Dr. Souad Mohamed is a vibrant young woman who achieved a lot at a very young age from earning her PhD in Exploration of Information Systems’ Human Costs from Brunel University, London at the age of 24 and from there going on to win various awards for her achievements. Recently, Souad have been awarded the University of Westminster Students’ Award for being one of the best academics in 2013-2014 and again in 2014-2015. She is currently working as a senior Lecturer in the Department of Business Information Management and Operations at the University of Westminster. She is also the Middle East representative for Westminster Business School. Dr. Souad promotes personal development and is committed to making a difference in the lives of young people and empowering women. Souad is the author of the upcoming book The NEW Arab Woman: The How-To Guidebook for Leadership & Success (2016). She is a sought after speaker, as she inspires her audience to dig deep into their personal qualities and release their full potential to succeed in whatever their aspirations are in their personal or professional lives.
Arab Woman Magazine had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Souad and learning the secrets behind her success,
Can you tell our readers a little bit about your upbringing and how it influenced your passion for knowledge and education?
First of all, may I express my gratitude towards Arab Woman Mag, for the great work that they do and for giving me the opportunity to speak to your readers.
Alhamdolilah, I was brought up in a house full of love and unity consisting of my parents, one little sister and 5 brothers. My father worked in accountancy, and my mother focused on bringing us up. I lived some of my childhood in the Middle East, but most of my life and education were in London.
My parents didn’t push me towards any specific career but simply encouraged us to excel in whatever we did (and they still do). Education in particular was something they put great emphasis on. As far as achievements in education go, my parents always set high expectations, under achievement was never negotiable. The passion for knowledge comes from within me, because it was instilled in me by my parents from a very young age that knowledge is the key to success. Once you have passion for knowledge, you inevitably have love for learning and continuing education.
What is your secret to accomplishing so much at such a young age?
I think it is a natural consequence of having parents that believe in you. Also I am very lucky to be living in the United Kingdom. The UK system doesn’t require you to go through the education ladder sequentially at the postgraduate level, for example you do not necessarily need to embark on Masters before doing a PhD. Alhamdolilah passing my Bachelor’s degree with good grades, hard work, and ideas that made a worthy contribution to knowledge, all meant that I could finish my PhD and start my academic career at an early age.
How do you balance between career and your family life as a wife and mother of three?
To be honest it isn’t easy, it’s a great challenge. Although I want to excel in my career, I always put my family first. To get a good balance one must recognize that there is a myth among working parents that we need to spend more time with our children. I say what is important is not how much time we spend with them, but spending quality time. For example, many parents work all week, but are able to spend the entire weekend at home; if you ask how many hours of that weekend they actually spent with their children and can genuinely say was quality time, their answers will surprise you.
Balancing family-work life also takes a lot of organization and planning ahead, I literally plan my entire year as soon as I get my school calendar to enable me to be home as much as I can when my children are home; it also enables me to attend all the important events within the university. I also outsource as much as I can in my life, I am indebted to my great parents, beloved sister Hanan and beloved husband for their continued support, cooperation and understanding of the nature of my work.
What are some of your future aspirations?
I have two key aspirations:
Empowering women and youth is my passion. I started volunteering in voluntary organizations that work with youth from when I was 15 years old and I enjoy working with young people. Firstly, I aspire to make a difference in the lives of Arab youth. I would love to travel around the Arab world and to tap into the enormous potential that Arab youth have and demonstrate how they can positively influence their lives and excel in their education and working life.
Also recently, while working on empowering Arab women and leadership development I met many powerful Arab women leaders; I was thrilled, proud of what they have achieved and learned lessons from them that I shall remember for the rest of my life. Secondly, I aspire to meet all Arab women leaders in the Arab world and elsewhere, learn from them and pass knowledge onto and empower all young Arab women aspiring to be future leaders.
As a coach and public speaker what are the qualities you want to bring out in people?
There is nothing impossible, if you can find within the passion and willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed. Define your dream and strategically plan your goals, believe me you will not only accomplish but excel in your goals and will make a difference. Excelling in what we do is no coincidence; it comes from within you, from believing in yourself and your abilities, and giving it your very best shot.
Any story that comes to mind that had an impact on your life that you would like to share?
Once I was feeling down with something that didn’t go well, I was unhappy and my younger brother Ismail came to me and said: “Does everything have to go well in your life? Remember that we are not in heaven yet (inshaallah). So it is only natural that something in our life goes wrong. All we have to do is think about how to overcome it and see it as a challenge”. That was 10 years ago…he was only 16 at the time, I still remember that and use it every time something goes in a different direction than I expect, or if I have challenge.
What advice do you give Arab women to help empower themselves?
Mira, I strongly believe that our women possess great potential. I want to tell them: discover your abilities and use them to succeed, your success is the success of your family, your country and the entire Arab region. Don’t wait for others to empower you, take help when offered, but don’t wait around. Empower yourself, gain knowledge, and become an expert in your field.
In the new age, the representation of Arab women in the main stream media has changed. The title of the new book that I am writing now is “The New Arab Woman.” In my opinion, The New Arab Woman is a woman who is self-aware, accomplished, well qualified, empowered, educated and engaged in all sectors – something we cannot only aspire to be, but are more than capable of achieving.
For this interview in Arabic click here:
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