'I like to look at a challenge as something to be solved, not feared'

I like to look at a challenge as something to be solved, not feared

Shaikha Al Khayyal, Director of Events at LOC, Special Olympics UAE, on the importance of having a positive approach to difficulties

Published: Fri 18 May 2018, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 18 May 2018, 2:00 AM

How do you typically start your workday?
I like to start by reflecting and planning for the day ahead. Over the years, I have learnt not to start anything without thinking of how it could possibly end. Being in the events field, you have to envision the end of the day, so in the morning, I like to have some members of my team let me know about their plans for the day.
I also like to reflect on what we have achieved and how it can be measured. It's very important to look back and see what has and hasn't worked so we can plan for better results.
Describe your work in a sentence
I am responsible for all non-sports events at the Games including the opening and closing ceremonies, host town programmes, the torch run, awards ceremonies, and all additional events such as policy meetings, receptions, etc.
The objective of planning all non-sports events is to make sure we have a platform for community engagement and that each event leaves a legacy behind where people have a better understanding of what inclusion is in the UAE, and the role of people of determination in the community. I think of these events as a platform where people can engage each other.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
I like to feel that I am serving my country in my own way. The UAE is attracting a number of big events and huge projects and to be a professional in this field is such a pleasure.
I love being part of this noble cause and I'm enjoying the human aspects of it - the interaction and seeing how people are changing their thinking and ideas and seeing this community evolve.
What advice would you give your younger self, if you could?
I would tell my younger self to have more patience, because I was always eager to achieve quickly. But now I see that hard work pays off so I would advise my younger self to be patient and trust that things will happen.
What has been your most challenging experience to date and how did you resolve it?
When you are in events and sponsorship, or marketing in general, it's really hard to pick just one challenge. It's a lifestyle of facing challenges and solving problems, which I immensely enjoy because I'm very results-oriented and I get frustrated when something is too easy.
I prefer to have a more positive approach to the word 'challenge'. I prefer to look at it as something that is there to be solved and not to be feared. It's not about saying 'Oh I had this tough experience', it's about learning how to navigate these challenges and using them to grow as a professional and as a person.
How do you maintain a work-life balance?
Something I have learnt is that work-life balance doesn't just happen - work tends to take over but I make sure life is equally addressed. You need to make sure you take breaks, make sure you call your family and make sure you schedule meetings with your friends. Make sure you pay attention to your passions and listen to your body and take care of your health. You have to schedule all this, they don't just happen.
Any advice for youngsters just getting into the professional arena?
I always find it useful to have a mentor or someone that you want to shadow or learn from because events is an industry where people learn by doing. So, a young professional who's just starting out would find it very useful to have someone around, to benefit from their experience and wisdom.
I would encourage more young people to go into this field, especially women, because it's not easy but very rewarding.
What is your greatest dream, professionally?
I would like to be my own boss. I would like to venture into entrepreneurship and launch something on my own. I am often told that I have good ideas - people call me the 'idea person', so one of these days, I would love to explore turning one of my good ideas into a business and see how it is to be my own boss.
- Staff reporter

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