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Building Resilience: The Right Way To Overcoming Adversity The RiiSE Conference: Achieving Women Forum 2019 delved into how all of us can go about overcoming adversity.

By Pamella de Leon

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RiiSE Conference: Achieving Women Forum 2019

From perceptions around adversity in lives and careers, to facing crossroads, and explaining how it can be turned into learning experiences, the first panel of the RiiSE Conference: Achieving Women Forum 2019 featured insights on how each of us can deal with our biggest challenges and difficulties, and confront them with confidence and actionable strategies to conquer future obstacles.

Moderated by Julia Chatterley, anchor and correspondent, CNN, the panelists included Sebastien Bazin, CEO, Accor; Dr. Nazli Neftci, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist; Hamdi Kulahcioglu, General Manager – The Deal, Chalhoub Group; Lily Hoa Nguyen, owner and Executive Chef, Vietnamese Foodies; Jessica Smith OAM, paralympian, author and speaker; and Hannah Beswick, Partnerships Development Specialist, UN Women. Here are a few highlights from the discussion:

Jessica Smith OAM, paralympian, author and speaker


Smith, who was born missing her left arm and then suffered an accident as a toddler that saw her sustain burns to 15% of her body, said that she saw her life's adversities had given her an advantage in the long run. "Our vulnerabilities are in fact enabling us to learn more about our own level of resilience, and our own level of ability to adapt to new situations," she explained. "Our adversities equip us to take on new challenges."

Lily Hoa Nguyen, owner and Executive Chef, Vietnamese Foodies


"We need to stop feeling guilty about not being able to do all the tasks at the same time," said Vietnamese Foodies' Nguyen, as she noted how women are often too hard on themselves when it comes to the goals they set for themselves, and how they go about realizing them. Delegation is the solution, and this is especially true for entrepreneurs, Nguyen noted, for them to have better personal and professional lives. "I need to be ready to free my mind, [and that would make me] able to do bigger things."

Dr. Nazli Neftci, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist


When faced with setbacks, it's easy to fall into the rabbit hole of feeling inadequate, and feeling sorry for ourselves. In such situations, Dr. Neftci said that as important it is to accept our shortcomings, one must also remember to actually know our capabilities, and embrace our achievements as well. "Know who you are, but also know what you can and can't do," Dr. Neftci said. Understanding this is key to advancing yourself in life and work, she said. "Own up to your own accomplishments."

Hannah Beswick, Partnerships Development Specialist, UN Women

But that is not to say that there can't be structural issues that might delimit one's progress in life and work. For instance, women have challenges that are specific to them when it comes to advancing their careers. How do we get past them? UN Women's Beswick replied that men and women will need to work together to make this happen. "If men and women aren't part of the solution at all levels, lower, middle and senior management, we won't have effective change," she noted.

Sebastien Bazin, CEO, Accor


Regardless of one's experience or background, Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin encourages his employees (and everyone else, really) to let go of their worries about voicing their opinions when confronted with challenging situations, and that they learn to use each of these opportunities to improve themselves. "Give the answer, and speak with your heart," he said, noting how the biggest limitations one has are often in one's own mind.

Hamdi Kulahcioglu, General Manager – The Deal, Chalhoub Group

Of course, this is often easier said than done- but that's where the leadership can set the tone at the top when it comes to how people in the organization respond and react to challenges, said Chalhoub Group's Kulahcioglu. "We, as leaders, should walk the talk," he said, noting that a company culture that allows for (and encourages) discussion and debate can go a long way.

Related: No Holding Back: Former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard

Pamella de Leon

Startup Section Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.

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