Growing up Nicole, a world citizen (born in Italy but grew up in the Middle East, India, and the UK), was never less of ambition. As a child, she always dreamt of being a businesswoman and a finance lawyer. Today, she is doing both. “I love fashion and arts, hence I have complimented my role as a lawyer with a more creative side too,” says Nicole Purin, Chief Legal and Compliance Officer at Arab Fashion Council and practices as a finance lawyer. She has always found her innate strength around ‘passion’ and ‘determination’ and wishes to empower others.
“Leadership is akin to respect. If you want to lead effectively you need to be respected. You can’t force leadership onto others. Emotional intelligence is crucial.”
Spreading the Word
Founded in 2014, The Arab Fashion Council (AFC) is the world’s largest not-for-profit organization that aims to represent the highest values of Arabic countries fashion and style and to protect, coordinate, promote monitor and enhance the image of Arabic countries worldwide. Thereby strategically taking the necessary steps to promote Arab Fashion Designers internationally and disseminate the fashion culture in the region and position the Arab world on the international map of fashion. This is done by uniting the 22 Arab countries under one umbrella in terms of the creative economy, based on knowledge and production; by making use and sharing collective know-how, experience and resources of the industry. They have offices in Dubai, Lebanon, London, and Saudi Arabia is next on the map.
Jacob Abrian is the Founder and CEO of the AFC and is very proud of his Arabic origins, one of the main engine behind his determination. What drives him is passion, creativity, and resilience and he has channeled these sentiments through the organization.
Nicole’s success, on the other hand, lies within her leadership style being ‘inclusive’ this is she says is due to the nature of the organization being so international, it is essential to promote a culture of internationalism and diversity. Nicole is also an author at the Executive Magazine and has contributed to multiple legal publications. She is also an executive producer of a documentary called “Beautiful Life of Women” which examines women’s empowerment in the Middle East and through the creative industry. “It’s been a wonderful experience listening to different voices and determine that the feminine power is growing stronger by the day,” says Nicole. Something she holds very close to her heart -- and that she hopes inspires everyone around her. This is so because for Nicole success is in when one has created something tangible and has brought the best out of oneself. “Success and passion go hand in hand. We learn to juggle many things in life and this is part of who we are,” carries on Nicole, “Discipline is very important for career success and this entails sacrifices. I have had to give up on a number of things, but I have always known that in the long run and when looking back, it has been the right thing to do.” She acknowledges having encountered glass ceilings, especially as the finance and legal sectors are often touted to be male-centric fields but this could never stop her advancement. She grabbed every opportunity and in the face of difficulties, transformed them into positive experiences. Challenges? “It is a matter of perspective. Challenges can be very educational and transformative. It is very important to view challenges as opportunities for growth,” states Nicole. Needless to say, her resilience and hard work always pay off. Additionally, as a leader, Nicole guides the direction and ensures that every member of AFC is a part of something bigger than their role and that their role is strategically important. To build the team she ensures employing people who are not only technically sound but also great human beings with a sense of humor. “The harmony in a team is fundamental for productivity, hence it is very important to involve all the team in the decision-making process,” adds Nicole. As for what keeps a team keen and motivated? “Two words - Listen to them and take care of them!” states Nicole. Together they work cohesively across continents to promote the AFC’s image and mission. But reaching where she is today took endless grit and a lot of hard work. All along the journey, she recalls learning several things. She shared one of her leadership lesson saying, “Leadership is akin to respect. If you want to lead effectively you need to be respected. You can’t force leadership onto others. Emotional intelligence is crucial.”
Outside work, Nicole is a passionate reader, writer, and a big foodie. She practices meditation, yoga and power walk on a daily basis. She finds power walking very relaxing as well as a great way to manage any stressful situation. “I believe that treating our bodies with respect and kindness is very important,” asserts Nicole. She also serves as a member of the RotaryClub, “charity and helping others is also a passion of mine,” adds Nicole. If given an opportunity she says she would like to have Andrew Carnegie as a dinner companion. “He was a pioneer, a self-made man who became the wealthiest man in the world. He was also very human and gave away most of his wealth (Bill Gates and Warren Buffett learned the art of giving from him). He was also a great communicator and loved to share his knowledge,” shares Nicole.
Make it Real
Nicole shares her insight, “This is the best time to be a woman. There are so many opportunities for women globally, and women are speaking up more than ever before. Women leaders are blooming and there are openings for women in all sectors. My outlook is very positive and I can see the great changes that are occurring in the Arabic world especially.” Indeed, things are changing, albeit at a slower pace but they are now moving in the right directions. In order to help women achieve more prominent roles in their organizations, Nicole advocates that women voices need to be heard more. “Ensuring that the relevant HR function is supportive of women’s advancement, is a very important strategy that helps in creating hiring and advancement opportunities”, affirms Nicole. As for women, she says women have to speak up and be more courageous. She also recommends women to reach out to others in a very proactive way. While the key takeaway being: Planning, networking and taking initiatives would help them in career growth and development. Nicole’s advice for aspiring female changemakers is to love themselves, to cherish their femininity, to be brave to fight for their dreams, no matter how unthinkable others think they are.