This month we dive into the multifaceted life of INC´s Social Media Manager who originally hails from Egypt: Nehad Sharaf, a former IT technician; mother of 3 with an MBA on the brink of completing her PHD in International Business & Fashion Management who has collected more exotic addresses, jobs and qualifications than Henry VIII did wives.
The oil industry is a recurring theme in your life, past and present. As a child your family was posted to Tripoli where your mother worked as a geologist. What was it like growing up in Libya?
Libya will always have a special place in my heart. Life under Ghaddafi wasn´t as horrendous as people were made to believe. I have many fond memories of trips to unspoilt natural settings, swimming in deserted Mediterranean beaches, my diverse group of friends from the British school and multiple food flavours which I still crave to this day.
You later accepted your first job as an IT technical engineer in Libya and met your husband on a chance encounter at work. You were married 2 months later. How did you know he was “the one” after such a brief courtship?
I wish I knew! Despite being usually quite reserved and a deep thinker who doesn´t usually trust her gut instincts I really was driven by intuition on this occasion. We had lots in common (not least the same zodiac sign) and next thing I knew we were making a lifelong commitment.
Your first posting together was to Pau in Southern France, what was it like to live in Europe for the first time?
Despite having visited Europe several times I wasn´t prepared for some of the cuisine in France….I unwittingly threw out a brand new packet of intensely strong Boulette cheese thinking it must have gone off and next thing I knew I was being served a live snail on top of a plate of escargots which subsequently became my son´s best friend for several months afterwards.
After France your expat life took off and your husband´s oil industry job took you to various corners of the globe including Abu Dhabi, Oman, Holland, Houston, Turkey and Uruguay/Argentina. What have you learned from working and volunteering in these places?
Over the years I have learnt how to engage, compromise and create new opportunities wherever we´ve been based. My expat experiences have really reinforced what I already knew; that all human beings are actually the same the world over no matter what their circumstances.
In addition to bringing up 3 children, tell us about your various jobs and several voluntary positions.
In addition to working in IT support roles I have also worked as an expat families’ global education advisor, newsletter blogger and Third Culture Kid mentor. I´ve also done a lot of voluntary work including teaching disabled children, building schools, helping refugee families, assisting at animal shelters and at a substance addiction rehabilitation association in Madrid.
What inspired you to do a Phd in International Business with Fashion Management?
Ever since childhood I´ve been passionate about the arts, décor, interiors and fashion (except the design part). After completing my MBA in Houston I decided to embark on an PhD related to the luxury end of the Fashion industry and have launched my own business.
Are there any similarities between Egyptians and Spaniards?
Just as in other Mediterranean cultures both Egyptians and Spaniards are a warm and friendly nation who speak loudly, gesticulate a lot and are highly emotional! Other areas in common would be the laid-back lifestyle, late meal times and slackened schedules.
If you could wave a magic wand where would you go next and what would you do?
I would go to Egypt to help develop those in unfortunate circumstances or I would find any way I could to help the country in general, at any level.