This time on the Pi­o­neer­ing Women se­ries, Lau­ren Fryer, Man­ag­ing Part­ner at Qanect Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, talks about be­ing per­sis­tent in the face of re­jec­tion and hold­ing your own when you are out­side your com­fort zone.

Qatar Today - - INSIDE THIS ISSUE - By Alexan­dra Langston

This time on the Pi­o­neer­ing Women se­ries, Lau­ren Fryer, Man­ag­ing Part­ner at Qanect Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, talks about be­ing per­sis­tent in the face of re­jec­tion and hold­ing your own when you are out­side your com­fort zone.

L au­ren Fryer is a mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions ex­pert whose suc­cess­ful me­dia ca­reer has seen her work with many 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 moved to Qatar in 2008 and was ap­pointed Direc­tor of PR & Mar­ket­ing at the Ritz-Carl­ton Doha. 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 sig­nif­i­cantly male dom­i­nated, not only was it ‘a first' in Doha, but also quite un­com­mon glob­ally,” she says.

The male-dom­i­nated me­dia world that Lau­ren was used to was some­what am­pli­fied in Qatar, though she never let it slow her down. “I was very much aware that I was a woman work­ing in a 'man's world', but in Qatar it was more ob­vi­ous across my clients, while I was set­ting up busi­ness with gov­ern­ment en­ti­ties, my part­ners etc. I never thought, ‘Oh I'm a woman, this is go­ing to be harder for me.' I al­ways thought, ‘I'm a woman, 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 talk­ing in an­other lan­guage was very daunt­ing – but you very quickly re­alise that per­sis­tence is key; so is a nice smile, a pro­fes­sional can­dor and know­ing your stuff. And not tak­ing no for an an­swer!” she says.

Lau­ren soon recog­nised that she could use her skills, and what may be typ­i­cally fe­male traits, to her ad­van­tage. “As women we tend to over­think, over­anal­yse. 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 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. 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 .”

Among some of the busi­ness lessons Lau­ren has learned from dif­fi­cult sce­nar­ios is that team work was vi­tal. “One thing you need to learn is that 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 this im­pacts not just the busi­ness. “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 with you 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,” she says.

Lau­ren was pri­mar­ily mo­ti­vated to start her busi­ness be­cause of the pas­sion she has for the work she does. “It was never a goal of mine to start an agency. But there was big de­mand for the work I was do­ing, and that I loved do­ing. I was work­ing across many projects in Doha and I had to de­cide whether to cut back or ex­pand, open­ing a com­pany that would then en­able me to de­liver. I chose the lat­ter!” The strong work ethic Lau­ren brings to her or­gan­i­sa­tion 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. He was a great as­set to have when we were start­ing up. Noth­ing was ever unattain­able, 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 re­al­is­ing how she may help oth­ers. “Be­ing 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,” she says.

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 have gone into build­ing your dream!”

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