Maitha Al Suwaidi, only 30 years old and have already accomplished so much!
Born and raised in Dubai, Maitha began her career teaching English to young learners as a second language and has participated in several initiatives for children with special needs. She was the Head of Public Relations at TECOM Investments, where she supported in the development and implementation of international best practice frameworks for the marketing and Public Relations functions of the organization as well as providing strategic communications council across 11 Knowledge-based Business Parks and Freezones in Dubai.
She joined the d3 team as Director of Business Development and Partner Relations, where she was responsible for developing and executing the district’s overall sales strategy. Working closely with global luxury, design and fashion houses, Her focus was attracting and nurturing design talent from across the MENA region and around the world, managing the implementation of d3’s business plans, as well as the penetration of new markets.
Maitha was then promoted to Executive Director of Marketing and Communications for Dubai Design District where her focus is to position the d3 brand globally through high-profile events and marketing initiatives. Her strategic expertise has enabled strong domestic and international interest in the district from a wide variety of stakeholders.
Maitha is also an avid reader and a writer, she is a published author of children’s fiction that was published in 2009 in English and Arabic.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR JOB AT d3, WHEN DID THE ADVENTURE START?
The adventure started in January 2013 when I was working in Public Relations in TECOM, the developer of d3. I was asked to support the market research and Planning stages for the launch of something that could one day create the next hub for fashion, design, and engineering at that time was the mandate. I truly enjoyed this part of the process and meeting some of the most interesting people in the creative field across the UAE and worldwide. What I enjoyed the most was discovering the creative scene in my own country. The industry was very fragmented at that time, a lot of people knew of each other but have never even met. Bringing them around one table in focus groups have sparked a lot of ideas, discussions, and debates. This made us realize what launching a home for all those creative people could mean.
Six months later, we launched the project. After the launch, I sat down with my mentor who has been the leading force behind the launch of Dubai Design District, Dr.Amina Al Rustamani and she asked me if I would like to join as the core team of Dubai Design District and to focus on Business Development. This was something that I wasn’t sure I could do, at first I resisted but she encouraged me to pursue this opportunity and offered me support. It is very important to have a support system when you face challenges. Since the launch three years ago, I was exposed to a lot more than just the business development part of the business. d3 is part of a developer as big as TECOM, but we were operating like a start-up, we had to think of everything from scratch, from the resources to the design, the master plan and every aspect of the business.
I experienced every aspect of the business, from copying to scanning to cleaning a meeting room before a client arrives in port cabins to even serving them coffee. I remember walking in 45-degree heat on site every day during the construction phase which really taught me a lot and is an experience I would have never had anywhere else in the world.
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN THE D3 COMMUNITY?
I personally see my role and the d3 team’s as an enabler and facilitator for the design industry to grow and thrive. I strongly believe we have created the right infrastructure and ecosystem to allow people to create and feel inspired.
In my previous Business Development role, I learned that it was very important to curate the tenant mix and building allocation carefully, as we could have filled it up with anyone and everyone. I went on to work in Partner Relations which had a lot to do with knowing more about people’s businesses, challenges, strengths and looking at how we can support them. I strongly believe that a lot of the solutions to their challenges and next business deal or idea was just around the corner, they just had to go out there and pursue it. I also found that meetings in informal settings tend to generate more creative and innovative ideas.
d3 COMMUNITY IS COMPOSED BY MANY ARTISTS, DESIGNERS, AND ENTREPRENEURS, CAN YOU GUESS WHAT IS THE PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN?
I believe approx. 60% of the workforce at d3 is 60%.
Women are really shaping the path across the creative industry in Dubai and internationally, d3 is very proud to have so many female entrepreneurs as creative partners. Historically men have dominated the design field but I feel proud to be a part of the change and feel strongly about supporting the next generation of female designers.
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT FASHION or BEAUTY IS A TOOL TO EMPOWER WOMEN?
There are many things that can help women feel empowered but I believe that building confidence and self-esteem provides women with the courage to push themselves out of their comfort zone. There are many different ways of building confidence, for some it would be wearing the right clothes and feeling good on the outside and for others, it would involve studying and becoming more knowledgeable at work. I believe that a woman’s beauty lies in her confidence and motivation to succeed, and how you carry yourself but there is nothing wrong with appreciating fashion and beauty.
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL MOTTO?
“No” is just someone’s opinion and that anything is POSSIBLE.
NAME A WOMAN, PAST OR PRESENT, WHOM YOU ADMIRE?
From the past, a woman that I truly admire is Jackie Kennedy. I admire her as the student, editor, brave wife, mother, cultural guru, and style icon. A lot of people only know her for the latter however she was always about more than just looking good. I admired her love and respect of fashion as an art.
She was also a big fan and a believer in anything cultural, an avid reader and an editor herself.
Before Jackie, America wasn’t thought of as particularly sophisticated in literature, poetry, music, or art. What I also admire about her is the fact that she was independent no matter who she was. She didn’t stop at the fact that she became the first lady, she carried on pursuing her dreams and launched a career in her 40s.
From the present, there are a lot of women I admire and inspire me every day. The first being my mother who I have learned so much from, a person I consider a friend before anything else, she has inspired me since I was a child. I remember seeing her leave the house every morning at 6:30 to go to school and teach after feeding us breakfast, and she was always at home before we would arrive with lunch ready to be served and the biggest smile on her face helping us with her homework. Even after she put us all to bed she would then prepare for her next school day and mark her students work. She inspired me so much that I wanted to be a teacher growing up. To share and transfer knowledge with others is something inspirational and is what motivated me to study education.
Another person who has played a big role in shaping the person I am today is my mentor, a sister and a friend, Dr. Amina Al Rustamani. She has taught me so much in the last 9 years like to never accept anything less than extraordinary in whatever you do. I learned a lot from her about change, challenge and what success looks like. I always enjoyed watching her deal with people, whether it be the smallest employee in the company to the most powerful. She taught me to always look at my goals and objectives in life and at work in a much bigger way.
It wasn’t only about achieving a target or a goal, it was deeper, and to think about the difference I could make in other people’s lives’ or for our country. She is truly an inspiring figuring in my life and has made a huge difference in a lot of people’s careers, I have learned a lot about leadership from her.
COULD YOU TELL US WHAT IS AN « INFLUENTE WOMAN » FOR YOU?
A woman who first believes in herself and is confident about herself before anything else. A woman who believes she can do anything once she sets her mind to it. She is fearless and will pursue her goals until the very end.
I also believe in women who are change makers, those who wake up every day only to make a difference in other people’s lives, “We rise by lifting others.”