Company: Olayan Financing Company
Designation: CEO, Deputy chairwoman
Country: Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s richest woman is also among the most powerful in the world. In 1983, Olayan was the first woman to work for her father’s conglomerate, Olayan Financing Company, the holding company through which The Olayan Group’s trading, real estate, investment, consumer and industrial related operations are conducted in the Gulf region ¬– she only worked with another female colleague 18 years later, by which time she was running the firm.
Olayan grew to fame at the Jeddah Economic Forum in 2004 where she was the first woman to speak at a mixed conference in Saudi Arabia and called for a country in which “any Saudi citizen, irrespective of gender” could find a job. In 2004, Ms Olayan became the first woman to join the board of a Saudi publicly listed company when she was elected to the board of Alawwal Bank, and she currently serves as the board’s Vice Chairman.