Shihana Alazzaz was appointed deputy secretary-general of the Council of Ministers on Sunday after a royal decree. Alazzaz is the first Saudi woman to hold the position.
Before being appointed to the post, Alazzaz was one of the first women licensed to practice law in Saudi Arabia, and has held the post of general counsel at the Public Investment Fund since August 2018.
She began her studies at Durham University in the UK in 2005 and received a bachelor’s degree in law with honors in 2008.
While in law school, she served as a Saudi representative in the US Middle East Partnership Initiative.
She received further training in Dubai and Kuwait and later accepted a job at a New York City legal firm, where she provided legal advice on topics including defense, aviation, telecommunications, healthcare and securities.
After graduating, Alazzaz worked as an associate at law firm Baker McKenzie for more than three years.
Her next workplace was Vinson & Elkins LLP, where she served as senior associate for almost five years until 2016 when she was promoted to counsel.
After leaving the firm, Alazzaz joined the Public Investment Fund as head of transactions in 2017. The following year she became general counsel, a position she still holds.
She is a member of the organization’s management committee and chairs other executive committees. She also serves on the boards and board committees of several PIF portfolio companies.
Her appointment was part of PIF’s strategy to attract top-caliber local and international candidates, with a particular emphasis on providing high-quality career opportunities for the next generation of Saudis.
In addition, the number of women working at PIF has grown to almost 250, representing 26 percent of the total workforce.
Alazzaz is the first woman to work at an elite Saudi law firm and one of the first female lawyers in the Kingdom.
She won the International Financial Law Review’s 2019 Women in Business Law award.
As a female pioneer in Saudi law, Alazzaz works to nurture young talent in the industry. In 2020 was selected among the top 100 most powerful businesswomen in the Middle East by Forbes.