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  • 1. Education Zone Suad Alhalwachi CEO and Managing Director 1. Please describe your business in detail. When was it founded? What is your role? How many people do you employ, etc. Education is the main theme of my business, I look after students, their aspiration and try and make them avoid choosing a field of study that does not match their qualities and attributes. I try and make the best fit for the student and to achieve this I have collaboration with all the universities in New Zealand. Of course choosing New Zealand as a study destination was not a haphazard decision, it was pre determined to make the business objective achievable. New Zealand is voted the safest destination for students, and considering that my ultimate objective is to secure the will being of the student, it was obvious that I should choose a safe place and a perfect growing condition for him or her. Of course students can be private or form part of the corporate world, thus part of my business is to serve the corporate world in Dubai and to help them plan their human resource strategies. The business was founded a year ago, and my role is the Chief executive officer, the company employs three full time employees and three part time councilors. We choose the knowledge Village as a hub because it provides synergies to make the business objectives achievable as we will be with students and amongst educators. 2. What inspired you to set foot into the world of business? Family support, personal interest or circumstances? Will to begin with I left my son to study in New Zealand, it was not an easy thing to do, but I left him there knowing fully will that he will be looked after by that community that support learning. As a matter of fact that is the main inspiration, to start the business, if my son is going to do will over there, so would the other students, and I am sure that their families will appreciate it when they know that they can sleep at night knowing fully will that their sons and daughters are safe. Of course without the full support of my husband and my brothers and sisters, I would not have been able to do so much in such a short period of time. They all looked after my girls when I was traveling around the gulf trying to promote my business. 3. What would you say are the fundamental differences between a career (job) and managing a business? Time, time and time. I was finance and planning manager for a long time, worked for long hours, and weekends at time. However, I was never satisfied that what I was doing is for the best, I mean the best for both my family and myself. In a normal career we know that to reach the glass ceiling we need to impress others. But in ones own business, there is no one to impress except oneself. And knowing how hard it is to impress oneself, one would always evaluate the objectives, revisit them and replace them with higher ones without having to wait for answers from a higher corporate level.
  • 2. 4. How do you combine the demands of work with the pleasures of living? Do you find yourself having to toe the line between the two, or do you just combine them? When the business is yours, you will find the pleasures even when its midnight and you have to answer few hundred emails. Looking at your healthy bank account balance will give you even more pleasure. There is no line to draw between working and living, and the more you work the more pleasure you will receive. I now get more pleasure in working for my self and have to meet business associate for lunch or coffee. Or even to take my girls to the office with me to see that their mum is really trying very hard to provide them and their school mates with the best opportunity. 5. How often do you travel on work? How do you manage to cope with frequent travel? Do you have any tips for business women when traveling? I travel a lot, however I am lucky in a way that my travel is limited mostly to gulf countries, and I have relatives and friends that I can stay with and meet when my business meetings are over. Traveling to Saudi Arabia posses a problem so I have to drag a brother or my husband with me, and frankly I do not like that, as I am stopping them from doing their work, when I am going there for business, but that is fine with them so I have to accept it. To travel overseas one has to have a proper schedule and to blank times in the diary in case an urgent meeting, these can crop up easily, and always book two or three flights incase you have to reschedule your travel. Also find out about hotel deals and upgrades, as one can get bargains that can save the business heaps of money. 6. Do you think you have to put in extra effort as a business woman, as against a business man? Are there special tactics you have developed to hold your own against clients, customers, associates and staff? Of course I have to put in extra effort as a business woman, its like having a trait or acquiring one. Men are natural business people, women can be naturalist but at times we mix between a business and careers, so we can forget why we are in business. Its fine having a dream but we must also think that to achieve that dream we mustn’t spend all our money and our energy in one go. So the tactics are: 1. Have a budget and stick to it 2. Hire an accountant, even if part time 3. Always read the newspapers and the business magazines, to see what your competitors are doing 4. Always satisfy your clients, by going that extra mile ( I even phone the parents of the student after he leaves to see if he or she had phoned them, and check with the university to see if the student is coping will) 5. Make your family your first priority 6. Have a note book to write down your dreams, but do not try to achieve all of them at once, the best cheese is the old cheese. 7. At last have two mobile phones!! You might receive to calls equally important at the same time. 7. What are the biggest challenges you face as a businesswoman located in the Arab world, particularly in the UAE?
  • 3. Frankly, inviting a male business partner to lunch or dinner is the biggest challenge especially to a Muslim woman. So those men have to do without those lunches and dinners I am afraid!! 8. What would you rate as your bigger problem: acceptance or respect? Why? I can achieve respect easily, but acceptance is a challenge, as people need to open up to the idea of knowing that their sons or daughters have their own vies on what to study. Not every person can be a doctor or an engineer, some of us are born chefs or art teachers, and that is perfectly alright. So I insist that acceptance is a challenge that I will need to work on probably for years. 9. What does the IBWG mean to you? Why and how did you join? Have you gained anything out of it? Would you like to encourage any specific activity in the Group? I have always longed to see a business community, and being a member of IBWG allowed this to happen. Of course I would love to see an international business people group, but until that happens being in a women group will make do for a while. I joined the group to learn from the others, and to have the moral support, being in our business lunches work as a group therapy as its inspiring. We meet all sort of women and their commitment to their dreams make me feel that one day I will be able to be like them. I would like to encourage young business women to join the group and would like the group to encourage young women to be in business by showing them that their dreams can come true too. 10. What is your practical advice to women living in the UAE who are considering a future in business? First find out if there are options, and talk about the business to every one you know; People are natural helpers, and even natural advisors. And please do not think that others might steel your ideas, if it was a genuine one, it will not be stolen. For example, I was going to open my business in town if its not for a dear friend of mine who happen to find out what I was trying to do and told me about the Knowledge Village and its activities (it was not completely constructed then) this fact saved me a fortune and at the same time provided me with the best opportunity. Also find out who can be of assistance if you need it. Keep every body as a back up. And encourage even your kids to give you ideas on how to perform certain tasks. I had many of my business tactics come from my ten year old. This is not surprising as they are pure and imaginative. 11. Full name, nationality, designation, name of company and Mobile No. (For photo shoot) Suad Alhalwachi CEO and Managing Director Education Zone, fz llc 050 341 5804

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