WSB Inspiring Woman: Pauline Khan – WSB Director

WSB Inspiring Woman: Pauline Khan – WSB Director

Introduction by WSB Founder Sally Kennedy: As the new year of 2020 starts WSB is entering a new chapter as well. Transition is part of life here is Riyadh…..people come and leave more frequently than in most places…..the wonderful aspect of this is the number of exceptional people you can meet, work with and keep as lifelong friends.

WSB has been fortunate to have Alayne LoNigro as director for the past few months bringing professionalism, vision and lots of new goals for us to aspire to. She will be relocating from Riyadh earlier than expected so we are transitioning to a new director – Pauline Khan. You may have heard of Pauline for her work with the organization Feed the Need… amazing effort we all supported. Now she has agreed to join Women’s Skills Bureau bringing her determination, tenacity and heart to challenge WSB to new success and endeavors. We welcome her and look forward to her leadership.

Tell us about yourself?
I was born into an expat family and have had the privilege to travel the world from day 1. That privilege can become striking whilst living in New Delhi for example therefore my humanitarian feelings developed at a very young age… As a result, I knew from a very young age that I wanted to help others. In my teens, this transpired into volunteering in orphanages and senior citizen’s homes in Hong Kong – where my father was based at the time, then I decided to study law and a Masters in Human Rights became the obvious thing to do before qualifying as a solicitor in London. There I worked on international human rights group litigation cases for 8 years, this combined my passions of helping others and travelling – often to remote and incredibly interesting places…

What brought you to Riyadh?

My husband did. When he first told me he was offered a job in Riyadh, I said no, never, because what on earth would I do there?… And the rest is history as I have now been here for over 5 years!

How did you get involved in Feed The Need?

A wonderful lady in Bahrain – who was running Feed the Need there – inspired myself and Saima Amin to start Feed the Need in Riyadh. We started off with one fridge open to workers and street cleaners to select water and snacks at their convenience and ended up with fridges all around Riyadh and Jeddah and a number of other projects supporting underprivileged families and workers. Unfortunately in May 2019, for a number of complicated reasons, our license was not renewed.  I look back at this time fondly remembering how many wonderful talented women volunteered over a period of 4 years to feed hundreds of people… Truly amazing what can happen when communities unite!

Can you share with us how WSB’s mission resonated with you?

It is such a privilege to be joining the WSB’s team and the network of professional women that goes hand in hand with it. Even before I moved to Riyadh I had heard of the WSB and its work is so important in the Kingdom. I truly hope I can contribute to this wonderful organization and that women from different nationalities, backgrounds, sectors, etc. can come together and help us grow and develop alongside the changes that are happening in the Kingdom.

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

Balancing work and personal life is always a challenge but I have found it especially difficult here where the transport and childcare is not what I am used to coming from London. Somehow you make it work, being very organized (and being able to function with minimal sleep) has helped me juggle house chores and work whilst still being around every day for my 3 beautiful children!

Where can creative women go to network in Riyadh?

When I first moved to Riyadh someone told me ‘If you want to enjoy your time here, say ‘yes’ to everything’ and I think my advice goes along those lines… Say yes to the coffee morning you may be dreading, say yes to the conference that sounds boring, go to the desert with your friends, go walk in the DQ with your neighbours… as all these will be opportunities to meet and network with new and interesting people. You never know who you’ll end up meeting until you show up!

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

Ohhh, I have many but will stick to this one by Dr Martin Luther King “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

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