Sophie Le Ray - The Jump Starter

 

Sophie Le Ray
CEO & Co-founder – Naseba
Founder - Global WIL Economic Forum

Sophie Le Ray is a true Master all-rounder who has made her distinct mark on all diverse areas she has set her foot on. Sophie is an entrepreneur, an author and an experienced business facilitator. In 2003, she co-founded Naseba, a business facilitation company specializing in emerging markets. She is the founder and spokesperson of the Global WIL Economic Forum, an annual platform that aims to promote female leadership worldwide. She is also the co-author of ‘Game Changers: How Women in the Arab World Are Changing the Rules and Shaping the Future’, published by Motivate Publishing in May 2016. Sophie was born in Nice, France. The proud mother of two girls, her passions include ancient cultures, mountain trekking and vegan cuisine.

What do you do and how did you get to where you are today? What drove you to success?

I am CEO and co-founder of Naseba, a business facilitation company. We help our clients in a variety of ways, from raising capital, entering new markets and closing sales, to educating business leaders on the issues which matter most. Naseba started as a B2B events company but over the years, our services grew where we saw market opportunities. While we work all over the world, we specialise in bringing our clients opportunities in growth markets.

Growing up, I was raised with two core values: independence and curiosity. My parents are from different cultures and this is where my love for travel and discovery came from. Until my late twenties I was studying to be an archaeologist – in my mind, it was the perfect role to fulfil my values. However, life had other ideas for me. What I learned in my academic career actually brought real value to my next role, working for a large conference company in London. That might sound strange, but it really ignited my passion for event production. It required the discipline to research and analyse information, but it also allowed me to travel and meet with field experts from diverse backgrounds.

It was only a few years later that I co-founded Naseba. As an entrepreneur, I always had a vision for the business. But even I never dreamed we’d be in such a strong position today, having expanded our services across the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and the US. This is what keeps us going – we never think we’ve ‘made it’ – otherwise how will we learn and keep discovering?

Moving to Dubai nine years ago was a discovery in itself. I realised how people were perpetuating negative stereotypes about women in this region and it was frustrating. As a female founder and an expert in business facilitation, I saw a gap. The economic value of gender equality in the workplace is huge, so I founded the Global WIL Economic Forum. What started as a small networking club for women has grown into a global, purpose-driven community of women and men championing workplace diversity.

I felt a sense of obligation to build the WIL Forum – today the platform showcases some of the best and brightest female change-makers in this region. This in itself will always drive me to look at Naseba – how can we be a better business, how does a diverse workforce drive what we do?

What brings you joy?

What brings me the most joy is to have an impact on other’s lives, whether by sharing my experience or helping mentees, supporting my team or my daughters.

What would you tell a young graduate today?

Don’t just dream the world as you would like to see it. Make it happen.

Why is the UAE a great place for women to succeed?

The UAE knows that it needs to diversify its economy beyond oil and it has put numerous strategic visions in place to help make that happen. This means we’ve seen a great deal of innovation and opportunity across industries. We need the talent to drive these and a sure-fire way to boost our economy is to bring more skilled women into the workforce. 

The government is fully behind helping women not just enter the workforce, but prosper in it. This is key. In fact, since we started our Global WIL Economic Forum in Dubai in 2009 the landscape here is barely recognisable. The adage “you can’t be what you can’t see” rings true here, with the government leading the way in appointing incredible female role models in public sector roles.  

 

 

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