT OF DEBATE ABOUT EQUALITY AND WOMEN RIGHTS THOSE DAYS. FOR YOU WHAT SHOULD WE ALL DO TO MAKE THE SITUATION MOVE AND EVOLVE FOR THE FUTURE GENERATION OF « WORKING WOMEN»?
There is still a lot of work to be done for women, it’s surprising how some women leaders oppose better work conditions for women on the grounds that we are treated equally as men. Women are different than men and bound to different cultural norms and we should be treated differently judging our circumstances.
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED?
Passion can change, but in order to do something right, you must do it passionately.
NAME A WOMAN, PAST OR PRESENT, WHOM YOU ADMIRE?
COULD YOU TELL US WHAT IS AN « INFLUENTE » WOMAN FOR YOU?
An influential woman to me is a woman that is willing to make a change, and to support others while also proving to herself and others that she is capable of excelling at anything by doing it passionately.