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NBK RISE, a cross-border success story, concludes inaugural edition

Bank reaffirms its dedication to empower women through various initiatives

KUWAIT: The inaugural cohort of the NBK RISE program wrapped up its 9-month program with a final training session at IE Business School in Spain, culminating in a special visit for the program participants. As part of the visit, Deputy Group CEO of National Bank of Kuwait, Shaikha Al-Bahar, organized a dinner banquet to recognize the Ambassador of the State of Kuwait in Spain, Khalifa Al-Kharafi, and the University’s management, as well as students from Kuwait enrolled at the university.

During the visit, Al-Bahar inaugurated the training course and held meetings with the university’s top leadership. She also took part in panel discussions featuring the IE Women in Business Club and Kuwait Business women Club.

While visiting, Al-Bahar also joined in reviewing the participants’ work plans and delivered a speech about the program’s key takeaways, which the participants could apply to their work. She also encouraged them to share experiences and take the lead in driving positive change in their respective societies.

Meanwhile, the university invited  Al-Bahar as a guest speaker at a panel discussion titled “Women in Leadership Positions and the Positive Impact of the Workplace” The discussion was moderated by Professor Caterina Moschieri, a specialist in Strategy Management, and included participation from the IE Women in Business Club and the IE Middle East and North Africa Club.

On the sidelines of the event, Al-Bahar expressed that leaders should establish a secure environment where women can feel comfortable reporting any form of biased behavior, whether it was subtle or overt actions, and to enforce strict policies that prevent such conduct.

“Modifying our perception of women is crucial in eliminating biases,” Al-Bahar said, adding that it was equally important to consider how gender balance can enhance workplaces and bring significant value.

“With perseverance and determination, women can defeat any obstacles they encounter in industries or sectors predominantly led by men,” Al-Bahar confirmed, highlighting that no obstacle is insurmountable for those willing to put in the hard work and effort required to become successful leaders.

Al-Bahar advocated for an end to the practice of telling women that they have limits or that there is a glass ceiling to their ambitions. She emphasized that women should not be made to believe that the path to success is full of hurdles just because of their gender, calling for equal opportunities for both men and women to follow their dreams and flourish.

Al-Bahar highlighted a common misconception that women often view each other as adversaries or competition, which she believes is untrue. She emphasized the importance of women supporting one another, given the unequal opportunities they face in their journey to reach top leadership positions. This is the fundamental concept behind the creation of programs like NBK RISE, which is designed by women for women to provide support in their pursuit of higher leadership positions. The program aligns with NBK’s sustainability objectives of promoting diversity and inclusion.

Al-Bahar stressed the significant achievements of the first cohort of the NBK RISE program. She announced that the program would be held annually and include participants from Kuwait as well as other countries. Moreover, the program will strive to attract women from different industries to support and foster future female leaders for higher leadership positions. Graduates of the program will have the opportunity to mentor future female candidates, thereby creating a sustainable cycle for the program. “NBK offers various programs that promote women’s empowerment, such as initiatives for equal pay and opportunities for career development,” Al-Bahar concluded.

Shaikha Al-Bahar with the NBK RISE trainees and faculty members at IE Business School.


NBK RISE program is an inspiring initiative that extends beyond NBK’s efforts alone. Several top institutions in Kuwait have joined forces and signed a pledge to increase women’s representation in leadership roles, demonstrating their unwavering commitment to working together towards achieving the program’s global objectives.

The 9-month program was structured into various units that focused on different areas of leadership. Participants collaborated with renowned international universities to receive comprehensive training and equip themselves with strategies and skills to assist them in their leadership roles.

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