The Edges of Lean — Episode 30 Continuous Improvement in the Gulf States with Deborah Salimi

Lean thinking is flourishing in the Gulf States.  Today I’m speaking with Dr Deborah Salimi, who is a co-founder of the Lean Gulf Institute, about her career, and how the Lean Gulf Institute was created.

She shares how she has applied lean thinking across industries with great success, including stories from male-dominated workplaces, and how women are advancing at a rapid pace in these workplaces. She also shares learnings throughout her career working in different countries, and how she shifted from being an engineer to being an educator.



Deborah is a speaker, mentor, author and recognized as a Lean Sensei who enthusiastically shares her knowledge and insights. She enjoys success in the practical application of Lean Six Sigma and project management to IT, construction, high-tech manufacturing, and healthcare. She has held high visibility roles at fortune 500 industry leaders such as Intel Corporation, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics, Hughes Aircraft/Boeing, and Honeywell and in the not-for-profit healthcare and education sectors. In 2010 Deborah co-founded the Lean Gulf Institute (LGI), ( based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 



Linked In: 


 Key topics in this podcast:

  • Deborah’s career background
  • How did she end up working in the middle east?
  • What led her to lean? 
  • Lean as a lifestyle
  • Her journey working in male-dominated workplaces
  • How did she deal with country culture in so many different places?
  • How did she become an educator from being an engineer?
  • Her variety of experiences working from different places
  • Diversity of countries she worked in, in terms of female advancement
  • Female advancement in UAE
  • How lean applied across industries in the Gulf States 
  • Coaching and management in a lean way



  • Deborah was an international worker who had the opportunity to work in many different countries: the USA, Japan, UAE, and Mexico.
  • Deborah’s career has given her the opportunity to see many different cultures and learn about them.
  • Why her gender did not hold her back working in male-dominated fields.
  • How she applies lean thinking across different industries.
  • Female empowerment in the UAE, and why they are a leader in the advancement women.


Words of wisdom or Tweet-ables 

Deborah Salimi

“Don’t discount your education”

“If you want to succeed, you need to become a lifelong learner”