You have taken over some really challenging roles as the CFO- Corporate Banking at Barclays UK and CFO at Banque Du Caire. Elaborate on the role your family played in helping you build a successful professional career, to achieve great heights?
My family is the key reason I have been able to progress in my career. From my early days, my parents were very keen on providing me with the best education offered in Egypt and providing me with their full support and that is why I graduated from the American University in Cairo top of my class. My father had a great influence on shaping my vision of the future and my desire to stand out.
I have been married for 22 years and I have two daughters aged 21 and 15. My husband has always been supportive of my career. There were many times when work would be extremely demanding, but he would always encourage me and make me feel like a great wife and mother. My girls are my heroes, they are my biggest fans and they were not too difficult growing up. I have also had a lot of support from the rest of my extended family including my mom, my brother, my in-laws who were there for me especially when my girls were younger and I was juggling work, postgraduate studies and raising children. I am extremely grateful for having them and I would not have made it without them.
Being a mother, wife, professional and an individual at large, women tend to neglect their health. How do you make sure to take out time for yourself & stay healthy? Proper diet & exercise is essential to lead a healthy life. Share some healthy lifestyle habits you follow at home & work?
I have learnt over the years that unless I take care of my health, both physical and mental, it would be impossible for me to succeed in my personal life and my career. I try to stick to healthy eating habits. I do not drink coffee, tea or alcohol and I have cut out junk food and minimized my sugar intake years ago. I am not perfect, I still have more work to do to make my diet healthier, but I am exerting a lot of conscious effort to achieve that. I do not exercise as regularly as I would like to. I used to go to the gym and exercise with the help of a personal trainer for years. More recently, I have been swimming, which I found to be the best form of exercise for me. I am also starting Yoga classes this week, which is am looking forward to!
You have more than 20 years’ experience in global organisations, spanning Corporate Banking, Retail Banking and FMCG’s. With jobs filled with multiple challenges, share some work-life balance management tips to excel?
One might not be successful at achieving work life balance every single day; sometimes work will take over but at other times, one’s life must be the priority. The trick is to keep that delicate balance.
It is important to take enough breaks and switch off from work to be able to maintain a healthy and content life. I always use all my annual holiday allowance and I make sure I use that to reboot. I do not work weekends unless there is a work emergency, and I generally disconnect from my email while on holiday and count on my team to take care of business. I am very much opposed to the notion that being successful means you cannot take enough time off and must stay in the office for endless hours. There are times when I am completely absorbed by work, but the trick is not to make that the norm.
I enjoy traveling and I make sure I plan trips with my family, with my girlfriends and even alone. It is important to spend time alone, even for an extrovert like myself. Staying close to friends also offers great stress relief for me.
I work from home whenever I can. I do not like staying late in the office, I find it depressing. I often go home, spend some time with the family and then pick up work again if I must. When my girls were younger, I used to take them to swimming practice and work while I waited for them! One must multi task!
I almost never miss a school event or a parent-teacher conference. These are very important to children and it really hurts them when you do not show up.
It is also important to seek employment at progressive organizations dedicated to promoting diversity and work-life balance. Such organizations support both male and female employees at achieving their personal and career objectives.