Reflections after London

Aline Kamakian

Aline Kamakian is an entrepreneur in Lebanon. In 1998, she founded her own brokerage firm, Insurance & Investment Consultants SARL (IIC). Aline also co-owns FIG Holding, which in 2003 established Mayrig, the first Armenian restaurant in Lebanon. Mayrig won the 2011 Social Economic Award and recently opened franchises in Dubai, UAE and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Aline was a VV GROW Fellow and in 2016 she was accepted as a mentee in the Global Ambassadors Program, a Vital Voices and Bank of America partnership to advance women’s economic empowerment.

I was very happy to be chosen to participate in the Global Ambassadors Program. All my life I learned from trial and error. I was never shy to ask questions, but I never had a mentor. I was very excited and had very high expectations for the program. I hoped to find someone that I can turn to, someone that is ready to give, share and introduce.

The program exceeded my expectations. Not only did I have a mentor who was willing to give and listen, the whole team was there to help. The other mentors and trainers were very open to sharing from their own backgrounds. All courses and exchanges were very practical and concrete.

Aline Kamakian and mentor Reiko Hayashi of Bank of America Merrill Lynch

When I came back to Lebanon I was full of new ideas, new ways of thinking, and full of enthusiasm to implement all these pieces of advice and changes. The return to reality hit me and at first I felt lost and didn’t know where to start. I suddenly saw all the gaps and mistakes and the long, long way to go in order to accomplish what I learned in London.

However, since the teachings and exchanges were so case oriented, individually tailored and concrete, I just needed a few days to step back, observe and start making goals. Now I feel I am on the right track. There is a lot to do but I see much clearer where I am heading.

Aline and employees mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2016

Immediately upon my return, I started implementing a system to gather much more data on key performance indicators. I also started a program to train my management team to understand and get ready on Mayrig’s strategy. It is our goal to have all the data available and be ready to work together on the 2017 strategy in September 2016.

Also, thanks to the exchanges in the Global Ambassadors Program, I realized how urgently I need a personal assistant and an operations manager. I continue working with my mentor on the process of delegation. I hired a personal assistant last week and I am working on the requirements and job description for an operations manager. 

I have great admiration for the women who initiated this program and for all those who engage in it as organizers, mentors and trainers with such genuine generosity. I hope that one day I will be at the other side, to give, share and guide others.

Photo at top: Aline and team celebrate wins at Horeca 2016, an annual foodservice and hospitality industry trade show in Beirut, Lebanon.