Qatar Today Pioneering Women Interview with Lauren Fryer

Qatar Today Pioneering Women Interview with Lauren Fryer

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Lauren Fryer is a marketing and communications expert whose successful media career has seen her work with a range of prestigious companies in both television and publishing, from the BBC and CNN to TIME Magazine and Harpers Bazaar. After working in Melbourne, London and Dubai, Lauren was appointed Director of PR & Marketing for the Ritz-Carlton Doha, and moved to Qatar in 2008. Less than three years later she spotted an opportunity to channel her experience and industry knowledge into a new project, and in 2011 Lauren founded her own marketing agency, Qanect: “In an industry that is already significantly male dominated, not only was it ‘a first’ in Doha, but it’s also not very common in the world of media in general.”

The male dominated marketing world that Lauren was used to was somewhat amplified in Qatar, though she never let it slow her down: “I was very much aware I was a women ‘working in a man’s world’, but in Qatar it was more prevalent across my clients, setting up the business with government entities, my partners etc. I never thought, oh I’m a women, this is going to be harder for me, I always thought, I’m a women, so let this work just right for me!” And it was this positivity that helped Lauren when things became challenging:  “Walking into the Ministry of Business and Trade as an expat, single female, or attending your first pitch, where the panel is entirely men, and all talking in another language was very daunting – but you very quickly realize that persistence is key; so is a nice smile, a professional candor and knowing your information. And not taking no for an answer!”

Lauren soon recognized that she could use her skills and, what may be typically female, traits, to her advantage: “As women we tend to overthink, over analyze. This can sometimes work in our favour – we have back up plans for back up plans, we have options 1, 2 and 3 for every scenario and we have different tactics for different people based on the thorough analysis. You are one step ahead.” She also knew that Doha presented a unique set of issues for business owners, but that being a woman did not have to be a further hindrance: “In Doha everyone faces the same challenges; it’s just how you approach them, and this is the same in business. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, knowledge is power and in the end this will be more important in whatever situation you find yourself in.”

Some of the business lessons Lauren has learned came from difficult scenarios, and she maintains that team work was vital: “One thing you need to learn is you just can’t do it all! Hire strong people, people who are experts and it will make the business stronger.” And Lauren admits now that it is not only the business that is made stronger by a great team: “I am more resilient than I ever thought possible. It has taught me the value of relationships, the value of the people around you, working and supporting you is far greater than the impact you would ever be able to make on your own, and is so much more rewarding as well.”

Lauren was primarily motivated to start her business by the passion she has for the work she does: “It was never a goal of mine to start an agency. It was the demand for the work I was doing. And loved doing. I was working across many projects in Doha and I had to decide whether to cut back or expand and open a company that would then enable me to be able to deliver. I chose the latter!” The strong work ethic Lauren brings to her work was instilled in her from an early age: “My family have always been great supporters of mine, always encouraging me to dream big. My biggest supporter has also always been my dad, an entrepreneur himself, and someone who has been in business for a long time all around the world; a great asset to have when we were starting up. Nothing was ever unattainable in my up-bringing, nothing is impossible and if you put in the hard work, consistently, then the rewards will be there.”

Now that Qanect is successful and continuing to expand, Lauren is realizing how she may help others: “Be the change is, for me, about embracing what I have accomplished and sharing the experience and knowledge where I can. As ‘pioneers’ I believe it is our duty to lead by example and to encourage others.” And the advice she has for aspiring businesswomen is practical as well as inspirational: “If you want something to change, don’t expect someone else to do it for you. Ask yourself – can you face a thousand no’s before you get that one amazing yes, are you willing to sacrifice almost everything and work 24 hours a day? If the answer is yes then go for it and take everything that is thrown at you, because the feeling of fulfillment is worth every moment of the hard work, sweat and tears that has gone into building your dream!”

How Women Work – empowering women to grow and succeed
The sixth annual HWW conference is coming up on 20 & 21 May 2015, with the theme ‘Be the Change’. Once again it will be interactive and relevant to you: the women with aspirations and ambitions who live and (want to) work in Qatar. For more inspiration and tickets, please go to hwwqatar.com.