Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

Murdered head of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Egypt ‘was an amazing mentor and friend’

Friends and former colleagues of Nevine Loutfy, the first female chief executive of an Islamic bank, remember her as as someone who was devoted to helping others succeed, reports Jahd Kahlil
Nevine Loutfy, chief executive of ADIB Egypt, was found murdered at her home on Tuesday. Photo Courtesy: Aletihad
Nevine Loutfy, chief executive of ADIB Egypt, was found murdered at her home on Tuesday. Photo Courtesy: Aletihad

CAIRO // Nevine Loutfy, the late head of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank’s Egypt subsidiary, not only broke a glass ceiling for Egyptian women but also supported others to follow her lead, friends and colleagues said on Thursday.

“Nevine was this person who constantly blew wind into people’s sails,” said Dina Sherif, a business professor at the American University of Cairo and chief executive of Ahead of the Curve, which offers business development services.

“For me she was an amazing mentor and friend. I think as a banker, a woman in finance, and the first CEO of an Islamic bank she was an exemplary leader. She took responsibility to a whole new level.”

Loutfy, 64, was found stabbed to death in her apartment in a wealthy Cairo satellite city, 6th of October City, on Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, Egyptian authorities said they had arrested a suspect who confessed to killing her in a burglary gone wrong.

Women who worked around Loutfy said she was a kind person whose personality dovetailed with her leadership style.

“People see her as a CEO but she was a very human leader,” said Ms Sherif. “She really believed in the incredible potential of people, and she felt the importance of investing in people.”

“She was never pretentious. She was always smiling. You could tell people really respected her,” said Teresa Meoni, who had worked with Loutfy at the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt from 2012 to 2013.

“She treated everyone like her peer. Her professional success was never reflected in her interactions with others”

Ms Meoni said Loutfy’s Facebook page was full of tributes from young women thanking her for her example.

“It was amazing what she did professionally, she kind of broke the glass ceiling,” she said.

In an interview with Ahram Online, an Egyptian news site, in 2013, Loutfy seemed to play down her gender.

“(Being the first female CEO of an Islamic bank) doesn’t mean anything to me. You can be the first and be a huge failure, right? Maybe I was the guinea pig!” she was quoted as saying.

“I don’t think she believed that her gender inhibited her success,” said Ms Sherif. “But she, like me and other women, was aware of the fact that women have their own style of leadership and their own struggles.”

Loutfy, who took over as chief executive of ADIB Egypt in 2008, turned it from a subsidiary that was in the red to a top performer among Egyptian banks.

Ms Sherif said she had spoken to Loutfy a week before her death about collaborating on a project gathering the experiences of Egyptian businesswomen.

“We were about to launch this campaign but she passed away before we were able to capture her story and I hope we will be able to still,” she said.

foreign.desk@thenational.com

Updated: November 24, 2016 04:00 AM

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