herCAREER: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced at the beginning of your career?
Rana Alnasir-Boulos: At the outset of my career, I encountered several significant challenges. Firstly, being an Arab woman in the business world posed certain cultural and gender-related obstacles. There were instances of bias and stereotypes that I had to navigate. Additionally, entering the energy pipeline sector, which is traditionally male-dominated, presented its own set of challenges. I had to work extra hard to gain credibility and respect in that environment. I remember negotiating with CEOs and decision-makers 50 aged and older from Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, and Germany when I was only 29 years old telling them how to close a deal!
Moreover, my career involved working in diverse geographical locations, from Germany to the UAE, Tunis to South Africa. Adapting to different cultures, business practices, and regulations was often daunting. However, these challenges also provided invaluable learning experiences and helped shape my resilience and adaptability, which have been essential throughout my career.
herCAREER: Which advice would you give women who want to succeed in male-dominated industries?
Rana Alnasir-Boulos: To women aspiring to succeed in male-dominated industries, I would offer the following advice:
a. Confidence is Key: Believe in your abilities and be confident in what you bring to the table. Confidence can help you overcome biases and stereotypes.
b. Build a Strong Network: Networking is crucial. Connect with both men and women who can mentor, support, and advocate for you. Building relationships can open doors and create opportunities.
c. Continuous Learning: Stay updated with industry trends and developments. Knowledge is power, and it can help you stand out and excel in your field.
d. Embrace Challenges: Don’t shy away from challenging situations. Embrace them as opportunities for growth and learning. It is often through overcoming challenges that we achieve our greatest successes.
e. Advocate for Inclusion: Be an advocate for diversity and inclusion in your industry. Encourage organizations to create more inclusive environments that value the contributions of women.
herCAREER: In your experience, what are the most crucial steps to intercultural empowerment?
Rana Alnasir-Boulos: In my extensive experience with intercultural empowerment, I’ve found that fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of different cultures requires a multifaceted approach. Here are some crucial steps:
Being culturally curious and approaching different cultures with genuine curiosity and a willingness to learn by seeking to understand the perspectives, values, and customs of others.
Further, learn to communicate clearly and respectfully across cultural boundaries. This includes both verbal and non-verbal communication, I call it “effective Communication”.
Of course, you should be culturally sensitive, respect cultural difference, and avoid making assumptions based on stereotypes. Always treat others as individuals with unique backgrounds, e.g., are not surprised if your counterpart is up to half an hour late, sometimes even longer. Handshakes are the typical form of physical greeting in the Middle East but are likely to last longer than Westerners are used to. It is recommended that you wait for the other person to withdraw his/her hand before you do.
Furthermore, as we all know, language is a powerful bridge to understanding. Learning the language of the culture you’re engaging with can significantly enhance your ability to connect meaningfully, especially with Arabs, as they are very proud of their rich language. I am sure that by taking these steps, individuals and organizations can move beyond superficial understandings of culture and embrace the richness of diversity. Intercultural empowerment enriches personal and professional experiences and drives innovation and success in our interconnected world.
herCAREER: Would you act as a sparring partner? If yes, we ask you to name the topics for which you would be available as a sparring partner in keywords.
- Business Development
- Intercultural Empowerment
- Women in Male-Dominated Industries
- Leadership and Leadership Development
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Career Growth and Strategy
- Networking and Relationship Building
- Personal Branding
- Overcoming Challenges in the Workplace
- Global Business Insights
- Women in Energy, oil and gas, and especially pipeline business
herCAREER: Are there any topics on which you personally would like to have a sparring partner and continue a professional and personal exchange? Then name keywords for your topics.
- Leadership in a Global Context
- Navigating Cross-Cultural Communication
- Promoting Diversity and Inclusion
- Business Growth and Expansion Strategies
- Mentoring and Mentorship
- Women’s Empowerment and Advocacy
- Project Management Excellence
herCAREER: Would you also be a mentor the herCAREER community? Can you describe what kind of a woman you would like to have as a mentee ?
Rana Alnasir-Boulos: I welcome mentees who are ambitious, open to learning, and committed to personal and professional growth.
Use one of the ways to contact the interviewee and refer to the herCAREER community interview.