Revealed: Gulf Business Awards 2021 judges
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Revealed: Gulf Business Awards 2021 judges

Revealed: Gulf Business Awards 2021 judges

With the 2021 edition of the Gulf Business Awards set to be held later this month, we introduce you to our esteemed judging panel for this year

With the UAE firmly out of the Covid-19 crisis and events underway across the country, the ninth edition of the Gulf Business Awards will be hosted in-person on November 23 at the Central Park Towers, DIFC in Dubai.

The event will applaud the companies and business leaders in the Gulf region who have innovated amidst a challenging economic scenario and steered their organisations to success.

The Covid-19 crisis has reshaped the regional economy tremendously, with all sectors now gradually recovering and reinventing the way they operate. At the 2021 edition of Gulf Business Awards, we would like to acknowledge and celebrate the companies and business leaders across the banking, energy, healthcare, investment, real estate, retail, transport and logistics, retail, tourism and hospitality sectors who are spearheading this change effectively.

To reflect the growing influence of technology in the region, we included several tech-focused awards last year. Having successfully launched our own specialised platform – GB Tech Talk – and hosted our first ever technology awards last month, we have narrowed it to Technology Company and Technology Business Leader of the Year awards for 2021. As always, one business leader and company will be selected for the prestigious accolade of overall ‘Business Leader of the Year’ and ‘Company of the Year’.

We will also hand out special awards recognising the Sustainability Company of the Year, SME of the Year, Disruptor and Businesswoman of the Year.

Gulf Business will also present the coveted Lifetime Achievement award to one special individual for their outstanding contribution to the region’s economic landscape. The award winners will be chosen by an independent judging panel that includes esteemed industry and business leaders.

Here they are:

THOMAS KURUVILLA
Managing partner, Arthur D. Little Middle East

A member of the global board of consulting firm Arthur D. Little and the managing partner of its Middle East operations, Kuruvilla serves telecom operators, ministries and other public organisations and family conglomerates in his role.

Since joining Arthur D. Little in 1998, he has been actively involved in complex strategy development, organisation design and transformation projects across the Middle East and South East Asia to deliver significant and tangible impact – not just for his clients but also at a wider, national level.

Prior to joining Arthur D. Little, Kuruvilla worked at Larsen & Toubro as an Industrial Automation engineer. He was also selected as a pilot officer with the Indian Air Force. In addition to consulting, Kuruvilla regularly teaches various management courses at MBA schools across the globe. Outside work, he spends time on natural farming and Ayurvedic plants.

DR SONIA BEN JAAFAR
CEO, Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education

The CEO of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, one of the largest privately funded philanthropic education foundations in the Arab world, Ben Jaafar is focused on its mission of promoting education for over 200,000 Arab youth. With more than 20 years of experience in the education development sector globally, Ben Jaafar fosters partnerships to promote high impact sustainable solutions to educational challenges.

The former managing director of EduEval Consulting, she has spearheaded major projects that focus on ensuring inclusive quality education and cultivated partnerships with governments, international agencies, and multinational corporations.

Ben Jaafar has a PhD in Educational Leadership and a master’s degree in Curriculum Studies from the University of Toronto.

Passionate about education for good, she says: “I am a mum who is trying to make the world a better place.”

NEIL PETCH
Founder and chairman, Virtugroup

After launching Virtuzone as the first private company formation business in the region over 10 years ago, Petch has led the company to set up more than 45,000 businesses, making it the largest and fastest-growing setup operator in the Middle East.

As the chairman of the holding company, Virtugroup, Petch also leads VirtuVest, an in-house angel investment vehicle; Virtuzone Mainland, a provider of directorship services, corporate sponsorship and facilitator of Dubai and Abu Dhabi company setups; and Next Generation Equity, a citizenship-by-investment firm.

Petch has also held leadership roles in several companies.

He helped establish ITP, which he oversaw growing from two to 600 employees and spearheaded the launch of over 60 digital and print titles. As managing director of ENG Media, he launched the Coast FM radio station and numerous magazines.

He has also served as chairman of Dubaibased interbank financial brokerage GMG. Petch has also been appointed a member of the ‘Ease of Banking’ panel organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce.

IAN FAIRSERVICE
Founder and managing partner, Motivate Media Group

With media in its infancy, Fairservice identified the opportunity to launch the county’s first magazine and set up his media business, Motivate Publishing, in June 1979. Together with his partner Obaid Humaid Al-Tayer, the former UAE Minister of State for Finance, he has seen the company develop into one of the most successful media houses in the region.

Publishing a wide range of award-winning magazines and books along with diverse media interests across digital, content, events and cinema, Motivate has a team of more than 150 media professionals in a network of Middle East offices.

What’s On, Gulf Business, Emirates Woman, Identity, Golf Digest, Campaign and Business Traveller are some of Motivate’s best established consumer and trade brands with websites that reach an audience of more than two million people each month.
The company has several successful joint venture partnerships including its cinema advertising business, Motivate Val Morgan.

During the past few years, Fairservice has also diversified the group’s interests to include joint ventures with global content and influencer marketing platform VAMP from Australia, social listening and research specialists MavenMagnet from the US and acclaimed British documentary filmmakers Lorton Entertainment.

ANDREW WINGROVE
Group director, Motivate Media Group

A well-known figure in the UAE media scene for over 17 years, Wingrove has launched magazines, websites, brands and events including the Time Out Restaurant Awards, Ahlan Hot 100, Esquire and Architectural Digest.

He also previously served as the group lifestyle director at Dubai World Trade Centre, driving the brand development of events such as World Art Dubai, the Motor Show and Gitex Shopper.

Now at Motivate Media Group as group director, Wingrove plays a leading role in the company’s new business development and international partnerships as well as in driving forward the luxury lifestyle and business titles. He is also introducing a broader range of events and content partnerships across the region.

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