A German economist, author, and strategist for international markets loves the Sultanate of Oman dearly. This instilled Kathleen Nejad to launch a book on ‘100 successful Omani women’, a collection of stories, anecdotes and life lessons of successful women from various professions. In an interview, Kathleen explains how she went about the book that took three years of hard work, the support from her family and advises all to read the book and discover it. She dedicates the book to everyone who finds inspiration in the magic of successful stories especially to her daughters Fabienne, Julienne and Vivienne. Excerpts.
What inspired you to come up with a book on successful Omani women?
I met so many successful, reliable, and strong women during my years working with Omani companies. I talked to many people internationally who had little knowledge about the country and its people. Empowerment has always been a topic I favour throughout my career because of its importance. Empowering others by sharing their own experiences is worth working. I organise empowerment conferences and mastermind courses and you can find options about these on my website www.kathleen-nejad.com
How did you go about the book and the homework done to get this started?
Since childhood I have always treasured good books, liked reading and writing and found a lot of insights and inspirational worlds in them. At an early stage of this project someone asked “Why are you so obsessed with the Sultanate of Oman?” Our company GMC has been working in the Middle East markets for the last 10 years providing different equipment and technologies in the healthcare industry, consulting and supporting companies entering new markets with expertise in renewable energies like building and monitoring solar plants, PV Parks.
My jewel has always been the Sultanate of Oman, the country I was mostly looking forward to visiting. From the very first time I liked the honest and friendly people, beauty of the landscape and the originality and authenticity, especially Muscat being so different from other megacities with all its skyscrapers. I experienced that people in Europe or other parts often underestimate the Sultanate of Oman and have too little knowledge about how powerful its people and its women are. This was the initial idea to change it with a book.
Empowering and sharing wisdom is an important topic about my articles, and from my various speeches and my lectures in various universities. Sharing not only motivation but also knowledge with each other contributes to strength and empowerment. Women especially have broad wisdom – experiences they can share from different areas like career, motherhood, family issues – all important for leading a happy and balanced life.
Women exchange and empowerment is something that shall be done more intensively. I always had the vision of doing this internationally and further strengthened by my executive coaching, masterminds and empowerment conferences in Germany. Women empowerment will have positive effects on various social, economic and cultural aspects, not least on our next generation. There are studies that prove that women in higher levels of organisational power are key catalysts for change. Female leaders hire more females with having role models and female mentors impact career paths.
How was the selection, data collection or the research for the book made?
The idea to do this book was born many years ago when the research started. Starting off with this project I wrote down some names I knew from my business experiences followed by intensive research involving sources like magazines and newspaper articles, in order to find out good stories of successful Omani women. After building up personal relationships I further received valuable recommendations regarding my selection. However I researched all women extensively, contacted them and some never replied, I needed to do all this in English, as I cannot speak Arabic, so also the women needed to be able to answer and communicate in English.
For me it was important right from the beginning to show a variety of different women in different fields, all coming from different backgrounds. I am proud of having CEOs of smaller, larger companies or organisations, Royal family members, women working in government positions, arts, writing and sports and in various society positions – as this represents different success stories.
I decided to list the names inside the book alphabetically by first names as it would never have been possible for me to rank by any other criteria than this. Also I don’t want the book to be understood that there are 100 successful Omani women in the country but at one stage the book had to end. From ‘my’ women inside the book, I also have the bio as well as I know their awards and recognitions. Someone said to me “100 is a lot” but I wanted to show the strength of this country to the world and therefore 100 is a great number – showing power.
As author are you content with how the book turned to be and what you feel could have been done
Considering that only 3-5 per cent of writers actually finish their book projects, I am happy, my book is out in the market now and I successfully finished this huge project. I am very glad about the high quality of the printed version and the graphical style I decided for.
I am truly happy that the 100 successful women participated. On the other hand I could not cover all women and some might feel left out but I think this would have been impossible. I was trying to get a foreword from the first lady but I could not manage. But I am very happy that she received a copy of the book and I do hope she will like it and that I put a strong spotlight on strong Omani women and on the Sultanate of Oman.
Did the pandemic affect your plans or did it really help get you enough time to research..
The pandemic unfortunately made it impossible for me to travel to the sultanate of Oman and to lead personal interviews which was the original idea. However, I followed my plans and used all means of modern communication technologies, communicating via email, social media forums namely LinkedIn, Zoom-Calls, telephones, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
What inferences can you list from compiling, publishing the book?
I self-published the book as I wanted to have all decisions in my own hands. Next to my daily work as COO and Board Member of GMCTechnology GmbH this whole book journey was a huge project I eagerly followed. I learnt to be more patient especially with matters I personally could not change and needed to work focused so that I did not miss out on anything. A huge project where I extended my experiences in becoming an author, self-publishing my first book in the Sultanate of Oman.
How are you planning to market the book in the GCC, Europe Region?
I wanted the book to be a truly Omani one – as far as possible and found a reliable partner in Mazoon Printing LLC who printed the book. I found a trustful Omani partner in Enjaz, a distributor of children’s educational books and its owner, Mr Said, was very helpful. Omanis can order on www.enjaz-shop.com and the book will be sent out as well as the Enjaz team will distribute to book shops throughout the country. https://enjaz-shop.com/products/100-successful-omani-women. The book is available worldwide on Amazon as an eBook version as well as hardcover. The book is also listed on Ingram Sparks in the US, so bookshops can order.
Any women whom you felt was exceptional that finds a mention in the book
The women inside the book are not ranked but listed alphabetically by their first names. This was a conscious decision as it was simply not possible to rank or highlight. I developed great relationships during our common journey of working on different steps and procedures for the book.
I would name the late Ms Suad Al Lamki from the research I have done as I was very impressed with her sayings and works. I am proud her family gave me permission to include her. Ms Suad studied at the famous Trinity College in Dublin, the same university my eldest daughter, Fabienne is going to study in September next. I know there are women who are not covered in this book but would have well deserved to be in. It would just be impossible to cover them all as there are so many impressive and successful Omani women. But also, even if I could name famous ones, I won’t because then again I will miss out others.
Will the next one be on ‘100 successful Omani men?’
As I am convinced we all can learn from each other. No matter if men or women I hope that the book and their inspirations, advice and motivation will also find its male fans. Young students shall read it in order to have a wide range of shared experiences in the beginning of their careers. So it would not be fair to exclude this option. In fact I already have received requests.
Insights gained from the book on Omani women
I was considering having a separate chapter on the topic but gave up as each page is a treasure. Each woman went different paths in their career life so the reader can find a broad range of insights full of advice, knowledge and experiences, where they should pick what suits them best.
I find the Omani women have the same topics and challenges as the German/European women – I would even go so far as women worldwide. It is often about finding a balance in life between private life as well as career and ambitions. That is exactly why this book is full of wisdom for people worldwide. Readers worldwide can learn from Omani women and I want the book to be successful worldwide, as so many people can be inspired.
What’s next other than the Arabic edition being planned?
The book version has to be successful, before I take the next step as I financed this all by myself. I received many requests to have it translated into Arabic and I already have good contacts of people eager to do it. If I translate it into Arabic I will definitely have it done by an Omani, so that the true spirit is retained. Many contacted me with other suggested women to cover so as to have a second edition of more successful Omani women. If there wasn’t a limit in working time I would even consider writing a children’s book on widening horizons, strength and empowerment for them. As our next generation has to ensure the future for this planet.