Analogue leadership in a digital world

Abeer Abu Ghaith

Abeer Abu Ghaith

I had an early vision for creating a positive impact on people’s lives and I have the ability to find doors in places where others only see walls. Born in a refugee camp and living most of my adult life in a conflict zone has led me to want to leverage my successful entrepreneurial experience and my technical background to have a bigger impact on the world. I have a proven track record for creating digital technology opportunities for underprivileged & underemployed people.

In 2007, when I received a degree in Computer Engineering, it became clear to me that if more members of my community could have access to technology skills, we could improve the quality of life for many. I was determined to make a difference and I took action. The companies I founded and led have been dedicated to creating economic development opportunities for women & youth. In the last 10 years, I was able to create meaningful opportunities in the technology industry for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, resulting in the creation of jobs for more than 700 women & young people. These roles included software engineering, data science, digital transformation, design, data labeling, translation. By focusing our training on needed digital skills, we were able to support a diverse range of industries. More than 3000 graduates were trained, enabling them to work online and compete in the global market.

The digital technology solutions developed by the talent we nurtured allowed us to raise the average salaries of tech talent in our local market by almost 45%. Our approach included developing trusted relationships with more than 60 clients ranging from large corporations to small startups. These clients were located in the US, UK, Europe and the Gulf. Despite the challenges that came not only from normal business cycles but from the disruption brought on by conflict, our company revenue increased by 300%.

As a result of my efforts in facilitating the capacity and economic development opportunities for women and youth using innovative technology, I have been recognized as the “first high-tech woman entrepreneur” in Palestine and as “One of the Most Powerful Arabs Under 40. I received the “Best Technology Enabler and Facilitator” award from MEA women, and my business received the “100 Meaningful Business in the World” award.

My international experience consists of working with international clients, donors, and organizations. As an expert in entrepreneurship and employment in the MENA region, I have been invited to speak in many conferences and summits around the world.

Abeer’s LinkedIn page.

Nick Byrne

Nick Byrne

Nick works with leaders from business, government and civil society to help navigate issues at the intersection of technology, society and the next economy.

Over the last 10 years this has resulted in Nick working with many notable people and organisations.  He has launched a number of landmark technology ventures including Australia Post’s Digital iD platform, has helped reinvent civil society organisations such as Australian Red Cross and Oxfam Australia in order to account for the pace of technological change, and acted as a formal advisor to Swinburne University’s Social Innovation Research Institute.

Nick has an interest and belief in the role of government to lead people through the unique challenges presented by technological progress in the 21st Century.

He now works as for the

Nick’s Homepage

Nick’s LinkedIn page

 

What has your Fellowship enabled you to do, explore, or gain that you wouldn’t have otherwise?

Through my Fellowship Intersticia is enabling me to explore how technology is empowering, or disempowering workers globally. Becoming an Intersticia Fellow has opened up networks that were either previously unavailable, or would have been difficult to develop.

What impact has your Fellowship had on your ability to lead in the 21st century?

The Fellowship has made me realised that leadership in the 21st century is messy, as we are forced to lead across different tribes, and influence unfamiliar people. To lead through this requires clarity of vision and purpose; but most importantly networks. Leaders in the 21st Century use networks and trust to bring people together to advance a particularly cause or mission.

How do you imagine your Fellowship will impact on your personal and professional growth in the next chapter of your life?

On a professional level, I imagine the Fellowship will accelerate my career for reasons already stated. But on a personal level I’m hoping that Intersticia Fellowship will help my rounded leadership development; making sure I remain focused on all the other important aspects of life that, ironically, are also important to being an effective leader. These are things like prioritising family and loved ones, taking care of your health, and focusing on the bigger picture.

How is technology empowering, or disempowering workers and what hope is there for the future?

We have a hypothesis that blockchain technology can be used to advance the opportunity for decent work by offering features such as: Transparent, immutable work agreements Labour supply chain transparency Reputation systems.

I would like to use the Fellowship to establish a global network that will position TypeHuman and its members as thought leaders in the domain of work and blockchain.

Key activities in the Fellowship become: Research and writing Travel and meetings.

Bel Campbell

Bel Campbell

Bel is a multi disciplinary creative and worked as the Creative Director of the Intersticia Foundation where she managed our creative strategy and output across all Foundation projects including Brave Conversations and the Web Science Conferences.

Bel focused her Leadership Fellowship towards the development of Future Worlds Challenge, a youth education experience designed to prepare today’s youth for tomorrow’s complex world. Bel is passionate about awakening the imaginative capacity of all people in order to uncover innovative solutions to humanity’s most pressing social problems.

Bel has been working as a Communications and Engagement specialist currently delivering multiple communications and engagement programs for disability programs at the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO).

Bel’s LinkedIn page

Negar Tayyar

Negar Tayyar

Negar is a passionate philanthropic advocate supporting the global refugee response driven by her professional and personal experience with forced displacement. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Global Whole Being Fund (GWBF), a global philanthropic fund supporting more than 4 million refugees across 23 countries.

From 2009 to 2015, prior to her philanthropic engagement, Negar worked on 20 international development projects in nine countries with UN agencies, governments, bilateral donors, and NGOs. Negar also runs her executive and leadership coaching practice ‘Resonance Coaching,’ supporting individuals and teams. As part of her passion for accompanying people on their journey towards empowerment, Negar teaches women on the frontlines Empowerment and Self Defense (ESD).

Negar’s LinkedIn page

What has your Fellowship enabled you to do, explore, or gain that you wouldn’t have otherwise?

The Fellowship at Intersticia has been providing me a fabulous support structure as I have been growing into my work. The Fellowship is more than a series of trainings. It comes with a sense of belonging to an inspiring community of like-minded leaders, who follow different passions and disciplines.

Through the Fellowship I got the privilege to attend an Executive Course at the Harvard Kennedy School titled ‘Leadership for the 21st Century.’ The course covered the main principles of adaptive leadership; a leadership theory that would transform my work. The timing of the course was auspicious. It happened right before my learning journey across the migration route covering five countries. I had to wait nine months before I could finally visit grant partners due to Executive Order of the Trump Administration. This trip was vital for refining the grantmaking strategy for the GWBF. The course equipped me with the tools I needed for this critical task.

Without the Fellowship, I would not have been able to attend the Harvard course and to hence step aside from the daily work to engage with inspiring minds from all over the globe; some of them I now count as friends and allies.

What impact has your Fellowship had on your ability to lead in the 21st century?

The Fellowship had a significant impact on my self-perception as a leader and the ways I see myself leading as I am working towards my vision. Through the Fellowship and the learning around adaptive leadership, I gained following three insights that shape how I show up as a leader today:

1. Sitting on the balcony vs. being on the dance floor
The balcony vs. dance floor concept, a keystone of the adaptive leadership course, was critical for me. The nature of my work requires me to balance multiple perspectives. While engaging with grant partners who each focus on different aspects of forced displacement, I also need to hold a broader vision. If I were to engage too much on the dance floor while supporting grant partners, I would lose sight for the broader vision of the Global Whole Being Fund and my leadership responsibilities as a philanthropic advisor. The course, the language and the exercises in small groups helped me to practice being on the balcony and carefully choosing when to engage on the dance floor. Practicing this metaphor in every meeting helps me to create an enabling space and to engage rather than be reactive.

2. The art of listening and asking questions vs. ‘knowing’
The course helped me to rediscover the art of listening and emphasized the importance to remain curious and ask questions. This mindset enabled me to visit the refugee camps and organizations with what is referred to in Zen Buddhism as a ‘Beginners Mind.’ It allowed me to stay with ambiguity and acknowledge that aiming to ‘know’ the complexity of each an every organization and camp across countries was a sheer impossible task. Interestingly this approach resonated with existing and potential grant partners. My grantpartners and colleagues shared their appreciation for having felt seen and acknowledged.

3. Trust
One of the critical insights of the course is that being a leader requires staying grounded in the most simple and yet most difficult things such as building and maintaining trust. The importance of building trust and the adaptive leadership stakeholder mapping has been critical. The stakeholder mapping including categories such as partners, allies, confidence, troublemakers to name a few, helped to distinguish a support ecosystem. Being clearer on the different kind of stakeholders I work with inspired me to revisit some strategies and reflect on alternative ways to implement these.

How do you imagine your Fellowship will impact on your personal and professional growth in the next chapter of your life?

The Fellowship has been critical for my learning journey. Intersticia’s support has first and foremost enabled me to see myself as a leader. The insights I gained through the fellowship and the Harvard course have been adding so much value to my work. The Fellowship enabled me to rethink the framework for my work and focus on the critical pillars. My work is centered on my vision, which I am deeply passionate about. That said, the insights I gained through my Fellowship also translate into actions and mind shifts in my personal life. The importance of balancing observation and action (balcony vs. dance floor), listening and asking questions linked to the art of building and maintaining trust have been shifting my relationships overall. In a nutshell, I feel curious about learning, and I make more intentional decisions and value relationships more than ever.
The course also enabled me to recognize that I seem to be most comfortable amidst chaos and conflict. Leaning into courage comes at times naturally, and other times it is accompanied by a sense of discomfort. In any case, I seem to be continually striving for situations that require me to be courageous. Embracing my courage makes me come alive.

More Information

Global Whole Being Fund

Negar’s private coaching practice

Judo Journeys

Articles

Negar co-founded and is co-chairing three Funders Working Groups:

May 2024
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