Shereen Shaaban

Shereen Shaaban is a Leadership Coach (ACC), Organization and Relationship Systems Coach (ORSCC), and Rapid Transformational Therapist (RTT), having transformed from a software engineer to a Leadership Coach. 

She tells us that, “My journey has always been fueled by a passion for making a meaningful impact—shifting from enhancing products and processes to empowering people, the core of innovation and leadership. Having worked with over 1,000 individuals across 80 teams in multinationals and startups, my dream is to cultivate environments that foster growth, understanding, and evolution. My coaching aims to help leaders lead authentically, inspire transformational growth, and align personal ambitions with organizational goals, by cultivating evolved leaders who inspire.”

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.

Growing up my brother, sister and I were all professional swimmers. There was a lot of discipline around our upbringing – we were swimming 5-10k six days a week and training in the gym for 5.  They instilled in us the belief that it was possible to excel in multiple areas in our lives – we were all junior olympic and national medalists and also honor students throughout our educational career. 

We also moved a lot in our lives. We lived in New Jersey, New York, Saudi Arabia, Cairo and Dubai. I had multiple homes in each location, so the idea of a childhood home or a country I can call home is not something I’m familiar with. It blurred the conventional notion of a childhood home and, instead, this constant change fostered a unique sense of belonging to any place or culture. 

Also, I was blessed in that everywhere I went I was always surrounded by a lot of cultural diversity, so while I describe myself as being Egyptian (my parents’ birth country), I don’t identify with any one specific culture, but can connect and relate with all. I found it enabled me to relate to and connect with a spectrum of backgrounds, embracing diversity rather than being confined by it. 

The richness of my childhood experiences has given me the never ending excitement about what’s possible (constantly pushing myself to expand) and a deep curiosity about exploring what shows up. Alongside this there is a certain trust and comfort in knowing that I am incredibly adaptable and will work with whatever reveals itself. 

Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”

From a very young age, I’ve been drawn to working with people, well before starting on my university journey. Initially, I envisioned a future in psychology. However, my path took an unexpected turn when I pursued Computer Science, only to find myself circling back to working with people, albeit in a different capacity. My journey into the startup world seven years ago marked a significant pivot in my career. By that time, I had considerable experience as an Agile Coach—an organizational coach in the tech sphere—and was intrigued by the prospect of applying the principles of agility on a broader scale across entire businesses.

Although I initially set out to explore agility within the wider business, working with C-level executives in some of the Middle East’s largest startups, such as Noon, Careem, and Talabat, took me in a different direction. Transitioning into a role focused on People & Culture, along with Leadership and Team Coaching, broadened my perspective. I grew increasingly fascinated by the profound influence a leadership team has over an organization’s ethos and its scalability. This curiosity sparked a deeper exploration into how an organization’s culture can be nurtured and expanded throughout various stages of growth, examining the dynamics of its evolution and the factors that can contribute to it falling apart. 

Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?

I love helping leaders to lead authentically and inspiring transformational growth within themselves, their teams and the organizations they are a part of. I am a big believer that when you change yourself, you change the world around you. And as a leader leading a team, a whole organization or a country your presence and choices everyday have a powerful impact on lives of those around you. Bearing this monumental responsibility, requires a heightened level of self awareness, an unwavering presence and a deliberate approach in every interaction and decision. 

My mission is to empower leaders to navigate this journey with intentionality, encouraging them to lead as their true selves and inspiring them to foster environments that cultivate transformation. It’s about creating ripples of change that start at the core of their being and extend outwards to influence every aspect of their leadership realm.

Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?

My most significant achievements all have to do with overcoming adversity in very difficult times. These milestones were not so much direct actions I took but rather personal discoveries about my own resourcefulness and resilience that revealed themselves during those challenging times.

For example, each time I thought I was overwhelmed and wouldn’t be able to do something and I threw myself in, fully trusting that I would figure it out along the way. 

Or the times, I was at rock bottom, without support and I managed to muster up the courage, be incredibly resourceful and resilient, placed one foot in front of the other until I got to the other side.  

My achievements are, really, reflections of my internal journey toward wholeness, resilience, and the unwavering belief in the potential to evolve. Knowing that each change I inspire within myself extends to all those that I have the privilege to work with. 

Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?

Something I’m quite passionate about is the topic of women in leadership. What I would love to see more of is a greater presence of authentic female leadership – an aspect I find critically important and yet notably scarce.  

By authentic female leadership, I envisage women leading from their inherent feminine essence. Too frequently, we see women stepping into leadership roles, feeling compelled to adopt a more masculine approach. This not only feels disingenuous but often subjects these women to criticism for their leadership style, and in some cases, may even lead to their dismissal. 

There is a lot of leadership literature that talks about authentic leadership and organizations offer examples of male leadership (and what that looks like). But there isn’t enough literature or enough examples speaking to what female leadership is or what it looks like.

In the recent years of my career as a leader, the guidance I’ve received, predominantly from men in leadership, seemed to emphasize adopting a more masculine stance – be it dominating discussions, altering my vocal presence or adopting a ‘tough love’ approach with stakeholders. Each piece of advice, though well-intentioned, seemed to push me toward embracing a masculine persona. Though capable of adopting such a role, I’ve found that it gradually erodes the very essence of the authentic female leader I aspire to be.

In my feminine, I bring unique strengths to the table, providing perspectives and insights that inherently differ from those of my male peers. Recognizing this, my focus shifted over the years. Instead of focusing on striving to perform or outperform my male peers, I chose to hone in and embrace the unique attributes of my femininity. This, I believe, is where the true power of authentic female leadership lies. 

What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?

Work passionately on yourself and be lovingly curious. Everyday.

Ask yourself in the important questions: 

How am I feeling? What makes me feel this way? What do I believe about this feeling?

And whatever comes up, be lovingly curious: 

Where is it coming from? What do I need to heal? How will I know when it is healed? 

And then passionately work to heal yourself. 

What you can offer yourself, your family and the world when you are healed is incredibly powerful. It would be an awful shame to deny the world this gift.