This feature is part of a series highlighting some of the most prominent Jordanian businesswomen who managed to climb to the top of the corporate ladder in their respective fields in the Kingdom.
Bank al Etihad General Manager
Nadia al Saeed assumed the position of al Etihad Bank’s Head of Corporate Banking before leaving to become the ICT Minister between 2004 and 2006, playing a pivotal role in shaping what has become one of the most important contributing sectors to Jordan’s GDP and main employer of women. Upon her return to the bank, she spearheaded its rebranding and expansion drive.
How would you describe your management style?
As a manager, I take my job very seriously. I know what it takes because I’ve been through the corporate ladder and I believe in the importance of team work. I also believe in the importance of fairness to people, of being professional, and I understand that the relationship between an organization and its employees should be a win-win situation; you have to do what is good for the organization, but also it’s important for employees to know that hard work and loyalty will pay off eventually.
What has your role been in the bank’s development?
I’ve been a CEO since 2007. I knew the bank very well. Historically the bank has always been a very strong corporate bank. It was at a stage where it was doing well, corporate banking was excellent, and we wanted to see how we can take the bank to another level by devising a growth strategy and making sure that we diversify and look at other segments to serve. At the time, we worked with McKinsey & Company to look at the bank’s strengths, weaknesses, and decide how and where we wanted to grow. I was assigned the implementation of that transition and we started our entry into retail banking. We had to reconsider our banking system, create the engine for retail, develop our channels, our branches and their technologies. It was very successful. Recently, we have also been working on expanding our SME offering and increasing our market share.
Does being a woman restrict you in the corporate world?
Not really. I think that is an output of several factors. It has to do with how you were brought up, your self-confidence and how empowering your organization is. I was lucky and empowered on all fronts, I was fortunate to have good role models; my mom who was a career woman and my father who was open minded, valued education, and was very supportive at home. The Bank al Etihad environment where I started my career was empowering and our chairman is one of the strongest believers and supporters of women.
Sometimes women in our part of the world feel they have to put in double the effort to get the same acknowledgment, but self-confidence, determination, and faith in yourself are the key to success. I believe young ladies today are in a better situation because society, education, and exposure opportunities are much better.
Throughout your career, how have you helped empower other women?
Today our institution is much larger; almost 45 percent of our employees are women. We follow fair and non-discriminative processes in hiring. Women are also very well represented in management; I’m a woman, my deputy is a woman, we have a woman on our board, and many in our management team are women
Earlier this year we launched “Shorouq,” Jordan’s first full financial and non-financial banking solutions for women. We did it because we felt this was a segment of the market that was still underserved, and so there’s a big business opportunity in that. The contribution of women in the economy is much less than it should be for a country like Jordan which has some of the highest percentages of educated women. We’ve always supported many initiatives that focus on empowering young women and we make sure all our scholarships are allocated to 50 percent women (Al Aman Fund for the Future of Orphans, Yarmouk University, Injaz, Loyac, among others.)
How long are you planning to continue working and what else would you see yourself doing if not a CEO at Al Etihad Bank?
I don’t see myself not working. What I do is something I really like. And I will always like to contribute. Down the road, I might be interested in teaching at universities and it has always been my passion to engage in volunteer work and dedicating time for the public good. I work with many initiatives that support youth and entrepreneurship like Endeavor; I’m also part of EDAMA Association and I’m a board member of INJAZ where I volunteer teaching at their schools.
I love working with the youth and engaging with them through coaching, mentoring, and support and I feel it is our duty to support young men and women the way we found people who supported us early in our careers.
Articles in the series of Jordan’s Top Businesswomen: