The WFE's Women Leaders 2023 - Narjes Farookh Jamal, Chief Operating Officer, Bahrain Bourse
Name: Narjes Farookh Jamal
Organisation: Bahrain Bourse
Job Title: Chief Operating Officer
1. Brief description of nominee’s role and job:
Narjes Farookh Jamal is the chief operating officer of the Bahrain Bourse, in charge of the exchange’s main business operations. Reporting to the CEO, she leads a team responsible for all of the organisation’s business lines, including Trading Operations, Listing and Disclosures, Information Technology, Marketing, Business Development, Investment and Murabaha Directorates.
Narjes is also responsible for developing and executing the exchange’s operational strategy, its long-term plans and short-term projects and for accomplishing financial growth.
She makes sure the Digital Transformation team collects competitive intelligence, driving cross-functional business processes and maintaining business model innovation.
She is the chairperson of the Gender Equality Committee, raising awareness of gender equality
and developing and implementing the gender diversity policy.
2. Short bio (career highlights, education, interests/hobbies):
Narjes had been with the Bahrain Bourse since her graduation from university and she has accumulated nearly 25 years of experience in the field.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in information and communication technology from the College of Science, University of Kuwait, in 1997. Mrs. Jamal also completed the Leadership Development Program (LDP) at the Darden Business School at the University of Virginia in 2004.
In 2015, she received an award as one of the leading women pioneers in the banking and financial sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain from Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa on Bahraini Women’s Day (December 1).
She is a board member of Bahrain Clear, a subsidiary of Bahrain Bourse, and was recognised as part of the Forbes Middle East’s 100 Power Businesswomen twice in a row, in the 2020 and 2021 lists, among three exceptional Bahraini women and within the Top 21 women in banking and financial services.
A volunteering member in a mentoring program in coordination with the CFA society of Bahrain named “Qudwa,” she helps to provide mentoring to young university graduates.
Outside work, she likes to spend time with her children, being a mother of three boys. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, reading books mainly with a historical theme, and plays tennis to keep fit.
3. What were your professional highlights and challenges in 2022?
The establishment of Bahrain Private Market, a platform that hosts all the closed shared holding companies, providing them with trading facilities in a private manner.
Also, establishing the Murabaha service in coordination with the Central Bank of Bahrain, providing Islamic financing facilities based on Murabaha transactions through licensed banks and financial institutions in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Establishing and managing a Financial Investment Directorate at the Bahrain Bourse, looking after the investments managed by the Bahrain Bourse and Bahrain Clear.
With regards to the challenges:
Generally, COVID-19 has markedly disrupted the global economic system and daily life, sending countries into various degrees of economic recession. That definitely had a side effect on the capital market, making the recovery a bit challenging; Notwithstanding the effect of the incremental rise in interest rates.
The challenge around sustainability and how the world faces up to the significant challenges to both its people and the planet, and organisations have to step up and contribute.
That’s why the scope of ESG is broadening and sustainability is increasingly becoming a core concern for organisational decision-making. We are increasingly expected to take strategic action on a much broader set of ESG risks and opportunities, as well as value the impact of these actions; hence the need to recognise the importance of integrating ESG into strategies and implementing ESG practices across every aspect of the business and reporting the impact in a credible manner.
All of this work sets the foundation for organisations (specifically) and countries (at a wider range) to find a pathway to net zero emission.
4. What and who inspires, and has inspired, you to achieve your professional success?
Throughout my life, at whatever age, I have always found myself being able to get inspired by my surroundings. My parents, a teacher, a direct manager, a story in a book I read, or leaders from around the world in different lifetimes. It is normal to need someone to hold us accountable for doing the right thing with regards to the rules or regulations set around us. Eventually, I taught myself how to be self-motivated and to be inspired by others, not because they tell us what to do, but because they left an impact and we share the same values.
In my career, working in the capital-markets industry, if I have to personally recognise anyone it has to be my superiors. The chief executives who always believed in me and my capabilities and empowered me to achieve more and more at all times.
The recent CEO of the Bahrain Bourse, “Shaikh Khalifa Al Khalifa,” has this ability to recognise talent and to empower his team beyond barriers, and that is what a true leader would do!
5. What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions?
Sometimes it’s ok to take few risks and it’s normal to feel hesitant, as opportunities do not come as often as we wish. You must believe in yourself before anyone else does.
Be passionate and believe in what you do. Work smartly and always balance your family and your work.
Find a mentor in your life who can advise you throughout your journey and teach yourself to become self-motivated.
Be patient as leaving an impact takes time, just have the will and desire to achieve your goals.
Take credit for what you do right, but also take accountability for your actions.
And once you reach to a leadership position, enjoy taking action based on your values.
As Michelle Obama once stated: “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”
The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.