Hanane Bankhallouk~ Superwoman Shapes Super Women

When women the world over are battling for their rights, Hanane Bankhallouk from UAE redeems women from a desperate state of affairs to help them reach a state of achievement and contentment

The Womenz Bureau had an opportunity to interview Hanane Bankhallouk, a Strategist, Advisor, Consultant  and Mentor from Dubai and here’s what she shared with us

Tell us about yourself and how did your journey in mentoring and women empowerment start?

I grew up in Casablanca and was very much influenced by my father who was an entrepreneur. He will always encourage me to do more or be equal to my siblings who were boys. After finishing up my education in Casablanca, I went to New York for my MBA. This is where the first experience with women empowerment happened with a pure coincidence. 

In New York I met an Arab lady who married at a young age of 19, had come to New York with her husband who later abandoned her. She was completely lost, not knowing what to do with her life. People in the community introduced us and I kept thinking okay what we can do to help her. That’s exactly I would say was the start of my journey of women empowerment. 

After talking to her I found out that she had a passion at an early age; she was very good at making jewellery when she was a teenager. So we helped her sell her products in flea markets in New York initially. After that we sat with her on weekends and introduced her to some minor business concepts on how to market, retain clients, and grow. Two years later, she started her own jewellery shop and started making more money. 

It was my first experience of really enabling a woman and mentoring her to go from a desperate situation to a fulfilled state. From there on, it became my passion.

After that more women came to me. All I try to do is help them unlock their potential. I believe mentorship or empowering others is not about giving something that they do not have, it’s just about enabling them to see their own inner strength and utilise them for their life. I never say that I teach people, I just help them realize their own strength and unlock their own potential.

Based on your perception, how you define women empowerment in different countries. What it means for someone living in New York vs Middle East?

In US, there is more freedom to women to do what they want. They are more advanced than in Middle East as far as some rights are concerned, but I feel that women even in US are still struggling.  In one of the studies that was conducted on entrepreneurs, I was shocked to learn that only a tiny per cent, less than 10 per cent, of investors invest in businesses that are launched by women. 

So the overall challenge in US is that even though freedom is there, there is still gender bias that is masked. The battle for women’s rights in US started more than 100 years ago, but there is still a long way to go to achieve the gender balance required. In Middle East, I feel women have more opportunities in the sense that authorities and governments are directly involved in women’s development and overcoming cultural challenges.

Hanane speaks at the Global Women Leaders conference in Burj Al Arab on March 8th, 2017

During you twelve years of work in Middle East, what has been a major achievement for women there?

Well, I can speak for UAE but I can’t speak for the whole Middle East. So far UAE is a country that has gone through massive changes. They even launched their own women’s national day to celebrate woman power. It is the first country in Middle East that started a council for gender balance. There are tens of initiatives for women entrepreneurs such as business plan competitions, development programmes administered by women establishments, and women business councils, and many more who work on policies and leadership programmes.  

The UAE gender council put initiatives to have most semi-government, government and big public institutes and companies to have a fair number of women on their boards. The UAE Council for Gender Balance is working day and night to make sure that numbers of equality between men and women change dramatically. Therefore, the change is happening and the ratio of women serving in leadership position is growing year by year. I feel that women everywhere are still battling for more rights. The journey is different, but it is still a global issue.

Tell us about your organization and how it’s working towards the goal of achieving gender equality.

Well, Sustain leadership is a consultancy that focuses on offering people solutions. We work with clients with a holistic approach and belief that we don’t build businesses; we build people who build businesses. 

Specifically with Artificial Intelligence and automation taking over, we will have to go back to being human, that we hold on to the skills of creativity and managing relationships. So the focus of Sustain leadership is diversity inclusion, change and leadership start with self-leadership. 

In Middle East, 70 percent of graduates are females so there is no reason for an organization to have gender gap.  Companies are trying to tap this talent. But I am trying to change the mind-set that they should do it not because it’s politically correct, but because it’s a business case. It’s a business case because business needs good talent and good talent happens to be in lots of women.

Hanane lectures on impactful presentations during the Abdulaziz Bin Humaid Foundation Program.

Who has influenced you most and what inspires you every day?

“I aspire to inspire before I expire” is my word as I wake up every day. I absolutely feel that it’s my ultimate goal. It’s about helping individuals become better at what they do and who they are. I work with companies to have business values align with the people they hire. So they align with personal goals, values and vision of their employees instead of other way around.  This way companies get the best individuals and employee loyalty. 

In terms of who inspired me most -- it was my Dad. He was an entrepreneur, self-made man. Throughout his life he was always focused on impacting other people’s lives and giving back to community. That is how I learned to live every day to have a positive impact on others.

If you want to give one message to women the world over, what will that message be?

Don’t be your own enemy, because I think a lot of limitations that we have are our own self-imposed limitations. Many times we miss out on opportunities because we just lack confidence and courage to go for it. Be bold and lean forward!

We at The Womenz express our earnest appreciation for sharing your story with us. We believe it will surely stimulate fellow women in every country and continent in the world. 

Hanane Bankhallouk can be reached on Linked-in, instagram, twitter and Facebook 

First Published: 21-Apr-2018- 19:34