Rawan Albutairi is an ‘Outlier’ at Davos and Saudi Arabia

Rawan Albutairi

The BBC introduced this story with a slightly breathless first sentence, accompanied by several images of a striking young woman copyright by Ms Albutairi herself

Not that the BBC would use politically incorrect language, or other click-bait device. I can just about imagine the treatment from the Red Tops. Here’s an extract from the BBC version:

Rawan Albutairi wouldn’t have to do much to get noticed at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

A mere 18% of all delegates at the conference are female, and women under 30 are rarer still – especially if they are from Saudi Arabia.

Through the late King Abdullah’s scholarship programme, she studied finance at The University of Maine.

But the 28-year-old is unusual for other reasons, too. She’s a leading financial analyst at the world’s biggest oil and gas company, Aramco, managing a $ multi-billion budget, and she is one of the Forum’s “Global Shapers” – a title awarded for her work in encouraging more young women to enter Saudi Arabia’s male-dominated workforce.

What’s more, she’s currently in training for the Rio Olympics later this year. where she will be competing as part of the kingdom’s first ever female fencing team.

By her own admission, she’s an “outlier” in her country.

Why Rawan Albutairi is an Outlier

The BBC assumes its website readers understand why a 28 year-old Saudi woman attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, who is an Olympic fencing athlete and a finance manager at Aramco is an ‘Outlier’.

The story would have caught my eye anyway. the World Economic Forum held in Davos in January is always good for a leadership story. It is also a source of interest for conspiracy theorists about global Galacticos such as Warren Buffet and Tony Blair secretly planning wheezes to consolidate their mighty power.

Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s giant energy producer and source of its petro-wealth, is also in the news for plans of a finance a deal to adjust for its financial shortfalls following the continued slump in crude oil prices

But my interest was also quickened because I have been revisiting Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas about Outliers for a different writing project. (I am writing a book about Jose Mourinho, someone I see very much as a Gladwellian Outsider).

For Gladwell, exceptional achievements result from exceptional effort, and motivation. Debate continues regarding the requirement of innate and special talent. There is a lively debate continuing about the nature of exceptional talent. Gladwell suggests that outstanding achievers put in thousands of hours of motivated work before their talent is developed and appears effortless. There are many anecdotal accounts to back up his idea. Successful high achievers often show an obsessive compulsion and motivation from an early age. Natural talent combines with motivation and opportunity (which is helped along by mentors or parental encouragement).

Rawan Albutairi has much in common with ‘The Special One’. Her charismatic progress may be worth following.

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