Saudi Arabia’s first female team won the national competition in a pioneering program for young entrepreneurs. Emotional intelligence training and coaching equipped the girls with a competitive edge as they prepared to represent their company and country in the regional Injaz Al Arab 2011 Finals.
INJAZ-Saudi Arabia is a non-profit organization working to fill the gap between the education system and workforce readiness with the engagement of the private sector. Through strategic partnerships with the Ministry of Education, Saudi companies and highly experienced volunteers from the private sector, INJAZ-Saudi Arabia delivers educational programs on Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship and Work Readiness to Saudi youth between 10 to 24 years old who will be the employers and leaders of the future. The aim of this program is to reach 250,000 male and female Saudi students by 2018.
At the beginning of 2011, the Company Program (CP) started with 24 male and female high schools participants. In CP, teams of students create companies with actual capital. The program allows students to design business, production, financial and marketing plans and strategies. At the final step, students liquidate their companies, produce an annual report, and develop personal career goals. These companies compete on the national level; the winner of the national competition goes on to represent Saudi Arabia in the regional Injaz Al Arab annual competition.
In the Saudi context, there are relatively few role models of women entrepreneurs, and so generally young men enter this type of program. In Saudi there is growing recognition that females are an important part of a competitive business, and organizations like INJAZ are charged with supporting leadership for both genders. So it was a great accomplishment that after 12 weekly sessions of meetings, planning, coaching and hard work, the INJAZ- Saudi Arabia national competition, FIKRA 2011, announced the 1st ever female student company: Catalyst.
Catalyst is a partnership of six girls from public high schools. While the “emotional intelligence” skills for leadership are important for all the young entrepreneurs, these girls were also stepping up as leaders in the cultural evolution of the Saudi business world. So, to prepare the young entrepreneurs for the cross-cultural environment and the emotional stress of competing and interacting with peers and professionals from all over the Arab world in the regional completion, Solafa Batterjee was recruited to be the team’s emotional intelligence trainer and coach. The combination of their business accumen and emotional intelligence proved a powerful combination:
Catalyst won the national competition and was qualified to represent Saudi Arabia in the regional Injaz Al Arab Young Arab Entrepreneurs Competition finals in Amman, Jordan.
The Emotional Intelligence (EQ) coaching sessions, based on the Six Seconds Model, were used to guide the girls throughout this challenging and fulfilling life experience. Six Seconds Certified Practitioner Solafa Batterjee facilitated learning on a number Six Seconds’ emotional intelligence competencies such as Navigating Emotions, Exercising Optimism, Engaging Intrinsic Motivation, and Pursuing Noble Goals. The trainees created their personal logos as part of “Know Yourself” portion of the program. The logos became the basis for an EQ team contract that joined their personal aims and objectives into a company business goal to guide them to win the Arab regional competition.
The training also introduced the team to a central EQ concept:
Emotions drive people and people drive performance.
Throughout the training program, the young businesswomen were taken on a visualized trip of the upcoming journey. Expected emotions were discussed openly among them, to make them aware of their behavior patterns that might jeopardize their effort at anytime because of emotional stress. Instead of experiencing feelings as an obstacle, they learned to use emotions as a source of energy and insight — part of the power of real leadership.
The aim of the EQ training/coaching program was to develop self-confidence, intrinsic motivation, setting priorities, developing wise decision making and self-management, and to emphasize the effect of body language on internal and external judgment.
Developing emotional intelligence skills awareness as a key factor for present and future success was also a primary goal of the entrepreneurship program.
The regional Injaz Al Arab 2011 finals was a fascinating rich experience. Young entrepreneurs from all around the Arab World faced personal and team challenges. The incredible energy of these dynamic young people is an indication of a promising future. It was a miniature real world experience of what the future generation will face when they step up as leaders in this thriving business community.
Catalyst, the Saudi student company, was able to prove itself. The six girls won the Judges Award for establishing a business that reflected the most improvement and growth.
Hadeer Sadaga, the winning CEO of INJAZ-Saudi Arabia (Fikra 2011), commented on the occasion and said: “The Injaz program has opened the doors for business and entrepreneurship. Being part of FIKRA 2011 has qualified me to work with all kinds of people. Dealing with the hardships and complications that would most likely happen in a running company, which I believe can only make you stronger and faithful. I now know how to use my time for something valuable that made me even more responsible than I already was. It has given me the chance to be more sociable, confident and an accomplished Saudi young female. It has also given me a chance to learn the true meaning of leadership. Injaz has made me self-determined!
Ten years from now, I will be striving to hold on to my honesty, loyalty and integrity. Throughout the upcoming years I hope and will endeavor to be a respectable woman, daughter, mother, friend and cardiologist. I want to be an educated woman, a role model to those who come in need, an inspiring motivator to those who have lost hope and a treatment to those who need repairing. In order to become all of these things I ought to be a true believer, deep in my heart aiming for righteousness and a steward of Allah Almighty’s dominion.”
Shahad Alsolaimani Catalyst CEO echoed the power of the process: “The whole INJAZ experience taught me how to share and convince others of my opinion, and how to communicate effectively, listen, and use my body language in a natural way. I made sure that I was always smiling and turned those furious emotions into a positive energy that showed how proud and strong I was. Meeting peers from different countries and backgrounds opened my eyes to how the world works. The prior training and coaching sessions unleashed the leader in me and made me more creative and professional. I am now more able to plan on a daily bases and for my future”.
Nael S. Fayez, the CEO of INJAZ-Saudi Arabia recognized the power of emotional intelligence for the Catalyst group: “Having worked with those young ladies right from the beginning at their local public high schools and worked with them 12 weeks in a multi-dimensional training that focused on building their business capabilities and life skills, the effect of Six Seconds and EQ training on those young ladies was evident. Without a doubt, it contributed to their self-confidences, interpersonal communications and presentation skills. Definitely I would think that future students must benefit from this robust training and preferably with the magnificent Solafa herself.”
As a result of that national success, further future cooperation between INJAZ Saudi and Solafa Batterjee of Six Seconds is being planned to facilitate such EQ training to national winners.
For more information about INJAZ-Saudi Arabia, refer to http://www.injaz-saudi.org
Solafa Batterjee is a Saudi change agent and member of the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network. She believes in the power of education as a key factor to develop nations and create change. For more information http://6seconds.org/profile/sbatterjee or her personal blog http://solafabatterjee.blogspot.com/
Six Seconds is a global organization supporting people to create positive change and increase people-performance. Founded as not-for-profit corporation in the US in 1997, the organization is now led by offices in 11 countries. Six Seconds’ change agents work to improve leadership, collaboration, and effectiveness in every sector. The organization gives a limited number of grants to educational and community programs to provide powerful emotional intelligence assessment and development tools to support positive change. Visit www.6seconds.org for more.