Laure Sleiman: A news worthy woman

Battling sexism in journalism

Greg Demarque| Executive

For this month’s special report on women in the workforce, Executive chose to profile a selection of seven successful, upper managerial level, Lebanese working women. Read more profiles as they’re published here, or pick up March’s issue at newsstands in Lebanon.

When Laure Sleiman was first appointed as director of the National News Agency (NNA) in 2008, the official news agency under the Ministry of Information, a criticism she heard was that “this job needs a man.” Eight years into the post, handling the broadcasting of many delicate political news items in a timely and efficient manner, Sleiman says: “I proved them wrong. I showed them that what this position needs is determination and hard work, regardless of gender.”

Within days of graduating from the Lebanese University’s faculty of media and documentation in 1992, Sleiman had landed a post at Voice of Lebanon as a news broadcaster and correspondent after having demonstrated her skills during an interview for a university project with then president of the Kataeb party, George Saadeh. She stayed in that post for three years while simultaneously working with the Al Markaziya News Agency, an independent news agency, and the Al A’mal newspaper, which later shut down. 

After getting married, Sleiman left these jobs and accepted a position in the NNA in 2004. “I preferred working with the NNA as it was a better position with more flexible working hours, which was important to me at that time,” explains Sleiman. She rose up the ranks in the NNA, getting promoted from secretary of the news division to the director of that same division. She was finally promoted director of the whole agency, becoming the only woman in the Arab region to be a director of a national news agency, according to her.

[pullquote]“It takes an open minded and flexible partner to bear all this”[/pullquote]

Sleiman explains that she often gets work related calls at night or during weekends when a newsworthy event occurs. Balancing a family life with that sort of pressure is not easy and “comes at the expense of my health and comfort,” she says. “I have three children and when I first started at NNA, in 2004, they were still at the age when I was helping them study at home. I put in a lot of effort to balance these two roles and didn’t get the time to rest even at night,” she says. 

Still, Sleiman says she loves her career and the thrill that comes with it and attributes part of the strength she has to move forward with her work to her husband and children. “It takes an open minded and flexible partner to bear all this.”

Sleiman advises young women to not look at their job as just a paycheck at the end of the month, as “success comes through dedication and motivation in what you do.”

Nabila Rahhal

Nabila is Executive's hospitality, tourism and retail editor. She also covers other topics she's interested in such as education and mental health. Prior to joining Executive, she worked as a teacher for eight years in Beirut. Nabila holds a Masters in Educational Psychology from the American University of Beirut.