Nashwa Al Ruwaini is the definition of a #girlboss, her carrier has evolved through the years and she is now a super businesswoman in heels. Nashwa built a smart empire based on the diversification of activities, from media to jewelry brands, she transformed her passions into successful businesses. She shared with INFLUENTE women the key to her success.
CAN YOU PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO THE INFLUENTE COMMUNITY?
I would like to send a huge greeting to the INFLUENTE community, my name is Nashwa Al Ruwaini and I am the CEO of Pyramedia Group which is a group of companies that has under its umbrella, Pyramedia-Media Production and Consulting, Al Joude Advertising and Publicity in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Al Joude Investments, Delma Medical Centre and Spa as well as my very own charity foundation called Nashwa and my line of jewelry Nashwa Jewellery.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR CAREER, WHERE DID THE ADVENTURE START? WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO FOLLOW THIS CAREER PATH?
My career path began a very long time ago in Qatar where my experience in the media business took off through being a TV presenter which was a job I loved and pursued for several decades. I had my own TV shows in Egypt and Dubai on MBC channels. My aim at the time was to discuss all topics, traditional or controversial because I believe that media is an extremely powerful and influential medium that can really affect people’s lives. I focused on social issues and decided to break boundaries and speak up boldly about taboo topics.
In addition to being a presenter, I also produced several shows on MBC and worked diligently on setting up MBC into the media powerhouse that it is today. I dedicated a huge portion of my career to establishing Abu Dhabi as a major media hub where I negotiated the entry of National Geographic Abu Dhabi and was responsible for the set up of several TV channels in the region, and consulted for several private and government organizations in the Arab World and utilized my extensive years of experience on several media projects. In the UAE I produced several awards winning cultural TV programs such as The Millions Poet, The Prince of Poets, The Buzzer as well as several historical documentaries on the history of the UAE and namely the late Sheikh Zayed, founder of the UAE.
I did not want to be coined as a success merely in media so I set up my group of companies and diversified my business activities into what it is today.
If there is anything I have learned from running a business it is the fact that even as a leader you are part of a team and the most important thing is collaboration.
WHAT DOES A DAY AT YOUR OFFICE LOOK LIKE?
My day is a plethora of different activities all designed to run my businesses smoothly and giving my family the time that they deserve.
I start my day by checking the news on all media portals and I check my social media accounts. I give two hours to emails in all the different businesses then I start my schedule which usually consists of meetings with clients, my top business executives, brainstorming sessions, and planning for the next day.
I have assistants and executives designated to the different businesses and the different countries we are operating in and they brief me regularly and follow up on my requests.
WHAT GAVE YOU THE ENVY TO BE INDEPENDENT AND CREATE YOUR OWN PRODUCTION COMPANY?
Throughout my career, I have always been an independent-minded personality. Even when I was a TV Presenter I always thought creatively out of the box and followed my own heart and mind when selecting the topics I chose to discuss on television. I decided to shift to production because of this independent-minded approach to life. During my career when I was a TV Presenter I was also the creative director at MBC and ran their productions. I set up MBC in Egypt which grew into an extremely popular and successful media organization. I was responsible for producing some of the biggest shows on MBC such as “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,” “Green Apple,” “Kalam Nawaem” which was my own show. Once I reached top management in the media business I realized then that I had enough ammunition to start up my own media production company.
I had several pioneering ideas for shows and documentaries that I wanted to produce and so followed my heart and free-spirited ambition and set up Pyramedia-my media production and consulting firm that offers not just media related services but also offers marketing, PR, events management and other related services making us one of the only companies in the region that has this wide array of business.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST SACRIFICE YOU’VE MADE IN STARTING YOUR BUSINESS?
When I was a TV Presenter prior to setting up my own business, I was responsible for myself and the show that I was presenting. I started my career at the age of 16 which meant that I was never really able to live the normal life of a teenager and had huge responsibilities at such a young age.
Starting my own business meant that I became responsible for everyone who works for me and this too is a huge burden to carry. It almost leads to a sacrifice of my own peace of mind because I know that I need to think about the several employees that work for me and this in itself is a sacrifice. That being said, I don’t always see it as a sacrifice because I view my employees as part of a larger family that I am part of and I enjoy the sense of loyalty and commitment I receive from them, so instead of feeling that they are a burden to my peace, I view them as a source of support of my business and dreams.
On the whole, though, I as Nashwa have to always sacrifice something, whether it is for my family, or my business or my children and I ensure that they come first before myself. This is a very natural and intrinsic part of my character where I choose others over myself.
NAME THE BIGGEST OVERALL LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED IN RUNNING A BUSINESS?
If there is anything I have learned from running a business it is the fact that even as a leader you are part of a team and the most important thing is collaboration, compassion and listening to every single member of my team and ensuring that we all work together for the greater good and the greater goal. Yes, I lead them, I guide them and I mentor them but my team is all responsible independent adults that need to feel empowered, recognized and rewarded for their efforts if I expect them to perform well and this I think is the greatest lesson I have learned from managing my own business. At the end of the day, you can never grow alone, it just doesn’t work, you grow with others and for me, it is with my team.
DO YOU THINK THAT WOMEN HAS TO MAKE MORE SACRIFICE THAN MEN TO FULFILL THEIR AMBITION?
Never. I have never believed that women have to sacrifice more than men to fulfill their ambitions because I have always believed in equality of the sexes. Even when people say that as a woman you have to sacrifice if you’re a mother, I have always disagreed because there are several men who are fathers and the same amount of effort exerted by a working father is equal to the effort exerted by a working mother. I have never felt that as a woman I struggle more or fight more or receive less or that my battle is harder because I know I have achieved as much success as any successful male entrepreneur. Being a woman does not mean less success, more sacrifice, less reward or the inability to fulfill one’s dreams. A woman can achieve anything she wants no less than a man and I have always believed this throughout my career and it all boils down to the amount of effort she exerts.
That being said, when you play so many roles such as an entrepreneur, media personality, public speaker, mother, wife or daughter you have to exert so much effort to keep all your roles balanced. I am a perfectionist by nature which means that I am always living with the guilt that I am not doing a good enough job in each of my roles. I live with the guilt that I am not doing a good enough job with my children, or as a partner or as a daughter for example.
YOU RECEIVED SEVERAL AWARDS AND ACHIEVED A VERY IMPRESSIVE JOURNEY. WHAT DOES SUCCESS MEAN FOR YOU?
Success is such a huge and very relative term to me, and in fact, I believe success is so many things. Forget about ambition and achieving my goals because to me that is not the foremost definition of success, as I believe success is how much you give back to the community and others giving me a true sense of fulfillment and achievement. Success for me is how many people were empowered during my professional journey and how many people learned and grew on their own while crossing my path. While receiving awards is a great example of recognition and feeling rewarded for your efforts but nothing is as comparable as watching other people succeed while you do. I believe success is empowerment, guidance, mentoring and helping others who are in need of me that is a success which is equal if not better as the generic definition where people say it is when your dreams come true. While yes, I love it when a dream comes true and when my businesses grow but it is not as rewarding as the success you feel when you have given others a piece of yourself so that their lives are better.
WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL MOTTO?
I am of the profound belief that hard work pays off and that is my motto always: work hard and you will reap the results of it and most importantly always: “Don’t be afraid to say no,” as there is nothing wrong with being assertive and knowing and setting your own personal boundaries.
WHAT RESOURCES WOULD YOU RECOMMEND TO SOMEONE STARTING A BUSINESS?
A good team, a good team, and a good team are the most important resources you need to start a business. No matter what your idea or project or plan please make sure that you hire the highest caliber people who can work on their own, think on their own and be able to take full ownership of their tasks and projects so that your business can grow-that is the most important pillar for success as an entrepreneur.
NAME A WOMAN, PAST OR PRESENT, WHOM YOU ADMIRE?
A woman that I greatly admire is Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak who is renowned as the ‘Mother of the UAE.’ Due to her strong efforts towards the empowerment of women in 46 years, the UAE has seen a cabinet filled with female Ministers and Ambassadors. Because of her belief that empowering women is vital to the advancement of society, the UAE has broken records when it comes to women succeeding in the country with her guidance and support.
Another personal favorite due to her kindness, compassion, modesty, and humility is the famous icon, Mother Teresa. She is someone I look up to and admire for her selflessness and unbelievable heart that fed thousands of those in need.
COULD YOU TELL US WHAT IS AN « INFLUENTE WOMEN » FOR YOU?
An influential woman for me is someone who has left her mark in her industry and in the lives of others-someone who has had a huge positive impact on those she encounters throughout her professional and personal journey. An influential woman is someone who inspires others to succeed and serves as a positive role model that everyone can look up to and aspire to learn from and imitate. An influential woman is someone who guides and mentors and shares her experience with others and who serves to teach others how to succeed and achieve. That is what I define as influential and what I aspire to be in my career and personal life.