Lubna Olayan is the CEO of Olayan Financing Co. and is the first woman in Saudi Arabia to give a keynote opening at one of the largest conferences in the Kingdom.
The Public Investment Fund (PIF) in Saudi Arabia has named a top-tier team of international business experts to work on the Kingdom’s Future Investment Initiative (FII).
The event debuted in the Kingdom last year and introduced the government’s economic reform plans, focusing on hi-tech sectors, including robotics and artificial intelligence.
Olayan is the only Saudi whose name has made it to the board and one of three women who will contribute their expertise to the initiative.
Olayan was born in 1955 to a businessman and leader who founded the Olayan Group. She grew up valuing education and holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Cornell University, as well as an MBA from Indiana University.
Her career began in 1983 under her father’s wing at Olayan Group, but the two maintained a businesslike relationship in the office.
Her current role is the CEO of Olayan Financing Company, the holding entity of Olayan Group’s full operations in Saudi and the Middle East, and she also sits on the group’s board with her brother and two sisters.
In 2005 Olayan became a non-executive board director at WPP, and in the next two years, she served as an international advisory member of the board for both Rolls-Royce and Citigroup. She joined the board of INSEAD directors late in 2005 and was elected as a member in the board of trustees for Cornell University in 2007.
In 2010, she was awarded the Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year award, and Forbes listed her as the 86th most powerful woman in the world in 2014.