Moroccan feminist Ilham Kadri to be CEO of chemical giant Solvay

The Solvay Group in Belgium appointed Ilham Kadri, a long-time advocate of women's rights, as their future CEO. 

Marjan Justaert
Marjan Justaert De Standaard, Belgium
Source: De Standaard
Moroccan feminist Ilham Kadri to be CEO of chemical giant Solvay - NewsMavens
Ilham Kadri, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

Kadri, as a North African woman and a mother, doesn't fit the traditional corporate mold. But what is even more inspiring is that throughout her career as a chemical expert, Ilham Kadri has always openly fought for women rights.

Solvay doesn't seem intent on hiding the opinions of their new CEO. 

"Ilham Kadri is committed to diversity and inclusion, mentoring young women and promoting female leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics", they wrote in the announcement. 

"Throughout her career, she received awards for fighting illiteracy, for developing charity and for her business leadership."

Kadri will certainly become an inspiration for young women of color, who often decry the lack of suitable role models for them. But Solvay's new CEO should also encourage all young mothers who are considering a career.

One day she got the choice: marrying or studying...

  • Ilham Kadri is a world citizen with Moroccan-French roots and professional experience across four continents. During her 22-year career, she has held diverse positions at top multinationals including Shell-Basell, UCB-Cytec, Huntsman, Rohm Haas-Dow Chemical and Sealed Air.
  • Solvay president Nicolas Boël traveled around the world to find the right person for the job. He says he liked what he heard during his numerous meetings with Kadri leading up to her appointment to lead Solvay. "She is bright, she is driven."
  • Above all, he admires her management style, which is a modern, female approach to leading a big company. Ilham Kadri is not afraid to show vulnerability, she listens and understands that the era of the iron leader has passed.
  • Her fight for women's rights goes back to her grandmother, Kadri says. "She couldn't read or write, and wanted a better life for me."
  • Kadri says: "I travel 200 days a year. My son sees his father a lot more than he sees me. It's different, but it's also okay."
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