We recently had the privilege of interviewing Ahlam Gharbaoui, Strategic Advisor and Global Network Connector at Ahlam Consultancy, Author, and Speaker. Ahlam’s journey over these years, from starting her professional journey at 18 to authoring books and contributing to several large projects, is nothing short of an inspiration. Ahlam has perfectly blended consultancy, management, business development, analysis, and networking in her journey.
Ahlam plays a pivotal role in uplifting the organization and establishing it as one of the promising consultancy service providers, aiding CEOs and high-profile Government officials to achieve exceptional results in business development. In this interview, Ahlam Gharbaoui shares her profound insights on addressing challenges, unwavering perseverance, shifting to the latest trends, and skills required to excel in this field.
We started the interview by asking, “Could you share a brief overview of your career journey, including key milestones and transitions?”
Ahlam Gharbaoui responds, “With Moroccan heritage, I was born in Rijen, The Netherlands. My professional journey commenced at 18 with a global leader in HR services, where I developed a deep appreciation for business ventures and entrepreneurship. Subsequently, I took on a significant role within the Dutch Ministry of Justice, becoming the youngest officer tasked with interrogating high-profile Arab officials seeking asylum in the Netherlands. This experience motivated me to study sworn legal interpretation and translation, specializing in Arabic-Dutch and contributing to notable projects in the Netherlands, including the book “Imams in Text and Context” and the subtitling of the renowned Dutch movie “Dunya and Desie.”
I also worked with the esteemed Rabo Bank in the Netherlands. At 24, I established my first thriving enterprise, Averto Tolken. Concurrently, I took on roles as a TV interviewer and program maker for prominent Dutch political current affairs shows while organizing impactful media campaigns and conferences for a distinguished European broadcaster in Morocco. I bridged a gap between the Netherlands and Morocco by advocating for the Dutch government, particularly about a healthcare Memorandum of Understanding. Additionally, I facilitated a temporary solution by personally meeting with the Moroccan Minister of Labor.”
Ahlam Gharbaoui continued, “In 2009, I moved significantly to the UAE to work in the diplomatic arena as the Commercial and Cultural Advisor of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Here, I built a VIP network in the Gulf region and took charge of Public diplomacy and CSR initiatives, as well as the promotion and branding of the Dutch government and Dutch Business development.
In 2012, I earned my Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication from California University. I am proficient in Dutch, Arabic, French, and English. In 2013, I assumed the role of General Manager at Farouk Systems USA. In collaboration with my Dutch business partners, I spearheaded the realization of the world’s largest oil and gas educational center for higher education, a 25 million dollar project, on behalf of the Abu Dhabi government.
In my role at Ahlam Consultancy, I have the privilege of advising and coaching CEOs and board members on various aspects of business and leadership. I was honored to receive a nomination for a Golden Residency by his highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance, in recognition of my outstanding contributions to Business Development and Public Diplomacy, as well as my accomplishments in managing large-scale projects for the UAE. Recently, I authored and published my book “Senses in Arabia”, and embarked on a tour across Europe and the MENA region, where I served as a keynote speaker and panelist.”
Amidst The Richness Of Cultures
We were intrigued to learn about the impact of Ahlam Gharbaoui’s educational choices on her career journey. So, we asked, “How has your education influenced your career choices and growth in this industry?”
Ahlam Gharbaoui shared, “My educational journey has been unique. When I turned six, my life took an exciting turn as my parents sent me to live and study with my grandparents in Fes, Morocco, where I spent a decade. During this time, I returned to the Netherlands during summer vacations to visit my parents.
This multicultural, multi-lingual experience involving Arabic, French, Dutch, and English has profoundly influenced me. It made me different from others of my generation born and raised solely in the Netherlands. I grew up with the richness of both cultures and languages. This unique upbringing greatly enriched my spirit and mind, allowing me to think across borders and see beyond people’s origins and cultures from a very young age.”
Ahlam Gharbaoui added, “Regarding my career choices and growth in this industry, my diverse background has been invaluable. It has enabled me to approach international business and communication with a deep understanding of various cultures and a global perspective. I’m passionate about fostering connections between different regions and industries, and my educational journey has paved the way for me to bridge cultural gaps and create opportunities for mutual growth and understanding.”
Adaptability Through Challenges
Challenges are an inevitable part of any career path. We asked, “How do you tackle challenges in your field amidst changing market dynamics and technological advancements?”
Ahlam Gharbaoui asserts, “My approach to addressing challenges in my field is characterized by unwavering determination and a keen readiness to adapt in the face of evolving market dynamics and technological advancements. This fast-paced environment demands dedicated flexibility to remain agile and responsive.
Leveraging my strong foundation in business practices, I delved into the financial sector with diligence. I successfully facilitated substantial economic growth for the company among existing and new clients in the Gulf region and Europe.”
“In today’s ever-changing landscape, I view market dynamics and technological progress shifts as catalysts for growth and improvement. It is essential to proactively seek out and understand emerging technologies and trends, enabling me to leverage them to our advantage. Moreover, I foster a culture of innovation within my team, encouraging open-mindedness and fostering creative problem-solving.
Ultimately, I recognize change as a constant in modern business, and my ability to adapt and thrive in such an environment has been a cornerstone of my success in this field.” Ahlam Gharbaoui continued.
Plans We Asked Ahlam Gharbaoui
To understand Ahlam’s plan regarding her career and business, we asked, “What are your career and company aspirations and objectives?”
Ahlam Gharbaoui replied, “In addition to my recent book “Senses in Arabia,” which showcases a collection of my poems, short stories, and paintings, I delve into themes of women’s empowerment, cultural diversity, inclusion, and the challenges faced by women navigating in a male-dominated world. Alongside this creative endeavor, I’ve taken on roles as a keynote speaker, a captivating storyteller, and a skilled debate leader at various international seminars, conferences, and events.
Furthermore, I am actively engaged as an advisor to international CEOs and VIPs, providing them with guidance and coaching in leadership, inclusion, diversity, public diplomacy, business development, culture, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Drawing from my extensive experience, I specialize in navigating the intricacies of the MENA region and internationally, fostering cultural understanding, and orchestrating significant business deals.”
Ahlam Gharbaoui continued, “My vision for my career and company is extraordinary. I am resolute in my commitment to serve as the driving force that propels numerous businesses in the UAE towards realizing their most ambitious dreams while also being a catalyst for meaningful connections between individuals and companies. My audacious ambition extends beyond mere success; I see myself as a visionary bridge connecting the Western and Eastern worlds. Reflecting on my significant accomplishments, including skillfully brokering between the Netherlands and Morocco for their Ministries of Labour, I recognize my true mission lies in the future.
I aspire to tackle and conquer the most intricate challenges, leveraging my unparalleled mediation and international public relations skills. This endeavor is not solely about achieving success; it’s about becoming an indispensable force in the ongoing development and growth of the UAE, a catalyst for progress and prosperity. My expertise is crucial, and I am eager to deploy it to improve the UAE and its continuous ascent. With unwavering determination and a clear vision, as I look to the future, my endeavors extend beyond conventional roles. I am positioned to make a lasting impact on the business and international relations landscape in the UAE. Additionally, I am dedicated to contributing to women empowerment and the cultural and art field in the Gulf region, leveraging my international VIP network and strong media relations to drive positive change.
Embracing The Right Lessons
Every professional comes across specific lessons during their journey, which they embrace for a lifetime. We asked, “What valuable lessons have you learned throughout your career?”
Ahlam Gharbaoui responds, “One of the most pivotal lessons I’ve learned is the importance of perseverance. This quality, resilience, and flexibility have been instrumental in achieving success. Additionally, maintaining a steadfast belief in oneself and having faith in realizing one’s future aspirations is paramount.
Establishing bridges between individuals requires empathy and humility, especially in the demanding business. Creating an environment where we can find enjoyment and mutual understanding despite our cultural differences is an art. The leadership in the Emirates has excelled in fostering a business environment founded on tolerance and compassion for humanity. Their success in turning dreams into reality through faith and persistence is admirable.”
To establish a strong brand presence and ensure sustainable success, it is crucial to have unique services and approaches. So, we asked, “How do you differentiate your services from competitors in the current market?”
Ahlam Gharbaoui replied, “My ability to seamlessly operate in diverse languages, including Arabic, Dutch, English, and French, provides a significant competitive edge. Another crucial asset is understanding and embracing the cultures and business mentalities of the countries where these languages are spoken. This proficiency allows for swift and effective results, streamlining processes, negotiating compromises, finalizing substantial business agreements, and catering to pivotal events.
Furthermore, my multifaceted background—spanning diplomacy, international business, insurance, media, government, journalism, consultancy, culture, and art—sets me apart. This diverse foundation allows me to offer a unique blend of advisory, coaching, lobbying, and mediation skills, complemented by an extensive VIP network that spans the globe.”
Navigating Through Global Trends
We further asked, “How has your company effectively navigated and capitalized on emerging global market trends or shifts in consumer behavior?”
Ahlam Gharbaoui continued, “In response to the rapidly evolving global market landscape, my company remains agile and proactive. We closely monitor emerging trends and shifts in consumer behavior, enabling us to adapt swiftly and capitalize on new opportunities. By leveraging my extensive network and cross-cultural expertise, we position ourselves strategically to meet our diverse clientele’s evolving needs and preferences.”
Suggestions For Aspiring Professionals, we asked Ahlam Gharbaoui
Beginners starting in a similar field will find it helpful and inspiring to hear from an expert like Ahlam Gharbaoui. So, we asked, “What are the most important qualities or skills you believe beginners should cultivate to thrive in this industry?”
“A combination of critical qualities and skills is crucial for beginners aiming to excel in this industry. Firstly, a strong foundation in communication and networking is paramount. Building and maintaining meaningful relationships with clients, partners, and stakeholders is essential for long-term success.
Additionally, adaptability and a willingness to learn are vital attributes in an ever-changing business landscape. Developing a deep understanding of cultural nuances and global market trends is also invaluable. Finally, perseverance, a resilient mindset, and a passion for the industry will undoubtedly contribute to thriving in this competitive field.” She concluded.
Connect with Ahlam Gharbaoui on LinkedIn.