GU-Q Hosts Lecture in Partnership with Qatari Businesswomen Association

Dr. Alexis Antoniades, Associate Professor and Director of International Economics at Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q) addressed an audience of prominent Qatari business women, board members of the Qatari Businesswomen Association (QBWA), and other distinguished guests at a recent GU-Q event on the future of Qatar’s family owned businesses. The event, co-hosted with the QBWA, targeted an audience of 30 women from a wide spectrum of local businesses, including real estate, education, the hotel industry, retail, fashion, investment and more. Dr. Antoniades initiated the talk with an overview of family businesses strengths and challenges. PricewaterhouseCoopers then presented the results of a global survey on nearly 2,400 family businesses from around the world that was completed in 2014, before Dr. Antoniades presented his three key pieces of advice for local family businesses: (1) establish clear goals and objectives, a decision-making process, a succession plan, and a transition plan, (2) engage the 3rd generation through education, work experience, understanding of the importance of family and community values, and (3) encourage family business groups to come under one roof and share their ideas, concerns, and expertise. The floor was then opened to a lively discussion moderated by Sheikha Layan Al-Thani and Ms. Shayma Al-Naimi, students at GU-Q and advisors to professor Antoniades for the event. The dean of GU-Q, Dr. Gerd Nonneman, offered his remarks to close out the event. “A family business used to be a fairly uncomplicated affair in Qatar. However the business environment, regulation landscape, geopolitics and family structure are changing, presenting new challenges, as well as opportunities,” explained Professor Antoniades. “This is why I decided to organize an event where Georgetown and the Qatari business community could initiate a conversation on how to tackle a range of issues family businesses in Qatar face, and hopefully, enable them to thrive and survive the transition to the next generation.” In particular, he said, he hopes to “empower Qatari women who are serving as tremendous drivers of change in many realms of Qatari society including in business, education and politics.” The careful planning by the two student advisors, the support of the QBWA, and the energy and wisdom of the participants resulted in a very successful discussion. “These women business leaders brought their own experiences and challenges faced, including questions of diversifying the business, and how to prepare the third generation of business owners. It is our hope to build on this initial success and continue collaborating with the QBWA and other local partners to find new ways of creating meaningful dialogue,” he added. Sharing her comments on the event, Sheikha Hanadi Al-Thani, the Founder and Chairperson of Amwal, as well as CEO and advisor to multiple leading businesses in Qatar, said: "Such a discussion is important not only because it creates a conversation around the very important issues family businesses here face, but also because it brings together academic institutions with the private sector in working together toward the benefit of the country." Mrs. Natra Saeed, QBWA Board member thanked Georgetown University for hosting this informative session, and said: “this initiative falls right within QBWA objective of supporting young generations of women by working with universities to create opportunities for students and fresh graduates to mentor them, and to provide them with different learning opportunities to further unleash their potential as well as to incorporate their fresh ideas into the long term action plans that aim ultimately at paving the way for them” “We see this event as a step towards a broad collaboration with Georgetown University that will have a tangible impact in women advancement efforts in Qatar” she added. Dr. Alexis Antoniades is an Associate Professor of Economics at GU-Q where he teaches International Finance, Sport Economics, and various topics in International Economics. A Fulbright scholar, he also worked at Princeton University and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This article was provided by Georgetown University in Qatar: