One of our main objectives is to foster connections among our members. We will feature a member of the SIBA community regularly on our blog and newsletter. In this issue, we met up with Ms. Yasmina Azhari, who’s active participation at the Marseille event was felt. Yasmina is an inspiration to the female and male business community. read more..
Your Business Name?
Al Yam International, Commercial Broker
How long have you been in business?
Since I was 17 years old; I started working with my father at his shipping agency. I worked with him for 35 years. In 2011, I started my own business; retail in rural Damascus. Due to the uprising, the business was closed.
When did you move to UAE? What’s the most difficult thing you had to deal with when you started your business/work in UAE?
I moved to the UAE in 2012. I didn’t start working immediately as I was devastated at the beginning but I didn’t give up. I invested in my connections which turned out to be the most important capital I have and got back to business in 2014. During the first two years of my stay in Dubai, I was away from the business world but now I am back and I am invited to participate in many events and projects, in UAE and around the world.
What’s the most difficult thing you’ve had to deal with as a Syrian women?
I didn’t face any difficulty; I was working with my father in a management role in an office environment, not in the field. I was fortunate to be working in Latakia where the community is open-minded. Even when I ventured out to places like Qudsaya, rural area of Damascus, I didn’t face discrimination and felt the society was happy and appreciative of our work.
I believe it is the individual’s responsibility to earn respect. My professional conduct and appearance were respectful and thus II didn’t face any issues.
What do you think is the highest value and/or benefit that women bring to the business world?
Today the business community differentiates between male and female. Women should prove themselves in the business world to reform the image of women and their capacities. I was the first Honorary Consul female in Syria and was honored by H.M the Queen of The Netherlands who recognized the added value I brought to the country. Achieving this and performing better than men is proof that women are not less capable to men. I believe women are equally qualified to men. Moreover, women rely on both their minds and hearts to make decisions and address complexities of the business world while most men use their minds alone.
What’s special about the way you do business?
I am a hard worker and detail oriented. I do all the work I have to do by myself. I do not assign my responsibilities to others including my assistants. In addition, I always respond rapidly to any query or request. Quick interaction is a key element for success. Moreover, keeping good connections among different stakeholders is an important factor that supports the business success. Having a smooth and flexible communication style enabled me to maintain and expand my network as it makes people happy to work with me.
What excites you about your business?
I can’t tell exactly. Simply, it runs through my veins. I thrive to work at any time and I am never away.
Which of your dreams came true and what dream are still on the list?
What is surprising is that all what I have achieved was not on my wish list. Whenever I start something, completing it and fulfilling it becomes my aim.
I have a dream to build a school which focuses on both academic and educational aspects. I bought a land in Latakia and finalized the engineering and feasible study but I couldn’t proceed with it due to the crisis.
Who is your biggest supporter?
My father and my grown children. People who support you are usually people who are close to you and communicate with you on daily basis. Nowadays, my son helps me in business and my daughter supports me in my community work. My children were always patient and endured my work circumstances. They share my happiness when I succeed and achieve. This is helpful and motivating.
How did your role as a business woman affect your role as a mother and vice versa?
Actually my work and my home are almost one entity. I leveraged my background and business experience in mothering. I embraced logical thinking in my communication with my children which in return supported them to develop their logical thinking. I am a straight forward person and I have learned values and standards from working with the Dutch community who are known for their high professional business conduct. My approach as a mother aligned with those standards.
On the other hand, being a mother affected my communication with my team and supported me in managing my human resources. I led with understanding and compassion and nurtured my team as I had my children.
How do you support the community?
I am active in my community. Thirteen years ago, I cofounded an NGO in Syria for children affected by Autism and Down syndrome and a school was established to host those children. I lead an NGO supporting women empowerment in Syria as well. Due to the crisis, most of our activities were suspended. Though, we are still organizing bazars and exhibitions and delivering training course. The NGO used to have a business incubator which was funded by EU Municipal Administration Modernization Programme. Currently, I am a consultant for another NGO that works to support people in need in Latakia and its rural area.
Money isn’t the only way to support the community. What really matters is the time and experience you provide and the outcomes that results from your contribution.
As business men and women, we owe our community a lot because it was the reason for our success. We should invest our and effort time to support the community any possible way.
Give us a tip about networking and partnerships.
To stay connected with people, you have to impress them with your unique skills. You have to stay in touch and communicate with them whenever there is a chance or an event. Whenever, I attended a conference, after the event, I send an email to the contacts I met via Linked-In.
Please give an advice to women who are interested to join the business world?
You must find your passion and keep learning. You need to be up to date and aware of market changes. I am always learning and enrolling in courses to advance my knowledge and skills.
A Syrian proverb that you live by?
It’s not Syrian, but it is among my favorites: “Try and fail but never fail to try.”
How can partners reach you?
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am very excited about SIBA. What I most like about the last forum is that everyone was working towards mutual objectives regardless of their background. Fulfilling the SIBA objectives will support all Syrians.