Safa Abdulrahman Al Hashem & ADVANTAGE Consulting Company
One Woman’s Prowess - An Arabi

The Woman’s Prowess - An Arabian Fairy Tale!

Success saga of a Kuwaiti woman entrepreneur, hailing from the most hostile circumstances and reaching the corporate zenith, in short time.  


Taking right decisions at the right time was the main feature of my success. My career has a direct link to my mother who is often addressed as the Chief Emotional Officer (CEO) of our family. She is the first person who identified my leadership traits. Luckily, she did not label me as a rebel in the family. I have seen her waging many wars within and outside the family circle to provide us with the best of facilities and education. That upbringing made me tuff, gave me the courage to question injustice and hypocrisy and the determination to make a change.  An Arabian Knight was shaping inside me!


February 1991. The black clouds that engulfed Kuwait skies just after liberation had left unpleasant memories in all Kuwaitis. In parallel with the revival of my country, a leader within me was maturing.  Being an Arab woman with self esteem and confidence, I was confident that the spark inside me would lead to a flame soon. Timing of the launch was the big question. However, I found the right answer just by listening to my inner voice. Since then there was no looking back.

I was aware of the fact that to intrude into a male dominated corporate world, I can’t just ride on my luck. I did my homework well before plunging into the work world, where quick decisions, volatility, aggression, lobbying and backstabbing were the doctrines. My education, my patience and resolve to learn from experts was my initial investment to ignite my career.  Coincidentally, there was a change in my family status, as my partner exited from matrimony. I didn’t bother much over that change, because I realized that like any other married woman, I am also vulnerable to such inequities in life. I refused to withdraw inside my ‘veil’ and instead chose to move ahead with my dream.

Professional issue

December 2005. During the mid years of the real estate boom in GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council, well-organized companies with sound internal systems were required to embrace the boom. Foreseeing this as the best opportunity, I have decided to upgrade myself to an entrepreneur. Being a management consultant for the past decade and the appreciation of my work by clients, my confidence was riding high to take up the new challenge.  My business proposal to establish a fully fledged consulting company was welcomed by a visionary, who put trust in my efficiency and in my business instincts. Thus, ADVANTAGE Consulting Company ( was born. A consultancy offering professional business advisory to local businesses was established in Kuwait. Many well-wishers, contemporaries and adversaries voiced against ADVANTAGE as they assumed that this newborn will not make the grade. They were worried or rather skeptic that a local consultancy can’t compete with big fishes in the pond. Those consultancies were having international collaborations or affiliations and have the exaggerated quality tag too. In the same niche, ADVANTAGE with no such backup was established. I trusted in my instincts and was confident that we would rewrite all known myths and success models. Soon I was proved right!

The initial challenge was to form an efficient team. The market was booming and local talent was scarce or had exorbitant price tag. Naturally, I experienced difficulty in attracting the right talent to a startup company. However, through strenuous and structured talent search, I was able to handpick professionals from different countries to form a small, but effective team. In parallel, to fulfill my social responsibility, I hired couple of young, fresh graduate Kuwaiti girls directly from Kuwait University. The only criterion for them to join ADVANTAGE was to check whether they had that ‘spark’ in them to succeed.

The next major challenge was to launch and position ADVANTAGE. Marketing our services, using the right media and timing was very challenging. As a startup, if something goes wrong, then it would be fatal and definitely taint my entrepreneurial pursuit. Many advised me to engage high profile marketing and branding specialists to do the job. As always, believing in my talents, I have decided not to employ any conventional methods or techniques. Instead, I approached the market directly and conveyed my offer. I published press releases, prepared in simple and straight to the point annotations basically trying to create awareness about our existence and services. With couple of such releases, the corporate world started noticing ADVANTAGE. An immediate fan following was possible because people started enjoying the genuine and honest messages. The decision-makers started believing in Safa Al Hashem and ADVANTAGE. Such interests generated were tapped to proposal opportunities and 8 out of 10 resulted in signed deals.

ADVANTAGE soon became the most favored consultancy in the region proving my opponents wrong. The inflow of projects demanded bigger team. Contrary to the previous talent hunt, we found the required talent in no time. In fact, candidates were queuing up to be part of a successful company. Fresh Kuwaiti graduates thronged our premises. These were the early signs that I have conquered not only the minds of corporate kingmakers but also the hearts of hundreds of young Kuwaitis, especially girls. 

The exponential growth of ADVANTAGE was viewed by many as true success, some as enigma and few as a publicity stunt.  Along with growth and success, challenges came in different formats too. These included pouching of our human capital, uncanny challenges of our advisory and personal attacks against me. A true leader should not succumb to such distractions.  Moreover, my past work experience in both public and private sectors prior to the entrepreneurial stint came handy in tackling such diversions professionally.

May 2006. By this time, corporate world and media started recognizing the genuine leader in me and started addressing me as a “woman of substance”. My influence as a business woman started sending positive vibes throughout the region.  In flow of awards from local and international bodies emphasized the success and documented the waves of change I was instrumental to the Kuwait and GCC societies. My prime aspiration to have well structured businesses that promotes quality in every aspect started gaining popularity and recognition. All these awards, recognitions and public support made me more committed to my society.

March 2008. More and more laurels came in my way. When I was listed as one among the top most influential business executives in GCC, I was satisfied with my work, rather the movement I silently started to influence educated women in the region to pursue a career or kindle the entrepreneurial spirit in them. Once I retire (though no plans within sight) I would continue to influence the younger generations’ outlook to be a ‘change agent’ and mark their existence in this world!

December 2010. For me, success is an expression of high demand for our services. I always used to tell my team that there is always room for improvement and innovation is always rewarded substantially.  ADVANTAGE is all set to open another entity in the region in February 2011 to meet the ever growing demand for our services.

Personal Issue

In comparison to other successful woman in this region, my success story is scripted by myself. Most of my contemporaries had either a heritage or legacy or immense wealth, which they have inherited to start with. If you have these two ingredients, then success comes uninvited. For Safa Al Hashem, both these prerequisites were unknown and hence my success is sweeter. My mother was the biggest critic of my professional life. My confrontations inside and outside boardrooms were not that easily accepted by my mother. My media presence also made repercussions in the family. Many in my family could not digest that the youngest in the family was hitting headlines on a regular basis. Even my children complained about me appearing repetitively on cover page of business magazines in the region. Couple of sisters and nieces only voiced their support for me. However, our weekend family get-togethers at our chalet (beach houses) gave opportunities to explain my viewpoints. After many such sessions, my family started to understand that I had done nothing wrong. They realized that heeding to the propaganda of a section of the society who hated woman brushing shoulders along with men influenced their thinking in a negative manner. Soon, all those who were against me (in the family) started admiring my work for the corporate world. Especially, my work to empower young Arab women gain more support.

Today, when I see confident, young woman with a determination to work or start a business, I feel that my mission is accomplished. This is the biggest award any entrepreneur or a social reformist would achieve! Importantly, what gives me more satisfaction is that it was me who demonstrated to the region that success has no gender bias. 

Are you a dreamer or a believer in destiny?


1)     What would be the challenges you as a woman would expect to face from your family or community if you opt to become an entrepreneur?

2)     To script success, “follow my heart” is what I used to believe and practice. What is your opinion or experience?

3)     “More work would really bring in more creativity” is what I use to tell my employees, when they complain about workload. Do you agree?

4)     What would you do (or plan to do) for the community/world that would make your existence known?

5)     Is there a need for women empowerment or just a change in attitude is what is required? Please state your opinion with justifications.




1.     About the Author:

Safa Al Hashem is Founder and Chairman & Managing Director of Advantage Consulting, Safa is one of the high profile female executives in the region. Specialized in Organization Development, and strategy building, she has decades of experience in working with executives to establish business strategies and has consistently used best practices to translate business strategies into attainable objectives at a micro level and conflict resolution. It was Safa's vision that led to the incorporation of Advantage Consulting Company in which she is also a shareholder. Today, ADVANTAGE has successfully grown to the entire GCC with more than 300+ client portfolio. A well-known public speaker, Safa is recognized by government and businesses as a leading voice on business and social issues. Safa can be contacted through her email

2.     ADVANTAGE Consulting Company – The Company (

3.     ADVANTAGE Services offered ( )

4.     Awards and Recognitions

5.     Press Releases ( )