Yasmeen is from Jordan. She moved to The Netherlands in 2014 to do her MBA at Nyenrode Business University, and she is currently living and working there. Yasmeen always wanted to progress in her career and reach the highest positions, which was her idea of success and happiness. But this changed tremendously in the past few years, especially after travelling to different places and meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures. She believes that leadership is not linked to a title and happiness is more about the people we cherish, the memories we make, the hearts we touch and the lives we change. She aspires to be the best version of herself, to help people realize their dream and make a difference in this world! Yasmeen Smadi's mentor is Susan Foley Rocco.
Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story!
A: I am from Amman-Jordan, which is where I grew up and lived my whole life until I moved to the Netherlands in 2014. It is home, where my family lives and all the beautiful memories of childhood and adulthood were made. It represents warmth, safety and unconditional love and support.
Some of the things I did in life: I played basketball nationally, I worked in pharmaceuticals and I've been an entrepreneur. I've always been passionate about business and writing.
I moved to the Netherlands to do my MBA at Nyenrode Business University which is something I wanted to do for a long time. My plan was to get the degree and go back to Jordan but things changed within one year; I saw an opportunity to grow and add to my professional experience by staying and working in The Netherlands. I’ve always wanted to make a difference in this world but I’m still finding my way and working on myself in order to eventually be able to help others. I will not stop seeking, trying and exploring until I find the right path that will lead me to where I should be.
Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?
A: I think the world is currently in chaos, especially with the wars, the terrorism, the hatred and all the economic and social instability that are taking place around the world. There’s also an imbalance that can be seen between regions and countries; economies and nations are rising in some places while descending in others. Nevertheless, I am optimistic about a better tomorrow and a better world. I believe that we can only make the world a better place for everyone by starting with changing and improving ourselves as individuals. We need to be less selfish and care about each other more, compete with our former selves than with one another, living together and accepting and respecting each other’s views and beliefs without prejudice or any form of discrimination.
Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?
A: I believe that the key challenges are finding the guidance and mentoring especially for young adults, political and economic instability and high levels of unemployment. I also think that people are not given the same quality of education in schools which creates a huge gap between individuals in terms of mentality and exposure as well.
Q: As a woman what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?
A: Luckily, I don't think that I have faced obstacles because of being a woman. I have always had the support of my parents to do the things I like, take the risks I want to take and pursue my dreams and goals. I was also always surrounded by teachers, mentors, friends, acquaintances and family members who always pushed me to become better and gave me the confidence and courage to keep going.
Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?
A: Honestly, I'm not a very focused person; I have a lot of interests and I want to do a lot of things in life but no one can do everything and I believe I need to be focused in order to be successful. Having a mentor helps me think of what I really want to do and what I have to do in order to achieve the things I want to achieve in life. I also think that it is very important to learn from the experiences of others. In addition, a mentor is a trustworthy person whom I can talk to about anything and feel better and get a positive energy that keeps me going. Moreover, a mentor is a source of guidance and support for me.
Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?
A: Well, life has taught me so many things especially in the past three years. Firstly, health is the most important thing that you need to take care of, and it must always be your number one priority. Health is real wealth; if you have health problems then you won't be able to enjoy even the smallest things in life. Secondly, you should always be strong physically, emotionally and mentally to take care of yourself at all times, because nobody will take care of you and nobody will live your life for you. Thirdly, love your family, take care of them and don’t take them for granted because they are the people who will always have your best interest at heart and the only ones who will love you and support you no matter what.
Moreover, always be kind and help people whenever you can without expecting anything in return because life will give you back everything you have given to it sooner or later. Also, things keep changing all the time; nothing is constant in this life and you have to be aware of this and look at the positive side of it. In addition, never forget the people who lend you a hand and stood by your side when you needed them. Lastly, listen to what people say but only believe their actions.
Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!
A: In the Netherlands: Lutfia Rabbani Foundation
In Jordan: Operation Smile
Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!
A: “To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.” - Bessie Anderson Stanley
Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.
A: That everybody is unique and special in their own way.