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Cornell Entrpreneur of the Year

By Kathy Hovis

Lubna Olayan

Lubna Olayan

CALS alumna 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 was 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. Olayan is a member of 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 has been a Cornell trustee since 2007. She is on the board of Saudi Hollandi Bank and is a non-executive director of WWP, the world’s second-largest advertising agency and media planning organization. She is a member of the international advisory boards of Rolls Royce, Akbank, and the Council on Foreign Relations. She is on the board of directors of INSEAD and King Abdullah’s University of Science and Technology.

She 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 they were 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.