Mentorship plays a crucial role in breaking barriers within various industries worldwide, the opening panel of the Global Black Impact Summit (GBIS) emphasized in Dubai on February 27. With almost every economic sector faced with challenges including underrepresentation, barriers to entry and lack of diversity, collaboration can serve as a tool for advancing societal inclusion and equity.

The inaugural GBIS 2024 panel set the tone of the event by delving into how perseverance, determination and a positive mindset can serve as catalysts for overcoming barriers and achieving success. Moderated by Dr. Betty Uribe, United Nations Ambassador for Peace & Human Rights, the panel explored the journeys and challenges faced by five Black leaders from diverse fields, including energy, media and entertainment.

NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC), reflected on his experience growing up in Cameroon. Ayuk emphasized the importance of rallying the right people and overcoming doubt, particularly in his role as chairman of the AEC, where advocating for a reduction of energy poverty in Africa remains a top priority.

Novi Brown, an actress committed to empowering Black women, spoke about the stereotypes and challenges she faced in the entertainment industry. “The biggest challenge is showcasing your authentic self as a Black woman, coming with your natural hair on a production set for example ” she stated. Brown highlighted her efforts to challenge the narrative of Black history in the media.”

Adding to these remarks, Chuck West, Executive Producer and CEO of OCTET Productions, reflected on his own experience in the entertainment industry, highlighting the mission of his production company to break barriers and create opportunities for collaboration.

Meanwhile, Sabrina Ben Salmi, Founder of Dreaming Big Together Publishing and Family Advocate, shared her personal journey of breaking generational patterns and empowering young people. “This platform is about breaking barriers so families don’t have to suffer,” she expressed.

She highlighted how the underestimation of young people represents a significant challenge and emphasized the importance of mentorship.

Auriel Rawlings, in her role as the Inclusion Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa, detailed her commitment to advancing diversity and equal opportunities. She emphasized her advocacy in both traditional corporate and governmental settings, showcasing a versatile approach to fostering inclusive practices across diverse organizational landscapes.

“The biggest challenge has been to dismantle barriers, the culture of unawareness or [lack of] education around people of color,” she stated, emphasizing the need for greater representation in leadership positions.

“We need to learn from each other and mentor kids,” concluded Uribe, emphasizing the importance of sharing black success stories to the future generations of leaders.