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7 Questions on Leadership with Olaa Ali Alnems

Name: Olaa Ali Alnems

Title: Executive Director

Organisation: Hemmatshabab Foundation

I have 11 years of experience in several commercial, service, and humanitarian development sectors. I have a master’s degree in international cooperation and a bachelor’s degree in marketing. I started as an employee, then a department head, then a department director, then an executive director in several companies.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Olaa Ali's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Managing many types of personalities who work with you and achieving balance in resolving disputes between work teams.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

My first leadership position was in 2017 and it was because I took the initiative to manage a project that had a lot of challenges and my manager refused to manage it because it might fail. This was my first challenge as a leader within a difficult project, but the risk management skills I acquired enabled me to develop Plan A and Plan B for the project and navigate all risks. In short, taking the initiative and managing risks enabled me to learn my leadership skills in my first leadership position.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I don't wake up unless I make a plan and program for the day in advance. As a mother and a working woman, I have to wake up early and do my household responsibilities. I prepare breakfast for my children and get them ready for school. I go to work with enthusiasm and positive energy in order to influence the work team. Start with morning meetings and continue monitoring work in the field and office, solving work problems and listening to the team’s ideas. The day ends quickly. I don't forget to enhance my knowledge and read something new every day.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Just because you are a leader does not mean that you know everything. You must be open to hearing from your team and learning from them sometimes.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

Wooden on Leadership

Famous John Wooden explains 15 success principles and the traits great leaders share.

This book made me interested in continuous learning and made me a researcher and knowledgeable person. I also learned more about the common principles among influential leaders.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Do not stop learning even if you reach the highest position. The world is changing and every day new information is added. You must be informed and use technology in order to facilitate your work and save your time and effort. You must also be open to accepting everyone’s opinions.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

One of the problems I faced at work

We did not think outside the box, but we spent time trying familiar solutions to no avail. Even in the end, we thought outside the box and found that there was an easier solution, but it was new to us and unfamiliar, and we were able to solve this problem. The lesson learned from this story was that we must think outside the box and not be afraid to try any new solutions

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