Well known as the First woman to head a Saudi bank, Lubna Olayan is our heroine of the week. The Saudi businesswoman retired in 2019 but continues to make a massive impact for all Middle-east women and all businesswomen worldwide. Her involvement in finance and business has seen her receive worldwide recognition and notable awards from some of the most popular world ranking systems.
Lubna Suliman Olayan is a member of the wealthiest family in the Middle East and CEO of Olayan Financing. Born in 1955 to the Olayan family in the city of Unaizah in the Qassim region in northern Saudi Arabia, Lubna obtained her BA in Agriculture from Cornell University in the United States of America. She also holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Indiana. Due to her family’s wealth and knowledge, she was raised to be a leader. Olayan started working in the Olayan Group under her father’s guidance and leadership in 1983. Later she married John Xefos, an international attorney, and she is a mother of three daughters.
Lubna Olayan served as the CEO of Olayan Financing Company for over 33 years. Following her retirement, she joined and continued to work as a member of the Board of Directors, Shareholders’ Board, and Olayan Family Council. In 2019 she became chairperson of Saudi British Bank (SABB) in June 2019 and served as the chairwoman of Alawwal Bank, which is set to merge with SABB. Under her guidance and leadership, SABB managed to increase worth making $1.8 billion in total operating income in the first nine months of 2020. Individually she had gained much success, but as a leader of the family businesses, they were also nominated and awarded as one of the best top 100 family businesses in the Middle East.
It is no question that she is one of the most powerful women globally, creating records and winning awards in every part she is involved in; still, Lubna Olayan has also rallied support in the areas where publicity is not a priority. She joined the Advisory Board of Effat College, a private and non-profit girls’ college in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Lubna is also a board member at Alfanar and has been on the “Arab Thought Foundation” since January 2002. Finally, she was elected to the Board of the Down Syndrome Charitable Association in June 2005, a not-for-profit organization based in Riyadh.
Lubna Suliman Olayan, our heroine of the week, is an award-winning businesswoman, mother, and leader. She has shown exemplary determination and success in all she does, and most importantly, she has inspired all women across the globe.