‘WE ARE RAIS­ING FU­TURE LEAD­ERS’

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Since I was a child… I yearned to be a med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner. But I started my ca­reer in wealth man­age­ment. I moved from bank­ing to ed­u­ca­tion…

but it’s such a fine line. I was han­dling peo­ple’s money, look­ing af­ter wealth – and now I look af­ter chil­dren, who are the big­gest wealth for par­ents. So the hon­esty, in­tegrity, com­pli­ance, risks, cus­tomer ser­vice and hard work re­quired are the same, as is ethos and the high stan­dards of qual­ity re­quired.

I think... child­care is such a hard­work­ing in­dus­try be­cause you are han­dling chil­dren. So you have to be very strict your­self in reg­u­la­tions and com­pli­ance.

I de­cided to... en­ter the area of ed­u­ca­tion see­ing the UAE grow­ing eco­nom­i­cally, and the vast po­ten­tial that was avail­able. I was born and raised in Abu Dhabi. A few of my close fam­ily and friends were run­ning schools and med­i­cal cen­tres over­seas too, and that got me think­ing.

What changed my life… was my fa­ther’s pass­ing on. Dad used to talk to me about rais­ing the bench­mark of the UAE in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor. He gave me that can-do at­ti­tude. I hon­our him for his vi­sion and im­pe­tus – he said ‘go into some­thing you be­lieve in and don’t look back’ and gave me the pas­sion and courage to go for the stars.

I wanted to en­ter a sec­tor… that was a win­win sit­u­a­tion. One that would sat­isfy my en­tre­pre­neur­ial dreams and ben­e­fit so­ci­ety at the same time. One of the big­gest as­sets of an en­trepreneur...

is the abil­ity to take cal­cu­lated risks. Since I come from a fam­ily of busi­ness own­ers, I guess that abil­ity was in my blood, so I de­cided to ven­ture into a new field. I had a clear vi­sion and mis­sion from day one.

The UAE has… such a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for women en­trepreneurs. The hap­pi­ness in­dex is at an all-time high. Women feel re­spected and safe and are wel­comed in ev­ery govern­ment depart­ment. The cul­ture of hospi­tal­ity here helps so much. Plus the reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment of the UAE is ex­cel­lent for child­care. The UAE takes the lead in Asia for this. In the long run it sup­ports all stake­hold­ers.

My days starts with… yoga, and ends with a long walk to wind down. In be­tween I’m in ser­vice of chil­dren, look­ing af­ter my women work­force, look­ing af­ter the mums that ar­rive at my cen­tre to pick or drop their chil­dren. My day is it­self heal­ing and em­pow­er­ing. They say the best way to find your­self is to lose your­self in the ser­vice of oth­ers. Child­care is com­mu­nity ser­vice.

I love... study­ing and learn­ing, and re­cently com­pleted my doc­toral de­gree in nurs­ery ed­u­ca­tion. My re­search was in the nurs­ery field of the UAE, on how to help chil­dren de­velop bet­ter, to en­sure the 0-5 age – which is such an im­por­tant age – should be the best ex­pe­ri­ence for a child. Peo­ple say to me, “oh it’s just a tod­dler, cur­ricu­lum doesn’t mat­ter.” That is not true. A child’s brain is the most mal­leable at that age, and neu­rons and path­ways are cre­ated at 0-5, when there is stim­u­lat­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Re­search now says chil­dren who have been at qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes at a very early age, at nurs­ery level, have higher in­comes as adults.

I look for... val­ues over skills when hir­ing staff. Skills can be sup­ported through learn­ing, but your value sys­tem is your foun­da­tion, built

from your child­hood. In­tegrity, di­ver­sity, in­no­va­tion, re­spon­si­bil­ity… I look for all of that.

I think my weak­ness and strength is… my mul­ti­task­ing habit. I may work on two projects si­mul­ta­ne­ously. I am con­stantly in­no­vat­ing. My plat­ter is full. A lot of my well­wish­ers say I should take a break but I say there are no breaks in life.

What drives me… is the huge trust that ex­pats with nu­clear fam­i­lies and who don’t have the sup­port they’d have back home, place in us re­gard­ing their chil­dren. It’s a very big task. These chil­dren are very young and can’t ex­press much. We have to do our best.

A trait I dis­like is… com­pla­cency. I be­lieve we are all given in­her­ent skills and an equal amount of time. It ir­ri­tates me if peo­ple don’t make use of that. I be­lieve it’s an equal play­ing field out there.

I look af­ter... ev­ery­one’s chil­dren and the uni­verse looks af­ter mine. Shivali and Kr­ishiv are in their 20s now, and study­ing in Lon­don. I am proud of them for lead­ing in­de­pen­dent lives.

I as­pire to… de­liver qual­ity child­care, con­tinue my re­search and ed­u­ca­tion, pub­lish my work in in­ter­na­tional mag­a­zines and psy­chol­ogy jour­nals and get more re­wards for my work.

My mantra is… keep mov­ing for­ward. Never give up. You can’t achieve 100 per cent suc­cess in ev­ery­thing. But it’s im­por­tant to keep striv­ing for it; tak­ing one step each time for­ward. Not try­ing is as good as fail­ure.

At the top of my bucket list now… are per­sonal goals more than pro­fes­sional. To im­prove and sup­port my fit­ness, yoga, med­i­ta­tion. I want to now look in­wards, ex­plore the huge world within. Prob­a­bly go on a yoga re­treat.

If it was not child­care… I would want to sup­port an all-round devel­op­ment pro­gramme for women. A dream project of mine… is a spe­cial needs school. Spe­cial needs in­clu­sion is very im­por­tant to me. Our nurs­eries sup­port chil­dren from all strata of so­ci­ety.

I as­pire to de­liver qual­ity child­care, con­tinue my re­search and ed­u­ca­tion, pub­lish my work in in­ter­na­tional mag­a­zines and psy­chol­ogy jour­nals and get more re­wards for my work.

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