WSB Inspiring Woman: Maria Cometti DQ Living & WSB

WSB Inspiring Woman: Maria Cometti DQ Living & WSB

Maria Cometti at the WSB Find and Be Found, annual networking event and job fair. Photo credit Hala Oueini

Sally Kennedy, WSB Founder shares her impressions of WSB Inspiring Woman Maria Cometti, WSB Board Member and DQ Living Co-Founder…

When Maria Cometti arrived in Riyadh she didn’t sulk or hide inside….. she decided to explore society and find a place she fit in…..
She found WSB. She connected with the then director Betsy Sharma and as Betsy had an ill child I met Maria for coffee.  I met an elegant, blond young woman with a ready smile and curiosity…. positive outlook and ‘get things done’ attitude. I was sooooo happy to ask her or get involved in WSB. She just fit the need we had for someone to connect with the community.
And connect she did!
She is the poster girl for ‘Arriving and Thriving’ in Saudi Arabia…. a great example of the universal humanity we all share regardless of nationality……making friends and partners with everyone she meets and bringing us all together as one voice. We thank her for her tireless commitment and enthusiasm.
A truly inspiring woman!
And now let’s hear from Maria herself….
Tell us about yourself?I am originally from Syracuse, New York. I learned about business and cultivated a passion for entrepreneurship working for my father’s remodelling company. After spending years dreading the upstate New York winters, I dreamed of moving to the sunshine state. That dream came true when I went on to study business management at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was at Eckerd that I befriended people from around the world, and was inspired to travel and work abroad. I taught English in South Korea and then went on to work in sales for a media company based in Belgium. In the sales role, I had amazing and challenging experiences working on projects in Switzerland, the Philippines, Malaysia, and South Korea.

Since college, I was fascinated with Arabic cultures, and another dream came true when I met my Saudi husband while working in the Philippines. My husband and I spent a couple of years apart as I worked for my father’s company in Syracuse and then my sister and I opened a vintage clothing and jewellery shop in Florida. After the birth of my daughter in 2013, my daughter and I moved to Bahrain to be close to my husband and his work in Riyadh. Then, in 2016, after our second child was born, we moved to Riyadh.

What do you do as WSB Development Manager?

As soon as I arrived in Riyadh in 2016, I reached out to WSB. I knew that my success in our new home would depend upon me getting involved in the community. Thankfully I had the opportunity and honour to meet Sally Kennedy, WSB Founder, and she offered me a chance to work with WSB as the Development Manager. When I started, I mostly conducted outreach meetings with compounds, hotels, and some embassies to introduce WSB and discuss opportunities for collaboration and sponsorship.  I also worked a lot on the WSB newsletter. As time went on, I got more involved in organizing events. When we saw the opportunity to create a program that brings together Saudi and Expat women, for professional networking, I jumped onto that possibility and helped start up and run WSB Connect. WSB is an invaluable resource for the community and made all the difference for me moving to KSA.

DQ Living Project Coordinator Maria Cometti interviewed the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Mr. JO Byung Wook, for the Korea country feature in DQ Living Magazine. Photo credit: Embassy of Korea, Riyadh.

How did you get involved in DQ Living?

DQ Living magazine started as all things, with an idea. When I was moving to Riyadh, I knew I wanted to live in the DQ because of the international community, security, and most of all the parks, gardens, and running trails. However, it was difficult to find information about the DQ establishments. I met residents who had been living in the neighbourhood for 10 years and still didn’t know what restaurants were here. Furthermore, through my work with WSB, I was meeting with embassies and would often be asked how they could outreach DQ residents. From these experiences, the idea arose to create something for the DQ, a community with 10k residents and 83+ embassies and consulates. I originally thought about an association or a newsletter. I asked my friends, and blogging pioneers (who I had met through WSB) if they would be willing to start this project with me. They agreed and together we decided on a print and digital magazine; DQ Living.

DQ Living Contributor meetup at Leila Restaurant, DQ.

What do you enjoy the most about your work with DQ Living?

The part I enjoy most is collaborating with my team, putting our ideas together, and constantly working to improve our product. At the end of the day, it’s about the people you work with and the people you help through your work.

What is the hardest part about your work with DQ Living?

The hardest part of building our start-up is there is so much work to do and limited resources to do it. We have a small team and each of us has to wear many hats.

How do you balance being a mum and a working woman?

I’ve either found or created a flexible work situation what suits me and my family. I’ve also been blessed to find good help. That’s not to say it’s easy, and whether a mom works or not, unfortunately, there is often an element of guilt felt over what she is not doing. When I started to work with WSB, I would schedule my meetings at the different compounds around Riyadh and bring my kids with me to enjoy the compound play facilities while I was in my meeting. So it was fun for them and work for me. I try to involve my kids whenever possible. Waking up at 4 am a few times a week also allows me to get in a couple of solid hours of undistracted work before the household wakes and the emails/whatsapp messages start pouring in.  Life can quickly get busy, and it’s been important for me to step back a couple of times a year and reevaluate what I’m spending my time on. They say, show me how you spend your time and I’ll tell you your values. I make sure to schedule dates with my husband and weekly playgroup with my best friends and their kids.

Do you have a quote or motto that you live by?

I try to look at the learning opportunity in each situation. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. I’ve learned a lot!

Contact Information & Social Media

Facebook, instagram, twitter @dqliving

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