Khadija Usman

Founder

GRIT Coaches, Pakistan

Interview by Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen

Hello Khadija, let’s start off by telling Fab! Luxe readers what is GRIT Coaches.

Grit Coaches is a first of its kind, platform/marketplace for Coaches, Consultants and Mentors. It has only certified coaches, coach trainers and seasoned consultants with a special focus on emerging markets. But what makes it unique is the ‘holistic’ approach, of the Coaches and experts that work with us. 

So anyone, who is looking for a future direction, feels stuck doing the work they don’t want to do or aspires to live a life pursuing their passion and becoming the best versions of themselves; then Grit Coaches is just the place for them to be. Our coaches will help align their personal goals with professional goals, so they can live a more fulfilled life.

Why have you decided to embark on this journey, Khadija?

It was the struggles and hardships that I faced during my journey that led me to the path of coaching. At every step in different stages of my life, I yearned for a coach/mentor, a guide. Starting from the time I was a student, deciding which career to choose, till I entered practical life. Even no, many times as an entrepreneur and a leader in my organization, I need an unbiased perspective. Someone to help me cope when I am overwhelmed with responsibilities and when I suffer from decision fatigue.

As opposed to therapy, counselling coaching personally helped me because let’s take my business, the coach took into account where I was financially at and where I needed to be. So while my responsibilities were accounted for, I felt I got support in furthering my business too.  So, this kind of help I was able to get, I would like more people to benefit from coaching in the same way.

You are a multi-faceted woman and very present in the affairs of women in Pakistan. You are the Founder of Fempreneur and Chairperson for Lean In Lahore. You are also the Creative Director behind a children’s online store, FirstSmile. For each of these businesses, what drives you?

Women empowerment is at the heart of everything I do. Pakistan is a developing country, where women still struggle at many levels. Firstsmile, which is an online children’s clothing store for kids was founded by its CEO to create ease for busy moms, who couldn’t make time to go to stores as a one-stop-shop for mothers – quality, affordable clothing and accessories just a click away. 

As the Founder of Fempreneur, we are more in the digital space, our community is of over 3000 global members. Our team focuses on highlighting achievements of women in diverse fields. Besides, mentoring and creating awareness, we also connect female freelancers to entrepreneurs. For this, you can find on the Directories of Female Freelancers and Entrepreneurs on our website (https://fempreneurhub.com/).

I am glad to be a small part of Sheryl Sandberg’s wonderful initiative – Lean In, which propagates that we as women need to form circles of trusted people in our work environment, to serve as support systems to help address the issues women face at the workplace and facilitate them in achieving their ambitions. Lean-In Lahore is a local circle, falling under the country Presidency of Tara Uzra Dawood. We hope to do our share in furthering Sheryl’s noble cause.  

So to sum it up, gender equality and inclusion are what drive me.

You also have another pet project – retail investing. Tell us about that.

Well Zu, since I was a child I would hear my father discussing stocks and securities. Then, I would try to read the Stock Market Summary in our local newspaper, it fascinated me. So when I was 18, I saved enough and started investing in the Stock Market (PSX). I started with PKR 20k, after 20 yrs my shares are valued at PKR 2 million.

From your observation, how has the coaching industry evolve through the years?

Ever since, the Father of Modern Day Coaching, Thomas Leonard established ICF, almost 2 decades back, coaching has become a booming profession in the western world but the sun is still rising in the east. Coaching may be quite common at the corporate level in eastern countries, but individuals don’t seek it as actively as they should.

It has been said that the coaching industry is now worth USD10.9 billion. What do you think make people turn to coaching – as a Coach or as someone who needs the help of one?

Well, a lot of times I see people who have been working in HR evolve to be a coach, as a profession. Seeing people progress in their lives and move forward after roadblocks can be very rewarding. Most coaches are purpose-driven with a natural instinct to help. 

Coaching is often sought by people who are already self-aware to some extent. They are cognizant of the fact that a little help or support can help them achieve their goals. Most coachees when they turn to Coaches, are facing confidence issues, struggling with a toxic work environment or trying to find a work-life balance, contemplating a career switch or aspiring to start a new business.  

What are the profiles of your Coaches?

We have coaches from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, upholding our core values of ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’. The coaches we have, hold certifications from credible institutions, our mentors and consultants are also professionals with years of experience and a clientele, that can vouch for their expertise. We don’t compromise when it comes to values and ensure that the coaches/consultants and mentors that we work with are on the same page when it comes to working ethics.    

In your opinion, what makes a good coach or mentor, Khadija?

I feel a good coach or mentor should be filled with compassion and a strong instinct to help others however, that instinct shouldn’t override their ability to see things from a neutral perspective and hold the coachee accountable, when needed.

Khadija, walk us through the process for someone keen to engage the service of a coach through GRIT.

So, the process is pretty straightforward.  We have coaches offering their services/packages, according to their respective niches – mindset, leadership and so on.  Anyone who wants to work with a particular coach can just click and buy any of their packages from their Profile page. 

On the other hand, we have coaching solutions for individuals and organizations, anyone who is looking for that particular coaching solution can DM us and we will set up a free discovery session with a coach that matches their needs. 

For those who wish to sign-up as a Coach with GRIT, how can they do so?

To be a coach with GRIT, coaches need to submit their details in the Contact Us form on our website and someone from our team will get back to them. Alternatively, they can email us at enquiries@gritcoaches.com   

What are your hopes for 2022, Khadija?

My hope is for Grit Coaches to have begun its journey, in making a positive difference to peoples’ lives and providing a haven for those who coach and those who seek to be coached. For the world at large, I hope the pandemic ends and we the human race rise more united and stronger from this catastrophe.   

As a mom and entrepreneur myself, I know the road to success is not easy. It requires a lot of grit, perseverance and drive. I get my motivation from successful women like yourself. I would love for you to share with me and our readers what Khadija Usman’s typical day looks like.

Yes and I admire the work you do. 

Well, I have a 2 yr. old and 4 yrs. old daughter and both are a handful, as neither has started proper school yet; so it can be very challenging. 

My teams and I work remotely, for the most part.  We do have an office space but I prefer to work from home, as being there when my children are achieving milestones really matters to me.

My typical day starts with correspondence on emails. After I have replied to a few important emails and exchanged greetings with my teams, I go on to have breakfast with my kids – dress them etc. While they play peacefully, I can do some focused work – streamlining agendas with my team.

However, there is an occasional tug of war between the two, so I have to make peace or direct my domestic help to do so if I am in an important meeting. They are pretty much trained not to vandalize my home office when I am in a Zoom meeting.

I mostly work through lunch hours, but ensure the kids are having theirs, which they sometimes revolt against – as kids model us and when they see me skipping lunch they are inclined to do the same. Not a good example, I know, something I am working on *embarrassed laugh*. After lunch hours, I put in a few more hours with work.

6 in the evening onwards is family time, where I normally take no work calls, besides, the occasional meeting in a different time zone with someone in the U.S, New Zealand etc. as we do have coaches and team members across the world working with us currently.           

Where can Fab! Luxe readers get more information on GRIT Coaches & Consultants?

Fab Luxe readers, can find detailed information on our website. 

https://www.gritcoaches.com/

However, we are really active on the following 3 social media platforms, so do follow us: 

https://www.facebook.com/GrowingwithGrit

https://www.instagram.com/gritcoaches/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/grit-coaches/

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