By Sandhya D'Mello Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This article takes a look at the experiences of Dubai-based entrepreneur Smita Prabhakar, the first female secretary-general of the IBPC, the largest business group in the UAE.
The uae provides an ideal business environment regardless of gender. In fact, women have more freedom of doing business in the UAE, said Dubai-based entrepreneur Smita Prabhakar.
She is the secretary-general of the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC). She has the honour of being the first woman secretary-general of the IBPC, the largest business group in the UAE.
As the managing director of Client Advertising, she has helped organise the Emirates Businesswomen's Awards and highlighted women's empowerment in the UAE. A few years ago, she formed Lazer Capital with a number of developers and investors. As the president of Lazer Capital, she is part of a management team leading projects in infrastructure, oil and gas, agriculture, technology, power and utility, real estate and construction businesses.
The company has been mandated to develop 40,000 homes in Iraq as part of a massive housing development plan. The Iraqi government has also assigned the company to develop a shopping mall in Najaf city in Iraq that will house more than 1,000 outlets to be built at a cost of $5 billion (Dh18.3 billion).
She is also the CEO of Apsons International, a trading company, and had recently set up a manufacturing unit which makes detergents and cleaning products. Apsons International also promotes healthy living and well-being through holistic healing, combining physical and spiritual transformation of a person. Although wellness is a rapidly expanding business worldwide, no one has combined it with spiritual and holistic healing to offer a complete solution.
Prabhakar has been involved in working with children with special needs and pioneered initiatives and awareness campaigns for this cause. She has also created musical initiatives for UAE National Day for the past three years on behalf of the expat community.
Prabhakar, a physics graduate, is an investor, fashion designer, movie director and video producer, song-writer, singer and a creative artist who is trying to make a difference through her works.
She studied apparel manufacturing and fashion designing at the Sreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women's University in Mumbai.
"As a fashion designer, my collection was worn by the likes of Sushmita Sen and Aishwarya Rai. Right after studies, I had extensive experience in Mumbai in graphic design, film making, post production and animation. In parallel, I studied film making before moving to Dubai where I worked in a film production house for a year in concept, designing and production. While in the creative advertisement industry, I won awards nationally and internationally.
"I went to Los Angeles to study film direction and production. I did a few productions at the Universal Studio, Hollywood, and also worked with Quantas Pictures and various other big mainstream film production facilities as well. That gave me confidence in film making," she said.
After studies and training in Hollywood, she worked in two movie productions -- Notebook and Chota Mumbai -- as assistant and associate director, while also choreographing for one of the movies.
"Dubai is a land of opportunities and I thought I could use some of my skills and talents -- business, music, dance, painting, film direction, acting and creative advertising. I decided to combine the last two that could help utilise my other skills."
In 2000, she established Client Advertising, an ad agency that offers services from creative, above-the-line, below-the-line, print, electronic and digital media, event management, web designing, social media campaigns and film production. KLM Royal Dutch Airline was the company's first international client while the Department of Civil Aviation was its first local client.
"I developed a number of ideas for clients -- such as the concept and brand creation of the Dubai Quality Group -- and grew our client base very fast. As I continued to work hard, my business brought me in close contact with a good number of investors, developers and business houses that started to benefit from my network and creativity," she added.
Being an entrepreneur herself, does she encourage women employment? Prabhakar said: "Yes, I encourage women employment. My experience says it is women's loyalty, hard work and attention to detail in every aspect of life which is eventually beneficial for the business, personal growth and family bonding. The UAE has given perfect opportunities for women to realize their highest potential. Hence, I was able to do whatever I accomplished today in the most humble way. I suggest everyone should respect the law of the land and be true to what is best for everyone. The rest will follow," she concluded.