Interview with Eng. Nihad Fawzi Khalil ~ Life & Career Coach, Manager of FAL Foundation for Development

Interviewer: Mahmoud Mansi

Editor: Monda Salem

“I think members of the HR team can be trained and qualified to play the role of internal coaches who can help other employees with their personal issues and solve conflict issues between a team’s members and colleagues.”

Nihad Fawzi Khalil

About the Interviewee

Eng. Nihad Fawzi Khalil a proud Egyptian feminist and a parent with a lot of passion towards helping women. She is an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and member of the International Coach Federation (ICF). She is the cofounder and Executive Manager of FAL Foundation for Development, and the Owner of Red Roses Hand Crafts.

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Mahmoud Mansi Photography / ALEF Bookstores Kafr Abdu

THE INTERVIEW

1-HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How did you change your career from being an engineer into being a life-coach?

Nihad Fawzi Khalil: There is always a long story behind a major change, it never happens over night. For me, the story started since I was still in college. I went for faculty of Engineering because I loved Mathematics and Physics, but I never asked myself what my strengths or talents were. The scores I had at school “Thanaweya Amma” were enough to take the decision to choose the prestigious college. It’s a decision taken at the age of 17 years old. At such early age, we cannot tell what we can do or what our capabilities are. Few years later, I realized I had not taken the right choice, but unfortunately I did not know what else to do; so I kept walking on the same track for long years. It seemed like there was no one who could help me. Finally in 2000, I knew about coaching and it took me 9 years to find a school that offers a 100% online study and certificate.

When I joined the International Coach Academy, I was not sure that I will make a career shift. I just wanted someone to help me with myself and my life. I wanted to be able to help others live a more fulfilling and happier life, not necessarily be a professional coach. But after I experienced the power of coaching and the big change I could make to my own life, I decided to take the hard decision which was to leave Software Engineering to coaching after more than 20 years in the field. The whole story can be found on my website: Aurora Beams Life Coaching.

2- HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Being also a career-coach you get exposed to many problems that people are facing; based on your experience and observation, what are the common problems that people face with their jobs?

Nihad Fawzi Khalil: There are unlimited kinds of problems that people face in their jobs, but most of them are due to dissatisfaction and lack of fulfillment. People who are satisfied with what they are doing find solutions for any problem they face; they love what they are doing and want to keep doing it, so they are willing to solve the problems.

If we observe the cases where people do not love what they do, we will find that they did not have the opportunity to know what they really want because of many reasons: they might have the decision at early age, they are not aware of their capabilities, or it could be due to the families’ wrong beliefs that make them force their kids to go to colleges they do not like just because it is more prestigious. In addition to the fear of making a change at a late age (over forty), most of people at that age believe it is impossible to make any change even if they are unhappy with what they are doing. These are the most common reasons for dissatisfaction.

3- HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Do you think personal problems have a direct or an indirect effect on the performance and enthusiasm of employees?

Nihad Fawzi Khalil: “After 2 or 3 sessions, all kinds of coaching turn into life coaching”, all coaches know this concept; whatever our niche is, we must be prepared to coach our clients on personal issues as we do on the professional ones. At the end we are human beings, so definitely our personal life directly impacts our performance, productivity and motivation; not only our current personal life but sometimes the past, as well, where our beliefs are formed. Fears and limiting beliefs are the biggest challenge we face with our clients; they consider them a reality but actually, they are just thoughts they have believed due to their personal experience and they can change them if they want.

4- HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: To what extent do you suggest the role of HR would be in order to help employees resolve their personal problems? Is it an HR role or not from your point of view?

Nihad Fawzi Khalil: First I need to clarify that real HR is different from the actual available HR in our corporate world according to my personal experience. Till 5 years ago, I had not seen real HR in the companies I worked for, the actual one was personnel departments concerned with managerial procedures. In my personal opinion and on the professional level, real HR must be concerned with training and developing the employee capabilities, finding out their strengths, assigning the right ones to the right job or at least recommend them according to their experience and capabilities, contributing to taking their skills to the next level and to be qualified to take bigger responsibilities. In a nutshell, everything must be planned by the HR.

As I stated before we are all human beings before being employers, or managers or employees, so providing support on personal issues can have great impact on productivity and performance. In my opinion, the HR department is the best to play this role and I think members of the HR team can be trained and qualified to play the role of internal coaches who can help other employees with their personal issues and solve conflict issues between a team’s members and colleagues. You may already find some of them playing this role with their colleagues, informally, in many HR departments.

5- HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: As a career coach, can you please provide us with one or more of the cases you have worked on? Can you tell us a career problem that occurred to one of your clients and how you helped him/her? This will be a very good case-study for us.

Nihad Fawzi Khalil: I cannot state a pure career problem, but I have a very common problem that most females face and that has a great impact on their career and success which is that most females lack self-confidence. I met females from different backgrounds, ages, social categories, and in different positions who lack self confidence. They fear higher positions, they fear making mistakes, and they do not believe they have enough skills for a new job or even to start a business, they feel guilty most of the time and especially when they make themselves a priority. Many women grew up with the belief that a good mother must give up her needs and happiness for the needs and happiness of her children. However, an unhappy woman can never make her family happy.

As you work with women, who represent a considerable part of the workforce, you must always support and enhance their self confidence to help them reach their highest potential.

6- HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: As a life-coach, how do you deal with yourself when you are in a problem?

Nihad Fawzi Khalil: For me, I have two choices; the first one is to use one of the tools I use with my clients in similar situations, but the most powerful one that I always recommend to my clients, is reflecting by writing; expressing my thoughts, my feelings, and my inner self in any situation brings a lot of clarity. Reflecting by writing helped me change my perspective in a major conflict I had once at work, just writing down all the details made me notice a positive side of the situation that made me completely change my mind from the feeling of being a victim to feeling grateful for the unexpected benefit I got. It helps notice our behavioral patterns as well; which is our repeated behavior in similar situations, and it helps understand more about our beliefs.

The second choice is to talk about the problem with my coach. Coaches have their own coaches to keep them accountable to their development and growth journey. Being involved in any situation, the details, my feelings, emotions and beliefs can prevent me from seeing the reality. So talking to a coach is helpful because he/she can have a more distant view of the situation. In addition, they are not emotionally involved which allows them to see more clearly and provide me with the appropriate feedback.

7- HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Tell us more about your project: Red Roses Handcrafts.

Nihad Fawzi Khalil: This is another story J. It started when my father passed away. Six months after his death, I found myself in deep sadness and almost depressed. I couldn’t work; coaching needs high concentration and good listening and I wasn’t ready to listen to other people’s issues and pain; I had mine and they were enough, so I decided to do something manual that does not require any mental effort. As a teenager and till I got married I loved cross stitching, knitting, and sewing but I didn’t do any of that for long years because of my familial and work commitments, so I decided to start again. I spent hours just thinking about each item’s design and colors, then producing it. Working with colors, cutting the fabrics with the scissors, and sewing and creating something helped me relieve my pain and release my negative energy.

I made baby quilts, fabric totes and bags and lately, I added crochet bags to my products. Then I thought, I should start a handmade business; so I launched the Red Roses Handcrafts page on Facebook. I am still producing new items but in a slow rate as I am working on different projects simultaneously.

8- HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: You also provide workshops to teach other women make their own handcrafts. Apart from the direct benefit of learning that, what indirect benefits ca such skill add to the personality?

Nihad Fawzi Khalil: During my work on handcrafts, I joined Forsa program and AWTAD foundation to provide mentoring to young entrepreneurs on self-development to help them overcome the challenges they face. This experience made me think of merging all my experiences and interests into one formal body which is FAL Foundation for Development ten months ago. It is a nonprofit foundation for training and development where I provide different kinds of training, mentoring and coaching. I started by providing workshops of crochet, cross stitching, knitting, sewing and accessories. My objective was to encourage females to learn these skills to be able to make their own stuff as our mothers used to do according to their own taste, needs and finances, to enhance their creativity, and to start a new business out of it if they like.

I want, as well, to encourage young girls to acquire these skills to spend more pleasurable and creative time with their friends instead of wasting their free time on TV and mobile phones. All these reasons are direct benefits of learning these skills, but I think indirect benefits can be: stress release and relaxation, pleasure, creativity enhancement, and self discovery.

9- HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: When you worked as an engineer, what was your criticism regarding the gap between HR and engineers? What is your advice to HR?

Nihad Fawzi Khalil: Actually there were no separate HR department; their functions were achieved by individuals from different departments. For example, interviews were done by the technical manager or the project manager. There was no separate department concerned with HR functions. Still, I would like to give an advice, not to the HR, but to the business owners: “Add real HR departments to your companies and include a coach with the team. You will reap the benefits of coaching your employees. With HR, you will take your employees and your business to a different level.”

10- HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: If you get back in time would you have joined another college?

Nihad Fawzi Khalil: I remember a discussion I had with my father who was a banker, when he tried to convince me to join the Faculty of Commerce to follow his steps in the banking field. He believed it was more appropriate for a woman. I stood up and said, “I am born to be an Engineer.”

But I wish I could get back in time with the knowledge I gained during these past years to make totally different choices in different areas of my life. I would change my life style and priorities. I would choose to live a more balanced life. I would choose only the things that bring me satisfaction and happiness. I wouldn’t care about what others want and focus on what I want. I would never fear trying new things and I would do whatever it takes to discover my passion.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Ms. Nihad, your interview is very rich and I am sure it will have an effect on several people, including HR professionals.

Handcrafts page: https://www.facebook.com/RedRosesHandCrafts/

Coaching page: https://www.facebook.com/Aurora.Beams.Life.Coaching/

Foundation page: https://www.facebook.com/FALFoundation/

Coaching website: http://aurorabeamslifecoaching.com/

Coaching Blog: http://aurorabeamslifecoaching.worpress.com/

Also check, My articles on World Moms Network