Ricky Noronha-GOAN at heart….

Ricky Noronha is the Company Director of Online Productivity Solutions Pvt. Ltd.  He is a technology strategist and animal lover and most of all very proud to be a GOAN. He has successfully mastered the art of making something from nothing and the method of transforming an idea into a business. He walks the visionary path with practical feet. His imagination and innovation has given him incredible resilience. I can easily describe him as a purpose-driven entrepreneur who exudes dynamic resourcefulness and an intention for impact. He brings strong intent behind his passion and is strongly focused on tenacious execution. A men of incredible talent and success, he made a start with a desire to be his own boss; to be a master of his own destiny; with the belief that you can succeed in your own venture better than you could ever advance under another’s employ. He also wanted to make a difference in the world we live in, whether it be socially or economically.

In 1995, three visionaries decided to undertake a path-breaking journey, setting up one of Goa’s first IT startup. Today, Online Productivity Solutions Private Limited has come a long way to become a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and a listed Linux, MariaDB and PostgreSQL consulting company. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

I’m originally a mechanical engineer, and a damned good one if I may say so myself. I still dabble in it as a hobby. But years ago, I got a chance to move to IT, 1997 to be precise and haven’t looked back since. It seemed a nice, new and exciting field at that time. The PC was just making an entrance into the IT scene and computers were moving from the lab to the desktop.

For the first few years of my IT Career, I was in training. I headed the NIIT Goa Centres set-up at the height of the IT Education boom in India and I trained a lot of capable Goan youth. The one complaint I always heard from them was, “there are no jobs” for us in Goa!The other directors in the company too were also involved in training and felt the same way. We were friends and felt we had to do something in Goa for Goa and Goans. Even way-back-then, with just a handful of trained IT professionals it seemed silly to have all IT professionals leave Goa in search of jobs and then come-back to Goa, hired by and posted here by Pune and Delhi Companies – that’d employed them. Till date, we’re the only company in Goa that will prefer to take-on smart and enthusiastic freshers. We never ask for the “2/3/5 years experience that most of the other -not originally-Goan-but-based-in-Goa companies here do”. We’ve given the largest number of freshers a launch-pad for their careers, in Goa and globally – with some of those starting with us holding senior positions in even Microsoft!

What is the secret of your success?

The secret to success in business isn’t as complicated as many make them out to be. The road to success is going to be long, so remember to enjoy the journey. Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude. What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win. dispel the persistent myth that entrepreneurial success is all about innovative thinking and breakthrough ideas. I’ve found that entrepreneurial success usually comes through great execution, simply by doing a superior job of doing the blocking and tackling.

What was the most difficult moment for your company?

Everything we did was difficult. Being one of the first – we had to educate most people along-the-way. Blaze a trail, create the path, go where no one has gone before!

what is the most memorable moment in the life of your endeavour?

Being able to provide jobs to Goans. In Goa doing world-class IT stuff! For global clients! Seeing fresh IT graduates join-up, learn the ropes, excel at what they do, learn, earn, travel abroad, meet and marry each other in the Company, start families — All the while, knowing that we provide stable, secure and enjoyable work and work-atmosphere, along with a good pay package and world-standard work and working hours – In Goa. We are also one of the few 100% Goan companies that works a 5-day week! As some would say – one hasn’t really lived – if one hasn’t made a difference … We have – as individuals and as a company.

Any advice?

If you are launching a small business, don’t be discouraged. Entrepreneurship is deeply rewarding and offers the opportunity to make a difference and transform lives. people often put entrepreneurship on a pedestal and overlook its stress and sacrifices.For me, being an entrepreneur has never been a career — it’s a calling. It is challenging 24/7, yet the feeling of achievement and success is second to none. I wake up and do something positive every day. Although the average person goes by the saying “seeing it is believing it,” the successful person understands the power of imagination. You can see with your “inner eyes” what it will be like once you succeed. So believe in yourself first, which fuels your motivation to get active.

Maendra Alvares—Creating History

Having been to Ancestral Goa and The Big Foot Museum, all I can say is that the only way to experience art is to be there, to touch it, to get the feeling for it and to see it in real life. In the entranceway to Ancestral Goa, located in the quiet village of Loutolim, there are beautiful sculptures welcoming visitors to the place. They announce the hallmarks of Maendra Alvares’ art. When you meet Maendra Alvares you can see that he is one creative artist in a chaotic world. Through his art/craft, he is trying to mend the chaos that he sees around him. Unlike brain surgeons and engineers who can transform the world in a very direct way, Maendra is one person who is excited to do what he does best, and gets very creative about spreading awareness and positivity in the world. He is hugely inspired by everything GOAN. He believes that Around us there is a great amount of inspiration and that it is all about taking the time to stop take it in. The majority of the time his ideas are a reflection of his own experience and/or his own emotion towards something.

Maendra feels that life as a creative person is the best and urges anyone with a dream to follow it, and push yourself. “I think you can do anything you want to if you’re open and take chances and work hard. I’ve seen many people just decide what they want to be and then work towards it and then it happens. He finds it very interesting because of the diverse audience that his art attracts. He loves meeting new people from other countries and the appreciation he gets for his work is very rewarding. The idea of being able to immerse himself in creativity really excites him. Maendra is a man who is Talented, successful, grounded and deeply compassionate, with an uncanny ability to know exactly what’s important in life. 

“As it stands, humanity has almost completely separated itself from nature. Many of us haven’t felt the grass on our bare feet for years, and somewhere along the way, we’ve developed this idea that we’re different and superior from other things in nature. But Maendra believes this is all an illusion. I guess my work is my quiet way of showing a regard for the natural world and thinking about our responsibilities to it. Success has never affected his approach to the creative process. The driving force behind his inspiration has remained the same, even after all these years. Jubilance, he said, is the best word to describe how he feels. He feels an immense satisfaction to have endured as an artist. When you’ve pulled something off that everyone tried to talk you out of, you feel a certain sense of accomplishment and pride. As he continued, he spoke animatedly, memories sparking excitement in his voice.Alvares is A man with many FIRST challenges and many FIRSTS down the road.

Tell us something about yourself….

Since I began, way back in 1983 when concepts and ideologies like those I started out with were an anomaly to even the most learned minds, in this tiny piece of India, then, a Union Territory still. Then, like the whole of the land stood on the brink of change, the paradigm shift was inevitable in all aspects and “Change” as it were, was a welcome addition to our vocabulary.

You can start out small but you HAVE to think BIG! This is what I did and 25 years later, amazed even myself at the “roads chosen, paths trod, decisions taken and landmarks created”. If I may say so, it felt GOOD!

This then is how I began, what the people who lent me their shoulder as harness to my yoke of labor opined and later what those whose worlds I enhanced with creativity said…… 

Please elaborate on some of the things you Established….

1) The first advertising agency in Goa – Art Ads, in 1983, handling different publicity media under one roof.

2) A Centre for Preservation and Promotion of Art, Culture & Environment, launched in 1994 called “Ancestral Goa” – the first of its kind, open air museum spread over 9 acres at Loutolim, depicting the culture and tradition of rural Goa that existed a hundred years ago, in the form of life size statues and structures, showcasing: 1) Structures, architecture and materials used. ii) Occupation and trades. iii) Tools and equipment. iv) The dress styles (Indian & western mix). v) Beliefs. vii) ‘Communal Harmony’ – how our people worked and lived together.

3) Goa’s first designer’s dance floor – The Big Foot Dance Floor, in the shape of a giant footprint, with the toes acting as dais.Accommodating 2000 pax and with planned parking in 1994.

4) India’s first laterite sculpture, of ‘Sant Mirabal’ called ‘Natural Harmony, measuring 14mts. by 5mts
in 30 days. This work has been cited in the “Limca Book of Records”, as the creation of a new landmark for Goa in 1994.

5) The Big Foot Art Gallery, started in 1997 at Loutolim, promotes youth, students and amateur artists. It also holds annual inter-school drawing competitions.

6) The first aesthetically planned, traffic island with a theme – Communal Harmony, at Gogol, Margao, Goa called “The Big Foot Circle’ in 2005.

7) As part of the “Anti-plastic and Garbage Reduction drive”, with effigies of 5259 plastic bottles, 15 feet high & 5 meters broad. This was the first of its kind. In the latter half of the year a Christmas tree of plastic bottles was erected at Gogol, Margao for the same drive both done in 2005.

8) “The Big Foot Cross Museum” at Loutolim, has on displays 1062 crosses from all over the world in 80 classifications. This museum with its display, varieties and details, is the first ever of its kind, here, in Goa created in 2006. Attempting to make our world inspiring, environment friendly and a better place to live in.

9) An unusual first was created in an icon chapel with 374 icons. This is at Maendra’s 250 Yrs. Old original, family heritage mansion, Casa Araujo Alvares at, “Kattem”, in Loutolim and an exhibition of 1081ccrosses and 1081 Ganesh idols.

10) Maendra launched a book on his collection of crosses, displayed at the “Big Foot Cross Museum”. This book on crosses & Goan legends – “In Search” is a First in all categories as such a detailed edition, goes.

11) Maendra was one of the few entrepreneurs to carry forward the challenge of sharing his artistic genius with young people. He began one of the First children’s Nature Art Camp from May 1995 to date, at the Big Foot Dance Floor where around 300-400 children participated, annually.

12) First to start the ‘Feni Festival’ to show how it is made and its medicinal values – different types and flavours.

13) Casa Araujo Alvares’ – Goa’s First automated museum ‘Sound & light’.


List some of the Recognitions & Positions Held by you…

• “State Art Award” from the Govt. of Goa, Daman and Diu, in the Applied Art category in 1981-82.

• International Gold Star Millenium Award from Global Economic Council in Katmandu, 2001.

• Vincent Xavier Verodiano Award, 2008. For the well being of mankind through individual once advancement in the filed of art, music literature, science, medicine or humanities.

• Lokmat Gaurava Puraskar [Tourism], 2010. 

President, “Advertising Agencies Association of Goa” from 1994 to 1999.

Life Member (Active), The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTAC).

Trustee, Sharada Mandir Trust, Panjim.

Chief Executive Officer, “The Big Foot Trust” (A Regd. Public Charitable Trust), Loutolim, 2003.

Member (Advisory Board), Don Bosco, Loutolim from 2006 to 2008. 

Member (Advisory Committee) for Visual Arts at Kala Academy from 2006 to 2008.

Member, Restoration of Old secretariat building, Panjim, 2006-10. 

Member, Ravindra Bhavan, Margao, 2009. 

Member, Academic Audit, for BTTM / BTAM for Goa University – 2009.

Member, Advisory Committee, ICCR, Goa – 2011.

Tell us more about your work…..

A Record on Stone 

India’s Longest laterite sculpture – “Natural Harmony” – Loutolim.

“Maendra Jocelino Araujo Alvares of Goa has chiseled a monumental 14m by 5m laterite rock carving of Mirabai, the legendary saint. Entitled The Natural Harmony, the sculptured figure was carved out of a huge rock which Maendra came across within his family property at Khattem.

It is a monolithic, low-relief design which took him 30 days to execute. He started work on August 1, 1994 and completed it on September 5, 1994.

He executed the project because he wanted his home state Goa “to be known for something more than its beaches, churches and temples. Something new.”

A Center for the Preservation & Promotion of Art, Culture & Environment. Loutolim

Built as a showcase of the ethno-socio-cultural timeline, “Ancestral Goa” or the Big Foot, as it is more popularly known was initiated in the year 1995. It completes 16 years, officially, on the 15thof November 2011. What began as a mere case of show and tell actually evolved into a deeper and more concrete ethnological chronology; of trades, architecture and the very lifestyle of the people.

The project entails a detailed pictorial depiction of Real instruments, the explanations of the uses and a lot of the mythological lore about the land and its very creation. There are life-size statues, and the dwellings detailing the evolutionary progress from the simplest to the more complicated and concrete. There are also depictions of the various modes of transport.

Ancestral Goa is a defined representation of the Goan rural history from the coast, and all its wealth to the hilly hinterland with the nomadic tribes called the “Dhangars”.

Being a self-developed venture, “Ancestral Goa” is a multi-faceted and ideological blueprint of the time in existence up till the early 20th century. But the project has generated a vast “Satellite- Structure” as it were, of possible commerce for traders in and around the premise; from fast-food outlets to clothing stores and hawkers with mobile carts selling anything from tender coconuts to sugarcane juice.

Being the first of its kind in the state of Goa, “Ancestral Goa” had no concrete defining boundaries. From being called an open-air museum it has been defined as the Big Foot,

because of the footprint in existence atop a rock and which is a crowd-puller.

Its most defining feature though is India’s longest laterite sculpture of sant Mira; Natural harmony. For being carved single-handedly, and for being the longest, 14mts. in length by 5 mts. in breadth, this sculpture entered the “LImca Book of Records”

On the premise exist the museum, craft and art outlets, the govt. handicraft store and a very popular “Art Gallery”.

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An interesting experience awaits your child at the Children library…..

With eye-catching designs, the best books for kids, and impressive community programming, the  children’s libraries at the Dubai Public libraries stand out as something magical. My kids visit the library and they are always thrilled to enter a world of magic.

What you will like about it is the fact that Customers are the highest priority for the Dubai Public Library. Since its inception, the Dubai Public Library has worked to evolve and improve the high quality and wide variety of services we offer. Over the years, they have developed a wide variety of tools and techniques to ensure the library network delivers a range of services that meet, and in many cases exceed, our visitors’ expectations.

We all know that childhood is the most important stage in the development of an individual’s personality. The Dubai Public Library pays special attention to encouraging a habit of reading among children, helping develop their talents and understanding of the world around them, as well as sparking their imaginations.

To achieve this, most of Dubai Public Library branches throughout the Emirate have a dedicated children’s library. By ensuring that they understand what children want and need, we have created bright, spacious children’s libraries that encourage children to enjoy their time there. Our children’s libraries also contain reading and activities rooms, as well as areas for computer and audiovisual materials.

The Dubai Public Library firmly believes in the importance of reading books, and the role of parents reading to them, in the development and refinement of a child’s personal identity, as well as stimulating their natural instinctive curiosity for knowledge and learning. So they continuously update the Children’s Library resources in order to provide a rich and varied selection of interesting library materials aimed at the children and young people who make up a high percentage of their audience. These materials include large collections of books on diverse subjects that are appropriate for children of different age groups. These books not only entertain, but also help children expand their imaginations and develop unique perspectives on different social, cultural and religious issues.

In addition to the basic services such as borrowing and reference service, the Children’s Library aims to provide a range of activities that include:Selected storytelling.

Cultural and educational movies.

Drawing competitions and workshops.

Cultural competitions and incentives.

Seminars and lectures for children.

Organising trips and visits for children.

Organisation of training courses and programmes.

Providing special services for disabled children.

There’s nowhere I’d rather spend time than in a library. I was lucky enough to grow up with a family that regularly took me to the library as a kid, and I do believe that helped me grow up. One of the (many) things I love is when a library makes smart, creative use of space for their children’s areas

Early childhood is a period, in which learning starts to develop in a significant and permanent way. Studies conducted in the area of education indicate the environment and the experiences of children apart from developmental factors to be influential on learning as well. Children’s libraries have a special responsibility to support the process of learning to read and to give children access to all media. They empower children and advocate for their freedom and safety. They encourage children to become confident and competent people.One of the convenient environments for the advancement of language development skills is Children’s Libraries. Constitution of services, materials, books, publications and special library programs, which can combine all these in a proper way and present to the child, confront us as an important necessity for raising individuals, who have a liking and a responsibility of reading with a positive library environment. 

I’ve always understood the value of a library. but in today’s current climate of untruths, intolerance, and ignorance, it’s becoming clear that libraries are essential, now more than ever.Libraries truly are remarkable places, and in today’s world, we need them now more than ever. 

Amanda Gomes—overcoming depression and living life with passion

Amanda Gomes is one person who believes in living a life full of passion. Her life is full of excitement and inspiration. She doesn’t allow her life to make her feel bored, stagnant or stuck. For her living a life with passion is living a meaningful life with a purpose. Her main passions in life are biking and animals, specially her love for dogs. When she looks back at her childhood, she remembers vividly that she was always passionate about these two things in life. And she is happy that she has successfully turned her passions into a career. Her passions keep her heart beating, giving her room to breathe and space to relax. She sees the world through her passions.  For Amanda it has been so magical to have bumped into someone who is as passionate as her. Her eyes light up when she talks about her life partner and soulmate. Having him besides her in her endeavours makes her feel enthusiastic and energetic about life. For Amanda the world contains limitless opportunities and the path of discovery just never ends. She is busy trying to squeeze every last ounce of awesome from this life of hers. 

Tell us about yourself…

I am Amanda Gomes, turning 26 this week. Bought up single handedly by my widowed mother. Doctor by profession, Biker by passion. I am married to an amazing man named Menino Do Rosario who has become part of my support system which consist of my mom and brother. Been married for 3 years now and nothing has changed in terms of my dreams and passions. I’m an aggressive learner and an adrenaline junkie. My aim in life is only one, and that is to be happy. So I spend my time doing things that make me happy! I would say life without a father has been challenging for sure, but my strong mother never made me feel any less. I’ve worked as a doctor very briefly after I graduated only to realize I’m not cut out for it. It didn’t give me the thrill I seek. Like any other bright Indian student I was expected to be a doctor. It demanded a lot more dedication that I could offer. I quit practice and started studying Human psychology, only to realize I had been suppressing a lot of childhood grief myself. When all of that flared up, I suffered from clinical depression in 2018 for a good 6-8 months. I’m so glad I didn’t give up. I’m grateful to my loved ones who stuck by me in my lowest lows. Now I’m working with my husband and also managing real estate on the side. Riding motorcycles has always made me happy. A motorcycle trip to the Himalayas with my best friend in July 2018 changed my life. I realised how insignificant human life is compared to these mighty mountains and that life shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Just enjoy the journey. It all started when I was seventeen and I manipulated my mother into gifting my brother a motorcycle only so that I’d have a chance at riding it. I went to the dealership and made sure the bike was rideable for me, and voila ! My brother had a brand new Yamaha fz150! Been riding since then. I’d like to mention my brother’s best friend Mcloyd Gonsalves who was the one who actually taught me the basics. I knew that day I was never looking back ! Now I’m riding superbikes at 275 km per hour with a big smile on my face. My husband (then boyfriend) gifted me my first bike, a KTM Duke 390 and two years ago on Christmas surprised me with a beautiful red Ducati. This birthday is going to be special because I bought myself the first Kawasaki Ninja Zx6R in India. I feel very blessed ! 

What does success mean to you?

Success to me means one thing: Happiness. If you are happy, you are successful. Doesn’t matter what you do or how big that pay check is. If you manage to wake up everyday and put a smile on someone’s face, you are successful ! There is a thing called crab mentality, which is basically the thinking that…”If I can’t have it, neither can you”.  And many of these loser folks that most of us have, will see you making moves, changes, and doing things that indicate you are living a life of passion, that you are living life the way it is supposed to be lived.  And, just like the crabs in a bucket, they’ll try to sabotage your efforts.  They’ll do their utmost to pull you back into their pot of misery. A lot of factors play into success. But the very essential one is passion. For me Passion is the key to success. when I talk about passion, it is not just excitement and enthusiasm. Passion is relentless devotion to a desired outcome–infinite strength and courage that resides on the inside of every human being. It will push you into new possibilities for your life. You will know what you are passionate about by what you remain committed to during moments of crisis in your life.

Any striking incident in your life that left a deep impact on you?

Striking incident would be my depression phase. I almost gave up. I would not leave my room for days, and I hardly ate or drank anything. I felt hopeless and useless. I let others opinions matter so much that I forgot to love myself and be proud of my scars. People look at my social media accounts and think my life is perfect. Nothing is perfect, but the beauty of it lies in all those perfect imperfections. As a person I am bold, fearless, very opinionated, aggressive and super passionate. I give it my all or nothing. I can be very nice, but if my path is crossed, I spare no one. Challenges I face is societal pressures to have a child. Having a child requires 100% dedication and I want to be a very involved mother to my future children. But first I need to become a mother my kids will be proud of. I manage my riding passions and family thanks to my husband. He’s a very busy man who will find the time to cover up for me. I wouldn’t be able to do all this without his support and love. My in laws are very understanding and supportive too. I’ve learnt so many things from my mother in law, she’s a very powerful woman who I look up too besides my own mother. 

What are your future plans?

Future plans are to be the best version of myself and be really fast on my motorcycle. I also plan on getting a flying license soon. I’ve always been fascinated with aircrafts and flying for the longest time. I’d like to tell readers that it is never too late. Get out of that bed and start living your dreams now!

Nargish Khambatta—an Exceptional Head

Writing about Nargish Khambatta, the person who inspires me everyday.  To me, inspiration is the process of instilling faith in someone to motivate her to do something. Nargish is one person who does  things simply out of the kindness in her heart and never realises how her simple actions leave a deep impact on the people around her. We all need someone in our lives who we can look up to. We need their encouragement during the hard times and a nice pat on the back from them during the good times. I’m so thankful that I met Nargish and learnt from her that good leadership takes strength of character and a firm commitment to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. I have seen her walk the walk and lead by example. She always does what she says. One strong lesson learnt is about building trust and through it leading the team to greatness.

Nargish Khambatta is the first recipient of the Exceptional Head Award with 273,000 AED as a cash prize and she donated half of it to a welfare fund to help teachers within her school.The awards recognises outstanding Heads of Schools, including bothPrincipals and Superintendents, who have succeeded in providing high-quality learning opportunities for all their students. “I have been to my accountant to find out how we can set up a staff welfare fund, as I would like to put 50% of the prize money into that. This is basically for the staff who need extra cash and instead of taking a bank loan, we can help them from within the school. It’s the contribution of my team that has got me to where I am and this is my way of honouring the award itself. It’s a legacy I want to leave.”

Nargish strongly believes that education is the most powerful tool with which one can change the world and it has been her earnest endeavour to encourage pupils to pursue excellence in the field of academics and impart holistic education to the students so that they develop into well-rounded personalities. Education and its power to drive a generation is undoubtedly the most formidable of all pillars that our society is built on. Her teaching team always emphasises the importance of working hard, of being consistent and perseverant, of timely submission of work, of making an effort to do better at the next opportunity available, and of being respectful to all. Students are applauded for their effort more than just high scores. Each child is acknowledged for some achievement or the other. The assessment system in the school helps students to question, to think, to reason and to analyse. Professional development helps the teachers of the school to stay ahead and implement the latest trends in education. The desire for overall improvement and achieving excellence is insatiable. While they celebrate the success of the meritorious students, they take pride in giving an opportunity to all at school. They have a sizable number of students who have different learning needs and who achieve as per their abilities. It is said that the happiest and most successful students are those with good motivation and those who take pride in doing things well rather than simply being competitive, and upon my recent visit to the school I noticed that the school provides a wealth of leadership and other opportunities for those who are prepared to take the initiative and accept the challenge. It was so nice to see the school enjoy a strong network of support from the parents, the community and constant connectivity with other schools in Dubai. I recommend this wonderful school as a fine example of young men/women being encouraged to develop their full potential within a network of support that allows them to do so. It is strongly visible that the school endeavours to teach each one of its student to redefine success – not by the absence of failures in life – but by overcoming them. It endeavours to provide an environment that encourages growth, fosters creativity, exploration and discovery; where children can find magic in the mundane, enjoy the gift of robust laughter, broaden their intellectual, physical and emotional horizons and build a strong sense of integrity, compassion and generosity of spirit. In a world increasingly plagued by intolerance, insecurities, bitterness and violence, I believe the students of GEMS Modetn Academy stand out as proud and successful symbols of alternative narratives. 

Tell us something about yourself….

Currently Principal of GEMS Modern Academy, a K-12 school in Dubai, UAE, offering the IBDP programme.

Having been in the field of education for the past 30 years, I consider it a privilege to lead a school of the caliber of Modern. Being a Nature enthusiast, trekker and passionate educationist I deeply believe in empowering students to become leaders in the 21st century climate of collaboration and digitization.

26 years in Education has helped my leadership style evolve to the point where previous experiences and current influences make decision making enjoyable and fruitful. Professionally, consulting for a start up school, conducting workshops for teachers and senior management and making a difference in the lives of others has been gratifying. I have met some amazingly inspiring individuals who have made an impact and redefined perspective. As Principal of GEMS Modern Academy, an Indian curriculum school offering IBDP, I work with a strong team of committed individuals whose work ethic defines the ethos of the school.

Your message as a Principal of GEMS Modern Academy…..

At GEMS Modern Academy, we take the responsibility of nurturing our children’s dreams seriously and ensure they enjoy their academic journey, as the most glorious years are spent in the safe environs of school, where the wonder of first-time experiences craft childhood memories that will be savoured forever. The ethos that has taken years to build is palpable as soon as you enter the school, and even a casual visitor cannot help but be drawn to the warmth and care that seem to exude from every corner.  As a visiting overseas Principal once commented – even the walls seem to speak! At GEMS Modern Academy, like everywhere else, technology is a double-edged sword and while we are eager to maximise the obvious benefits, we are treading cautiously and mindfully. The concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has progressed from being mere jargon to a reality. Our students and teachers are embracing it, but our parents are concerned, and rightly so. While we certainly do not have all the answers, we are leaving no stone unturned in helping our children use technology responsibly. And I am happy to declare that while there is a wealth of information on the World Wide Web readily available at the click of a mouse, the teacher can never be made redundant. You have to walk into a classroom to see the teacher actively igniting their curiosity to know, without the shadow of a doubt, that children will never allow technology to replace their teacher.

The parents of children who have passed out from Grade 12 endorse the ACE (Activities for Curriculum Enrichment) programme we believe in so strongly – the lessons learnt from peers, juniors and seniors, and the leadership opportunity afforded during the afternoon programme chisels their personalities and grooms them into fine young adults who walk tall and take their rightful place in society. It is our privilege to be educators and we value that privilege earnestly.

Teaching is a very challenging mission, how do you manage to keep your teachers motivated in order to always keep their high spirits while teaching the students?

We laugh a lot in my school so spirits are high. There is no time for laziness so teachers are always operating on raw energy. I expect the best from and for my staff. We all work as a team to make sure that the children develop at an individual pace which makes teaching and learning more meaningful and the teachers see great results which makes them very motivated.

What do you enjoy the most about your role as principal? 

The variety, the daily challenges, the innovation opportunities in education, the development of young impressionable minds, and the satisfaction every success story holds.

Dr. Savita Jain—More than just a Doctor.

The acknowledgment of child development during growth is very important and that’s why Pediatricians play a significant role in the health and future of children. Dr. Savita Jain is one Paedatrician who has the child in the midst, at centre stage. She has the radar gaze because she believes that There is a difference between ‘looking’ and ‘seeing’. By seeing  a child with a directional and penetrating look, she is easily able to assess the quality of the child’s life. One of the things she loves most about pediatrics is getting to work with families to improve the health of children. “It is a privilege to work with families as they try their best to make sure their children are healthy, happy and successful,” she says.  “It’s really important to make sure families know how to get the support they need.  Sometimes it feels like we’re doing more family support than practicing medicine. I enjoy that component, though, and you do what’s needed to help the children.” 

Tell us something about your life….

I was born in Simla (India) and grew up in New Delhi (India) as one of 7 siblings.  From an early age I wanted to be a doctor and did my MD in Pediatrics from Delhi University India.  I worked in hospitals across Delhi till I got married and moved to Mumbai initially, and then Dubai.  My daughters were born in 1981 and 1985 and motherhood has truly been one of most enriching experiences in my life.  My greatest passion in life is travelling and I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit over 20 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.  During my free time I enjoy reading a good book, walking along the beach, watching documentaries, and keeping myself up-to-date on medical innovations in my field.

When where why and how did you begin your professional life.  Tell us all about your journey.

Post my MD, I worked in hospitals in Delhi and later on, post marriage, in Mumbai.  In 1984, Mr. Sunny Varkey established the first private polyclinic in Dubai – Emirates Diagnostic Centre. He came to recruit doctors from India and my husband and I decided that this was a good opportunity to advance our careers and provide a better life to our daughter.  This is how we landed in Dubai in 1984.

In 1987, I chose to start working for a Ministry of Health hospital in Khorfakkan.  The hospital gave me great experience and exposure to some very interesting and rare cases that I had not seen in India.  I even developed Arabic as a language skill.  However, my great learning came at a price:  when I joined the hospital my daughters were 6 years and 2 years old and lived in Dubai with my husband to continue their education.  While he was a super supportive husband and a very loving father, my daughters missed me a lot, especially my older one.  My job was very demanding – I had to be on call for 24 hours at least twice in a week (sometimes at least three times a week);  transport was another problem – I did not have a driving license and there was no public transport; the work at the hospital was very hectic as well.  During my five and half years posting in the hospital I felt as if all I was doing is working at the hospital duties or commuting from Dubai to Khorfakkan.

In 1992 I resigned from the hospital to join my husband’s clinic in Dubai (Dr. Vinod Jain Clinic).  Working in the clinic was an entirely different experience. Here I was managing the out-patients only. However I was able to give more time to my family and children.

What is the secret of your success and what does success mean to you?

The secret of my success lies in my ability to stay positive no matter what challenges life brings my way and staying focused on my goals.

 For me success means treating all my patients properly:  giving them right advise, treating them well and satisfying all concerns of the patient’s family. Making money has always been secondary. I also believe in providing quality education and a good life to my children. Both my daughters graduated from Ivy League universities in the USA and have well-established personal and professional lives.  This also I would say is success – my achievement as a parent.

Any striking incident in your life that had a deep impact on you or changed the course of your life?

Losing my mother was probably the most striking incident that had a profound impact on my life.  It made me realize that life is short and I need to focus my energy on what makes me happy.

Describe yourself as a person

I would describe myself as an honest, sincere, hardworking and straightforward person. I dislike being lied to and have no tolerance for politics.  I am driven by emotions in my personal life and am extremely patient, both as a mother and in my professional life.  I find happiness in all the smaller things and gestures – from a hand-written card to a single flower.

What are the challenges you face?

Barring some age-related health issues, at present I don’t have any challenges that come to mind…

How do you balance work and family?

To achieve a healthy balance between work-life and family-life my husband and I have always shared household responsibilities including raising the children.  My husband has always been supportive in letting me pursue my career and has always contributed when my work was demanding and vice versa. 

What are your future plans?

In a couple of years I would like to move back to India. I wish to join some charitable organization where I could contribute as a doctor.

What is your USP?

My USP would be my ability to stay calm and collected and focus on solutions in the most chaotic of situations, always maintaining my positive outlook.  This has helped me professionally in dealing with emergency situations and has also helped me personally in helping children deal with life-altering situations without losing confidence or hope.

Mais Abuali-instilling love for the Arabic language…

Meet Mais —an educator who is more of a guide to learning. She has always wanted to be a teacher. Her desire to be an effective teacher grew because of the great experiences she had with outstanding teachers during her schooling years. The teachers left a deep impact on her with their innovative teaching ideas and she decided to do the same when she grows big and this is what she is doing in Dubai as an Arabic teacher. Her secret to great teaching has been more like alchemy than science, a mix of motivational mumbo jumbo and misty-eyed tales of inspiration and dedication. I can easily describe her as a resilient teacher with an unwavering moral drive to make life better for kids. She is a teacher who is always looking for opportunities to increase her own knowledge. She is more like a surgeon with laser who directs resources in ways that will move students. Mais has a strong moral imperative for change. I am so blessed to have you as the Arabic teacher of my kids. 

Tell us something about your life?

My Name is Mais AbuAli and I am an Arab Jordanian Teacher and Mom, Originally from (Nablus) a city in the West Bank. Growing up in an environment of sharing, I always felt that it is through connection that we can really develop as individuals and professionals. Therefore, I enjoy every opportunity I am given to connect with educators I admire and I actively participate in educational conferences, it’s my way of contributing to this wonderful global exchange of ideas. When I was a little girl, I used to play school in the garden with papers we had gotten from our teachers. My friend would stand in front of us with a ruler and wave it as she taught us a lesson we would listen and then pretend to complete the worksheet and then school was over. I always wanted school to be over. So funny, to reflect back on those days that friend who would wave the ruler while teaching, she became a teacher. So many children know what they want to for a living when they are young and many teachers I know today were the little girls playing schools during summer. My Greatest influence as a teacher has been my mother. A teacher of Arabic language, my mother embodies everything I admire in teachers –that is, a sense of sharing, gratitude and kindness.

She has been always been a true educator who sees students as individuals with unique personalities need and strengths. Someone who teaches beyond the classroom walls and incorporates students’ reality in their teaching. I have to admit that she still influences my teaching choices and has been the main reason I‘ve become to realize that teaching is more than a profession, that is my call. That’s why I now feel fortunate to have been given the chance to teach years ago.  

When where why and how did you begin your professional life. Tell us all about your journey?

Teaching and learning are related, being a learner is primary stage for being a teacher. In the year 2001 I was given the opportunity to teach in one of the most elite international schools in Amman. I was the Arabic and Maths teacher for her highness princess Iman daughter of King Abdulla in Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. I didn’t have a teaching diploma, but the fact that I have graduated (Rosary College) a missionary school was a plus and added to my CV. I was a lucky child who had a desire to learn new languages (English and French). 

I have had been always taught that learning languages can connect with people from different cultures and nations. Whenever I used to speak a couple of phrases in someone’s mother tongue I created a new bridge to find a beauty within each culture and felt eager to speak with people from different nations. Working in the same School in Dubai it was the time when I was blessed by becoming a mom. It’s no secret that being a teacher is a challenging job.

Parenting is, as well. Sometimes it seems nearly impossible to balance all of your responsibilities with between these two important roles. It can feel like a constant power struggle at times. I kept motivating myself “I teach because it’s my passion. It’s one of the 2 reasons I was put on this earth”. My Passion of teaching, to finish my PGCE in the year 2005 and get my teaching degree to be a certified teacher in the international school of Choueifat. My teaching degree was a new milestone in my professional journey, I decided to explore the EYFS world in the year 2009 when I applied to work in Raffles International Nurseries.. When i chose becoming an early childhood teacher, I was dedicating my professional life to helping precious children grow into responsible, competent learners. Being a preschool teacher is rewarding, especially if you have the passion of helping young kids, and watching them learn and achieve. On many days I was spending more time engaging them and teaching them, and influencing their behavior more than anyone-including their parents. I simply needed to acquire the in-depth knowledge and skills.

When I was teaching early child hood education, I was often the first witness to so many remarkable moments. Sure, the long-term rewards were nice, like having a student come back to visit you after several years. But, these are the daily wins that kept me motivated.

Through teaching I have realized the effectiveness of different approaches that helped me developing skills for communicating with all age groups. I got better at multi-tasking. I learnt to be more organized as I could easily lose control of curriculum, and classroom behavior. Teaching this age group gives a feeling of satisfaction. Knowing that I am taking care of the most vulnerable people amongst us, and keeping safe was making me feel good. 

It helped to discover my inner child. I was imaginative and creative through planning activities. I became more patient. I was able to develop the right level of patience.

The sense of humor honesty was making my job rewarding and entertaining.

What is the secret of your success and what does success mean to you?

13 years ago when my daughter Haya was nicely sheltered in my tummy. I used to say “Of course my kids will be fluent in Arabic! We will only speak Arabic at home. As soon as Haya started school she dreaded learning Arabic and I had a struggle teaching her my mother tongue. It really broke my heart to realize the fact that Arabs are learning and teaching most of subjects in schools and universities in foreign languages, which plays a role in them moving away from their mother tongue. I have always believed in positivity as a great  a quality for a teacher .A positive person always looks for the good in someone or situation. In a lot of ways, I’m the person who thinks of the glass being half full instead of half empty. This is an excellent trait for a teacher because students need a positive role model in their lives, and not all have the opportunity to have it at home. I grew up in a close family, we have all gone through some rough times and have remained positive throughout everything. I think this plays a major role on me and how I live my life.  Positivity is a good trait to have and it looked up upon, it is a rare trait to have and I know that my friends really appreciate that trait of mine. Positivity is the type of this that rubs off on people and most likely it’s there to stay.

I started to look closely at Arabic language curriculum which lacks systematization and progression, and the Arabic teachers who are following methods of teaching based on memorization that effects the students’ motivation in learning the language. In 2016 it was the year when I decided to make a difference to my mother tongue and I have started teaching Arabic in Raffles Nurseries in the beautiful City of Dubai. I was inspired by a speech by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Vice president and Ruler of Dubai it was the Fifth International Conference for Arabic Language in Dubai “Arabic will remain a language of the future”. Sheikh Mohammed had launched the awards to recognize those supporting the Arabic Language in education, media, technology and other fields. I thought of my teaching experience in early years’ settings, and the numerous advantages of using games in the class room. Games help and encourage many learners to sustain their interest and work, when children are amused and engaged the content is clearly meaningful to them. Thus the meaning of the language they listen to will be more vivdly experienced and, therefore, better retained. I started to make changes in Arabic Classes plans to make learning the language fun and engaging. Like flash cards, small alphabet posters and Puzzles I imported from the holy land of Jerusalem, to support a friend who designed them aiming to make a difference and encourage education in Palestine. Living in the year 2019 I can’t ignore the fact that Arabic language learners are also described as digital residents because they reside in cyberspace and don’t distinguish between offline and online worlds. As a mom I felt the urge of making a difference and make my kids realize that technology is a leaning device as well and can offer exciting opportunities to learn Arabic.

Since the amount of time people spend on social media is constantly increasing and the social media is where the kids hang out and chat.

I decided to hang out with the children and chat in Arabic while taking them to my virtual work place through Instagram page (Natakalam) to teach the modern standard Arabic in fun way that makes a connection with everyday situations. My videos is a trail to change the image in children brain of what an Arabic teacher look like and forget all the stereotypes and expectations. Personally I believe that success in making a difference is all about being a good listener and learner who admits mistakes and corrects them with an open mind and dedicated heart.

Any striking incident in your life that had a deep impact on you or changed the course of your life?

After my divorce 2 years ago, I found myself in a different place until I reinvented myself, and changed my perspective of life.

In life, nothing is black and white. (Wrong and Right), especially where you want to go in life, are relative terms. “Doing what we love” is a success. We should think of it as a destination to reach.

It is like walking in a path that enables you to learn and grow.

Doing what you love, it makes every moment as an opportunity.

Describe yourself as a person.

I am a natural inventor and tend to come up with innovative new ways of managing the work flow and improve productivity .my innate sense of fairness make me excellent as a leader and employee, and I generally get along well with others and enjoy working together as a team. I am typically motivated less by financial reward than by a desire to change the world.

What are the challenges you face?

I always try my best to find the smoothest way possible to communicate with children aged between 2 and 4 who come from different backgrounds and still learning to express themselves in English, but I noticed that teaching them Arabic words at the same time makes it a bit of a challenging task at the beginning. It has been proven that exposing children under the age of five to other languages has benefits, regardless of whether or not they become bilingual. It makes the brain of child more active and an active mind is a healthy mind. As a parent, I have been trying to teach Arabic to my children for years and there were times when they haven’t spoken a single word, but I never gave up until it really happened and they were able to speak Arabic fluently. It was all about patience, consistency and using a variety of positive rewards to encourage them

How do you balance work and family?

Work timing is flexible since I am a well-established woman career wise and I have been a teacher in Dubai for more than 13 years. This flexibility allowed me to have more balance in my life between my family and my work. Since I hit my forty last year, I feel more energetic and tend to wake up early, go the gym every morning before it gets crowded. I started developing a hobby to increase my confidence and expand my social circle. I feel it is the age when I feel assertive to take my work life to the next level. I think balance is all about working smarter not harder, organizing the day by priorities and planning. I have started to know my most productive times and maximize what I can accomplish.

What are your future plans?

I am very open to whatever opportunities the future may hold, especially within the organization I work at. I think the best way of planning for the future is to make the best out of the present.

Making a difference in teaching Arabic has been always a desire to apply my skills to support the goal of Raffles Schools and Nurseries achieving outstanding. The positive feedback I am getting so far, since I started my role as Arabic Teacher in Dubai is making me more eager to learn and grow. I hope I am in a career path that will lead to a supervisory position in the future.

Vandana Chauhan Roy—Determined to succeed.

In modern times We see more and more women in various aspects of the different business sectors who are aggressive, ambitious and hardworking. One such woman is Vandana Chauhan Roy. Vandana believes that in today’s competitive global economy, knowledge, passion and one’s capability are the key factors, for success.It’s very important when you’re establishing and creating a business that you know the trends, as well as the voids that need to be filled in the market. She never planned her career path. As a person she tends to see things not just for how it will impact individuals, but look at the entire structure and ask what can we do to change that. We think of cases in ways that may help the entire community. She think it’s possible to be a good business person and still do good and interesting work, you just have to work at it. You have to find something you’re passionate about and do that. Her advise to others is 

“You can get 99 no’s, but all you need is one yes and you need to remember that. It’s difficult because as much as you don’t want to feel like a crazy person for believing in yourself, everyone may be telling you no. If you’ve done the research and have your plan, you can make this happen, so keep believing. Challenges will test your mettle. Stay strong. And believe you will survive and come out as a winner. 

My family is my energy source and my work is my passion. I am lucky to be in a position, where my energy source feeds my passion and vice-versa. I have taken conscious steps, to maintain a balance between the two and seek support from family proactively, whenever required. I believe that empathy is a key personal trait that has to be nurtured. One must banish guilt from one’s life.” 

Tell us something about yourself

I was born to teacher parents and brought up and educated in Delhi. Got married to a software engineer 8 years back and have 2 lovely daughters.  Having spent about 30 years in the Capital city of India I moved to Dubai for a better career opportunity.

When where why and how did you begin your professional life . tell us about your journey.?

After passing my school I got thru my engineering but I was more fascinated by Statistics , it was not taken so well by my relatives as engineering was always considered the option in India. I followed my heart and landed up in a Analytics job in a MNC. After working for about 12 years when I was at a career high and expecting my second child I wanted to test waters. I decided to quit my job and try my hands on entrepreneurship. I started with a small startup of process consulting. Though I got to work on 4 assignments with different clients in a span for 1.5 years  I could not make a break through. It wasn’t the best time I had however I got learnings from failures and I was proud of my successes. For now, I got back to my corporate job but someday I wish to take the plunge again

So far in my life I can say I took chances, I wronged a right,  I believed in myself  and moved forward with fortitude and most of all I took learnings from my bad choices

What is the secret of your success and what does success mean to you 

I am career oriented ambitious women but my kids and family remains my first priority. While I completely believe going with the flow and take life how it comes. But I have my priorities set I do not want to retire as a CEO of a company because that would mean taking off time from my kids schedule

Success to me means moving towards the bigger goals in life. We set out smaller goals/ milestones to achieve this ultimate goal

We sometimes achieve the milestones and celebrated it as success and sometimes we don’t achieve those milestones which are considered failures. To me success is the learnings from all these smaller milestones and learning from them and keep moving towards your larger goal in life. I consider success as –  having a smile and pride on my kids face, making them a better human being, having the love and support of my family and last but not least adding skills, competencies and learnings to me as a professional.  

I feel I successful as I feel I  am moving in the right direction . I do get derailed at times but come back grounded. But it would be a crime to take the credit for all this on my own. My parents and my husband have been a huge support through out this journey. Whether its taking some tough personal / professional decision , baby sitting my kids or boosting my moral during my failures they have been rock solid with me through thick and thin.

What are some of the challenges you face ?

For a working travelling mother managing work and kids is one of the biggest challenges. I always try to take out time for my kids, their school their play dates. Taking them to the nearest park is a everyday routine except when I am travelling. This is the best part of my day and extremely enriching for us as a family. It also rejuvenates me for the next day. I believe this motivation to fulfill the commitment to my kids , my perseverance and determination makes it work for me . I start my day with the deadline time and start working backwards and most of the times things fall into place.When I met my husband he wasn’t at the peak of his career and he wanted to go for his higher studies at some point. While its never a good time the opportunity came at a challenging time.  With two kids and a traveling job it took me some courage to support and motivate him in this decision But trust me life hasn’t been that difficult as one would perceive in the past 1 year.

What are your future plans?

My future plans are to enjoy this beautiful journey called LIFE as it comes. Grow my kids as healthy, confident and wise kids. Be there for my family and friends, keep learning as a professional and give back to the society as and when I get the opportunity to do so.  

Any striking incident in your life that had a deep impact on you that changed the course of your life?

4 years back when I delivered my first child in a hospital, I developed severe haemorriods due to the carelessness of my Gynae. Even after weeks I could not recover and I had to go for a surgery which was also not successful. I extended my maternity leave which only elongated my problem. In a span of 18 months I changed more than 15 doctors, got the surgery done and tried all kinds of medicines. My frustration and negativity was growing exponentially each day. One negative thought led to another. I was in a vicious cycle of depression and I did not know how to break it. I was stuck in a place in my life where pessimism determined every single day and consequently my life. During those days I happened to visit a orphanage. I was amazed to see small kids smiling and playing. Most of their parents left the kids to get rid of them I was happy to see them smile. But sad for them and  angry with their irresponsible parents – I had a plethora of feelings.

I started thinking about the problems in my life. I started feeling so much grateful. Everything started to look so much simpler. I thought they she can smile through all of this, then why can’t I?

I could not sleep that night. I promised to myself  I would deal with my challenges with positivity and take charge of life.

Whats your usp?

I believe its very important to enjoy the small small moments of life. I try not too loose out the opportunities to smile and enjoy. I also  try to be positive in all the situations. I do have my highs and lows but I try to look around for people who are longing for things that I am taking granted for. Gratefulness always helps me stay positive.

Maria Hafeez—Woman of Substance

Life is not always fair. For a few it is always good from the start, while some have to struggle before they bask in their glory. We have seen over the ages that there are people who emerged from the toughest circumstances, overcame adversity, and reached their highest potentials. Maria Hafeez story is the same. It is very inspiring. She is one person who can inspire you to the pinnacles of success. She has encountered many defeats, but she has never allowed those defeats to defeat her strong spirit.  Maria feels that it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it. I admire her ability to remain positive in a crisis, while others seem to fall apart at the smallest unforeseen circumstance. Her biggest strength is resilience, specially her ability to adapt to change and cope with difficult situations, uncertainty and disappointment. She has successfully rebound after a loss, moved forward and ultimately thrived. For me Maria Hafeez is a person who inspite of facing fair share of adversity, she has proven with her life story that no adversity, challenges, obstacles, and hardship can get in the way of fulfilling her dreams. She is an inspiration to many who aim to carve the path of their own destiny.

Tell us something about your life. 

I am a Chartered Accountant basically from Karachi, Pakistani. I live and work in the UAE and try to make the most of my life with few great friends that I have around. I took the decision to experience life in a different place away from my beautiful family, to experience challenges of life thereby improving myself personally and professionally. As a person, I love home decoration and spend a lot of time and money on that.

When where why and how did you begin your professional life. Tell us all about your journey

I was a CA student where by law we have to undergo a 4 years training program (which is a full time work) with any registered audit firm. Luckily, I was hired by the best international audit firm in 2004 and that’s when my career began. Later I worked in the pharma industry managing various finance functions like Treasury, Taxes, Payables and Management Accounting functions and after few years, I got an opportunity in another gigantic organisation and it’s been 6 years that I am here and thoroughly enjoying every bit of my day at work.

What is the secret of your success and what does success mean to you?

There is no formula or list of ingredients that you put into life that would work like a magic stick. I self-screen my day every day. I do not regret any mistake, I believe in myself and commit to learn from my mistake and I absolutely do not mix up with negative people. I love motivating people, and I do this because I know the law of attraction is working all the time that comes into play when I need the same support, and if you trust me, Universe does it for me all the time in most unexpected and amazing ways.

Any striking incident in your life that had a deep impact on you or changed the course of your life?

My daddy’s sudden demise – I still feel I haven’t been able to recover fully, do cry sometimes just to hear his voice or to tell him how life has unfolded over this decade without him and share my achievements to see that pride in him or a kiss from him.. I am the eldest in my family so, I had to fold up my sleeves and take charge of everything. The responsibilities were huge for my age, but as they say, God helps those who help themselves. This impacted me a lot as a person, the sense of responsibilities made me change all over, overnight and I experienced the practicalities of life much sooner.

I usually don’t tell people this story because I don’t want them to feel sorry for me or think I want pity for my father dying at a young age. But, I am rather telling you this story because I’m sure many of you can relate to my experience. Many of you have probably lost someone important in your life but when you lose a parent your life changes forever.It is very hard for any child to accept the death of his or her father, especially when it was unexpected and everyone was so young. People say it is like losing a part of yourself, but I felt like my anchor to my identity was what had been severed.A few things that I learnt to do in life are: Always appreciate and value your loved ones. Never take the people or things in your life for granted. Let go of anything holding you down.Whatever it may be, it will do nothing but hold you back from opportunities and moving forward in life. By letting go, you are taking control of your life rather than letting your emotions control you. Surround yourself with good people.

I cannot stress this one enough because I would have never survived anything I’ve gone through in my life without the friends and family who were by my side through it all. You will know who the good ones are. Cut the toxic people out of your life early because they will only bring you down. Throughout life, you will be pushed to your limits, and each time, it will feel like it can’t possibly get any worse, but more often than not, it will. It is important to not let these times destroy you or define you, but rather, to help you to grow.

I couldn’t understand for a very long time what feeling this pain that never really goes away has done for me, but I eventually realized it has taught be to be strong, humble and bold. The pain is a part of me now, and it always will be. Remember people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime.People will die; people will leave, and sometimes, they just decide they no longer want to be in your life anymore. Whatever it may be, it is important to remember that there is a purpose for each person who enters and exits your life. Finally the most important thing is to live life. I have not felt more alive than when I stepped outside of my comfort zone to do things I wouldn’t have normally done. After my father passed away, I promised myself I wouldn’t continue to live my life in the background; I would do substantial things with my life and make every moment count.You only get one life; live it and love it to the fullest of your ability, and don’t let the hard times break you.

Anything else that you want to tell the readers…

If we want innovative results, we need leaders who aren’t afraid to think differently. And who aren’t afraid to lead differently.The most successful leaders know all too well that their high-demand positions mean nothing if they can’t influence others to believe in their mission.I learned that my success was inexorably linked to the choices I made regarding attitude and subsequent actions. More often than not, it was the choice I made to kick myself into high gear rather than relying on someone else to do the kicking. Learn to differentiate between the pain of growing and the pain of suffering. It’s easy to say that conditions are poor, nothing is going your way, and that you’ve been dealt an unfair hand. These are all excuses as you move further down the road of surrender.The past does not define us, it simply prepares us for our journey toward success and wisdom.

Life is an adventure for Mira Raley

Meet Mira Raley—Lifecoach and an avid animal lover. She is one woman who is not only changing lives, but also changing attitudes. In all of her work, she is appreciative of the people who come together to help others and is an avid believer in the idea that dreams do come true and they become even bigger when other people are dreaming with you.

“It is not a selfish act to do work that you love Because when you are doing work that you are passionate about, that is when you are going to bring your best to the world. And that is my mission, says Mira. She describes herself as a worker bee with a “get it done” mentality. She enjoys time with friends and family. She is proud of the fact that through her work she is a part of creating change—even if just a small part.

Tell us something about your life

I was born in Amman, Jordan to a Jordanian father and an American mother. Although I still consider Jordan my home, I haven’t lived their in 19 years. 

When where why and how did you begin your professional life. Tell us all about your journey.

I moved to Dubai 15 years ago with the idea that I would stick around for six months, low and behold, I am still here many years later. 

In that time, I started working in the hospitality business (my degree at university) and accidentally fell into learning and development, which is where I found my passion. I have worked in the same field ever since. In the 15 years I moved jobs 3 times ending up either doing freelance training and development in soft skills or working for consultancies doing similar things.

In 2013 I married James and after years of talking about it, we finally decided to move to Africa for a year and travel whilst living out of our car. It was probably the longest and most adventurous honeymoon ever! 

When we got back a year and a half later, I was pregnant and adamant to start my own business working with animals (something I wanted to do since I was a child).

In June 2018 that dream came true when we opened our doors to WAG pet care, a small pet services shop in the Marina. 

Currently, I am still working for a consultancy 3 days a week and spend the rest of my time working at WAG. 

What is the secret of your success and what does success mean to you?

I think I’ve always measured my success by knowing that I put my best self forward. Both in the consultancy world and in my business I believe that being genuine to myself and to others has been key to doing well. That, with a willingness to take risks, even when I was really unsure of things, has helped me accomplish a lot in life. 

Striking incident in your life that had a deep impact on you or changed the course of your life?

Our Africa trip was life changing. James and I had to live out of a land cruiser for a year and 5 months and drove through some incredible places. The idea was to travel through 14 countries and get to do and see as much as we could.

It was a bank breaking trip, but so worth it. We did not hold back and literally did everything we wanted to including working with four different charities: teaching English at a nursery, working with lions in a rehabilitation center in Zimbabwe, working on research and development for dolphins, whale sharks and mantas in Mozambique and helping out at a chimpanzee orphanage center in Zambia. In addition we were able to donate a large sum to help build a school in Zanzibar. 

The reason this trip was so life changing was that it gave the both of us a lot of time to reflect on life and what it is we wanted and most importantly it also gave us our son as we returned 5 months pregnant with my son.

Describe yourself as a person. 

People describe be as energetic and active. Most of the time I don’t know how to stop! This is both a good thing and potentially hindering as I struggle with the idea of sitting back and relaxing. With all that energy comes a lot of to do lists, I am usually running around trying to do five things at once but often forget half of it! 

My close friends consider me loyal, honest and optimistic but also know that I am not the person they tell secrets to because I will most likely (unintentionally) announce it to the world! 

what are the challenges you face

Balance. I struggle to give myself the time I deserve. With two jobs, a three year old son and a husband, I often feel guilty for not spending enough time with any and so the struggle of balancing that let alone giving myself time is exhausting. 

I also get bored easily, I often start projects but easily get distracted and move on to the next big thing so focus and perseverance are areas I am often challenged with. 

how do you balance work and family

I wouldn’t say I am great at it, but I do my absolute best to spend every free moment with my Family. I ensure that weekends, especially Friday mornings is our time. 

The one great thing is that my team at WAG are hardworking, trustworthy and get on and do the job. So I feel less guilty if I don’t see them everyday. 

What are your future plans

Have more kids! I think I’m sorted for my career path at the moment and would like to successfully develop WAG. 

With time I will probably do less of the consultancy work and focus more on my family and the shop. 

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