Women's History Month
Without women, Someone Somewhere would not be possible. Because of this, we will share throughout March the stories and perspectives of three powerful women inside Someone Somewhere. Nadine, Dani, and Pam are three women that, through their leadership and talent, transform their respective areas to impact lives and change the world for the better.
Nadine comes from a Palestinian family that immigrated to Canada. Growing up in such a diverse environment has allowed her to learn four languages and be a student of the world. With studies in Business Administration and Indigenous Rights, Nadine is the Head of Supply Chain and Operations. She is also a part of numerous initiatives that seek to generate impact in communities and the lives of women. She is a member of the World Economic Forum as an Impact Officer and Global Shaper. She is also a mentor for the Universal Women’s Network. Among her personal projects is Neighbourhood SHEro, a podcast she created as a platform to highlight and amplify the stories of women transforming their communities.
We sat down with Nadine to talk about our company, the impact generated inside the communities we collaborate with, and what we can do to improve moving forward with regards to our mission.
After this brief introduction, can you tell us what do you think is the most important thing we can do for our communities?
I think there are three important things we can be doing to positively impact our communities. First and foremost, it starts with education and learning. We need to listen and most importantly, understand the context of those around us as well as share our contexts. This allows us to discover if there are possibilities or opportunities for development within and outside each community. Storytelling is incredibly powerful. Sharing our stories is important to develop cultural sensitivity and awareness. The second thing we can do is to actively empower people around us, especially female communities. These do not necessarily have to be indigenous or remote communities (our beneficiaries at Someone Somewhere), but it is equally important to encourage those in our close circles. I think we need to understand that it’s not about competing with other people but instead, focusing on the abundance of opportunities that exist. We must try to be cheerleaders for each other. Finally, we need to dig deep into ourselves to better understand our strengths and weaknesses. We must seek to find our place and role in the world and focus on how we can achieve this with our passions and abilities. To summarize, we can do three important things for our communities: Learn, Empower and Reflect. If we do these things, we can grow not only as a community but as individuals to achieve our personal and professional goals.
What do you think is the most important challenge in strengthening and empowering women today?
This is a great question. I think it is important to note that I have a different context from my fellow women in Mexico. My nationality is Palestinian. My parents were immigrants from Palestine, and I grew up in Canada. I grew up with two nationalities, in two different worlds. On one hand, the Arab culture generally has many differences between men and women. On the other hand, my Canadian upbringing has been more open, even though there is still a lot of work to be done in closing the gender equality gap. In my opinion, one of the greatest challenges we experience as women is competition. We tend to think that if we want to achieve something, it has to come at the expense of someone else’s success. We have to change our mentality and learn to “stay in our lanes”. We are so fortunate to be different, to have our own life paths, our own strengths, our own challenges, and our goals. As well as our individual way of achieving them. We must be mindful of our journey and the differences across our contexts. When we let go of this competitive attitude amongst women and begin to think of us as a community that can support its own, our power becomes far reaching. I have come to realize that my colleagues and my friends are not my competition but instead my motivation. It brings me joy to see them succeed and I hope that it brings them joy to see me succeed. This mentality of abundance and support is imperative to strengthen us as women.
Using your concept of SHEro, is there anyone within Someone Somewhere that you consider a SHEro. If yes, why?
All the women within Someone Somewhere are truly SHEros. Let me explain a bit about the concept and how it came to be. Before joining Someone Somewhere, I was a business consultant at a large firm for numerous years. There was naturally a great focus on Women in Technology and Women in Business, which was amazing; but it was surprising to me that I couldn’t find those platforms, for the everyday women who are changing lives and adding impact in their unique way. This is one of many examples, but I came to meet an amazing lady who started to informally teach Syrian refugees English and help them find work in Canada and I thought to myself, how amazing is this project and more importantly, how amazing is this woman, she is a true SHEro. At times, we have the opportunity to realize our passions, but we don’t have the platform to share and celebrate our contributions to our communities. So, I thought, we need this space to share powerful stories of women, whose contributions lie outside of business and tech but are SHEros in our everyday lives.
Someone Somewhere is a community of many SHEros; in the office, in the artisan communities, in our homes, etc. Fatima Alvarez is a strong example for me because she is a powerful and compassionate woman who has combined her professional and personal passions to bring about change. She is a strong and inspirational SHEro within Someone Somewhere but so many of my female colleagues have so much impact, not only in their teams but for the entire organization. Each one brings their individual contributions to the table, so it is very difficult to pick just one SHEro at Someone Somewhere. We are a team of 62% women, each capable, brilliant and inspirational. Of course, we are focused on supporting female artisans. Each of them is a SHEro for us all and the reason we come to work every day.
At Someone Somewhere we want to be able to live and work with female leaders because we know that it makes a difference, what can you tell us about this?
I totally agree. We are so fortunate to be able to work with a team of mostly women. In my previous job, I rarely got the opportunity to work with women, mostly men (during my 6 years in consulting). I didn’t truly understand the importance of having female colleagues or role models. When joining Someone Somewhere, wow, it was incredible to see that the majority of leaders are women and the majority of our end beneficiaries, the artisans, are women as well. How impactful that this opportunity exists in our organization and not only in our day-to-day functions but in the communities we work with. For me, this is truly a blessing!
In your experience, how could you explain the difference in working with women?
First and foremost, I believe if you are the best person for the job, you are the best person for the job, regardless of gender. But I have noticed a difference in working with women in the way that we resolve problems and structure projects. As women, we invest in understanding the strengths and weaknesses of our teammates and ensuring that we are optimizing for using our strengths effectively while finding ways to build new skills. We focus not only on achieving goals but creating opportunities to learn and grow for all those involved.
Yes, usually, we women believe it is important to get to know the people we work with, right?
Totally. I think women are more holistic in the way we look at things. We can see past the person in front of us and seek to understand what motivates the person we are working with, what context are they bringing to the table, and much more. This holistic focus is not only effective in organizations like Someone Somewhere, but I have seen it firsthand in the communities. I was fortunate enough to meet Petra, an amazing female artisan and leader of the community in Naupan, Puebla. She is always thinking more profoundly about the community of artisans when she divides work: thinking of the skills of the artisans, the time required, personal goals, and external context. She doesn’t only think about getting the job done but doing it in a way that is genuine and beneficial to her community and this is exceptional.
To the Someone Somewhere team, Nadine is undeniably a very valuable member and we are so grateful to be able to work with her.
Currently, 73% of our leadership roles are held by women.