McDonough School of Business
News Story

Beyond Business: Lead the Way

As the founder and executive director of the Qiyadat Global-Georgetown Women’s Leadership program and an alumna of the M.A. in International Business and Policy, Nouf Al’Rakan (MA-IBP’18) is using her strong Hoya roots to influence the next generation of female business leaders.

Al’Rakan is dedicated to promoting growth, empowerment, leadership and management skills, and confidence in the lives of women in business from all over the world.

“I care a lot about helping other women because I see that sometimes even small gestures have large impacts,” Al’Rakan said.

The Qiyadat Global program, offered through McDonough’s Office of Custom Executive Education, responds to the continued need for diverse organizations to develop the leadership acumen of their female leaders. It’s specifically designed for female middle managers who have shown high potential in business, government, or not-for-profit organizations and who currently exhibit strong leadership skills.

The Qiyadat program, which started in 2020, was founded with the concept of mentorship and the idea of “lifting others as you climb” at the forefront. Growing up, and as she entered her business career, Al’Rakan said she lacked female mentors in the business sector, especially in the Middle East and North Africa region. This realization was one of the primary reasons for growing the Qiyadat program — which has participants from 29 countries. Nearly 500 women across the world have participated since the program’s launch.

Qiyadat participants

“In Saudi Arabia, I did not have the network of support that I needed when I started out as a female business owner,” she said. “I also didn’t have any proper leadership training at the time. But sometimes, good things come from your own agony and your own struggle.”

The program has expanded each year and is now a global network of participants, alumni, and prospective cohort members. Al’Rakan says it’s powerful to hear from women who have benefited from the program.

“We initially created WhatsApp groups for each cohort for logistical purposes,” she said. “But these chats have served as communities. We’ve received hundreds of messages from our participants — if they got a promotion, had a baby, changed their career, or even traveled recently — all of these messages mentioned how important the program was for their successes.”

Al’Rakan values the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and cultures of the women in the program. She said it’s crucial to have unique perspectives in any learning environment and hopes to expand to other regions of the world in the years to come.

“I’ve worked with people who differ from me,” she said. “And that is the recipe for success. Not to oppose each other, but to find the middle ground and work effectively with one another in achieving a common goal.”

This story was originally featured in the Georgetown Business Spring 2024 Magazine. Download the Georgetown Business Audio app to listen to the stories and other bonus content.

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M.A. in International Business and Policy