Ebtesam Saleh Al-Mannai is the Executive Director of Finance at Qatar Investment Authority

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the financial services industry in Qatar?

In the financial services industry and across organizations generally what the pandemic has highlighted is that protecting the welfare of our employees and communities is a priority. Under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, the Supreme Committee for Crisis Management and various government agencies have provided effective strategic support to help our people and economy navigate the COVID-19 crisis.


Do you think the pandemic has affected career opportunities for females? If yes, how?

The pandemic has impacted workers in every field and certain occupations have been hit harder than others. Global surveys show the impact on working women has been particularly marked. In a lot of cases women have had to give up career opportunities or their careers have had to take a back seat to extra caregiving responsibilities. My experience in Qatar is that females have risen to the challenge and created new pathways for success in their respective fields. We have been helped to do that by various government initiatives and employers have provided a very supportive environment to help female employees balance their personal and professional responsibilities since the beginning of the pandemic.


How do you promote gender diversity and equality in your organization?

At Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), where I work, a sizeable percentage of employees are women. Hiring is based on merit, qualification and experience. There is no discrimination on the basis of gender. Both male and female staff are given equal opportunities to grow professionally. Equal opportunities are provided irrespective of gender to climb the career ladder.


What do you think needs to change for the financial sector to attract more female leaders?

It can be argued that the financial sector employs more men than women, however this scenario has been changing. We now see an increased participation from women in this sector. The right corporate policies can help increase the number of women in top management. Throughout an organization, women should be given the right kind of support and learning opportunities to empower them on their journey up the corporate ladder. Above all inclusion and diversity should be part of the culture in any organization.


Do you think the recovery from COVID-19 will happen in the next 1-2 years or will it take longer?

I think there should definitely be an improvement in global economic performance in the current year vs. 2020. A full recovery may take some time but there will be gradual return to stronger growth. We could also witness changes in the operating model of the financial sector. The relief provided by central banks and governments globally should definitely help support recovery.