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Lisa Conway was part of the My Skills Create My Future project – a collaboration between the British Embassy, British Council and hosted by King Saud University in Riyadh.

During the University’s reading week, she spent a week at the Saudi university’s female-only campus, helping more than 100 female students by leading workshops on communication, public speaking and negotiation.

The project forms part of the Saudi Vision 2030, an initiative designed to realise the full potential of the Kingdom’s younger generation.

Lisa, a Senior Lecturer in Business and Management at Chester Business School, said: “Women’s participation in employment in Saudi Arabia is currently just 22 per cent.

“This project is part of raft of government initiatives to transform the Saudi economy by 2030 including raising female participation in the economy.”

Lisa was invited to take part in the project by Afshan Baksh, whose company Evolve Global Solutions supports the development of women worldwide.

She said: “I met Afshan, who has many years’ experience in educational leadership, during a previous visit to Saudi and as a result she is now studying her Master’s degree with Chester Business School.

 “It was an honour to be asked to help her develop and lead these sessions and to witness the difference that could be made in such a short space of time. It was a wonderful opportunity to help enthuse and motivate these incredible women, who were themselves, in turn, very inspiring to us.”

The workshops covered a variety of soft skills ranging from decision making, problem solving and networking, to professional communication skills, conflict management and negotiation.

Muneerah Sabaie, a Master’s student at King Saud University, praised the interactive nature of the workshops: “It had so many activities and improvisations and we were pushed so gently out of our comfort zone by the brilliant Miss Lisa. Personally I learned how to speak publicly and be more confident and also professional skills like negotiating and writing business emails and reports”.

Lisa added: “It is a privilege to be a part of something so aspirational that will shape the working world for these women. There was so much passion and inspiration in that one week, it’s phenomenal to think of what they might achieve in the future.”

The week-long event was celebrated in a special closing ceremony, attended by the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Simon Collis, Director of the British Council Amir Razman, Rector Badran Al-Omar, and Vice Rector Dr Yusuf Abdo Asiri of King Saud University and the success of the programme was covered by Arabian media.


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