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PMI’s International Development CoP Member Spotlight – Afif Tabsh, PMP, CBAP

April 26, 2013 3 comments

Dear Friends,

I’m glad to share with you the below interview/article written about me and published in Project Management Institute (PMI’s) International Development Community of Practice. Link to the official article on PMI’s website for PMI Members is here.

Enjoy the below and let me know what you think,

Afif

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International Development CoP Member Spotlight

Afif Tabsh, PMP, CBAP
Consultant & Trainer at CMCS – Cofounder & President at Aie Serve
Lebanon

About Afif
As a management consultant and trainer at CMCS Lebanon I assist corporations and NGOs in Strategic Planning, Process Improvement, Human Capital Management, Project & Program Management and Leadership. 

I’m especially interested in the fields of Youth Empowerment, Diversity & Acceptance, Leadership, NGO & SME Management, Social Entrepreneurship, Coaching & Consultancy, and Training Techniques.

I’ve participated, organized, trained and was a guest speaker in numerous conferences, camps, workshops, conventions and seminars under Aie Serve, PMI, UNDP, UNESCO, Rotary, Youth Economic Forum, AUB Alumni Council, Arab Economic Form, LAU Peace & Justice Institute among others.

What Does International Development Mean to You?
With our growing interconnected world, global diversity is becoming a key topic on discussion panels as people from all walks of life are becoming interconnected with each other, do business together, volunteer for similar causes, even though they might be thousands of miles away.

Thus respecting differences and accepting the other has become a crucial factor of successful projects, programs and organizations at large, worldwide.

What Are You Most Passionate About?
I’m very passionate about professional volunteering, this has been reflected through the NGOs and clubs I have founded and others that I’m engaged in at the Board level.

Who Is Your Hero & Why?
My biggest hero so far has been my father who was able to balance a very busy life as a doctor with his passion for serving the community and promoting active citizenship along with taking care of his family and private life.

What Is One Strategy for Inclusion that You Can Share?
One of my best strategies is believing in the potential of individuals and focusing on respecting the differences, accepting the other and loving them for their humanity. Every person has a lot of potential to give, it’s just a matter of taking your time to understand them and see things from their perspective, know what they are good at and put it to work. When working in teams, it proves to be the best tool to really utilize the full potential of the team, as you don’t point fingers at them or have a prejudgment that they are incapable, but rather start from the preposition that they have the potential and you’re just there to uncover it.

What Exciting Projects, Programs or Portfolios Are Your Working On? 
I’m currently working on 4 very exciting programs in the volunteer youth NGO I’m leading called Aie Serve (www.AieServe.org – http://www.Facebook.com/AieServe). The programs are:

  • Aie Power – Platform for Youth to Transfer Project Ideas into Reality
  • Aie Consult – Incubator & Consultancy Program for Youth Led NGOs
  • Aie Skills – Training Program to Empower Youth with Soft, Life and Managerial skills
  • Aie Clubs – Network of Youth Lead Clubs in Universities and Local Areas that do Community Development, Service and Awareness Activities

What Is Your Favorite Book & Author?
I have 3 favorite books:

  • Who Moved My Cheese
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us 

What Have You Done to Change the World? What Will Your Legacy Be?
One of my proudest achievements is Aie Serve, I cannot say enough about it. I co-founded the organization 6 years ago with a group of friends from all walks of life, different countries, different majors, different ethnicity and different interests but with a shared vision: Serving The Community. From there it grew from a group of friends, to a team and an organization.

The true value of Aie Serve is not just what it does, but the fact that it is run completely by volunteers and the way it is managed internally. The core values of the organization drive it, and drive its programs and way of work. Those core values are simple, yet powerful as they make the way to move forward simple and straight forward.

Our values are: Respect, Acceptance & Love. 

Respecting others’ point of views and beliefs no matter what, accepting differences and considering them the seeds of diversity and finally, loving others for who they are, and not for their background, ethnicity, beliefs, colour or economic status.

If You Weren’t In Project Management, What Would You Be Doing?
If I wasn’t in project management I would be in the field of talent or human capital management. I believe working with, developing, empowering, and supporting people is absolutely crucial for everything we do in this world. Human potential is infinite, thus those who know how to tap into it, grow it and sustain it, will lead success.

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Is University Life Only About Academics?

April 25, 2013 6 comments

To make a long story short, the answer is: No! Absolutely not!

Here’s a more elaborate answer on why its not only about academics. This topic has recently surfaced to my attention as many have asked me about my university life and what are the keys to success at university.

Now as a matter of fact, and to make things simple, I can break down university life into 4 elements:

University Life

  • Academics: This includes the major you choose, the courses you take, the papers and projects you do, the grades you take…etc. Trust me, this is coming from someone who scored a 99/100 in his first university course and graduated with a GPA of 76/100 after 3 years of study, not because I’m dumb, but rather because I knew that there are other valuable things to focus on.
  • Work Experience: Not everyone has the luxury of having work opportunities in the university like work-study programs or what not. Yet opportunities don’t stop there, a university student can virtually work a gazillion different things from being a waiter/waitress in a nearby restaurant/café to private tutoring for younger students or schools students, to ushering in some events, to joining some company as an intern having any kind of part time job, whether related to their field of study or not. Obviously having the opportunity to work on campus and/or in the field of study is an excellent choice, yet if that is not present, then you don’t have to limit yourself to that…just get into the working mindset and learn how to earn your own money, as early as possible. Again, trust me on the immense impact of earning your own cash, this is coming from someone who worked a multitude of things in university from ushering for events to working in the IT department at university to private tutoring to having an internship, and some were even in parallel!
  • Community Involvement/Extra-curricular Activities: This includes clubs, societies, NGOs, political parties, movements, sports teams, music band or any kind of engagement with the community that gets you to invest in your own hobbies, skills, knowledge and self in general. Again and again, this is coming from someone who started his own NGO with some friends from 1st year of university and was involved in all sorts of clubs, societies, committees and groups all throughout university and beyond.
  • Networking & Connections: Yes this is a crucial element as much as any of the above 3 points. The truth about life is that the more people you know on the personal level, the more connections you have, the higher are probabilities of getting to new career opportunities, academic opportunities and social opportunities. You might even end up meeting the love of your life through one of your connections.  In every step along the way, I made sure I connect with people, truly connect with them and not just have them as acquaintances or someone I once met, but rather making friends, building trust, sharing worries and good times.

Each one of those 4 elements gives you an added value to your knowledge, to your life, to who you are, to the career options you’ll have, and to the people you know. To truly benefit from university life, you got to make use of all what the university life can offer you, whether on or off campus. Again I stress on the fact that perhaps not all universities have extra curricular activities or at least not the ones you want, not all of them will give you work/career choices, but then again the university is not an island, it exists within an ecosystem which you can reach out to and benefit from what it can offer.

For me, this has been one of the key success factors in my life, knowing that there is more university life than just academics. So to all those entering universities, to all the university students out there… don’t just focus on your academic element of university, it wont be enough for this ever changing and challenging world!

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Ideas to Actions

September 21, 2010 22 comments

We, as human beings, have a zillion ideas flying around in that mind of ours. Yet as Charles Landry once said “the single biggest problem in the world is not finding great ideas but getting great ideas to move, to flow” and this will be the focus of my post. I aim at showing how to move from ideas to actions. From dreams to reality.

Drowning in our ideas and getting stuck on what to do is in itself a thinking problem, a self-inflicted problem in most cases. What we need is to rethink our way of thinking about ideas to create the right movement in the right direction, the rest will follow.

Here are few steps to consider:


Rethink complexity.
We create complexities, mind barriers and problems by simply over-analyzing our situation, given and capabilities. Often outsiders see things more objectively and clearly, so do share your ideas and “worries” with some trusted people to get feedback and their perspective before you jumpy into over-analyzing.


Rethink systems.
If you’re in a “system”… be it a work environment, friends, community or physical location that is being resistant to change, to comply to new ideas…rethink the system. If you have the power to change the system before you tackle new ideas, do so…if not, then start searching for a newer system that better encourages the very behavior and ideas you seek.


Rethink ego.
Our ego can sometimes hinder us from exploring new ideas, from realizing our failures, our limitations and our resources. We keep on rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship by keeping busy and deceiving ourselves that we’re making progress.


Rethink boundaries.
No idea is too big or too far-fetched, growth and progress often needs exploring new territory, so do take that leap of faith to go into undiscovered forests.


Rethink habits.
We are what we do often, so do reflect on your habits and see whether those are pushing you forward towards achieving your dreams and implementing those ideas or are they pulling you back? Failing to realize the impact your habits have on you might mean that you’ll stay stuck where you are.


Rethink failure and success.
Two faces of one coin, one cannot come without the other. If you’re afraid of being wrong, embarrassed by failure or paralyzed by insecurity, you will never find the solutions that lead to meaningful growth.. On the other hand, you need to know what success looks like. Muddy expectations lead to exhaustion and defeat before you even get started. Praise short-term accomplishments to appeal to your heart and not just your head. It will keep your ideas moving along.


Rethink the possible.
In most cases it just needs that extra push, that bit of motivation, that one voice to tell you “Everything is feasible!”. Many of the things that seem possible and even trivial today were once impossible, so don’t let anything hold you back and go for it!

Seven simple steps with a great impact. Everything is feasible and all ideas can materialize, dreams can become reality…and it’s all in your head!

Succeeding First…

April 11, 2010 6 comments

I felt like sharing some thoughts about success and one’s journey in life…so here it goes…

Many of the people around me, especially from the civil society entourage, have that savior complex, or the martyr complex for the sake of human kind, world peace, environment, human rights, justice…etc but I believe they are forgetting one basic thing before getting to all that….and its succeeding first.

I mean succeeding in one’s life, whether academic, career-wise, family, social life..etc before being able to save the world or save anyone or anything for that matter. If one cant stand on his own feet, he wont be of much help to anyone…because he’ll probably be unstable and dependent on others and thus will in turn need someone to support and “save” them beforehand.

Yes I feel I have that moral obligation towards my community and my environment to assist it, to serve, to change things in a positive way….but I don’t put that before my own self…

Perhaps some people share that moral obligation, others simply work for the community or environment to enrich their resume, others for the financial income they might get…but never the less…its counter productive for anyone to start dreaming of saving anything in this world before having his/her feet strongly rooted in the ground or else the sheer weight of the responsibility will throw him/her off balance….crumbling under the endless initiatives/program/project/campaigns needed to achieve any tangible change…any sustainable endeavors.

So take this simple advice from a simple person…succeed first and then do your best to save the world….

A tree to grow successfully needs strong earthed roots…

 

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