Lubna Suliman Olayan '77, CEO of the Olayan Financing Company, the holding entity for the Olayan Group's operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, has been named Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year 2010. She will be honored on campus during the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration April 15-16.
Founded in 1947 by her father, the Olayan Group is a private multinational enterprise engaged in distribution, manufacturing, services and investments. Established in 1969, Olayan Financing Company is a fully diversified industrial, trading, services and investment conglomerate that includes real estate stock funds and diversified venture capital business investments all over the world. The company operates or actively participates in more than 40 companies, often in partnership with leading multinationals. Olayan sits on the board of the Olayan Group.
Fortune magazine named Olayan to its "Global Power 50 Women" list from 2004 to 2009. Forbes named her to its "World's Most Powerful Women" list in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and Time Magazine named her among the "Top 100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2005.
Olayan joined the Board of Saudi Hollandi Bank in 2004, a publicly listed company in Saudi Arabia, and has been a non-executive director of WWP, the world's second largest advertising agency and media planning and buying organization, since March 2005. In 2006 and 2009, respectively, Olayan joined the International Advisory Boards of Rolls Royce and Akbank and of the Council on Foreign Relations in 2005; she has been a member of the Board of Directors of INSEAD since 2006 and of King Abdullah's University of Science & Technology since 2009. She has been a Cornell trustee since 2007.
Olayan is also a member of the board for Al Fanar, a nongovernmental, nonprofit venture that supports grassroots organizations in the Arab World, and of the Down's Syndrome Charitable Association in Saudi Arabia.
Olayan is married to John E. Xefos '76, a partner in the international law firm Baker & McKenzie Ltd. The couple met while students at Cornell.
The Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year award is given annually to a Cornell graduate who best exemplifies entrepreneurial achievement, community service and high ethical standards. Olayan will give a public address April 15 at 4:30 p.m. in Bailey Hall.
Kathy Hovis is a writer/editor for Entrepreneurship@Cornell.