Mentorship for Women in Workforce Gains Momentum as REACH reports over 200 percent growth in UAE pro


REACH, the first non-profit organization dedicated to structured mentoring and leadership development for women professionals in the Middle East, hosted its second annual event in Dubai this week to report key milestones reached, highlight pertinent issues in the Middle East workplace and outline future plans for 2016-17.

Attended by key stakeholders of the organization including founding board members, representatives of the REACH Advisory Committee, sponsors, supporters, mentors and mentees, the evening included an overview by REACH co-founder and board member Jumana Abu- Hannoud: “This year saw an exciting milestone reached with the successful pairing of more than 100 mentors and mentees since we established REACH in 2014, and a doubling of our intake of mentees with the introduction of two cohorts.

“It is clear that corporations in almost every sector are beginning to recognize the need for mentorship in helping to develop their employees, and in particular women professionals who will be essential contributors to the future growth of our economies.”

Other activities in the organization’s growth pipeline include the expansion of REACH’s presence into other GCC markets, and the delivery of tailored mentoring programs for two specific segments: women re-entering the workforce after an absence of up to five years; and women in management positions looking to take up C-suite and board roles in the region.

“While senior positions held by women are slowly increasing, gender disparity is still a reality. Moving up the ladder is often a particularly lonely journey for women, and the support of a mentor can contribute to greater self-confidence and acceleration to the pinnacle of their careers,” said Abu-Hannoud.

Delivering the keynote address for the evening, H.E. Dr. Maryam Matar M.D., Founder and Chairperson UAE Genetic Diseases Association (UAEGDA) and a member of the Reach Advisory Committee highlighted the role of mentorship in the pioneering career path she carved for UAE women in science and medicine.

“Mentors have been the backbone for me in my career, providing support, guidance and insights that have helped me throughout my journey. I’ve been privileged to have benefited from the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in helping shape career opportunities for Emirati women, as well as the cumulative experience of many international experts. Giving back to the next generation is key for us all, and Reach is an organization I’m delighted to support,” said Dr. Maryam Matar.

The evening also included a panel discussion on the highly pertinent topic of the generational divide in the workplace and the value of mentorship in bridging this. Panellists included Dr. Matar; Hisham Farrouk, CEO Grant Thornton UAE; Navin Valrani, CEO Engineering Services Cluster Al Shirawi Group and CEO Arcadia Schools; and James Angus, Head of Emerging Businesses, Thomson Reuters.

Key outcomes of the discussion included unanimous recognition of the value of mentorship to both mentee and mentor, the increasing importance of reverse mentoring - dispelling of the myth that mentoring should only be delivered by senior professionals, and spotlighting the valuable role of millennials in mentoring older generations in the fast moving business world of today. The reality of women in leadership across all industries and sectors was also confirmed, with examples shared by all panellists from the perspectives of their respective organizations.