From Sand Dunes to Boardrooms: Shamsa Al-Falasi’s Epic Climb


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In banking and finance, leadership is crucial to the success of financial institutions. Recently, Citibank made waves with a groundbreaking decision: appointing Shamsa Al-Falasi as the CEO of its UAE onshore operation. This move marks a significant milestone for Citibank and the entire industry. Her journey from a graduate at Citi in 2004 to assuming this pivotal leadership role showcases her exceptional talent and unwavering dedication. Over nearly two decades, she has traversed a path defined by perseverance, dedication, and an unwavering commitment to excellence, making her ascent to CEO all the more remarkable.

Shamsa Al-Falasi’s Career at Citi

Shamsa Al-Falasi’s career journey stands as a testament to her exceptional prowess and unwavering commitment. Over nearly two decades at Citi, she has traversed various corners of the globe, accumulating a wealth of experience and expertise. From the bustling streets of Dublin to the financial epicenters of London and Sao Paulo, her journey reflects her adaptability and resilience in navigating the ever-evolving global financial landscape.

Throughout her tenure at Citi, Shamsa has achieved remarkable milestones that have solidified her reputation as a dynamic leader. One such milestone occurred in 2015, when she assumed the pivotal role of Head of the Global Subsidiaries Group (GSG) for the UAE and Iraq.

Under her stewardship, the GSG portfolio expanded significantly, encompassing regional responsibilities for the GCC and Iraq by 2018. Shamsa’s strategic acumen and unwavering leadership were instrumental in driving growth and cultivating robust client relationships within these key markets.

In addition to her role within the GSG, Shamsa’s leadership capabilities were further exemplified when she took on interim positions as Citi Country Officer (CCO) and interim CEO of Citibank, North Africa UAE Onshore Branch, starting in early 2023. During this transitional period, her steady guidance ensured operational continuity and upheld the highest standards of service delivery, reflecting her steadfast commitment to organizational excellence and client satisfaction.

Furthermore, Shamsa’s commitment to client-centric excellence has been instrumental in enhancing Citibank’s reputation and market position. By prioritizing client satisfaction and delivering exceptional products and services, she has strengthened Citibank’s competitiveness and attracted new business opportunities, ultimately driving revenue growth.

Overall, Shamsa Al Falasi’s strategic vision, leadership prowess, and unwavering dedication have played a pivotal role in propelling Citibank’s growth and profitability, solidifying its position as a leader in the financial industry.

Shamsa Al-Falasi’s Resilience in a Male-Dominated Industry

In the traditionally male-dominated realm of banking and finance, Shamsa Al-Falasi’s journey has been characterized by overcoming formidable obstacles. Despite facing entrenched gender biases and stereotypes, her unwavering resilience and determination have propelled her forward, carving a path of empowerment and inspiration for women in the industry.

One of the significant challenges Shamsa has encountered is the need to break stereotypes and redefine conventional notions of leadership. As the first Emirati woman to assume the helm of Citi’s UAE onshore businesses, she understands the importance of challenging preconceived notions and paving the way for greater diversity and inclusion within the sector. Through her leadership, she serves as a beacon of inspiration, encouraging other women to pursue leadership roles and shatter glass ceilings.

Moreover, navigating gender bias remains an ongoing challenge in her journey. Despite strides towards gender equality, biases and barriers persist, posing obstacles to women’s advancement in the industry. Throughout her career, Shamsa has confronted these biases head-on, advocating for equal opportunities and recognition based on merit rather than gender. Her steadfast commitment to fostering an environment of inclusivity and fairness serves as a testament to her dedication to creating a more equitable workplace for future generations of female leaders.

Shamsa Al-Falasi’s Vision for Citibank UAE

As CEO of Citibank UAE, Shamsa Al-Falasi’s vision is clear: to elevate the institution to new heights of excellence and client-centricity. She is committed to delivering exceptional products and services that meet and exceed the evolving needs of Citibank’s clientele, solidifying its reputation as a leader in the financial industry. With a seasoned team sharing their dedication to excellence, they aim to revolutionize the banking experience in the UAE. 

Shamsa’s leadership fosters innovation, embraces diversity, and drives sustainable growth, positioning Citibank as a trusted partner for clients across the region, surpassing expectations, and cementing its premier status in the industry.

Shamsa Al Falasi’s appointment as CEO of Citibank’s UAE onshore operation represents a watershed moment in the annals of banking history in the region. Her ascendancy not only shatters glass ceilings but also underscores the transformative power of visionary leadership and unwavering determination.

Citibank UAE is poised for an exciting chapter under Shamsa Al-Falasi’s pioneering leadership, and the financial landscape will undoubtedly benefit from her vision and drive.

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