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21 December 2014 Last updated
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How did she get there? The multiple careerist

Shereen Mitwalli has her own recruitment company, a successful career in TV presenting and is an ambassador for microfinance charity Kiva. And we thought we were busy...

By Louisa Wilkins, Features Editor, Aquarius
1 Jun 2012 | 12:00 am
  • Shereen Mitwalli

    Shereen Mitwalli is an ambassador for not-for-profit organisation Kiva.

    Source:Dennis B Mallari/GNM Image 1 of 2
  • Shereen Mitwalli

    Shereen is focusing on presenting and hosting while running her HR company remotely.

    Source:Dennis B Mallari/GNM Image 2 of 2

Name: Shereen Mitwalli
Age: 30
Nationality: Australian, but her parents are from Egypt
Job: Shereen has a recruitment consultancy in Australia, which she runs from here. She’s also a TV presenter, an event host and a charity ambassador

My mother is a chef and my father is in engineering, and me, I've always been a talker so my dad used to joke that I'd either be a TV presenter, or a lawyer.

"I loved finance and studied it at university. When I was 24, I set up my own financial-support company. I enjoyed it and it was really lucrative, but it wasn't creative enough to keep me satisfied. So, when I was 25, I took a month off work to do a TV-presenting course. It was just something I had always wanted to do. I started out doing it for free and paying for my own hair and makeup on Australian TV channels until I started getting paid for it. I love interviewing entrepreneurs as I like being able to ask educated questions and to be able to have an informed discussion on a topic I'm truly interested in.

"I've always been into travelling and used to have a dream that I would eventually live in Paris. Finance was so hands on that I realised if I wanted to travel as much as I do, I needed a company that would run around me, rather than me running around it. So I started planning an exit strategy.

"About three years ago, I read a book called The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, in which he talks about the difference between what he calls the ‘new rich' and the ‘old rich'. The ‘old rich' are those who think they need to go to an office to earn money. The ‘new rich' are people who use technology so that they can work from home and negotiate their own terms. It really inspired me and so, after six years, I sold my finance company (at a profit), but not before setting up my HR and recruitment company. Having my own finance company was a great experience - I'm glad I have that background in finance as I believe it's the backbone of any new project.

"I'm an ambassador for not-for-profit organisation Kiva (www.kiva.org), which enables anyone around the world to lend money to entrepreneurs in developing countries. I give money to different charities and I'm a big believer in it, but with Kiva, if you put Dh100 in, you actually get it back.

"Over the years, I've invested nearly Dh40,000 through different Kiva profiles and that money has been through hundreds of different people, who have all needed to borrow a certain amount for a certain period of time. When people ask me who inspires me, I always say, ‘The people on Kiva.' They're not saying, ‘I'm poor. Help me.' They are saying, ‘I want to work and to be independent. Help me get this sewing machine, or this plough, so I can feed my family.' I admire them. It's a great feeling knowing that you've helped someone achieve their goals and I believe that what you put out into the world is what you get back.

"Now I'm focusing on presenting and hosting while running my HR company remotely. I've got some business plans in the pipeline and want to have my own show in the Mena region. I've done a lot but I haven't achieved a quarter of what I want to yet. I keep raising my own bar."

My job involves... "I'm very involved in the strategic management of my company, as well as the marketing and the finances. The operations and ‘service delivery' are handled by my staff in Australia and the Philippines. I liaise with them by having conference calls, which are often at odd hours. Also, because I am not there, I maintain strict protocols and procedures outlining exactly what happens to safeguard my operation." 

Looking back, if I could have done something differently... "I wish I had taken acting classes when I was younger. Being creative is one of my passions and I would love to explore acting different characters and being even more dynamic on stage." 

What I love most... "The freedom to travel and to be creative." 

To do my job you need to be... "Resourceful, strong and very dedicated." 

To people wanting to do my job, my advice would be... "It's been proved we spend 80 per cent of our time doing 20 per cent of our work and vice versa. You can do more work in less time if you can learn how to focus properly. One way is to set up an autoresponse email which says, ‘I respond to emails at [specified time]'. That way you can focus on other things without being distracted. Also, diversify so you don't rely solely on one income; use vision boards; make work fun for you and your staff; and always have three months' living expenses in your account as a back-up."

Job joys

  • Having no management to answer to and no longer having to submit leave forms is one of the joys of working for myself.
  • One of the best things about being your own boss is having an unlimited earning capacity.
  • I like having the opportunity to be as creative as I want within my company and my lifestyle. The fact that I work for myself means I can pursue other interests, like TV presenting, hosting events and charity work. 

Work woes

  • Managing risk in terms of assessing what could possibly go wrong. There's always an element of risk when you have your own business. On a personal level, this means not having the stability of knowing that there will always be a monthly pay cheque.
  • The fact you cannot control everything - like the economy.
  • The pressure... whether the business succeeds, or fails, it's your responsibility. It can be hard to deal with the knowledge that many people, and their families, rely on your company and, ultimately, your decisions. It all comes down to sales and having a healthy balance sheet.

Could you do this job?

Careers consultant Alia Ali Khan uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to match personality types to job descriptions. She says:

"Shereen seems to be of the Extraverted Artisan personality type, who are good at a wide variety of work and need to engage in many things - a top multi-tasker! This is evident in her purposefully creating a career lifestyle that allows her to diversify, and in her ability to do this.

"Although flexible and artistic (which gives her a great eye for meticulous details), she has a significant streak of practicality and most likely makes most decisions with her head not her heart. This doesn't mean she doesn't create work environments that are ultimately fulfilling, it just means she factors in the more 'logical' daily living requirements, such as financial concerns, as well.

"Extraverted Artisans have a strong drive for new experiences and pay avid attention to detail. However, they should be wary of becoming too engrossed in challenges, thereby neglecting other areas of their life. They are best suited to fast-paced jobs, but mustn't forget to slow down when dealing with issues that require reflection." 

To learn more about your personality type and the kind of jobs you would be well suited to, visit Alia's website, www.usingpersonality.com.

By Louisa Wilkins, Features Editor, Aquarius

By Louisa Wilkins, Features Editor, Aquarius