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Silver IBA Stevie Winner Making Waves In Business

Press release October 29, 2018 Cambridge business school Gilan holding Women in business Gulnar Hasanova Business awards

Azerbaijani’s Gilan Holding’s Retail Group Gulnar Hasanova inspiring other women to take leadership roles

Gulnar H

Cambridge Business School MBA alumni, Gulnar Hasanova was awarded a silver Stevie International Business Award as Woman of the Year at a red-carpet gala dinner in London on the weekend.

As CEO of Azerbaijani’s Gilan Holding’s Retail Group and a member of the board of directors, Ms Hasanova’s win was not just for her success in her professional space but for her courage and inspirational leadership in a business world dominated by men.

In Azerbaijan, women are underrepresented in high level jobs. However, in the past 18 months, women are, more and more, being better represented at the seat of decision making. Ms Hasanova is an example of a woman in a leadership role, who has paid her dues and is paving the way for more women leaders in Gilan Holdings.

She said, “being a leader is more than looking after a portfolio but stepping up to show others the way.

“I have 500 employees looking up to me. I want them to be inspired by what they can achieve when they put their mind to achieving their goals. A great leader should be just as familiar with, and focused on, their people as the company’s finances.”

Last year, Ms Hasanova entered the Cambridge Executive MBA. While this decision adds to her professional credentials, she undertook this study to also set an example to all her employees.

“I want to create teams of people who love working together, the right people for the right task ultimately create a workplace culture that ensures staff are fully motivated to achieving their goals and the organisation’s goals,” she said.

“Our team has achieved a lot this year. By having more women in position of leadership we are changing the way business is done. We are showing that women can and do excel in business.

“This year, I have mentored five women moving into senior leadership roles and with the team’s focus and help, we have increased the revenues across multiple portfolios, exceeding budgets and outperforming other portfolios in the Gilan Holding stable.

“I have also motivated many other female employees across the holding. It has been exciting to watch these women excel in their roles and be promoted into leadership positions.”

Ms Hasanov’s achievement is because of her passion for people. With a background in human resources, her approach to building teams is sometime in conflict with the status quo. “You cannot have success without the team behind you. I am only one person and I need the right people to support me,” she said.


  • Role model - leading the way for other women in Azerbaijan women to move into leadership roles in a country where this is not usual.
  • Exceeded budgets - cross her portfolios and increased revenues in the real estate portfolio - increasing profit by 22%.
  • Increased sales across commercial and real estate portfolio.
  • Study tours - continual expansion of knowledge and learning through international study tours and bringing back knowledge to share with the team.
  • New stores launched - home store and new restaurant.
  • Won store of the year
  • Started executive MBA at Cambridge University.


Cambridge business school Gilan holding Women in business Gulnar Hasanova Business awards