Rania Nashar broke all existing protocol when she became the first Chief Executive Officer of Samba Financial Group, a commercial bank with offices in Saudi Arabia.
Overnight, it seemed she became a success and her name became one known worldwide and one which everyone wanted to be associated with.
In a country where women cannot drive, where permission has to be gotten from a male relative before a woman can study or travel abroad, where there are tight restrictions on how far a woman can go in the corporate world, Rania rose to the top level in her profession despite all these.
It didn’t take her a day to get to the point where she is today though. It took her 20 years of hard work, determination, relentlessness, and working on her dreams despite her country’s strict rules.
Rania started her career in Samba in the year 1997, and with slow, deliberate moves, she was able to rise to the top position in 20 years. When she started working for Samba, the institution was a Citibank affiliate, with an operating style similar to Wall Street style and culture, and the bank followed a typical brick and mortar business model.
The bank gradually moved from this reality into its present reality and Rania’s career followed the same progression. Little by little, she was given leadership roles, and more responsibility. Like the proverbial dog which finally ate the fattest bone, Rania was patient and took the time to grow.
From being called upon to lead major projects, which included developing anti-money laundering policies to serve as the bank’s head compliance officer, Rania excelled using a combination of grits and determination to birth results.
She was there during the merger with the United Saudi Bank in 1999 and she distinguished herself, working together with like minds to put her degree in Computer Science to good use by developing a series of digital services that will be useful to the bank due to its expansion.
In the same vein, she had all hands on deck when Citibank announced its departure in 2003 and terminated its existing contract with Samba. Rania remembers days of rigorous work while they cleared out their offices, and while the newly birthed bank got back on its feet.
Slowly, but surely, with increasing managerial roles, Rania was on the track to holding a senior management position within the company, but nothing could have prepared her for the announcement that she was to be the company’s first female CEO.
According to her, this news came as a shock and she was speechless when the announcement was made. Her surprise was largely due to the fact that no woman had held such a position, and she had no inkling it could happen in her lifetime.
In a world where there is a constant fight for gender equality and in a country where women are seen, not heard, Rania rose to the top position of one of the largest commercial banks, the first woman to do that.
She is in fact, a force to be reckoned with.