Interview with Mariam Alammadi, Psychologist & Afkarech Founder
1- Hello Mariam, can you please introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Mariam Alammadi. I am a psychologist currently based in the Middle East. I am half Irish and half Bahraini and I have been working in the field of mental health for the last decade. I am the founder of the Child Foundation Center which offers psychological services for young people, Afkarech Female Network & Think Tank which is the first of its kind in the GCC region and more recently Mae Solutions – which is a socially conscious enterprise that aids and manages the running of community projects and non-profit voluntary groups.
2- What pushes you to work in psychology?
I decided when I was thirteen I wanted to work in psychology and it is the career I have always wanted. I did not like the stigma attached to mental illness and the manner in which people felt like they had to conceal it. My mother Jacqueline was always supportive of my goal and I cannot thank her enough. She did everything possible to ensure I could pursue my dreams and work in psychology. My Aunt Kathleen who has been inspiration having worked in so many humanitarian projects for the underprivileged that has helped them gain access to education changed the mentality of many people and enabled them to have access to better resources. My Uncle Bruce a consultant physician has helped me gain more knowledge by sending me psychological articles, books, and research to keep me up to date – which he still does to this day. The combined support of my family and my goal to help people overcome their challenges and reach their full potential is why I work in this field today.
3-How do you describe your work in few words?
My work is like any other relationship you face ups and downs but I fell in love with my work all over again this year. I opened my practice again in a new location and had envisioned how I wanted everything to be. It is a dream come true. It was a leap of faith and I am glad it seems to be paying off.
4- How do you think creative women are changing the future of business?
Creative women are most definitely changing the future of business. Finally, we have advertising campaigns, products, and services that are catering to the majority of consumers – women! This has been a long time coming. Women-owned businesses have been the fastest growing segment in the economy of the last twenty years.
5- What advice would you like to give to those just starting in business?
My advice is, start. I had a very comfortable long-term job in a leading hospital. While I was grateful for the opportunity and was treated nicely I wanted more for myself. When I left I faced a barrage of criticism. “Why would you leave a job for life?” “What if you fail?” – Well, the answer is “what if I don’t fail”? Simply speaking sometimes in life, we do fail but then we learn a new way not to do something and try again. You can learn as you go along but you have to try. The journey into entrepreneurship can be daunting but you are worth the investment.
6- Some big firms still can’t make a decision about the importance of the new business trends, what do you say about that?
It is important for firms to recognize emerging trends and utilizing them to connect with their consumers. Personally, I am happy about the emerging business trends that focus on the well-being and mental health of employees. In 2018 it is wonderful to see big firms such as Aetna introduce their mindfulness initiative, Unilever has embarked on a global health initiative to recognize the signs of mental health distress and Barclays has its “This is Me” campaign to help destigmatize mental health problems. The foundation of any business is the strength of the employees. It is estimated that one in four people suffer from mental issues and I hope more firms note the importance of this particular trend.
7- In the era of internet, what is the real value social media presents for active women, while other Marketing techniques can’t?
Social media is an amazing resource for women. This is clear by the rising number of female influencers. Women who have previously felt unheard now have a voice and can find likeminded women. You no longer have to wait to get your message across in traditional press you can instantly reach people via social media which means you can increase awareness of your business. You can interact daily with customers and address any issues head-on. I have made so many worthwhile connections on social media and have also been completely in control of the narratives that are projected by my businesses.
8- What is the “one-word” advice you will give to our readers when it comes to succeeding at making people happy?
It is three words “make yourself happy”. We can spend a lifetime trying to make those around us happy whether it is employment or in our personal lives. We need to learn how to make ourselves happy and in doing so we will perform better at work and have better personal development.
9- Do you find as an expert, that you enjoy the challenge of an industry being complex and the game rules are always changing?
Yes, I do enjoy the constant change in my industry and it takes continuous education to stay afloat and maintain success. As individuals, we are supposed to grow and expand our mindset. The rules of a business are the same – your business should evolve as you do.
10- The last word or final thoughts?
I read something lately in relation to women in the workplace that we frequently attribute our success to “luck” and can often be more likely to suffer from “Imposter Syndrome”. I know I have been guilty of this and said to friends “it is just a struck of luck” or “I got a lucky break”. Perhaps it is time to embrace our success and define it in our terms. We are allowed to give ourselves a pat on the back from time to time even if nobody else does!