15th December 2016, Dubai, UAE: Reach, the first structured mentoring and leadership program for women professionals in the Middle East, has opened registration for its 2017 mentoring programme. The non-profit organization, which has already seen more than 200 women complete its one-year programme, offers women in the workforce an unrivalled opportunity to be mentored by men and women at the pinnacle of their careers.
Registration is conducted online at www.reachmentoring.org and is open to women of all nationalities with a minimum of two years in the workforce. There is no fee for the program, but a strong level of commitment is required. Offered in two cohorts (January and April 2017), the Reach programs match mentors with mentees for a year-long mentoring relationship that is overseen by a professional trainer and tracked using a specialised online platform.
Reach Board Member Laudy Lahdo said: “Although Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) countries have made significant strides in recent years to increase participation of women in the workforce, according to World Economic Forum Gender Gap reports, only 30 per cent of the GCC’s workforce is comprised of women – one of the lowest globally. Fewer women enter the workforce in the GCC, and fewer make it to senior positions than in almost any developed region, because too many women opt out of their career before they get that far.
“Mentoring provides an invaluable tool in helping to build self-confidence through the support, guidance and inspiration of others with greater experience and in more senior roles. This empowers women to be more assertive and strengthens their negotiating skills. Through the Reach programme, we are hoping to contribute to the career development and empowerment of women in the working world, to promote greater gender diversity at all levels and to make a sustainable impact.”
Benefits of the Reach program extend to the mentors too. Current Reach mentor Hisham Farouk, CEO of Grant Thornton UAE commented: “Reach’s program has provided me with an opportunity to share the knowledge I have garnered with a person who has the potential to change the world. My mentee’s level of confidence and determination is inspirational.
“Initially, our discussions and strategic objectives were set on corporate development and progression. It soon became clear that the corporate advancements she was ambitious for were driven by her desire to create a social project that would benefit thousands, if not millions of lives. Her astuteness identified that a corporate infrastructure for this social cause is needed for it to prosper in a capitalistic environment. I am excited and inspired to bear witness to the positivity and change the leaders of tomorrow will bring.”
Reach mentee Zainab Kufashi, Institutional Sales Manager at Invesco completed the programme and highlighted its value for her career: “Reach has been a fantastic initiative that I have had the pleasure of being enrolled in for two of the three years since its inception, benefiting from the guidance and wisdom of two mentors. I decided to enrol as I was intrigued by the concept of an external mentorship program. I had been part of a formal mentoring program within an organisation when I was a fresh graduate but since moving on to more experienced roles, I found that I lacked that support system and 'safe space'.
“This has become more important as I’ve taken on more prominent challenges and navigated internal politics, and having a mentor outside my organisation meant that I could discuss problems judgment-free. I have also be able to learn different perspectives and new ways of doing business outside of my organisation and even industry. I was fortunate enough to be paired with Reach co-founder Farah Foustok - I have learnt so much from her as a highly-regarded professional in our field, a person of great integrity and a woman juggling work and family life with great success. One of the highlights of our time together was persuading me to expand my remit and erase pre-conceived judgements about covering the Saudi market, which I hope will significantly contribute to my professional success at Invesco.”