Originally from the U.K., Louise Roberts knew that being a woman running MullenLowe Profero's United Arab Emirates office would be a challenge. Through the support of her company, Roberts’ work as managing director has focused on improving the perception of women, especially working mothers.
In the past year, Roberts implemented a new maternity policy that gives women a longer time off than the UAE’s statutory 45 days. During a “Meeting of Minds” event, which brought together world leaders to discuss industry issues, the policy was spoken of highly. By the end of 2021, the UAE passed its own maternity law that was the first change to labor law in regulation since 1980.
“That’s just something I’m really proud of. It started a bigger conversation in the region and, hopefully, globally,” Roberts said.
Roberts continues to aid expecting mothers, offering them support throughout their pregnancies and providing opportunities for women when they are ready to return to work.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Dreams will fuel your future. Be fearless and dream big.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
Leaving my home, my friends and family, a market I know well and moving to the Middle East to run an agency in an unfamiliar region, with zero contacts and where my gender could create challenges.
If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing and why?
I love my job and I can’t imagine not doing it. However, I've always believed creative thinking can help people. So, I would like to think that if I wasn't doing what I am doing now, I would be using creative thinking to solve real world problems—maybe I'd be an inventor or innovator.
What should the industry do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
I think the industry needs to invest more time in understanding what is preventing or deterring women and people of color from joining the industry. I don’t think we should assume to know—we need to ask them directly, listen to the problems and do what we can to rectify.
What is the biggest lesson you have taken away from the pandemic?
Connection is key. Find ways to remain authentically connected to everyone—your team, your clients, your colleagues. Be empathetic; the journey may be the same, but we’re all in different boats.