Women on Top: Diana Fadel

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Do what you love and love what you do!

Diana Fadel is the founder and president of Fondation Diane – a non-governmental organization for the development of Civic Awareness and Eco-Sustainable Development. She co-founded ABC Department Stores and co-managed them for over 4 decades with her late husband Maurice.

Fadel is renowned for her strong belief in education, mobilization, and action, the three keys she deems are necessary for good citizenship. This has incited her to create the Chair in Education for Eco-citizenship and Sustainable Development – an interdisciplinary platform dedicated to environmental issues hosted at USJ, and to establish the Citizen Circle – an active lobbying platform to inform and motivate citizens through gatherings, events, operations, and several unusual concepts and campaigns like the Citizen Café, Stop Eco(sui)cide, Green Market, and Batteries Collection. She has also set up the Viridis Investment Fund which identifies the best green initiatives, encourages them and provides them the necessary financial and operational support, to help them grow and achieve their goals.

She was recently awarded the IM Capital Super Angel trophy. She is a graduate of the Seeders – Lebanese Women Angel Fund Masterclass for Business Angels MBA Class of 2018-2019. She sits on the Board of ABC Department Stores and the Nature Conservation Center at the American University of Beirut.

The Interview 

How did you start your career?

Which career exactly? I have had several lives and careers. In 1972, I co-founded ABC Department Stores and managed it for decades. I am now a member of the board of directors. In 1998, I founded and became President of Monuments en Musique, an NGO that I ran for a decade offering 45 concerts in unknown monuments, with unknown Lebanese artists. In 2012, I founded and I currently head Fondation Diane with its many entities, including an investment fund for green startups, with already 10 startup investments and many more to come.

What was the main drive that pushed you towards choosing the industry you are in?

When coming back from abroad, I noticed the marasmus in which Lebanon was and is still struggling: environmentally, socially and economically, as well as the citizenship belonging crisis. Instead of staying passive and depressive, it pushed me to act. I started with founding Monuments en Musique. Today, I am driven by Lebanon’s environmental and governance issues, the success of our green startups and the impact of the awareness and the eco-civic education of Lebanese Citizens, especially the youth. I will not stop before reaching my goal: Bring Change.

What was your biggest fear moving up the ladder? How did you overcome it?

I am not the kind of person that knows fear. I am an entrepreneur by blood, culture, and experience. No fear can stop me. Especially after the difficulties and illnesses I have overcome in my long life. 

What do you look for when recruiting an employee?

The spirit, the know-how and the devotion to the cause. 

How many employees do you currently have? How do you describe your management style?

Fondation Diane has twelve employees and several sub-contractors. My management style is a combination of different ones: friendly yet perfectionist, pushing my team to a high standard of delivery.

How do you describe yourself in 3 words?

Energetic! Positive! Perseverant! 

What’s your favorite part of your work, and why?

Talking to people, especially youth, to spread awareness.  

If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?

Do what you love and love what you do! Sacrifice is always at the beginning of the way! Be perseverant and don’t let yourself be easily discouraged.

How do you balance the different aspects of your life? (well-being, family, social and professional)

I am the mother of 4 already adult men. I have 5 grandchildren. All are very busy and independent. So I am, after a long, long time, freed from heavy family duties. My only pleasure is meeting with them while helping in the management of ABC, the department stores.

When I was younger and busy with 4 children, I used to find help in a good assistant, non-working sisters, and grandmas. A good division of time, working around 4 to 6 hours a day on-site and then working remotely from home, concentrating on weekends for fun.

Now I reduce my social life away from superficial contacts and concentrate on my associative, passionate life and a few good old friends. This is a big part of my well-being: not using time in useless occupations. Painting, hiking, and swimming, reading, and writing, laughing with friends, give me pleasure and keep me in good shape, physically and mentally.


Women on Top Series

Berytech has partnered with the Lebanese League for Women in Business – LLWB, to create ‘Women on Top’ to highlight women entrepreneurs and executives in a series of motivational interviews about their stories, overcoming their own challenges and their entrepreneurial endeavors. Read more. The series is also highlighting successful women in sports and business.

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