The real estate sector in Egypt has had a reputation for being a “boys club.” But an increasing number of women are working to change that, while training the next female generation to excel, too. Invest-Gate presents three instrumental females in the sector who are disrupting the male-dominated status quo and changing the face of Egypt’s economy one step at a time as they develop residential communities, advance the banking sector, and expand the mortgage finance market.

Suzan Hamdy plays a significant role in today’s banking sector. Under her leadership, guidance, and mentorship throughout the past 30 years, the sector has been growing substantially as she has been fiercely transforming and redefining the industry as we know it.

Her pathway for success began the day she stepped foot in her first banking job at the credit department at the Arab African International Bank (AAIB) later serving different banking divisions such as project finance, remedial management, investment banking, retail banking, marketing, and business development.

“I grew a passion for banking, I spent 22 years at the first banking job as I got to learn how much of a refined sector it is,” Hamdy tells Invest-Gate. Hamdy entered Banque Misr, the second largest public sector bank in Egypt, during the restructuring phase of the public sector back in 2006, she founded the capital market with assets under management today of more than EGP 45 bn. She also heads the real estate assets of the bank.

“I touched upon the lives of other people through all the different products and services I dealt with. The sector really broadened my scope on life and gave me the right amount of exposure to a lot of other fields,” she adds. Even though Hamdy believes the world is changing and more women are shattering gender stereotypes and reaching leadership positions in the banking sector in Egypt, she still sees that women are burdened with more responsibilities on the personal level that can consequently demotivate them from excelling professionally.

“A woman can grow up thinking society is not in her favor. She needs to always find her support system, as well as be lucky to find work colleagues and a team that will not punish her for being a woman, like when she goes on a maternity leave for example,” she adds.

Hamdy believes all employers should assess the individual professionally based on the added input and value they give to the workplace, while also working on altering the perception of Egyptian culture towards a working woman.

Graduating from the American University in Cairo only when she was 17 years old, Hamdy took her academia career to the next level soon after and travelled to Hungary for her PhD. Throughout her professional journey; she led managerial positions across the world, and headed many foreign branches in London all the way to the United Arab Emirates. “I believe we are all equal,” Hamdy says, yet she sees that women tend to exert double, or even triple, the effort to prove themselves in our society.

“If you want to get things done, give it to a woman. An ambitious woman who follows her intuition is unstoppable,” Hamdy says. Yet, Hamdy says that through her own experiences, when a woman is assertive and firm in the workplace it can be considered “unacceptable,” and “unladylike.”

“It is tricky, because the same reaction can be considered the norm coming from a man. I believe at the end of the day we are all human.”

“If this person is a manager, then they are one regardless of their gender, color, or race,” she notes.

With Hamdy’s achievements speaking for her, she shares with Invest-Gate what she sees as one of the biggest challenges facing the banking sector today.

“The world is becoming so dynamic with all the fintech developments. The sector now has to alter its banking models, go digital, and find efficient ways for integration so we are able to compete globally,” she adds.