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Gulf women board directors: Sara Nooruddin

[Aurora50 template] Sara Nooruddin, head of private investments at Osool Asset Management and board director of Aegila Capital Management, Amanat Holdings and the Royal Hospital for Women and Children (RHWC) in Bahrain

Sara Nooruddin is head of private investments at Bahrain-based sovereign wealth fund Osool Asset Management, where she has been since 2013. She was previously a private equity analyst at Gulf International Bank (GIB). 

Ms Nooruddin serves on the board of London-based real estate company Aegila Capital Management, Dubai-based investment company Amanat Holdings and the Royal Hospital for Women and Children (RHWC) in Bahrain. She previously served on the board of Bahrain’s Gulf Medical and Diabetes Center.

She is also a member of Manarat, Aurora50’s invite-only club for regional women directors on listed boards.

Can you tell us a bit about how you were raised? 

I am part of a very close-knit family that values education, honesty, trust and equality. We were raised with no gender disparity – my siblings and I were equally encouraged to be strong, independent, and honest. 

Throughout my early childhood I lived between London, Switzerland and Bahrain, which exposed me to different cultures, races and religions. That reinforced values I continue to uphold, including respecting others, welcoming ideas different from my own and expanding my horizons.

Where and what did you study? 

Influenced by my father and his career in finance, I majored in finance at the George Washington University in the US, and continued to become a certified chartered financial analyst (CFA).

What was your first job? 

I started my career in risk, which made me realise I wanted to work in investments.

How did you settle into your first board role?  

I learned on the go. I tried to take in everything around me, whether it was the material to be discussed or the body language of the people sitting in front of me. In the beginning it was overwhelming; however, with time, I’ve learned to listen more and to ask questions, whether during the board meeting or before. The more I asked, the more I became aware and ready to tackle any issue.

How did you get your first board role and what was it?

In 2014, during my career at Osool Asset Management, I was appointed to my first board seat, representing Osool’s client interest on the board of a up-and-coming hospital.

What have you learned from your board roles?

The main thing I’ve learnt is not to be intimidated by the people on the table. I take it one step at a time and learn everything I can about the organisation and the team. 

Most importantly I’ve learnt that there is no such thing as an unnecessary question. Each question has the potential to open new doors and perspectives, to introduce you to new answers and to challenge others to think differently.

Do you set yourself goals?

When it comes to any life, career or board goal, what keeps me going is the potential to add value. As long as I can add value and work towards achieving milestones, I will continue to give it my all. 

What’s your motto in life? 

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. 

How will you be spending your National Day?

National Day is a day I spend with family. As a child we focused on spending time with extended family, in the midst of the festivities and fireworks. I replicate the fun I had as a child with my own children and I’ll be spending this National Day with my daughters and husband.

Read other Gulf women board director interviews:

  • Natasha Hannoun, head of debt at Shuaa Capital and board member of Pure Harvest Smart Farms
  • Amani Bouresli, professor of finance at Kuwait University and board member of Bahrain’s Ithmaar Holding and IB Capital Board of Directors and Egypt’s Faisal Islamic Bank
  • Meitha Al Hashemi, ADIB group credit officer and board member at UAE insurance companies Dar Al Takaful and Noor Takaful.

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