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Employee

Interview with Nermine Fawzy ~ Executive Director Global Talent & Operations at ITWORX

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Interviewer: Mahmoud Mansi

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You have worked for 17 years as an HR professional. During all these years, what is the most common mistake companies make related to employees?

Nermine Fawzy: I think that there are some important things that companies need to consider and avoid. First, hiring people with the relevant skills needed for the job. I often see companies hire people with skill sets that are different than what is actually needed for a job. For example, requiring someone who is very creative for a very operational, process-driven job: There is limited room, if any, for creativity so hiring someone who is creative can only cause frustration and issues for everyone involved. Another example, hiring a sales engineer where the candidate has fantastic technical skills but very limited communication skills just won’t work. Second, considering diversity in the workforce. This goes beyond gender diversity: It includes having a workforce with different people, with different backgrounds, different educational backgrounds, different personality types, etc. It is very common to hire the same kind of person because it is more comfortable and familiar but the problem is that it is limiting, especially in a diverse business world.Third is lack of alignment. All too often the right conversations don’t happen. These conversations include what is expected from the employee, what they need to work on, what they are doing well, understanding how the employee contributes to the bigger picture. All too often conversations don’t happen causing confusion, disengagement, and lack of results. There are a number of others but I would say that these are the most common.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: In 2007 you worked in a company creating the HR department. What is necessary for an HR department to work well? What are the characteristics a HR employee should have?

Nermine Fawzy: I was very lucky to be able to do this more than once in my career. The key ingredient for a successful HR department is that it needs to match the needs of a business. Understanding what the business really needs, adhering to that and making that successful is what is important. If a business has a lot of young employees and is constantly evolving, makings sure that the HR department has talent development and management capabilities, in addition to change management and planning skills is critical. If the business environment is predominantly in a factory setting, the HR department must have strong administrative and employee relations skills. There needs to be an array of skills but some will be more important based on the business.

There are different characteristics an HR employee needs to have depending on their specific area of work and/or interest. However, I think the universal ones include the ability to listen, think on their feet, work in stressful situations and a curiosity and openness to learn.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: We see a lot of articles talking about what people should do in a job interview to get the job. But some employers don’t conduct good interviews and in the end, some good employees can’t show their skills and that he/she is a fit for the job. How can employers conduct good interviews to know if the person is a fit for the job?

Nermine Fawzy: The best interviewers are those that have a nose for talent but many don’t. With experience, interviewers asking the right questions and probing is important but if the interviewer isn’t asking the right questions, the candidate needs to think how to overcome this situation. Candidates should ask questions about what the job requires and what they are looking for in a candidate. Based on this, the candidate can explain their relevant experience and how they fit the ideal candidate. If you don’t have an opportunity, create the opportunity.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Motivating employees sometimes is the key to have good workers. How do you usually motivate yourself and motivate people you work with?

Nermine Fawzy: I believe that motivation largely comes from within. External motivation is often short-lived. Having said that, I believe there are some core elements for employees to be engaged. These include having an interesting job, learning, working within a cohesive team, getting recognition, and open communication. I am very self-motivated so as long as I feel I am adding value and enjoying my job, I am fully engaged. I believe that I am directly accountable for my own motivation.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You are currently working as an Executive Director – Global Talent & Operations, traveling through Egypt, Europe, The Gulf and the US. How do you deal with the differences between cultures in companies? What are your tips to people who travel for work and business in a lot of countries?

Nermine Fawzy: Really understanding different cultures is key. We often have assumptions and adhere to stereotypes about other cultures and companies, and I believe that is dangerous. Be curious about other cultures, ask questions, observe how things are done in different countries. The more you do this, the more successful you will be.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How can an HR department develop employees’ skills in a right way?

Nermine Fawzy: I think this is a big misconception: It is not the HR departments job to develop employee’s skills. Developing employee skills is a shared accountability starting with the employee, and includes the manager and the HR department. What the HR department needs to do is to make sure that it supports the employee and manager with advise, resources, tools and options. They also need to understand trends and gaps that are consistent within the organization to find bigger solutions.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How did your degree in Journalism and Mass Communication help you in the HR field?

Nermine Fawzy: I believe it helped me really understand communication and how to deal with people. How to talk to people, how to deliver messages, how to engage in written communication, how to interact with different groups are some of the things I learned by getting this degree. All these things I use almost every day in my job.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: One of your specialties is developing organizational culture. Can you explain more about it? How much this is important for an organization?

Nermine Fawzy: Organizational culture is critical. There is no wrong or right about what organizational culture should be but it does need to be defined. It’s important that the culture is in line with the business and that it is lived in how things are done in the organization. For example, if a company works in cutting-edge medical research, a culture that includes high discipline would be needed, but a culture of flexibility would not be appropriate. If you work in a dotcom start-up, a culture of fun would make sense but a culture that is process-driven may not make sense. A common mistake is that if culture isn’t defined, what often happens is that a culture evolves that is often different than what makes sense for the business.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What is the bigger difference between companies here in Egypt and companies in Europe or US? What can they learn with each other?

Nermine Fawzy: There are a lot of differences with priorities and what is seen as important is very different. The importance of personal relationships, adaptability to change, planning, focus on execution, the value of time, accountability are some examples. There is a lot that each can learn from the other. However, I don’t believe there is a right or wrong, and what works in one environment doesn’t always works in another environment.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What are the steps to develop the Employee Branding the right way?

Nermine Fawzy: I think there are a couple of important steps. First is establishing what the employment brand is and what is your employee value proposition is. Second is to communicate that brand. Third is to make sure that you follow through with that brand: Don’t create a brand that employees can’t live once they join the organization.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: As a professional you have been through several job interviews until you have reached your current position. What was the most difficult interview question you were asked, and what was your answer to it?

Nermine Fawzy: I think there are many difficult questions that I have been asked. I think the most difficult was asking about my weaknesses, not areas of development, but real weaknesses that are unlikely to develop. Being genuine, open and honest in answering such a question is difficult. I would answer this is that my pace is fast which sometimes causes issues because not everyone around me or even the business needs or wants a fast pace: It would make more sense to be able to slow the pace when it is needed.

  1. HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Many organizations nowadays focus on recruiting their HR people based on certifications such as SHRBP, CIPD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP for instance, while other candidates could be even more talented but they don’t get the job because they don’t have a similar certification. What is your opinion about that? What is your advice to HR recruiters? And what is your advice to HR people who do cannot afford such certifications?

Nermine Fawzy: I think certifications help people get introduced to skill sets and explain some fundamentals but what I really value is ability to learn. I think certifications can only get you so far but experience and learning through experience in HR is the key to success. I don’t get hung up on certifications. What I look for in HR employees is ability to learn, applying learning, change management capabilities, and being open to try new things.

  1. If you are to organize your own HR conference what would it be about? And in what country will it take place?

Nermine Fawzy: I think a main topic that companies talk about but don’t do much about is managing the different generations in the workplace. This would be the topic I would choose for am HR conference. We talk a lot about this topic but very few companies have really adapted to manage these differences. Because of the nature of topic, I think it can be in any country.

Corporate

Empathy at Work. Interview with Mimi Nicklin: Empathetic leader, Author and Business strategist

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Mimi Nicklin is an Author and the host of the Empathy for Breakfast Show & Secrets of The Gap podcast.

She is an experienced marketer and communications specialist, business strategist and a wellknown empathetic leader. She is a natural coach, writer and creative mind, and has held roles as diverse as Strategic Director, Vice President and Creative Officer in some of the world’s leading advertising agencies.

Her passion for balancing humanism with capitalism, drives her commitment to leading the practice of Regenerative and empathetic leadership, as well as her ‘principles of people’, into organisations and communities worldwide.

Softening The Edge is Mimi’s debut book – out on 15 September and available for pre-order now on amazon.com 

INTERVIEWER: Cinzia Nitti

HR Revolution: Hi Mimi, it’s our honor to make this interview and thanks in advance for what you will share with the HR Revolution Middle East Family. Many people assume that Empathy is generally about “being there” when someone is going through a difficult life path. Would you tell us more about the value of Empathy and how the whole concept relates to corporate life?

Mimi Nicklin: After thirty years of data that shows empathy is declining, we have a deficit on our hands; a corporate humanity deficit, an Empathy Deficit. The Empathy Deficit has been formed by a gap in connection with each other at the deepest social and corporate levels over many decades, and it undermines the fundamental principles of our ability to thrive in at work. Workplace absenteeism and apathy are reaching endemic proportions. Corporate anxiety, depression, and extreme proportions of burnout often complete the picture. Never has there been a time in history when we needed an intervention into our working lives more than we do today and empathy and ‘Regenerative Leadership’ is a powerful driver for this turnaround.

HR Revolution: Why Empathy in the workplace matters and how it impacts employee productivity?

Mimi Nicklin: As the environments we work within become ever tougher and sharper edged, especially during 2020, we are seeing employee productivity and performance dwindle. We have a deep problem at the exact point where humanity meets capitalism, and there is a lack of balance between the two which is impacting the performance, focus and capability of team members. This is a problem fuelled by three key parts. First, an ubiquitous obsession with growth at all costs which sees employee wellness drop in importance; second, a never-ending stress cycle which is impacting staff at all levels; and third, a widespread disconnection between our people and corporate culture at an unprecedented scale.

HR Revolution: Mimi, as a consultant and business strategist, do you have a human-centric “recipe” to develop Empathy at work? What would you suggest to HR Departments to improve their effectiveness in supporting employees through Empathy?  

Mimi Nicklin: The key of all empathetic organisations success lies in truly listening to our teams. Both overtly and directly, and through confidential channels such as questionnaires or feedback forms. After many months of 2020 have seen us working from home, as HR specialists we have had an opportunity for the first time in a long time to truly slow down and to consider the wider context of our teams and culture. We can’t expect our teams to not want to make change, to push back against old patterns and to want to work for a higher, more impactful purpose with a more flexible approach. It is in embracing this desire that will lead HR teams to be able to innovative and make sustainable changes to employee performance and health. At the top of our lists should be to listen to our teams as they re-enter their working environments and reassess each area of our business in light of the new world we are facing.

HR Revolution: Vulnerability has been a critical factor for business leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Is there any kind of professional-empathetic method that balances both a company’s ambition and highlights the employee’s role?

Mimi Nicklin: I often talk about principles of people beyond profit. This is not to say people ‘before’ profit. Our businesses need to remain profitable and sustain our organisational imperatives, but we can lead a culture that looks at the value of the strength of our people as something that has commercial value. Empathy in leadership and culture is a data set and an input for your business and the method of balancing them reduces risk and improves uptake and trust from staff, leading to improvements across KPI’s.  Without being able to walk in the shoes of our employees and understand their diverse viewpoints, it is nearly impossible to inspire and lead teams to success, and even harder to create marketing, powerful business decisions or innovative products and services that truly and deeply resonate with people.

HR Revolution: How Empathy, Emotional Intelligence and Technology coexist in response to the post-pandemic era?

Mimi Nicklin: We have more technology to connect with each other and our clients than ever before, and more data to leverage an understanding of what people want, yet the systematic dehumanization by corporate agendas and over analysis has damaged our ability to connect. Zoom calls and team applications can brilliantly connect us and facilitate our business processes but we must be aware the technology can lead to inauthentic and ‘cold’ culture’s between leaders and teams. As HR leaders, it is our intuition and integrity in empathising with the real and honest problems that our teams have (on and off screen) that will allow us to really make an impact and leverage technology without losing our humanity and connectedness to each other at work.

HR Revolution: “Softening the Edge.” A leadership book on Empathetic Influence and Emotional Intelligence is your first book (out on September 15th). Would you give our readers a glimpse of its content?

Mimi Nicklin: Softening the Edge focuses on something I have been passionate about for my entire career—the sustainable wellness of our workforce, treating people with kindness and decency, and the future of Regenerative Leadership that sustainably promotes human values as well as the financial value of every business. It addresses the Global Empathy Deficit from within our organisations, based on my own experiences leading teams around the world, and inspired by the turnaround story in my current organisation. The goal is to create wider understanding that the world of leadership and business is critically responsible for playing a role in protecting and improving our social future. Today, many people do not enjoy their work, burnout is at all-time high, depression is impacting over 33,000,000 people and the younger generation is leaving the corporate workplace in droves. By failing to proactively nurture empathy in our future leaders, we are failing to protect our future. Softening the Edge is part business tool, part corporate culture guide and part social eye opener to a downward trend impacting all areas of life and work. It shows how by harnessing and exercising empathy for employees and each other we can reverse the trend, build happier, more productive businesses and create a kinder, healthier world.

Thanks for your precious contribution, dear Mimi. The whole HR Revolution Crew wishes you all the best!

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Employee

حوار صحفي مع سلمى صادق – ممرضة طوارئ بمستشفى جامعة الاسكندرية

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صحافة: محمود منسي

الناس كانت متخيلة ان المهم في المجال الطبي هو الطبيب فقط ـ لكن اللي مش واخدين بالهم منه انه التمريض هو اللي بيفضل مع المريض بيلاحظ كل عرض وعلامة جديدة في تحسن أو سوء حالته الصحية وانه له دور عظيم جدا في عملية اتمام الشفاء

سلمى صادق

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه سر دخولك للكارير وايه التحديات اللى قابلتيها في بداية المجال؟

المجال الطبي عموما مجال ممتع جدا وأنا من صغري حسيت بشغف للمجال وبدأت ابحث عنه كتير ناس كتير قالتلي المجال صعب ومش هتستحملي اللي بيحصل فيه وشكل الحالات ف الطوارئ والاستقبال وانتي صغيرة مش هتتحملي ده، أنا اخدت كل الكلام ده على محمل التحدي وبدأت بشغفي الدراسة في المجال

أول تحدي قابلته في المجال هو نظرة المجتمع للتمريض في الوقت ده الناس كانت متخيلة ان المهم في المجال الطبي هو الطبيب فقط ـ لكن اللي مش واخدين بالهم منه انه التمريض هو اللي بيفضل مع المريض بيلاحظ كل عرض وعلامة جديدة في تحسن أو سوء حالته الصحية وانه له دور عظيم جدا في عملية اتمام الشفاء

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه المهارات اللي بتميز شخص عن التاني ف المجال ده؟

السرعة في الأداء بشكل متقن لأن مش كل الناس عندها ميزة انها تلحق مريض على بعد دقايق من فقد الوعي وتكون سبب انك تعيده تاني للحياة بسرعه وده بيتمثل في انك تعمل الاجراء صح وتكون مركز جدا في كل حاجة حواليك زي أداواتك كاملة و

cooperative staff without any tensions

وحاجة تانية برضو هي

How to solve problems during work intelligently

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: هل ممكن يكون في كلاشات بين فريق التمريض والأطباء، ايه ممكن يكون سببها؟

ممكن يحصل مثلا كلاش على أساس ان بعض من طاقم التمريض غير مؤهل بنسبة كافيه للعمل أو توضيح أكتر انه على قيد الدراسة أو فترة الامتياز أو حتى حديث التخرج ويبدأ العمل في وقت لا يوجد به افراد اساسيين من الطاقم في وقت حرج فبيسبب ان العمل لا يسري بشكل جيد أو مش بكفاءة عالية

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: في ظل الظروف الحالية هل طبيعة العمل في مجال التمريض متغيرة مع الكورونا وايه المراحل اللي بيمر بيها المريض وازاى بتتعاملوا في كل مرحلة من المراحل دي؟

طبعا اتغيرت وأصبح الأمر شبيه بحالة الطوارئ وأصبحت كل الفرق الطبية على استعداد لاستقبال الحالات المصابة بكورونا وتم توفير الواقيات الشخصية في جميع اقسام المستشفى وتم تدريب الفرق على كيفية لبس وخلع الواقيات بطريقة صحيحة حسب تعليمات مكافحة العدوى اما بالنسبة للمراحل اللي بيمر بيها المريض خلينا نعتبرها الأعراض اللي بيحس بيها المريض على الاغلب بيكون تكسير في الجسم وصداع نصفي مؤلم جدا وارتفاع درجة حرارة الجسم عن 37.5 درجة وبيحصل ضيق في التنفس وجفاف في الحلق وبعض الاعراض اللي بتصيب الجهاز الهضمي زي الاسهال مثلا وحاليا بيتم معالجة الأعراض ومش لازم كل المرضى يكون عندهم نفس الأعراض لا ساعات بيكون تلت أو أربع اعراض متجمعة ف مريض أو عرضين فقط

بالنسبة لدورنا في المرحلة دي هو اول حاجه اننا نطمن المريض انه هيكون كويس في أقرب وقت ممكن واننا بنحاول بقدر الامكان نكون سبب في شفاؤه بجانب طبعا التحاليل اللازمة له والأشعة والمسحة اللي بتأكد لنا المريض ده ايجابي ولا سلبي وتوزيع كورس العلاج المناسب له على حسب الاعراض اللي حاسس بيها

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: كيف تم تأهيلكم للعمل في نطاق الحجر الصحي وايه هيا التدريبات اللى لو كنتم اخدتوها كانت هتساعدكم أكتر في شغلكم؟

أولا احنا اخدنا دورة تدريبية في كيفية التعامل مع مريض الكورونا من أول معرفة أشكال الواقيات الشخصية المختلفة وكيفية ارتدائها وخلعها بالطريقة الصحيحة على حسب تعليمات مكافحة العدوى بمنظمه الصحة العالمية واتعلمنا ازاي نحط خطة نشتغل عليها في نطاق الحجر في المستشفيات

اظن ان من اهم الدورات اللي مفترض تكون في خطة مواجهة الفيروس عموما سواء في نطاق العمل مع مرضى الكورونا في المستشفيات أو خارجها هيا كيفية مراعاة شعور المريض لان نفسيه المريض بتساعد على تحسن حالته الصحية بنسبة كبيرة فمن وجهة نظري اننا لازم نتعلم كلنا ازاي نساعد المريض نفسيا انه يقدر يتخطى المرض ده

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: هل تم اصابة ناس من فريق التمريض وكيف تم التعامل معها؟

للأسف تم اصابه بعض الأشخاص من الفريق المعالج ودة أمر وارد انه يحصل بسبب بعض الأخطاء اللي ممكن تحصل في عدم توخي الحذر اثناء خلع الواقيات الشخصية وما شابه

لكن تم عزل الزملاء اللي اتصابوا وتم بدأ عمل تحاليل ومسحات لهم وبدء كورس العلاج لهم حسب الأعراض وهكذا

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه أكتر الحاجات اللي بترهقكم في شغلكم أيا كان صحيا أو نفسيا أو عقليا؟

أحيانا اللي بيرهقنا نفسيا هو حالة المريض اللي بنحاول بكل طاقتنا اننا ننقذه من الألم والمرض اللي هو فيه وبنتابع معاه من أول ما بيدخل المستشفى مرورا بالعناية المركزة وبنحاول نوفر له أكياس الدم والبلازما اللي محتاجها مثلا وبيصارع الألم بعدها وبنكون مقدرين كل الألم ده وللأسف مبيكملش حياته والأمر بيكون مسألة قدرية بحت وطبعا على الجانب الاخر ضغط الشغل نفسه في المستشفيات الحكومية بيكون عالي جدا وعدد الحالات الكبير لما بنشتغل معاهم بننسى نفسنا وساعات مبناكلش كويس مثلا ومبنهتمش بالتغذية السليمة اللي تدينا الطاقة الكافية اللي نقدر بيها نكمل شغلنا ـ أحيانا ده بيعود على الفرق الطبية عموما وبيأثر على صحتنا بالسلب للأسف لما ناخد عدد نبطشيات كتير دة بيخلينا مرهقين جدا وممكن يأثر على كفائه الشغل نفسه فبنحتاج نفصل أو ناخد بريك يخلينا نشحن طاقتنا تاني عشان نقدر نواصل مسيرة شغفنا واختيارنا للمجال نفسه 🙂

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: ايه الحاجات اللي ممكن تحصل عشان تساعدكم في صحتكم النفسية والجسدية وايه الحاجات اللي لو اتغيرت تخلي شغلكم أحسن؟

أظن ان من أهم الحاجات اللي ممكن تساعدنا في استعادة صحتنا وقوتنا في العمل هو تخفيف عدد النبطشيات في الشغل وتظبيط الاجازات وزيادة عدد العاملين بالمجال وده هيضمن كفاءة عمل كويسة جدا وهيكون سبب في شفاء عدد كتير من المرضى

وهيضمن مستوى صحي بجودة عالية وطبعا لازم يكون في تجديد وعرض لكل ما هو جديد في المجال زي ما حصل قبل كده واخدنا كلنا دورة كيفية السيطرة على الحريق ودي حاجة فعلا كنا محتاجينها جدا

من الحجات المهمة جدا اللي مش كتير واخد باله منها هيا نظرة المجتمع للأطقم الطبية لأن ده بيأثر بنسبة كبيرة جدا على تقديم مستوى أفضل للرعاية الصحية

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: هل بتلاقي وقت في روتين يومك تعملي الحاجات اللي بتحبيها؟

“Great things never come from comfort zones.”

دي عبارة اخدتها كمبدأ في حياتي

ان فعلا الحاجات أو الانجازات العظيمة مش بتيجي أبدا وأنا مريحه وكسلانة

في حاجات أساسية في روتين يومي زي قراءة الكتب مثلا ومشاهدة حلقات ل تيديكس، والتمارين اللي بعملها ف البيت، اختيار الأكل الصحي المناسب ليا

بجانب بقا اني بتعلم لغة جديدة ومؤخرا اكتشفت ان التعليم الالكتروني ممكن فعلا يكون أكثر فاعلية واستفادت منه كتير جدا

 ساعات مثلا أصور صورة حلوة واشيرها مع أصحابي كنوع من أنواع المحافظة على دائرة الصداقة اللي خارج نطاق العمل بتاعي

بعمل مثلا تطوير للمعلومات بتاعتي في مجالي ولو اتعلمت حاجة جديدة مثلا بروح ادور عليها أكتر وأتفرج على فيديوز عنها وأفهمها كويس جدا

 أنا بحاول بكل الأشكال اغير من شخصيتي للأفضل بأخلق وقت لقراية كتاب جديد أو لعمل اكلة جديدة حتى وأنا في المواصلات مثلا

 اهم شيء هو اني أمشي ورا الشغف بتاعي، لأن ده اللي هيخليني أوصل للي أنا عايزاه وهيخليني أنجح وهيفتحلي أبواب كتيرة جدا بالسعي في الطرق دي

مجلة ثورة الموارد البشرية: نصايحك ايه للناس اللي حاسة انها مصابة ومش قادرة تروح المستشفى؟

أول نصيحة هيا الاهتمام بالنظافة الشخصية بتاعتهم والتزام البيوت وعدم الخروج الا للضرورة

غسل الايدين لازم يكون أكتر من مرة في اليوم بعد كل عمل بتعمله ولو خرجت برا البيت لازم تلبس الماسك ويكون معاك كحول ايثيلي 70% سواء جيل أو سبراي واي تعامل مع أوراق مالية أو تعامل شخصي مع اي فرد برا البيت لازم تستخدم الكحول بعدها مع مراعاة المسافة الآمنة بين الافراد

واتمني السلامة للجميع

شكرا جدا يا سلمى على الإخلاص في عملك والمقابلة الصحفية الهامة دي

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Employee

Interview with Sally Khalil – Teacher and Librarian at New Horizon School, USA

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Interviewer: Mahmoud Mansi

“I’ve always wanted to be an actress and students are my beautiful audience who admire my tales with their wide-open eyes and curious questions. I like reading out loud and roleplaying from picture books to the little ones. This is when I know how rewarding it is, just from the happy look in their eyes…”

Sally Khalil
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE

Sally is an ESL teacher, tech and media associate, and librarian at an elementary and middle school in California. She has a BA in English from Alexandria University, Egypt, an MA in English from Chapman University and an MA in Arabic from Middlebury College in California. She worked briefly as a Google rater and shown interest in the tech field and became a Certified Microsoft Administrator in 2004. She has worked as an ESL/ESP teacher for 20 years in different work fields.

THE INTERVIEW

1-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Sally, it is very interesting that you have been through a lot of career experiences that all revolve around “books”, as a learner and an educator and now you work as a Librarian. Do you consider this as a career shift?

Sally Khalil: I sure do think it’s a shift, and I am all the happier because of it. I have always been curious what Americans like to read. There was this huge gap of knowledge that I needed to make up, because I haven’t lived in the US all my life. Now I have a decent idea what children love to read, and I make sure that I have those books in my library. While teaching, I used books as tool. As a librarian, they are my treasures.

2-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What other duties do you do as a school librarian? Do you enjoy them?

Sally Khalil: I read to students aloud from Pre-K to fourth grade when they do their weekly visit to the library. I’ve always wanted to be an actress and they are my beautiful audience who admire my tales with their wide-open eyes and curious questions. I like reading out loud and roleplaying from picture books to the little ones. This is when I know how rewarding it is, just from the happy look in their eyes. I also enjoy choosing books related to the various monthly themes. For example, in February during Black History Month, we read stories about the history and lives of African Americans.

Now the fact that I’ve majored in English literature, it becomes easier for me to do storytelling of a classic story to the older students. Sometimes I show short documentaries or scenes related to a book. They totally appreciate that and love their competitive spirit when they attempt to quickly answer the questions.

3-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: In your current role, you have led a couple of projects which include book fairs. How did you prepare yourself for these projects? What were your challenges and how you assured it was a success?

Sally Khalil: My school hosts a book fair every year. When they told me that I had to contact a certain book fair company to set up a book fair, I panicked. I’ve never done that before. Luckily, another teacher, who had worked previously as a librarian, provided help and suggestions. Things went smoothly soon after, and the book company came with several transportable bookshelves organized by genre. The students and teachers were able to purchase books for themselves and their classrooms.

Another challenge was the fact that I’ve always been a teacher since graduating college and have never worked a cash register job in my life. But during the fair, I had to learn quickly the first day. And thank God I did because the book fair was a big success. Depending on the company, the book company gives a certain percentage of the profits that you make selling their books and allows you to select books for your library for free. Because of my efforts, the school made a good profit that hadn’t happened in years. I felt proud and accomplished. Then the school made me arrange and host a mini-book fair for only one day. I thought it was going to be impossible to achieve any success, but it was another big one with another profit. I think I have a hidden talent in marketing.

4-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: It is not usual to have an ESL teacher who works in tech and media. How does it feel to be working in an area a bit far from your expertise? What are your duties as a tech support in school? Were they affected by Covid-19?

Sally Khalil: Sometimes it feels challenging but I’m a fast learner. Luckily, I am patient, and I love doing troubleshooting. As a young kid, I used to fix our VCR, cassette recorder, my uncle’s PC and even my friends’ laptops all the time. I think I was destined to be doing that type of technical work one day. As for my duties, it is basically setting up laptops, iPads, and Chromebooks, installing security settings, troubleshooting, and doing inventory. I also teach Computer basics and office. My tech supervisor has always been very supportive, because she understands the many different responsibilities I have to juggle. She always fixes what I can’t fix. My duties changed a little bit as we switched to online learning. Teachers would report the students’ technical issues. I would give them a call and try my best to help, something like Vodafone customer service in Egypt.

5-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How has Covid-19 affected your job as a librarian and a teacher?

Sally Khalil: I’m sure that it affected all teachers everywhere. The school closed, so my role as librarian temporarily came to an end. As a teacher, I applaud for my school supervisors who organized the remote learning process and always kept teachers and parents updated. The school faculty did a great job providing the same quality education online. The teachers and students worked hard to make sure everything works despite some technical issues that the students encountered. Beside uploading assignments, we had online Zoom sessions. We had to submit weekly assignments, fill in the pacing guide for the rest of the academic year and the learning gaps if there are any affected by the online work.

6-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How are the American students different than the Egyptian students?

Sally Khalil: They’re basically the same. Most of American students are of an Arab origin, and they are the most adorable well-behaved students. I consider myself lucky teaching them. I’ve had similar exciting experiences teaching Egyptian students. What I noticed is the authority of teachers in US is different than in Egypt, that is it is not accepted that the teacher has a complete authority over them.

7-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Last but not least, we would love to take some “reading tips” from a librarian.

Sally Khalil: I would have started by saying visit your local public library, but it is not an option now. Use technology to your advantage. There are many free e-books. You can also rent or buy from Amazon and read on Kindle. Listen to audiobooks through audibles and iBooks. Now there is much time staying at home, this is the perfect time to commit to reading by dedicating a certain time for reading every day. Joining a book club will also motivate you to read.

THANK YOU SALLY

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