CEO of Sigma Investments
Iman Mutlaq rises every morning at 5 am, meditates for two hours and focuses on her goals for the day. Then she goes to work where she manages financial transactions worth $1.5 billion.
Mutlaq is the CEO of Amman-based Sigma Investments, a multinational financial company, and director of Australian firm Ingot Brokers, which enable clients to operate on foreign exchange markets and trade with world currencies, stock indices, and precious metals.
Mutlaq’s strong independence has served her well in life. “One should always do things that no one else does, read things that no one else reads, and act differently to shape one’s unique self and be successful,” the 48-year-old Jordanian told Venture in her bright office, where books on Eastern philosophies and spiritual disciplines sit inside tangerine cubbies scattered across the walls.
Born in Saudi Arabia, Mutlaq grew up in a female-run household following her father’s death when she was six. Despite her family being close to the Saudi royal family, Mutlaq said life was “challenging” as there was the lack of a Mahram, a legal guardian, which prevented them from being able to participate in normal public life.
But shunning the pivotal importance of men in the Arab world, Mutlaq decided she would succeed without the backing of a male supporter in her life.
She paid her own way through her education and by the age of 18, she had established her first business, an import-export firm of gun cleaning supplies in Saudi Arabia. “I won that tender because I was able to add only a very small profit to my service since I was the only person running the company without overheads and operational costs,” the mother-of-two said.
Mutlaq went on and founded a tourism company in the early 1990s, only to decide later to move into the financial sector. She postponed her studies and bought a ticket for London.
“I completed my studies only ten years ago as I decided it was worth going back to university. Finishing something I started but left uncompleted meant very much to me,” a smiling Mutlaq said.
She moved back to Jordan in 2000, driven by the feeling that she “belonged here” and started working on what was to become the Sigma financial group seven years later.
The firm carries out operations via subordinate companies in financial services, touristic investments, and training consultancy for human resources development spanning 25 countries. “My companies are scattered across the world but my home is here. I run businesses worldwide from Amman. However, only a small portion of Sigma’s business is in Jordan, here we mainly focus on the education and coaching of entrepreneurs.”
Challenges are Mutlaq’s motivational triggers. In 2006 she said she started a “self-discovery journey” into the world of meditation, which she believes made her become more aware of social responsibility. This also led to projects with an NGO based in war-torn Iraq, advocating for the support of women’s education and access to the job market. So far, 5,200 women have obtained a diploma in the Baghdad area through the program.
“One of my goals is also to boost the presence of women in the technology field in Jordan,” Mutlaq said, explaining that she recently began angel investing in projects that support women with creative, solid, and competitive ideas in the sector. As for 2015, Mutlaq’s turning her attention toward creating 20 new apps for mobile devices with her Dreamtech startup.
Awarded as a UN Good Will Ambassador For Human Rights And Peace in Jordan last year, the female business mogul commented on the status of women in the country and in the region at large, saying she knows there are difficulties, but prefers to call them challenges. “When you say challenge, you are up to facing it. When you say difficult, it means you cannot overcome it. If you believe in yourself 100 percent you will overcome cultural and traditional limitations,” she said.
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