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Empowered to innovate, positioned to thrive


The current environment requires decision-makers to be extremely agile and flexible. This opinion is shared by most (84%) of UAE female executives who see agility as a critical factor – a significant increase from 2018 (62%). They are highly attuned to the need for agility in today’s market, not only compared with their opinion last year, but also compared with their counterparts from the UAE CEO Outlook survey (63%)

For female leaders, agility is a tool to drive impact in multiple areas of business, including resilience. Nearly three-quarters (72%) believe that to become resilient, it is most important to adapt quickly to the changing business environment. Being agile means recognizing market trends before the competition, which is why 62% of local female leaders say their companies have processes in place to regularly review their business models (83% among their local CEO Outlook counterparts).

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Overall, those who want to adapt quickly to new trends or to be a ‘disruptor’ within their industry (52%, up from 31% in 2018) cannot do so without innovation. This is a view shared by all respondents (100%) who believe improving innovation processes is necessary to ensure the future growth and success of their companies.

Indeed, 69% of UAE CEOs stated that their organization is actively disrupting the sector in which they operate – a significantly higher proportion than among local female leaders.

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Over the next three years, we will need to improve our innovation processes and execution.


52 %

Strongly agree

48 %


The majority (84%) want employees to feel secure enough to support innovation without fearing repercussions in the event of failure (compared with 74% of local CEOs). In reality, however, only 20% said that this type of culture is present in their organization. UAE-based CEOs have a significantly different interpretation, as 63% believe this culture already exists.

Change has always remained the only constant, but today the rate of change is increasing exponentially. We aim to anticipate it well in advance and respond with urgency. This would mean rapidly identifying sensitive external factors, such as evolving client behavior and employee expectations. Agile firms, those which are the swiftest to flex and adapt, are most likely to prevail.

Maryam M. Zaman
Associate Partner | Advisory | KPMG Lower Gulf Limited