Click above to watch my own Play BIG! story video
I had no intention of being an entrepreneur.
I had a stable life and the career of my dreams. After living between the UAE and Canada, I was working as a software design engineer in a multinational company in Abu Dhabi, designing computer programs to help make people’s lives easier and simpler. It was the perfect job for me, completely in tune with my Introverted Feeling MBTI personality type.
Then, in July 1999, everything changed for me. My husband quit his career to partner in the project of his dreams in Egypt. What followed were some of the toughest months of my life. I went from being a fully independent, active woman to feeling totally helpless and useless. My husband was working almost 14 hours, I did not have any family in Cairo, and being a stranger as an Egyptian in Egypt is tough. I had no friends at all, and no children to keep me busy. No network to build on. No job and no knowledge of the demographics of Cairo. And almost no love for a country I had heard nothing but negative things about growing up.
When I reached almost clinical depression, I realized I HAD to do something. I had to pull myself together and save myself and my marriage. I still remember what I kept repeating to myself: Where you focus your attention, energy flows. Where energy flows, life grows!!
I was not being proactive, and was focusing on my circles of concern not my circles of control and influence. I was also constantly comparing. Two decisions turned my life around within 6 months: I decided to stop comparing and complaining, and focused my energy on finding the silver lining in every cloud. I also decided to start looking for work at a place I would fit in and start creating a circle of contacts. I had many interviews, and I finally found the right place for me through “Career Egypt”.
In December 1999, I joined A&K Egypt as Planning & IT Director. It was a long distance from Heliopolis to Downtown, so I learnt to drive. I loved my job, and I started liking Egypt. One of the outcomes of this period is a total conviction that we were created Egyptians to leave our legacy in Egypt not elsewhere. The DO IT ANYWAY poem by Mother Theresa was like an epiphany to me at the time.
My career grew to encompass HR, and I fell in love with it, especially performance management, because it had a direct impact on people. I also discovered a passion for teaching, and I used to seize every opportunity to facilitate workshops to our staff in the 8 branches. I became a Professional in HR through SHRM and in 2003, I became a certified trainer from Cambridge. During those years, I also had my 2 gifts from GOD, Adam in 2001 and Lara in 2004.
I got promoted to Executive Director, HR, IT and Planning responsible for all 8 company branches and member of the board. At the peak of my career, I had the heavy feeling that I was spending only 20% of my time doing impactful work and 80% on meetings and office politics. It took me 8 months to take the decision to leave the corporate world, and another 2 years to make the move.
All I knew in 2010 was: my passion is inspiring people to make proactive changes in their life, and the tool is blended coaching. I started off as a freelance facilitator, mostly with the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt and the Egyptian Tourism Chamber Training Department. I always developed the material myself, and I almost never repeated the same program. I found this frustrating, time consuming and sometimes unfair. Yet, all this went away the minute I felt I had inspired someone to make a real transformation in their life, so I kept going.
I invested in my own development. I am a CPLP through the ATD and an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) through the ICF. I am also an MBTI practitioner and a Lego Serious Play facilitator, and the first Egyptian to co-lead in the IDDI coaching certification program by the Spanish Francisco De Vittoria University, offered in Egypt through LCE.
For 3 years, I was happy, very busy, yet unfulfilled. After soul searching, I realized I was working with large organizations. The challenge? It is like I was polishing diamonds. Polish all you want, it is already a diamond. I wanted to make a more impactful difference. Taking a leap of faith, I founded THINK for Professional & Personal Development in 2014. I wanted it to be the GO TO place for Egyptian SMEs to get quality real blended coaching solutions. The name “THINK” and the slogan “Thoughts that last” represent a learner’s journey. THINK provides True, Happy, Inspiring, Necessary Know-How. Learners transform the learning into Thoughts that last, take action and achieve tangible results.
I have learnt that we lead our lives from the inside out. It all starts with setting intentions, having faith and resilience, embracing the challenge, stepping into our greatness and being the change.
Going forward, my mission is to challenge remarkable women to PLAY BIG, get unstuck and be unstoppable. To inspire them to lead their lives gracefully, with authenticity, vulnerability and confidence