DUBAI: When it comes to taking a huge step like running a family business, most entrepreneurs would flinch, especially in a male-dominated industry. Female successors would instead pass their rights to a male than take the path of leadership.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the CEO and president of Khalil bin Ebrahim Kanoo Co. and International Motor Trading Agency, Suzy Kanoo, shared her advice on what women should do when put in that position, and it’s not relinquishing their rights.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Arab Women Forum event in Dubai, Kanoo, who has also authored “Hear Us Speak: Letters from Arab Women,” expressed that one of the main obstacles women face in the business world is not believing in themselves.
“The Japanese call it Ikigai. Find a purpose and passion, do it well, and make sure it benefits society. Whatever it is, anything that you think is insignificant isn’t insignificant for that individual. So, find that purpose and do it well,” she added.
Kanoo has been the voice of the Arab world, and her book discusses real-life stories about Arab women that have experienced physical or emotional abuse but outlived their circumstances.
“My book emphasizes that never let a male, whether a cousin or a brother, force you or coerce you into signing documents asking you to relinquish your rights of the family business,” she said.
Her book brought to light the circumstances of the marginalized women who succumbed to male domination and gave away what was rightfully theirs.
However, Kanoo feels those were different times. She finds Gen Z is the most empowered generation. They believe that nothing should stop them from achieving their goals. In addition, they understand technology better than the previous generations.
But the struggle is not over. Even emancipated women have to fight on multiple fronts. An accomplished writer and businesswoman, Kanoo is currently facing problems with the automotive business. Her production declined by 50-60 percent.
Does that mean she is letting off the reins? No chance. The feisty lady is expanding into different sectors, opening a restaurant from personal investments and launching an advisory company for blockchain technology.