I grew up in Egypt (Cairo) in a multi-cultural, modern bubble in sharp contrast with the traditional society that surrounded me. I grew up believing that the place I am born in is just a point on the map, yet the world is out there waiting for us to make a better place for us all to live in.
My professional choices find their roots in this innocent dream that I still carry yet sharpened with the experiences I've gathered through the years. My goal at this stage is to have an effective and tangible role in the global transition towards a society and economic system that is sustainable and fair.
I followed my schooling, university, and post-graduate education in the French, American, and Dutch educational systems – each offering a distinct perspective of the world and skill set that shaped me. After a first experience at UNHCR, I joined Oxfam Novib where I managed development programs in multiple countries in Asia and Africa tackling a wide range of developmental and human rights issues. Leading interventions in some of the most challenging environments – for instance, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and Central Asia – I experienced firsthand the challenges of operating in poverty or conflict contexts with limited infrastructure and weak governance. As an economist, I soon felt the urge to turn to the market for lasting solutions.
In my current function, I am leading the Rainforest Alliance program on Livelihood and Workers' Rights across multiple supply chains. I work with an enthusiastic and committed team across the world to create a world where people and nature can thrive in harmony – with moments of success and sometimes despair when we seem to hit the core of our flawed economic and food system where we produce too much, pay too little for the products, and waste 1/3 of the food produced.
One of the issues I work on actively is the low wages of workers in agriculture supply chains where after six years of work with many commercial parties, the ILO, and multiple governments, we are starting to harvest the first positive results. I am particularly proud of the success of The Global Living Wage initiative, an initiative that I supported founding and currently co-chair. The coalition brings together six of the world's most influential sustainability standards aiming at improving workers' wage levels in certified supply chains, to have defined and influence the global debate on the topic of living wages.
While I have a realistic view of the challenges at hand, I remain an undeterred believer in our individual and collective ability to change the system we live in and bring about a new paradigm. I am at a point in my career where I feel the need to take a step back, reconnect with myself and with other passionate and creative minds to unleash more energy and innovation to continue my journey and follow my guiding star.
I have found a welcoming home at THNK and feel honored to be part of the amazing fabric that constitutes Class 15!