Dr. Hazem Zeitoun of Genome Training and Consulting tells us about his love for training and strategy.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Hazem Zeitoun: We are doing good, Alhamdulillah’s. Very fine overall, except for the psychological and social toll on the kids and my wife. Being very adherent to the health protocols and regulations pertaining to the pandemic has a negative effect on kids as they are not going to school or meeting up with their friends. My wife’s work has always been remote but now confined at home and overseeing online learning of the kids, let me tell you, that is very stressful and tiring for mothers.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Genome Training and Consulting.
Dr. Hazem Zeitoun: Passion is the true drive for founding this company. When I was an employee, I found that I am good at training and strategy and have the nag. I got the chance to hone my training skills and develop my unique, passionate style, something that most learners say shines through. When you love what you do, you wear your heart on your sleeve, as they say. I was very lucky that I worked with many great leaders in great companies. I learned from them, and they were true mentors. Working really hard allowed me to rise in the ranks and opened doors to learn, and I took full advantage of every development opportunity. All of this sharpened my consulting and training skills, and I felt encouraged to start my own work, though against the advice of others for being a risky thing to do versus a stable job with a clear income.
How does Genome Training and Consulting innovate?
Dr. Hazem Zeitoun: Innovation is the new buzzword that sometimes I get the feeling that there was no innovation before, but innovation has been there since the dawn of civilizations, never faded. I see innovation as a natural process driven by a desire to come up with solutions to problems, grow the business, and deal with the ever-increasing competition and changing landscapes of the markets. Any organization is “forced” to innovate to thrive and or even just to survive, or else obsoletion awaits.
As a company, innovation is influenced by every team member, everyone has ideas, and all I usually ask, including myself, is to do the necessary homework about this idea before bringing it to the table. Not every innovation is a winner, and that is OK. We learn from our mistakes, successes, and failures and that of others. Innovation is not confined to coming up with an idea from thin air. We can be inspired by competitors, partners, and others in different countries and industries and adopt/adapt it to our market or services/products.
We do not have a defined process for innovation, and I am not sure that a defined process is necessary to innovate, but you need some kind of framework that provides guidance and helps in vetting ideas. Innovation is a requirement and a habit.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dr. Hazem Zeitoun: Beginning of the pandemic, we were hit hard in revenue because life was on pause for all. There was a silver lining, though, since we have started a couple of years before the pandemic to do some of our projects remotely, which enabled us to pick up things quickly and demonstrate to clients our know-how, so now we are back on track. However, it is less favorable for online education. The pandemic accelerated moving to the online education that we were already gearing up to, but as an additional service. Now it is the main service. The revenues from online education are far less, and efforts need to be tripled along to compensate, requiring innovation in promotion, services, design, etc.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Hazem Zeitoun: The difficult decision we keep facing is saying “No “to clients who ask for a face to face training. The lessons learned was we were “Snailing “in developing our online education and digital presence. We have historically relied on “word of mouth “and recurrent clients as our mainstay marketing tools, and this is not enough in an ever digitized economy that grew exponentially by the pandemic.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Dr. Hazem Zeitoun: We have an open-door culture, and since the beginning of the pandemic until now, we give the staff the liberty to work from home if they prefer. We use several tools like Slack, Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype for communication. There are tools and software related to our work in projects and training such as Curatr, Kobo, Nvivo, SPSS, and several others.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dr. Hazem Zeitoun: By being adeptly adaptive and deploying innovating at all levels; delivery of services, offerings, marketing, I,e reengineering our Modus Operandi and thinking, both strategically and tactically. We have largely moved from seeing competitors as “Nemesis and rivals” to seeing them as potential partners and collaborators, particularly on a regional level.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Hazem Zeitoun: Do not buy into the “work smarter than Harder” idiom, working hard is the key to success. Ask real entrepreneurs about that, and they will tell you how much extra effort they had to invest and the many extra miles they had to walk. It is OK to fail, if you do not fail, you will not learn and grow as a business or as an individual. We learn more from our failures than we do from our success. Do what you are good at and have passion for, this will never fail you. Finally, I would say patience and perseverance are keys to survival, don’t give up quickly, and appreciate that success takes time. Surround yourself with positive people, great partners, and a great team.
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