1. Tell us a about yourself.
I am an HR professional with over 28 years of experience in the field of HR management and training. I graduated as a Physics major with an electronics minor and yes, surprisingly my career branched out in a totally different direction.
I started my career as a physics and math assistant in university and I was inspired by my mentor and professor to pursue my masters in T&D. Two years down the road, I tied the knot and I had to leave my motherland Egypt along with my career to accompany my husband as a young bride to KSA. We were supposed to stay there for 6 months and well, it got a little bit stretched to 28 years in the Gulf region.
28 years ago women were not lucky enough to work in KSA, however, I never gave up and relentlessly fished for opportunities to do what I love the most, training in a Saudi Academy for females. I worked there for 2 years until I moved to Kuwait and pursued the same career as a trainer and content designer and developer. Then 2 years later to the UAE where I settled for the past 19 years.
These moves and shifts were happening with 4 kids on board so this was quite challenging but I simply pushed forward and gave it my all.
My corporate career started in AUH, where I worked in various industries in HRD and HRM; I put in management at the age of 30 in a male dominated industry like Oil & Gas and that was quite tough but I was determined to prove my worth and never stopped learning and growing. I actually sought a new job at the age of 48 when I joined Biz Group which is again another challenge.
2. What are the toughest challenges you have overcome in your career?
I have faced numerous challenges on the personal as well as the professional level along my 49 years. The biggest was moving and living in 4 different countries and having to build my career and re-establish myself every time; creating networks and building relationships. But the toughest of all was the career move I made from corporate to freelancing and consultancy in 2010 due to health issues. At the time I was at the peak of my career in management and it was hard giving this up for the unknown but I believed in myself and I knew I would make it with enough determination and hard work and I did.
The lessons I learned along my journey are more or less captured in the below behaviors:
- Believe and receive; what you seek always seeks you. Trust yourself and follow your intuitio, if you say you can or you can’t, you are RIGHT!
- Have fun; laugh a lot, savor every moment and never take yourself too seriously
- Genuinely care about people and treat them the way you want to be treated. They feel it and you gain trust and build meaningful relations
3. Did you have a mentor or role model you were inspired by?
I was lucky enough to have a mentor at the tender age of 18 at university; she was my Physics professor at the time but she was also a business and soft skills trainer and she is the one who inspired me with her dedication and love for service to start my training and HR career early on in life. I attended a train the trainer program with her and got inspired to pursue my masters in learning and development and followed her path in adult learning. We are still in touch till this day and she is one of the most inspiring and strong women that I have ever met in my life.
4. What are 3 pieces of advice you would share with aspiring learning professionals?
- Success comes before work only in the dictionary; Inject passion and loads of dedication in everything you do, people feel it and it is contagious.
- Stay positive, be mindful and live in the moment; the only person you have control over is YOU. Your positivity gains you credibility as an influencer. It simply inspires others and once that happens you disarm their weapons and they open up their minds to you.
- Lead change and always be proactive and adapt fast; when you stop rowing upstream you not only stop but you drift backwards.
- And one extra, have a natural curiosity and a zeal for learning as it keeps you fresh, excited and young.
5. What has been the proudest moment of your career?
When I was appointed as Head of Learning & Development in a 6000 employee organization in my early 30s and I gained the trust and respect not only of the leadership team but also of the juniors and blue collar staff I interfaced with.
That moment when I was invited to attend the senior management monthly meeting to present my L&D strategy and I stepped in that fancy room full of 20 senior male leader and I was the only female ever in a managerial role in the organization, my heart swelled and I realized that luck is a myth, only hard work pays off.
I actually felt prouder when I stepped back into that organization 13 years down the line now being a Biz consultant. I was greeted warmly by the security guard, managers and professionals I worked closely with and potentially touched their lives in subtle ways in my 6 years tenure in that organization. That was truly an AHA moment for me, they all remembered me after all those years.