Nearly 82% of the GCC Female Leaders feel that new alliances with service providers and vendors are critical to the pace of organizations’ digital transformation journey. Tell us about your views on this. 

I agree with you on this. However, an organization’s digital transformation journey requires proper planning and the right leadership combined with regular monitoring.

Our survey indicates that lack of specialization and talent in the IT/cyber sector is something that businesses find particularly cumbersome to deal with. How is Gulf Bank continuously upskilling its employees to avoid these scenarios? 

In Kuwait’s banking sector, banks are seeking opportunities from various organizations and skilled vendors to assist them in building up the levels of skills. They are also investing in their existing staff by providing them with the necessary orientation and trainings in different fields. 

Cyberattacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. In your opinion, what is the key to tackling and mitigating cyber risks in 2022? 

Key elements in mitigating cyberattacks include providing the organization with continuous updates on cybersecurity awareness, ensuring that the security monitoring is tested and updated regularly, ensuring major vulnerabilities are fixed on time, and finally always being compliant with the security guidelines.

Being a leader has its fair share of challenges. Tell us a little about your journey in the sector and the barriers you faced as it may inspire young females who, like yourself, are looking to change the narrative. 

My experience in banking was and still is a great joy to me. I started in Gulf Bank 27 years ago as a Financial Auditor, which opened various doors for me and helped me learn the major operations in the sector. 

I then moved to Burgan Bank as an IT Auditor, as information technology was one of my areas of interest and I wanted to learn more about it. I took various courses to learn the different functions of operating systems, databases, and so on. 

Then I shifted to Industrial Bank of Kuwait as an Information Security Expert where I established the department by building up the policies and procedures for different Information Security operations. 

After that, I moved again to Kuwait International Bank where I established the Risk department and built a great structure with skilled staff and a smooth process. Finally, Gulf Bank reached out to me again, which was my final move. I built up the teams, skills and the Information Security operations in different sections. 

I am self-made and I have learned and attended various courses on banking and technology. I have kept myself updated with all the news and trends around the world. I built a social network with all the people I met during the courses and conferences I attended. 

The key element for success is learning about different fields. One of the biggest challenges that I faced during my career was that the Information Security function was not clear to the banks’ management. There was not much support to help us build the section and have the ability to protect banks. Secondly, female leadership has not been respected well in the past as many leaders felt that women should not be the decision makers in such fields. 

One of the other challenges today is promoting and scaling up female staff. On a final note, the challenges have been changing in the past five years as the number of female leaders is increasing in the banking sector and their management bodies are respecting and supporting the decisions made by them.

How do you think increased reliance on technologies such as artificial intelligence/machine learning and process automation will impact the banking sector’s future? 

Since the market in Kuwait is not that mature to cover artificial intelligence/machine learning and process automation, I think it will take more time to educate staff and customers about it. Additionally, building the banking environment for such automation will require time and effort. But, on a personal front, I wish to see artificial intelligence/machine learning be implemented here as I have always been inspired by technology.

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