Friday, March 30, 2018

My Testimony: Transitioning Into Industry From College

It was a quarter to 11 this beautiful and warm Friday morning. We parked on the northwest side of campus and I was oh so proud that we were half a block from the tall glass blue building, Coor Commons. I put the baby in the stroller and had a tear in my eye that I was actually a mother. The first time I recall Mom dropping me off around this side of campus, was my first day as a freshman: some 14 years ago. 

My reminiscing had to come to stop after I was informed of being in the wrong building. 

Last month, I ran into my mentor at the WE Local event in downtown Phoenix. She asked if I would like to speak on a panel for Engineering Student Council Conference. I couldn’t refuse. Now here I am, thinking I was 30 minutes early, realizing I may be 10 minutes late. 

I jet across campus with the stroller in my arms and kept looking back at my mother trying to keep at her own pace. I was confident I knew where I was going and then wait: where am I? I found myself stopping in the center of Arizona State University. Lost. I felt like there were 100’s of young eyes just staring back at me. Who is that lady with the baby? (I’ve become a lady?! Or maybe that Mom with a baby?!) I was standing in front of the Memorial Union. The location I spent most of my “free” time has now become a place of unfamiliarity. How did that happen? When did that happen? 

I finally got to the room. I strolled my baby in and asked my mom to take her to the hall if she started talking. The young eyes again were staring back at me. 

“She brought her baby?” I’m pretty sure I heard someone say it, unless I could hear their thoughts. I sat down. The room quieted down and the host began our session. 

A nuclear engineer for APS and myself were the targets, invited here to discuss our transition from college to industry. 

So what did I have to say? 

Deadlines have huge impacts

I reminded them that grades are critical and to of course stay in school. I then started to talk about how different deliverables were in industry. You can no longer just miss an assignment or negotiate with a professor on retaking an exam. I told them the story from the Summer of 2010, during my Medtronic internship. I was asked to find a temporary location for inventory control so they could move the new line in. 

I spent hours drawing up spaghetti maps and interviewing team members. Each tile in the clean room added up to four square feet. So on any given day, you would see me tap dancing and counting with my fingers across the tiles.

My manager called me and asked “where is the new location?” And I regret my answer. 

“I need until Monday.” He chuckled and said, “you have until tomorrow morning or it’s all going out into the hallway.” 

The line was for a new product launch. There were clinical deadlines that all led up to FDA submission. Had I missed that deliverable, who knows where I’d be today. 

Make friends fast so you don’t make enemies faster 

It’s all about who you know. When entering a company for the first time, especially out of college, it helps to have people to turn to. They can help get you up to speed on the culture, the tricks of the system, who to go to when and who to stay away from. 

Also, things can get rough. We all have bad days and you can’t just go home and tell your family the details. Besides the fact you have non-disclosure agreements you signed on day one, they won’t understand or even care. Having a support structure can help you navigate those bumpy roads and remind you that everything is a phase. 

Step outside your comfort zone. Sit with "strangers" at lunch or purposely schedule lunch meetings with people. Trust me, the day you need to tug on them, they will pull you forward.

Then someone asked about life balance. 

“What’s a typical day like?” 

My mentor leaned into my should and said “Tima why don’t you share that time you worked a 20 hour day?”

Let’s not scare them. 

But what I did say is that life balance is in your hands. Eight years ago, I was fresh out of undergrad and taking 2-3 classes for my masters. Work was my life. It was easy to do 60 hour work weeks and still have time to go to the gym and hang out with friends. 

I made an impression on the organization. And I got rewarded for it. When I was promoted into New Product Introduction, I set new boundaries for myself. I left at 4. It felt like I was doing a half day! I still stayed over when they needed me since we are a 24/7 manufacturing site but the point was I set a new expectation. 

Now that I have my baby, I’ve been fortunate to be in a more global position, where I could leave at three when I need to and pick up where I left off at 8 or 9 at night. It also comes in handy when I need to make calls to our supplier partners in Asia. 

The point is you figure out what makes you happy. You need to figure out what “balance” means. It could be as simple as going to the gym for 40 minutes after work, regardless of the outcome of your day. 

The years go by quickly. The night before this talk I sat down, grabbed a piece of paper and asked myself “what was it like transitioning?” 

Being human, I remembered the struggles. I remembered the negative comments from people who were intimidated by me and the new vision of the company that I was a walking example of. I remembered the blunt and brutal conversations from one of my toughest managers.

But then I remember the patients: the people we serve day in and day out. Decisions can be hard to make, especially when no one is around on a holiday weekend. I never hesitated though because it all came back to the patient safety and product quality. 

There is no easy answer to transitioning out of college. It will be different based on your degree, the culture of the company you’re hired with and your definition of balance. 

The critical point is to recognize it is a transition. Don’t underestimate what the world has to offer because opportunities are truly endless once you walk through that door. You just need to open your eyes to see them, open your mind to embrace them and raise your arms to navigate through them. 

(Photo credit:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Journaling: For better or for worse

It will be six years since I started my leadership blog. I had often read blog posts online and wondered if I would ever / could ever start one of my own. And here I am, I feel successful, mostly because I jotted down key life lessons. 

The pace of our work moves quite rapidly. You get up at 5 and immediately start your morning routine. You say to yourself "Hey - I might actually leave for work by 6" and the next thing you know it's 6:30. Then at work it's churn churn churn until the clock strikes 4. You rush home. Dinner on the table, baby fed, toys splattered across the floor. Then 10PM rolls around and you sit in your office saying "what happened today? Or better yet - what's happened in the last year?" 

Often times, we lose sight of the day. We fail to jot down lessons or reflect on what we did. We fail to make time for "whitespace" where we can just strategically stop to breath and innovate. So when I stopped tonight to read my first post from July 2012, I thanked myself for writing it down. And I appreciate you writing it down as well. 

People come to me for advice and if you're one of those people, you would have heard me say "just write it down." So here it is again - Write it down. 

Just Start Writing

I couldn't sleep tonight. I spent over an hour on Facebook catching up on my news feed, which I rarely do and asked myself - what's on my mind? I'm told it's difficult to journal but all you have to do is write. Whether it's in your notebook (on paper or on your electronic device), writing out words helps you internalize all that you have encountered throughout the day. 

It doesn't need to be Shakespearean. Just write words. The words will turn into sentences and the sentences will turn into stories. 

You will be amazed what you come up with. 

Be Purposeful When You Need To Be

I learned through various development training sessions some techniques to get me through rough patches. If it's a life change or I feel "stuck" I tend to turn to more purposeful writing sessions. Most of these you won't see on my blog but it's a tool that helps me overcome a challenge. 

For example, if I'm struggling with something but I cannot pin point what it is, I write out all the good and not so good things going on. I smile at the good and feel blessed and then do some more work on the not so good. I start by categorizing what I can and cannot control. 

For the items I can control, I write out short term and long term objectives. For the things I can't, I write them on a separate piece of paper and say "Good Riddance." I don't throw it out but rather tuck it away. They are real issues but they are not issues I can do something about, so why focus my time and efforts on them? 

Other purposeful writing sessions tend to be around career growth. When choosing my path, I learned to not only write out what you want to do but rather what you don't ever want to do. It's okay to map out where you don't want to go and why, so when the opportunity comes knocking, you can be true to yourself. 

Share Your Learnings

In 2012, I was selected to be in a leadership program for approximately a year. They handed out these really nice executive notebooks and said "Great leaders journal." I went home that night and wrote that down. And that was the only thing I wrote down. So, I found my own style to fulfill that task. During the day or after a long week, I would box out a space in my notebook to write out some thoughts. Good learnings or not so good responses. I also had a personal notebook stashed in the back corner of my closet for my emotions or other non-work related things. 

Then one day, I logged onto Blogger and wrote about "It's Just Noise." Not only did I publish my learning, but it stuck with me. Since that day, if something falls off my desk or someone coughs during my presentation, I keep going. It was an odd learning but one I felt I needed  to share. And I did. 

Sometimes we think we need to write as if someone is going to read it. But that's not always the case. Journaling has gotten me through different speed bumps on this road called life. 

I share this with you because I had a story to tell. A story about a girl who just wanted to write about her day but wanted others to benefit from it. Hopefully for the better. 

Photo credit:

Friday, September 1, 2017

Create A Bright Legacy

"John Herschel: Father, do you believe in ghosts?
William Herschel: Why, yes, my son.
John Herschel: You do? I would not have thought so.
William Herschel: Oh, no, not in the human kind of ghost. No, not at all. But look up, my boy, and see a sky full of them!"

Last week all eyes were up, looking at history. Having a total solar eclipse span across the United States will make it in the textbooks. But any scientist will say "Yes you are looking at history-8 minutes ago in the past."

Given The Sun's distance to the Earth, the rays that reach our planet were emitted roughly 8 minutes before.

At first I referred to events like this as history but what about our history? In one second I can look into the mirror and the first look I saw was already in history to the one I was looking at now.

Or how about one hour I'm twirling on the dance floor in a Barbie doll gown and then lying motionless on highway pavement waiting for my maker to take to me home?

How will our legacy be then?

Your Words 

The course of events in our daily lives causes us to make comments at the most frivolous things. How many times were you in a meeting or on the phone with a friend, and immediately put someone down?

We think we have an unlimited supply of time and people around us have unlimited supply of patience. But that's not the case.
Next time you're about to say something you wouldn't say to your six month old or your grandma, stop and swallow your words.

Your Actions

Actions speak louder than words. Right now, our country is dealing with the vast undertaking of Hurricane Harvey. Sweeping lives literally out of their homes and land. Reaching your arm to pull someone up from drowning, can go without saying, the most someone can ask of you.

These people don't need to talk. They don't need to explain themselves. They just do, with hopes it is the right action that leads to good.

Some of us are visual learners, therefore we remember an action or a gesture rather than what was spoken. When you demonstrate positive actions, people will speak more of you.

Your Presence 

How do you want to be remembered? How do you get your followers to walk by your side and even take over the baton of leadership? Your presence. I can confidently say I deliver results. As important as that is, what I consistently hear from team members and leaders is my passion.

Your character shapes who you are and is contagious at times. I've asked people why do you think I'm a good leader and they say "I just love how you present yourself. You make me want to work with you; for you."

Presentation can brighten the room and setting that particular tone is critical when starting new roles or projects. People can feel your energy and follow in your footsteps no matter how much the feat.

Your presence can leave a mark no matter how much time has passed.

Hind, you brightened this world. Your presence lit up the hearts of many souls. You were kind, charming, funny, smart and humble. As the amazing heartfelt girl you were, you stood straight up with pride looking for how to support. How to help. This world will be a shade dimmer before. Or it may be brighter for all of us who want to emulate your personality and to live on your behalf. I hate to question fate or say you were taken too soon but your legacy will remain. And what people are saying about you proves that your words were carefully selected, your actions were prioritized and your presence was worthy. We love you so much and always will. You will be missed. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Learning to Serve Through Language

English is my first language. I am however bilingual with Arabic as my second. And although I took Spanish in High School and tend to use it here and there living in Arizona, I cannot say I'm fluent in it.

Growing up, my parents spoke to my brothers and I in Arabic at home and we'd respond in English. My grandmother (God rest her soul) didn't speak English. So she would say a few words and we'd use hand gestures and visual cues to maintain a conversation.

I am confident to say I'm fluent now in Arabic - Speaking, Reading and even Writing. I'm slower at grasping than I was before but am starting to strengthen my language all over again. All thanks to my husband, where English is his second language.

What is even more amazing is that our dialects are different being that we grew up in two different nations. Since everyone knows his dialect is more delicate, I'm trying to learn it and speak it more.

When learning any new language, it's not just the words you're grasping. You're picking up the meaning and the cultural habits behind it. And it got me thinking in the last few weeks - what makes his dialect more "delicate" as I put it?

It demonstrates servant leadership at its core.

By simply swapping one word, you can go from being demanding to serving. Over the years through different leadership classes, I was mentored on how to approach my peers, subordinates and managers. I would come off as "bossy" and "pushy," to keep this post G-rated.

I started framing statements into questions as a way to bring people on board with me. I tried to reference someone's idea to show how I was listening and asked how we could use it or build upon it. At times when I had to give orders, the statements came with confidence and grace and an explanation as to why it had to be done.

I am still trying to master all of that and continue to look for ways to improve my communication. And now I found it. If I could take the concept behind my new dialect and translate it, I'll be one step closer to being more approachable.

Traditionally I would ask -

"What do you want help with?"

In this statement the you can be offensive and that alone can make the question less delicate. Rather I ask -

"What do you want me to help with?"

By adding me, you're removing the focus on the person and creating a team environment.

I also mentioned that English is a second language to my husband and this has been a lesson in itself. When communicating with him, there are phrases and words I would traditionally use that do not make sense when translating to Arabic.

So I've become selective when choosing how I say something to ensure it doesn't come off wrong. As we expand our global presence, this is a crucial skill we need to master.

Language is not only the words.

It's how we order the words.

It's how we select the words.

It's how we present the words - our tone and timing.

Language is key to how we interact and communicate with those around us. Be mindful for how you order select and most importantly present your words.

If you're a Star Wars fan, you would recognize that the Master of all Jedi's, Yoda, speaks in a different form than we do.

"Patience you must have young Padawan" and in this example he's emphasizing what you must encompass - Patience in this case.

As you set off into the galaxy communicating, remember what you're intent is and don't be afraid to start with that.

It is way better than inadvertently offending someone when you set out to compliment them.

Enough said.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Throwing Out My Ego

Thinking of having a baby in the near future? I was given advice. The warnings. The benefits. But what most people don't talk about (maybe because they think they're out of line) is how quickly your ego gets thrown out the window.

Baby G was born on February 28, 2017 at 3:22pm. My pregnancy was on the difficult side with all day sickness from week six to 39 and contractions starting from week 28.

"But once you hold her in your arms and look into her eyes, it'll be worth it." <crickets chirping> Yes I love my daughter and wouldn't trade her for anything but I'm still recovering from the last 11 months.

I do, however, recall other comments like "you will learn to be a better leader in the workplace when you become a parent" and I'm starting to see why, hoping it holds true.

Create the Plan

I like to say I bring results and am quite productive at work and at home. It's amazing however how productive you are when you have a 40 week clock ticking.

At work I identified all the things I was leading. Working with my manager, we identified what was important and what could wait based on business needs. But what helped me get through it all was to avoid distraction.

Being at the company for almost seven years now, people know they can rely on me. So saying "no" was important now more than ever. And I learned that it was okay to say no and describe that it was based on the priorities. If there was a debate on the priority, it was resolved by putting all the cards on table and looking for the highest number.

It helps to know what needs to be done now and what needs to wait. And what's more crucial is your recovery plan. Who will do what in your absence or what will be done when something goes wrong?

I would rather take that ounce of prevention rather than the pound of reaction. Know what's ahead even when you don't know and have a plan of attack ready.

Take Control

I may have spoken about control in the past but it doesn't hurt to hit the replay button. I couldn't help waking up at five every day with the worst nauseating feeling during my pregnancy. Every time I think something would work to prevent the runs to the restroom, it no longer helped by the following week.

So I told myself to adapt. From five to eight in the morning, then noon and sometimes three to six in the evening, I may be sick. I couldn't control the sickness from happening no matter how many times I changed my diet or tried medicine my doctor prescribed. But I could control how I reacted to it.

Too often, we invest in the things we can't control. We nag about what the universe has or hasn't given us. In order to achieve results, we need to keep moving forward and we do so by analyzing what's within our control in order to succeed.

Be Humble

This one has always been the hardest for me. But when I do look into my daughter's eyes, nothing else seems to matter in that moment. She is looking to be for love, care, food and comfort. I put her needs before mine regardless of the situation. And when I can't anymore, I am willing to hand her to her father so I can rest and recharge. That was not easy in the beginning.

I am the kind of person who does everything at once and doesn't usually ask for help. When you have a fragile human being in your arms, it can be dangerous to try and do it all.

And this got me thinking- how many times did I work more than 60hrs/week? How were my decision making skills? How was my attitude towards my team? My family.

Pride can get you in trouble. Just recently, I let my guard down. I broke down and asked for help. I stopped worrying about how I would be viewed and didn't care if anyone was keeping score, which no one wasn't.

I started to listen more to what my daughter was saying (through her facial and mouth expressions and different cries); what my husband wasn't saying through his gestures of feeding the baby or rubbing my back randomly; and what my body was telling me through the aches and pains.

It's still difficult and with her growing cycles, there will be different phases of difficult but I at least lowered the expectations and know when and how to ask for help.

My daughter is just over a month now and she's slowly recovering from her low birth weight and thankfully that was the only consequence of a risk we learned about in the second trimester.

She will start to walk and talk before I am able to publish this post. So I hope to carry this message with me through her teething phase, her kindergarten hurdles, her college acceptance essays and her final touches of her dissertation (oh right, I said low expectations before huh?)

But I also hope to think of this time when I take on that next big project or interview for a manager position.

Our pride can cloud our judgment and distract us from focusing on what's important. Multitasking can be productive but I've learned the time spent feeding my daughter for 20-40 minutes a sitting, cannot be replaced. It's crucial to her health, wellbeing and aura.

If you can see the result ahead of you, then that is half the battle of achieving it. So don't be afraid to breath and be vulnerable why marking your path. If you're persistent enough, you'll succeed, even if you have to change diapers six times between start to finish. Every moment counts in achieving the end result, which includes bonding with your baby or even your team.