Complex Made Simple

Career coach discusses the issue plaguing UAE professionals, highlights essentials of work-life balance

AMEinfo had the chance to speak to Suhair Fakhoury, a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), who shared valuable insights into the mechanics of self-improvement and work-life balance.

"The coach/client relationship [creates] a safe and trusted space that [allows] all team members to freely and openly voice their thoughts and concerns without judgement" "My personal definition of [work-life] balance is the alignment of who we are as individuals with what we are doing on personal and professional levels" Fakhoury highlights one common issue she has found many UAE professionals struggle with

As the UAE continues to grow as a premier startup hub, there is a growing need for professional coaching to help guide entrepreneurs both young and old in their careers. 

But coaching is not limited to startup entrepreneurs alone. All professionals undergo various challenges throughout their journey in the pursuit of success and fulfillment, and coaches and mentors serve to guide them to find the success they seek. 

The International Coach Federation (ICF) facilitates just that, and is active in representing all facets of the coaching industry, including Executive, Life, Leadership, Relationship and Career Coaching. 

AMEinfo had the chance to speak to Abu Dhabi coach Suhair Fakhoury, a Professional Certified Coach (PCC), who recently appeared in the 2nd episode of the ICF’s video series titled #ExperienceCoaching, a six-part series featuring life-changing stories that highlight the power of professional coaching.

As a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and board director for the ICF United Arab Emirates Chapter, Fakhoury shared valuable insights into workplace practices, career hurdles facing startup founders, and more in the UAE. 

“My focus has been on building and strengthening the coaching community,” she said. “I’m also committed to increasing awareness around the coaching profession and the benefits a coaching culture has on organizations in various sectors—including education—through creating and facilitating a space of connection and collaboration.”

1. Can you share with us briefly some success stories from your time with ICF? How did you help your business clients overcome hurdles in their professional life?

Fakhoury: I coached women in leadership positions and led them to access their true potential with confidence and courage. Through coaching, they learned to use their voice to ask for what they need to support their professional development and leadership skills, and became more assertive in making decisions and taking risks.  This helped facilitate a positive transformation and impact with Siba Ayoub, one of my clients, where she became more confident and assertive in making decisions and taking risks and ownership of her organizational role.

Siba tells her story in the #ExperienceCoaching video. She was struggling at work, frustrated that her colleagues were getting promotions while she was at standstill. She lost the confidence she had in her abilities. With coaching, Siba was able to use the safe space to get out of the mental state of frustration she was in. She was able to express herself freely and learned how to embrace positivity in order take the steps towards her goals. Once she delved deeper and connected with herself through thought-provoking questions, she received a promotion and a prestigious award by her organization. 

2. Have you mentored startup founders? If so, what are some of the most common challenges they face at the start of their journey, and how do you help them overcome them? 

Fakhoury: I coached young innovators working in dysfunctional teams, where my role as coach was to create awareness and clarity to where they are in their process, what goals they want to reach and what they need to overcome in order to reach their goals. 

The coach/client relationship created a safe and trusted space that allowed all team members to freely and openly voice their thoughts and concerns with maturity and transparency, and without judgement. This space instantly led to more effective connection, better engagement and a path toward next steps to overcome obstacles and move toward their goals.

3. In your opinion, how can an overworked employee, manager or executive manage a balance between their personal lives and careers?

Fakhoury: My personal definition of balance in this context is the harmony between being and doing. In other words, it is the alignment of who we are as individuals with what we are doing on personal and professional levels.

This can be achieved by setting the right priorities and honoring values and what’s important. They can ask themselves what it is that they are saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to, why, and how is it improving their life?

I believe following a daily routine that includes reflection, self-development and physical exercise can provide balance and clarity that will bring about harmony and a more positive life view. Coaching is a powerful tool that facilitates this kind of transformation.

4. What is your opinion on remote working? Many companies in the UAE are adopting this practice to reward their employees with being able to work at their own pace and in their environment of choice. Naturally, this option might not be available to a sales rep or a banker, but for those that can work remotely, such as graphic designers or editors, what benefits do you foresee from this practice?

Fakhoury: I am in favor of remote working, as it allows a smarter and more efficient use of time, energy and space. It would greatly help maintain the mental, emotional and physical well-being of employees, allowing them the convenience to be free in the way they organize and manage their personal and professional duties and find more relaxed, efficient and creative ways to work that suit their needs.  

I would also add that having such flexibility requires a high level of organizational skills to design the boundaries between personal and work space, adding a higher sense of responsibility and commitment. 

5. Another change in workplace practice has been a decreased number of work hours in countries like Sweden. Do you think this is a positive change for the wellbeing of the employee, or are 1-2 hours less of work negligible in their impact?

Fakhoury: Absolutely – I am all for working smarter rather than harder. I believe when employees are offered fewer working hours, the extra time can be used on personal development, which would bring more focus and productivity to the person’s work. It would also increase motivation and could have a positive impact on employee loyalty and appreciation toward their organization—a win-win for both.

6. What are your most common observations from your experience coaching professionals? Are there common problems they face in the UAE?

Fakhoury: The lack and sometimes absence of transparent and effective communication among team members and managers. Lack or absence of communication can lead to making strongly false assumptions without questioning, and creating a space of disengagement, disconnection and withdrawal.