Women can create retail magic


March 8, 2020 | By Rupkatha B

Women are natural storytellers and genius planners; with both these skillsets we can create retail magic, believes Rania Masri, chief transformation officer, Chalhoub Group

On the occasion of International Women’s Day – March 8, 2020 – we spoke to Masri who is spearheading an organisation-wide transformation at Chalhoub Group, the Middle Eastern luxury retailer. They key aspect of Chalhoub Group’s transformation strategy is its multi-directional nature – ranging from digital and technology to people and culture. As the group is navigating a changing luxury landscape and delighting the ever-evolving, hyper-connected consumers, the company’s focus stays firmly on its people who play a critical role in this transformation journey.

Being one of the senior leaders at Chalhoub Group, Masri tells us the importance of creating a more inclusive and friendly work environment for women.

How do you support women colleagues in achieving their goals?

Masri: I think as a woman leader who has been in the business for a while, I have the responsibility to work with decision-makers in the organisation and beyond to highlight matters that effect women in the workplace. I think I have helped by being that voice many times, driving change through challenging the status quo and accompanying our board towards a more inclusive and friendly work environment for women, thereby creating an even playing field for all. What I love today, is that the conversation around women’s goals has shifted. It isn’t only about trying to aim for the top positions, it is about accepting that women have their own needs and aspirations. The work space was created by men, which means we need time to evolve the space, the policies to change mindsets and biases, in order to form a new meaning of what is success – success in a diverse workplace, success in the future of the workplace.

How do you handle hurdles as a senior woman leader?

Masri: As a senior leader, professional maturity has given me the confidence to be myself, to lead in my own unique way and not to fall prey to the stereotypes of what success means. I was lucky to be given the space and the freedom to develop through the support and guidance of great managers, who were actually men at Chalhoub group. Most of my past managers let me be, and I can say I also influenced their mindset change to adapt better to different views.

How do you maintain work-life balance?

Masri: As a working mother, I understood not only that I needed to be very organised at home, I also had to be very efficient at work. Balancing both and prioritising my mental well-being was key to keep me focused and happy at work. At Chalhoub group, these are matters are taken very seriously and promoted.

Your advice to women aspiring for a career in retail. 

Masri: I believe in everything one does, if there is no vision or passion, the hurdles and the struggle isn’t worth it. My advice to anyone working in retail is you have to be in love with wanting to delight people, wanting to deliver memorable experiences. Retail, as hospitality, is a very dynamic industry and you meet so many great people along the way. Women are natural storytellers and also genius planners; with both these skill sets you create retail magic. I also believe that the best performing team is a diverse one, comprising women and men from all walks of life.

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