After our 'professional' interview with the inspiring expatriate mother/ Mera Al-Hourani, Founder and Director of Ummahat, we thought of exploring the other sides of her personality. What could have been better than Mother's Day to talk about this successful entrepreneur and a super mom – Mera Al-Hourani.
In a heart-to-heart conversation with Alaa Emra - Mera Al-Hourani shares her secrets of being a super mom and a successful entrepreneur.
What are the adverse effects of the Coronavirus pandemic on working mothers, and how can they overcome them?
I have written many articles about this. A study published by the UN-ESCWA Foundation specializing in humanitarian affairs found 300,000 women lost their jobs in the Middle East. This was very impressive to me!
Besides, many other problems resulted from the closure of schools, which increased the burden on working women, and the closure of airports affected home assistants' hiring.
Working hours have also increased considerably. I remember we used to have meetings at noon during Ramadan.
Economically, many companies closed permanently, which resulted in layoffs and loss of income.
How to overcome them? I will talk about myself. Psychologically, I was writing a daily gratitude diary, and I remember all the blessings I had.
In terms of time management, my husband and I cooperated and divided the tasks. I've also told my staff that there is no one to help me with my household affairs, so I need flexible working hours to create more activities for my kids to keep them entertained and focus on my work.
You wrote about many success stories of women who overcame all obstacles and achieved big dreams, in light of this:
- What story has most influenced your professional or personal life? How?
The story I've been most touched by is that of a girl called "Lubaba" ... She is a single mother, an expatriate, and has two children, and she worked in Qatar and was trying to complete her studies. She spoke about "psychological burnout" and said that she could write and publish a book during this difficult time... and here I was impressed by her ability to overcome all those difficulties.
There is also the story of a girl who got a Ph.D. in Germany and lived alone with her children. She spoke about her husband's support and her ability to confront the girl's societal stereotype who decides to travel independently with her children.
She faced a new society, a language, culture, and customs, and she succeeded, excelled, and achieved. Also, she was able to persuade her husband and children to be supportive. This was a massive success, in my view.
- What did you learn from these stories?
Honestly, I am writing these stories to motivate myself to keep going. Sometimes I feel exhausted because of the endless responsibilities and big dreams. However, when I hear these stories, I make sure that I can get through all difficulties and achieve whatever I dream about.
- What do these heroines have in common?
Their most important common feature is that they do not know about giving up and create an "excuse" for success.
If you’re in a position that gives you the power to make a decision, what’s your first decision for working mothers?
With no thinking, I'll give her the freedom to work from anywhere, and if mothers want to work in the office, I will provide a kindergarten or a daycare for their children in the same workplace.
Is there a woman who inspires your professional career? Tell us about someone who made an impact on your career.
There are a lot of ladies out there, that I like their success stories. But one of the people who really inspire me because of her enthusiasm is the lady: "Iman Batikha"… She is an expat with children, and she was able to start her project. So, she was a significant reason behind starting my "Kolna Umahat" project because of her commitment and passion.
What’s your advice to the ladies who start catching up on the job market?
Firstly, to define their passions and develop themselves and sharpen their skills before knocking on the doors.
They also have to "be professional." They have to adhere to professionalism during the interaction, communication, and digital presence.
In your view, what are the biggest challenges mothers face at the workplace?
They are two challenges:
- The first challenge: Women get paid less than men.
- The second challenge is the lack of flexibility when dealing with women at work and the lack of employment benefits such as insurance.
Are there any skills that you acquired while raising children that helped you at work?
Sure, the essential skill is multitasking. After motherhood, the tasks increased, and the rest hours decreased. However, the achievement rates have increased. Motherhood helped me work on my blog, start my own business, became more sociable, and even accomplished many tasks at home.
How do you keep your kids busy while working from home?
I try to create valuable activities like drawing and playing in the water, which keeps them occupied for some hours. After the precautionary measures have been eased and the shutdown has been lifted a bit, we are heading to the park to let them play, and I continue to work alongside them.
What is the most prominent obstacle in your career as a female leader?
Quite frankly, women are irritable and emotional. We have to admit that the workplace is very competitive, so there is no room for emotions. I get irritable sometimes and feel like I need to develop that.