Laila El Gammal
Leading Businesswoman in the Men’s World of Textiles
Laila El Gammal is to the world of textile business what Coco Chanel was to the world of fashion – Experimental, Courageous and very, very Classy. As the President of Nobeltex – a leading provider of textile machinery and accessories, air conditioning systems and fire protection systems, Laila’s products are much sought after in the market.
G.I.E.S., Nobeltex and IEI are a family-owned group of companies that have been established through the years.
Laila’s father had a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from L’ecole Centrale in Paris and was a pioneer in the textile spinning and weaving industry in Egypt. Post retirement in 1958, he started his own company G.I.E.S. specializing in commercial agencies of international textile machines manufacturers. Laila’s mother had a bachelor’s degree in Law from the Sorbonne in Paris now known as college Sorbonne but was not directly involved in the family business.
As her father was her role model, she too studied engineering after graduating from her French school
– Pensionnat de la Mere de Dieu, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Alexandria University in 1963, followed by a Master’s degree in the same field in 1968.
Laila’s father believed that management was a man’s role, and was not keen that she joins his business. So, she started by working in the public sector, first in the bleaching and dyeing department of the National Spinning and Weaving company, then in the Research and Development Department of Misrayon company. She also taught Chemistry and Physics after her work hours to increase her income. Laila was granted a scholarship at Tashkent Textile Institute where she spent one year doing research on the effect of heat on polyester yarns.
After almost 13 years in the public textile sector, Laila resigned from her job for personal reasons and decided to teach full time. When she told her father about it, he asked Laila to join him, thereby fulfilling a life-long dream. At this time, the business was suffering. But through sheer hard work and gritty dedication, Laila managed to save the family business, establish her own 2 companies Nobeltex and IEI, and transform the group into the biggest textile machinery agency in Egypt.
Revealing how she achieved it, Laila says, “I believe in reliability, continuity and sustainability. I take only calculated risks, representing new unknown companies only after a trial period during which I evaluate them to ensure that they will not fail my customers who have put their trust in me. Though I don’t mind
trying different things, I normally stick to my own area of speciality, expanding in the same field.”
Today, Nobeltex is well known as a premier supplier of textile machines and accessories throughout the Egyptian market and worldwide. “I am proud to say that representing some of the most prominent textile machinery manufacturers in the world has allowed me to supply machines to nearly all the mills in Egypt, both in the private and the public sector. These machines enabled customers to produce the best quality with the highest efficiency thus contributing to their personal economic success and growth,” says Laila.
Laila’s resilient leadership has seen the company grow from strength to strength. Nobeltex has repeatedly been chosen as the best country agency by many suppliers over the years, often exceeding expected sales figures, and helping partners surpass their expectations too. On a personal note, Laila was honored with the prestigious Award for ‘Excellence in Business’ in 2007 and was invited to the World Bank as one of the leading ladies’ entrepreneurs of the MENA (Middle-East and North Africa) region in acknowledgement of her professional achievements.
Yet, according to Laila, her biggest personal achievement has been preparing her daughter, Nayla El Tawil, to take over and continue the family business. “Despite working constantly, I always tried to give my children as much time as I could and give them both a proper upbringing as well as a good education (thanks to my mother, who always supported me). It was not easy, but looking at them now, I feel I have succeeded,” says the proud mother of three.
Laila was driven by her will to succeed primarily because of the scepticism she faced. Speaking about those early days, she recalls, “Everybody said I would fail in an exclusively men’s business field but through patience, hard work, dedication, honesty and mutual respect, I managed to overcome the challenges and earn the respect and appreciation of my partners as well as the competition.”
A graceful leader, what Laila does not mention is that she makes herself available 24/7 to all her business partners – customers, suppliers and employees. While she believes in surrounding herself with the best team, she does not hesitate to personally solve any problem that arises, regardless of who is responsible for it. Truly a woman of perseverance and panache!