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Reflections on Being 30

July 30, 2018 2 comments

30 years.jpg

Dear Reader,

It’s been a while since I wrote blog post, but I’m taking the occasion of recently turning 30 to reflect on what it means to me, where I stand in life now and my perspective on what is yet to come in the future.

To start, I’m glad to say it’s been hectic, rewarding, challenging, stressful at times but most importantly an enjoyable journey. Looking back at the last 10 years, I feel blessed to have been faced with many challenges, phases of life, career changes, love life changes, and I even lived abroad for a short while.

In the past 10 years, I’ve changed 4 jobs and had a complete career shift from IT into Management Consulting. In that period I’ve also earned 6 international certifications and a masters degree. I’ve establish multiple NGOs, elected to the Board in some, advised numerous others, trained more than a 1,000 youth and professionals alike, travelled to numerous countries, met some of the most inspiring people but most importantly married the love of my life and got a beautiful baby boy.

Now that I’m 30, I feel I’m at the nexus of life where I’m definitely more mature, experienced and knowledgeable than any of my previous years, but I’m also less interested in many things, less eager about proving myself here or there, less enticed by new adventures and definitely less willing to take risks.

Overall I feel more rooted in who I became, my family, my country, my friends, my network, my comfort zone in general. Yet 2 things I can’t seem to quench, my curiosity and my ambitions. I constantly feel restless to learn more and achieve more things in my life. In every avenue I take whether it being professional life, academic knowledge, volunteer work or personal/social life… I constantly am on the lookout for what is yet to come, what is next, what the future will bring.

This restlessness is sometimes a much needed fuel that keeps me going, to aspire for more impact and growth, to do more and learn more. Yet at times it somehow feels like a burning desire to take some unwarranted risks, to dedicate more time and effort in things that might not necessarily be in line with what is best at the moment, to dream of things that are not yet attainable nor practical.

One thing I know for sure is that my brain never stops pondering about the possibilities that lay ahead, the “what ifs”, the different ways I can be spending my time and effort. Sometimes I get that urge to just quit my job and break free from the never ending rat race and go freelance, do what I am passionate about, explore different options, establish some social enterprise or simply just hustle my way through life. Sometimes I feel like I want to take a whole quarter of un-paid leave and just spend time with my wife and baby, do some volunteer work, travel around different countries, experience new things that I have been wandering about.

Then reality check comes in and reminds me of all the pros and cons. It reminds me about the lifestyle I’ve put my self and my family in, about the responsibilities of being a husband and a father, about the potential of not being able to provide to my family the basic needs if things go south.  The debate goes on for a while in my head, and usually this happens late at night while gazing out from my balcony to the view of the city, the sea and nature. I realize that the 3 of them are co-existing, balanced somehow, even though some take a toll on the other, but they co-exist and have found their equilibrium (though they are ever changing, they still stabilize somehow). So I remind myself of all that I’m doing lately, from work to volunteering to quality time with family and friends. It gets me to realize that the sea ought not take over the city and nature, nor the city to overtake the others, and balance is the key to sustainability. So I calm myself down and hold my horses from going irrational.

30 is an interesting age, a time in life where one is equipped to do much more than before, but also has many more guidelines and responsibilities. It’s exciting and calming at the same time. It allows me to reflect on the many things that have passed and been achieved, and the many more things that are yet to be done. It reminds me that 3 decades have passed, and God willing, I’d have many more yet to come, so there is still time to do a lot. It gives me the realization that the world doesn’t move as fast as I hope it would, things don’t change as rapidly as I’d like, achievements don’t come by as frequently as I desire, nevertheless there is time and patience is a virtue.

For now, I’m going to take it easy and enjoy the 30s, keep on dreaming and aspiring, keep on pushing for more and learning more while still ensuring that I’m well rooted and grounded, lest I leap into the realm of the unknown.

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Interview with Dr. Youssef Tabsh – Lebanese Parliamentary Candidate 2018

April 29, 2018 Leave a comment

29136052_174482046507007_1178572907012517487_nDear Reader,

As a start, I have a disclaimer to make: Dr. Youssef Tabsh is my father and is currently running for parliamentary elections in Beirut II district. The aim of this post is to objectively reflect my father’s responses to questions and concerns which matter to the Lebanese citizens in general, and more specifically, Beirut community.

The questions mentioned below have been curated through my personal network, then merged, edited and phrased in such a way as to reduce any redundancies and overlaps while ensuring that all key inquiries are addressed.

In addition to the Q&A below, I’m adding a link to the Electoral Program of “Sawt El Nas” the coalition which Dr. Youssef Tabsh is part of.

You can also follow his Facebook Page on: Dr. Youssef Tabsh Friends (Elections Campaign Page)

About Dr. Youssef Tabsh

Dr. Tabsh is a medical doctor; a uro-surgeon to be exact. He is the youngest of his 5 siblings descending from a typical Sunni family residing in Tareeq El Jdide in Beirut. He has been very proactive in civic welfare matters since he was 14. Dr. Tabsh pursued his studies at Makassed and Al Bir Wal Ihsan schools respectively. Later, he obtained a scholarship to pursue his medical education at the First Institute of Medicine in Saint Petersburg (previously Leningrad), Russia  where he also headed the Arab Students Association.

Upon his return, he registered at the Lebanese Order of Physicians as well as the Lebanese Urology Society. He then opened his clinic, started his medical practice in several local hospitals, joined the Soviet Union Alumni Association in Lebanon which he was then elected as its President. Dr. Tabsh served as a founding member of the Mourabitoun (المُرابِطون) political party, and Vice President at the medical foundation called “Najda Sha’bia” (النجدَة الشعبية). Additionally, he was a founding member and then elected President of the Lebanese National Crescent(الهلال الوطني اللبناني). He is also a founding member and Vice President of an NGO which civilizations studies organization called “Tayyar El Hadarat Abhath wa Dirasat” (تيّار الحضارات-أبحاث ودراسات)

In the aftermath of the civil war, Dr. Tabsh put his political engagement on hold and focused solely on humanitarian work and medical practice. In the 90s, he ran for Presidency of the Order of Physicians.  From a broad geo-political perspective, Dr. Youssef Tabsh strongly believes in Arab nationalism, the Palestinian cause, a fan of Jamal Abdul-Nasser’s socialist views and approaches, and a vigorous advocate of freedom of expression and humanitarian work.

Over the past 37 years, Dr. Tabsh had helped and supported thousands of people in need across all spectra of the country; whether sick, impoverished, or in trouble. His medical and humanitarian services ranged from Beirut, to Saida, Palestinian camps and other various areas in Lebanon where there were people in need.

Currently, Dr. Youssef Tabsh is a retired medical doctor, a loving husband, a father of 4 and a grandfather of 3. He speaks 4 languages, is an avid reader and a strong believer in lifelong learning. He still has that flame in him; that passion and vision to serve his community, his country, and the Arab nation at large by any means and by all means within his capacity. His activism since childhood stands proof to it.

Q&A

After that many years of not being in the political scene, why did you decide to run for elections?

As a matter of fact, my lifelong friends Brigadier General Moustafa Hamdan from the Mourabitoun movement (حركة المرابطون) and ex-MP Najah Wakim from Haraket El Sha’b (حركة الشعب) both asked me to run for elections as they strongly believed in my vision and political agenda while feeling that there is a real chance to succeed with the new electoral law. Based on multiple discussions and meetings, I felt it would be worth to give this step a shot, and I definitely look forward to further serving my country.

When people hear “Mourabitoun” they recall the armed group that was based in Beirut defending against the Israeli invasion. To what extent does the current Mourabitoun movement still resemble its history, and what has changed since then?

The days of armed groups have long been gone; I’ve never been a fan of arms, never used one and not planning to ever own one. Eventually, I’m a medical doctor; I have solemnly sworn to save people’s lives not end it. The Mourabitoun today has kept its core values of Arab nationalism, believing in the Palestinian cause and their right to return to their homeland, and in the socialist agenda of having fair and just policies applied to all citizens within the country regardless of their sects and affiliations. This is the core belief of the Mourabitoun movement. This is what it has been reestablished to do, and this mission will survive despite any challenges.

You are part of a coalition called “Sawt El Nas” or the “Voice of the People”, why this coalition?

As a coalition, there are a lot of common ground among us. It is true that we come from diverse backgrounds and political parties/civic groups, but there is synergy among the members on many core issues, all of which are reflected in our common “Political Program for Parliamentary Elections”.

Can you summarize your political agenda in few bullet points/key words?

The agenda, or political program in general, is quite detailed. However, if I were to highlight the key issues/topics which constitute top priorities for me, they’d be as follows:

  • Secularism: Pushing to end sectarianism in any and all means possible; hence, ensuring citizens are treated equally and fairly, irrespective of their religious affiliation.
  • Rule of Law: Developing necessary policies, and spreading awareness about the importance of institutionalization, good governance and proper functioning of public entities to serve citizens properly, consistently and fairly.
  • Transparency: Activating and empowering the proper institutional bodies to monitor, audit and hold accountable all public servants (from President to Ministers to MPS to all those who work in the public domain) as a means to combating corruption in a structured, consistent and sustainable manner.
  • Knowledge Economy & Employment: Initiate new government projects, open new positions, reverse the brain drain and enforce policies which encourage recruiting fresh graduate Lebanese, people with disabilities, and enforce certain female quotas.
  • Health Care: Ensuring healthcare services are accessible, affordable, of high quality and treat all Lebanese people with courtesy, irrespective of whether or not they have money.

What is your stance of the current political parties who are in power?

They are a disgrace to the country. They have been in control of this country since the civil war; many just changed hats from war-lords to governmental figures. It is a shame that Lebanese citizens have consistently voted them back into office time and time again. There is a saying in Arabic that somewhat means “Your leaders are a reflection of who you truly are” and that shows that some Lebanese people still believe in those “leaders” and they represent them, or else why would they vote for them? That shows that a non-representative percentage of the Lebanese population are sectarian, corrupt, short-sighted, promote their own personal benefit over that of the country’s. Yet, and thankfully, not all Lebanese are like that, and with this new electoral law, we all have a chance to make a difference, of putting people in office to voice out our concerns, and represent us as we deserve to be represented.

Can you walk us through your political program and plans if you become an MP?

Well there are many points to talk about here, so I prefer if you read the program in detail (link) as it covers topics including but not limited to: Foreign policy, Empowerment of the Army, Jails & Justice Department, Sectarianism, Right to Give Nationality to Children by Males and Females, Female Quota, Rights of the Disabled, Brain Drain & Economic Recovery, Knowledge Economy, Healthcare, Education, Unemployment, National Debt, Economic Policy, Fighting Corruption, Garbage & Other Environmental Issues, Electricity, Internet, Telephone & Other Services, and Transportation among other topics.

Anything else you’d like to tell the readers?

Well I want to tell your readers, especially those in Beirut, that their vote won’t go in vain. Each vote counts, every person who steps forward and practices their civic duty is helping shape the future of the country in a way they find fit. I hope that through my bio, my replies, and the program I shared with you above, I will have managed to convince your readers to vote for me. All those who know you, my son, whether personally or through your work, I believe they know what kind of person you are and what kind of upbringing you had. It is the same vision, support and encouragement which I had provided for you that I would like to offer to the youth of this country; give them hope, provide them with decent careers, bring them their country back from the bunch of people who have been taking us hostage for over 30 years now!

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Elected To Lead A Coalition of 30+ NGOs

November 11, 2016 Leave a comment

wahdatouna-khalasouna-logo-squareFew days ago, I was elected to lead a coalition containing more than 30 NGOs and 10s of individuals working towards promoting and sustaining civil peace in Lebanon. The coalition is called “Wahdatouna Khalasouna” which means “Our Unity is Our Salvation”. As the name highlights, the focus of the coalition is bring together a plethora of non-profits, experts, activists and academicians to work on issues that might hinder or threaten civil peace in Lebanon.

Our work as a coalition is to tackle the different themes that have an impact on civil peace including but not limited to: human equality, environment, armed conflicts, reconciliation and post-conflict peace building, youth employment and empower, women in leadership, media biases among others.

The coalition is more than 7 years old and I’ve been a proud member since its inception. Back then, my own NGO, Aie Serve, was operating for almost 3 years and we believed that as a youth organization we have a stake in this matter and wanted our voices to be heard. So from joining the coalition as an NGO representative all the way to becoming a member of the steering committee in the last round of elections to recently becoming the General Coordinator of the coalition. IT’s been an interesting journey and for sure I’ve learned a lot from the previous leadership of the coalition and will continue to ask for their guidance and support throughout the upcoming years.

So the journey starts this month in setting up the new strategy, framework and modus operandi for the future of the coalition and its projected impact on our society.

For the time being, I invite you to check our Website and Facebook Page and bare with us while we update and relaunch them in the coming few months.

 

Unsung Hero – Youssef Aziz

September 5, 2016 2 comments

It’s been quite a long time since I wrote any posts on my blog, but there are certain things that can’t be kept silent for too long. This is a message of gratitude to an unsung hero.

369751_529295847_1488966648_n_400x400I’d like you to meet Youssef Aziz,
a dear friend of mine, an activist, an a true unsung hero in several NGOs I’m engaged with.

This gentleman works behind the scenes, does double the effort than most, has the kindest of hearts and a brilliance that is rare to find.

Topping all of that, he is down to earth and a true believer in the values of the organizations he joins/founds/advises.

What triggered my post is the fact that this week…one of the dear NGOs to his heart, and mine, has been officially shut down. It wasn’t shut down by force or by external factors but by an unanimous Board decision, including Mr. Aziz. The choice was tough for all of us, but I know for a fact that it is by far the toughest on him than any of us.

In spite of all that, he’s been orchestrating the process, handing all the necessary documents and coordination to ensure a smooth and successful transitioning for the status of the organization.

But his efforts, input and value is not just about this NGO, but rather for the past 9 years I’ve known him in, he’s been the most trustworthy, consistent and resourceful individual in my volunteering experience.

So to you Youssef I want to say, your work shows when the organizations you’re involved in succeeds in whatever decisions it takes. To you I say, and bluntly, if it wasn’t for you, at least 4 NGOs that you and I know of/volunteer with/advised, wouldn’t have succeeded or existed. So what you’ve done, is setup the infrastructure for those NGOs to be built on, serve others and grow.

On my behalf, and undoubtedly on the behalf of many others, I say thank you for who you are, what you’ve done and what you continue to do day in day out.

 

NGO Leadership & Management Competency Model

February 3, 2016 Leave a comment

Hello my dear reader,

I’ve successfully finished my Masters in Human Resources Management (MHRM) program at AUB. My focus was on Training and Development, thus I developed an NGO Leadership & Management Competency Model. It led to a tentative design of a training program that I will later develop to be offered to NGOs, possibly in partnership with some of the top universities in the region.

I did in-depth literature review on the topic of core competencies for Leadership & Management in NGOs in Lebanon and globally. Following the research, I organized 2 focus groups, bringing in the insights of experienced professionals in NGOs, Training and Development. Based on the findings, I published a survey to further verify the findings and have a wider input from a diverse background of individuals.

This mixed-methods research project resulted in a detailed analysis of competencies and training and development preferences for the target group. Here is a brief report of the findings: NGO Management Leadership Competency Model

Moreover, the above video is a 30min video of the defense I did on the project in front of the jury and here is the link of the article published on the Lebanese Development Network Website: LDN Article.

If you have any suggestions, questions or need any clarifications, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Afif Tabsh

Starting a New Career Journey

July 31, 2015 3 comments

crossroad1Dear Friends and Readers,

For those who don’t know my career journey so far, here it is.

I come from an IT background, and more than 4 years ago, I took a Project Management Professional (PMP) course at the American University of Beirut – Continuing Education Center (AUB-CEC) in partnership with CMCS Lebanon.

Building on that, I went for the exam and became a certified PMP. In the mean time, the trainer who gave me the course, who eventually became a close and trusted friend, introduced me to the Managing Partner of CMCS. Few months later, they offered me a job at CMCS as a Consultant and that’s when I transitioned from IT into Consultancy.

3 years later, I managed to grow and develop at CMCS to become the Operations Manager in addition to having had the pleasure of delivering training courses of all kinds related to Project Management and Business Analysis, training being something I enjoy passionately. I’ve also managed to earn 3 other certifications (CBAP, PBA, GPM-b) and pursue my masters in Human Resources Management (MHRM) at AUB with a focus on Competency Models and Training Development.

This summer, and out of the blue, I got contacted by the HR of one of the big 5 consultancy firms asking me if I’m interested in joining their team based on my achievements and my LinkedIn profile.

So I went through the selection process and I’m proud to say that I’ve been given an offer, which I took.  Therefore, I submitted my resignation from CMCS and will be heading off to this firm by the end of August.

This means I’m ending a beautiful journey in a company I’ve grown to love and respect its team, its professionalism and its achievements. It’s a hard decision to leave something you are doing well at, but at the same time, sometimes one got to think numerous steps ahead.

In addition to that, I’m not only transitioning out of CMCS, but I’m also leaving the country, which is a major career and life-style change. It’s a leap of faith, and I surely hope it’ll pay off in terms of career growth, more challenges and opening new doors.

I’m proud to say, as of September 1, 2015, I’ll be having a managerial position in the Advisory and Consultancy team at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in their Riyadh Office!

As a final note, I want to thank everyone who supported me in this journey of growth and I’m glad to have met everyone I worked with, partnered with, volunteered with and given a training to anywhere around the globe!

NGO Management Competency Model

June 20, 2015 Leave a comment
NGO Competency Model Process

With the proliferation of NGOs in Lebanon and around the world, there is a growing need to empower their staff and volunteers with the needed skills, knowledge and abilities (KSAs) or what is also known as competencies to do their role properly.

In parallel to that, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent annually on training workshops and courses for NGOs. Yet most of them happen without a structured approach to assess the actual needs and gaps to design the appropriate training/coaching/mentoring programs that best fit their situation.

In this context, I’m proposing a full fledged study that incorporates literature review, focus groups, interviews and surveys to do an in-depth quantitative and qualitative analysis of the necessary competencies for individuals managing NGOs.

The aim is to do this study with a multi-stakeholder approach that involves not just the NGOs but also the donor agencies, training providers and academicians.

As a result of the study, an NGO Management Competency Model will be developed. Based on that competency model, potential capacity building programs (training courses, workshops, mentoring programs and coaching sessions) will be designed to cater to the different needs of organizations and their staff and volunteers.

The above concept is not uncommon in certain industries and professions like Human Resources and Project Management professions, so a similar approach will be adopted for the aforementioned initiative.

Let me know your thoughts on the above and if you feel you’re interested in playing a role in this study.
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