International business CEO Ann Marie Hooper Harrison may have had humble beginnings as a singer at the Oklahoma College for Women (OCW), but today, she is the only foreign woman to head a major corporation in Egypt.
Following her marriage to William Harrison, the couple moved to Cairo, Egypt, when her husband accepted a senior position in 1966. Although they were in new territory as foreigners in the Middle East, Harrison said Egypt had an unexpected affect on them. “I didn’t plan on falling instantly in love with Egypt,” Harrison said. Seven years later, the Harrisons made a career- and life-changing decision. They founded International Business Associates Group, Ltd. (IBA), their first entry into the world of business in the Middle East. The company offers consulting services to foreign companies looking to establish in Egypt.
Harrison was selected to receive a full scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia after her OCW graduation. She received a Certificate of Performance from Curtis and continued her education at Indiana University as a part-time doctoral student. She transferred to the University of Texas in Austin and furthered her studies. Harrison taught as a professor of voice for six years at the University of Corpus Christi and Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
By 1983, Harrison took the reigns as managing editor of IBA Media, the publishing side of IBA responsible for Egypt Today, which is considered the Middle East’s oldest and most respected current affairs magazine. She also became Chairman and CEO of IBA, following the death of her husband. With nearly 30 years to back it, the business is going strong. Today, IBA has nearly 70 offices across Egypt, employing more than 350 Egyptian staff members.