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International women of risk - Kholoud Mousa

Q&A

Q&A

Introduce yourself so we know more about you and the work you do.

My name is Kholoud Mousa. I am the first female partner in KMPG in Saudi Arabia based in Jeddah. I have the honor of being the first Saudi woman licensed to practice as a certified public accountant in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Currently, I lead projects relating to corporate and family governance frameworks, and family constitution for different family businesses and nonprofit institutions in the region. This involves developing governance structure and manuals, and helping clients to implement an effective corporate governance system.

Tell us why you’re excited to be part of the International Women of Risk (IWOR) community. Why are you an ambassador?

 I am proud to be part of the IWOR community and their commitment to foster personal and professional growth for women within a collaborative environment. As a passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion I have been engaged in leading the country-wide nationalization strategy, women empowerment and gender diversity initiatives. Being part of this group will engage me in variety of supportive, interactive events and experiences to grow and learn from one another.

We’d love to hear more about your career path. What led you to where you are today?

I started my career in finance, working in a private college in the accounting department. I used to deal with the external auditors and liked what they did. It was my dream to work in one of the Big 4. Unfortunately, at the time, it was not allowed for women to work in audit or to sit for the CPA exams even though there wasn’t a law or regulation that denied women this right. To overturn this custom, I first applied to all the Big 4 in 2005, but with no hope of being hired. I approached the CPA governance body in KSA for their permission to take the exam and obtain the qualification. Later that year, women were allowed to sit for the CPA exam. I did so and I became the first woman to have a local CPA qualification in KSA.

This opened the door for me to get a job in one of the Big 4 and opened the door for more women to enter the profession. As the only female in Audit, it was challenging for me to get an opportunity to be part of a team. Sometimes the client refused to have me as part of the audit team just because they didn’t want to work with a female auditor. I have had to prove my competences again and again, and I’ve worked so very hard. I am proud that I have gained a wide range of industrial and professional experience in audit and in risk advisory, and that, today, I am leading diverse and successful teams.

Is work-life balance a challenge for you? What is one tactic you use to make it all come together?

Work-life balance is always a challenge. To overcome this, I have come to understand the value of letting go of perfection, staying motivated at work and asking for help in prioritizing goals when I need it. I am a working mother and I don’t hide that, but I don’t put myself in unrealistic standard. Some people think if you want to be a good mother you have to be always available for your children, but this is not realistic. My children and my family understand that I am not available all the time, but I spend quality time with them. I also have support from my husband and family.

What advice would you give other women of risk coming up in the industry?

When you apply for a job or new opportunity do not wait until you meet 100% of that job’s criteria – it will be too late by then! If you have 80% of the criteria go ahead. Be sure to remind yourself of all you have already accomplished and push yourself beyond your comfort zone! But, be sure to work on improving your skills and competences always.

What legacy do you hope to leave the women of risk coming up behind you?

I want to support other women by contributing in mentoring programs for women through the IWOR group. I was lucky to have different mentors throughout my career. It’s a key driver for success. Yet I know it’s harder for women to find a mentor or sponsor, especially ones of influence. The good news is that we all can mentor women at any stage of our careers. Some research states that women who are mentored by women feel more supported and are often more satisfied with their career.