Salma Sakhnini: Being An ICON

Salma Sakhnini graduated with an MBA from Yale University and a BA from the American University of Beirut (AUB) and holds the Master Franchise for 360 Solutions - the leading training company globally- for the GCC region, and is a Certified Executive Coach from the International Coach Federation (ICF) and Center for Executive Coaching.


Salma founded and manages her own group of companies that include an industrial manufacturing business, a consulting practice, and training and coaching firm. She previously held a number of senior leadership positions including, working as Vice President with Citibank and as Chief Operating Officer with Rasmala Investments.


She is renowned for being "The Strategist for Success". Salma has advised, coached, and mentored seasoned leaders in Strategy, Success and Business Growth. She helps her clients transform their businesses and lives, and turn their potential into prosperity.


Having transformed the performance in businesses she ran and in her own companies by implementing strategies that increased sales, streamlined and aligned the business, and boosted profitability, Salma became an expert on transforming potential into high performance.


Salma’s passion for making a difference in people’s lives has led her since the age of seventeen to always play an active role in the community through working on issues closest to her heart, education, empowerment, women, and youth. In striving to heighten awareness and make an impact, she works closely with different constituents of the community on issues of development while actively working with and coaching reform and strategy teams.


She is a strong believer in nurturing the partnership between the community and the private and public sectors and in the role business must play in giving back to the community. She has also lectured at the American University of Dubai and held executive workshops on many topics.

She is a mentor and a model of success and continues to be an active speaker at various regional and international conferences.


1.     What was the purpose behind establishing ICON?

The idea behind ICON came about from the vision and a dream to put Arab entrepreneurs and professionals under one roof to help in supplying expertise services that would help in the development of our society. It is a valuable network of Arab professionals working together to supply the business sector with their expertise, consulting and coaching.


ICON is a leading advisor on business and specializes in identifying potential, and turning that potential into High Performance. We do this through providing comprehensive solutions that range from Management Consulting to Assessments, Training, and Executive Coaching. We help you turn your potential into prosperity. We partner with clients in all sectors to identify their highest-value opportunities; address their most critical challenges and transform their business.


2.     How do you find a balance between business leadership and yourself?

The way I manage my life is by trying to be present in all I do wherever in my business, with family and friends.


Do I have a complete balance? Not at all but I enjoy what I do and who I am with being present. The best gift you can give someone is the gift of time as being present at time is the essence of life.


Spending time and truly being present in what one does is critical. Being in the here and now is difficult with all the distractions and constant demands placed on us to be thinking of and focusing many things at the same time. We are required to be in many places at the same time. We also have developed a fear of missing out on things so we are constantly checking our whatapp, emails, and social media.


3.     How do you manage to make the most of every moment?

The need to constantly be connected is distracting from the essence of being immersed in expressing what we are doing. We are physically in one place having one conversation, and maybe mentally in another place, and emotionally in a third. So we can be having a conversation in one place, a second conversation in whatsapp, a third over email… So we are present, but not really… We are present with people, but not truly. And this diminishes and dilutes everything we do.


Being present in the moment has become one of the most challenging aspects of life but it is a skill that can be developed and strengthened.  


If time and energy and being present is the most important thing in life… giving your time is the most valuable gift you can give anyone including yourself and your work.


Being authentic and part of having integrity has to mean being fully present. That is important, that is a challenge and a skill I keep strengthening.


Being present to myself, with my clients, family, with my friends. But you have to have the desire to be entirely present to be there… to be all in.


4.     What is the challenge today that many leaders might be facing?

In my opinion the biggest challenge for leaders is to stay true to their values and morals, as money and power may influence ones principles and be challenging in its own right, and this is something I never accepted. Choices that are taken from an authoritative position is in its self a daunting task that can only be overcome with a lot of will power and continuous self-control.


Another challenge is realizing that leadership is having the vision to inspire others reach their goals. Usually in the start of ones career, the path to success is a personal journey. However when one is in a leadership position the measure of success has a different meaning, your success is defined by helping others achieve their potential. Here one must ask; are you making a positive change? What is your message in life? And what is the legacy you will leave behind?


Additionally another challenge is to have a clear plan to fall back on especially during uncertain times; here the plan becomes the tool that guides us forward. Personally I have been through many of these challenges, and it is part of life and learning how to deal with such obstacles in my opinion is one of the art forms of life.


5.     For women following your steps, any word of advice?

Passion is very important and identifying what you really seek could be difficult. It might take a lifetime for people to discover, what they are good at. Always surround yourself with people who feed into you, motivate you, and those who believe in you. Negativity should not exist. And always live to your legacy. 




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