Passion. Vision. And a whole lot of imagination.
The gold star serial entrepreneur is the spirit and backbone of Squares, a leading events management, entertainment and educational enrichment company in Riyadh.
The moment you meet Nora Okail, you get drawn to her genuine character and wit. She radiates with positivity and effortlessly showcases a visionary approach towards her work and passions.
It can be said that the 29-year-old founder of Squares is a business prodigy. She turned her first profit when she was a child, opening up, in her own term, a “supermarket” on the side of the street for the neighborhood children.
“One day I was in the supermarket with my father and instead of buying just one piece of chocolate, I asked if I could get a carton. I told him, ‘Can you buy me this and I will sell it, I want to open a supermarket and I will pay you back.’ He just laughed at me and told me to get whatever I want,” –
And so it went that Okail would open her supermarket right after school from noon until maghrib prayer. She even had a warehouse according to her, where she would keep her stocks under lock and key.
Okail’s enterprising childhood bolstered her passion to one day own and run her own company. In fact, at the age of 19, she decided to save up her university allowance in order to invest in her first business.
“My allowance then was SR 800. I remember clearly, I saved for four months and with just SR 2,500 as my capital, I started an e-commerce website. This was back in 2005.”
Eventually, Okail and her business partner sold their thriving first venture. She continued to venture into several commercial avenues before finding herself in the field of events management, or as Okail puts it, it’s the work that found her.
“I like volunteering a lot. A lot, lot. And I’m naturally the kind of person that when you ask me to work on something, I do the task quickly but also, I start thinking of ways it can be better. I ask myself, ‘what more can be done?’”
This positive, go-getter mindset opened opportunities for Okail, including her first break in events management. She was tasked to organize one of the biggest Kuwaiti conferences in the Kingdom and from there, the rest is history.
Currently, Squares Management is considered to be the premiere events management company in Riyadh and the Kingdom. It is no longer limited to such services but has expanded to fulfill a gap in the entertainment and enrichment market in the country. Breakout Riyadh is one of its subsidiaries and in the coming months, the company will launch Mad Scientist workshops for schools.
Reflecting on her own experiences, Okail is keen to create valuable impact on the community – and not necessarily in the conventional way. The well-traveled and museum loving Riyadhi dreams of one day opening her own amusement park.
“It’s my dream, not just for myself but I think it will bring families and people together. What excites me is seeing people having a shared and unforgettable experience.”
Behind Okail’s desk hangs a framed sheet of paper. On it are words she wrote that embodies her beliefs, dreams and random thoughts:
“Balance. Hope. Technology. Brave. Cooking. Good food. Relax. My sisters. Genuine,” –
Perhaps this is part of what makes Okail an exceptional character and a formidable entrepreneur. Her business acumen is balanced with knowing what matters most. It’s one thing to dream big, another to have the rigor and relentless passion to do whatever it takes to make them come true.
Lastly, we asked Nora how she is able to keep her cool on and not burnout from all the work. She replies with a sincere smile, “Who says I’m working? I’m living.”