QL Exclusive: An interview with Qatar-based entrepreneur, Emad Saif
Qatar Living speaks to Qatar-based entrepreneur, university lecturer, international trainer, engineer and a public speaker, Emad Saif, to learn more about his project Play Meetup.
Emad grew up in Jordan and lived most of his life in Canada, where he studied.
He holds a M.S. in Engineering Entrepreneurship from McMaster University and a BSc. in Industrial Engineering from Ryerson University.
He came to Qatar in 2011 and began to work as a business development manager in construction.
With a specialization in entrepreneurship education training, he currently works as a lecturer and coordinator of entrepreneurship at Qatar University.
Emad has passion for education, entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity.
“My passion or my interest is to take complex things and help simplify it and make it more artistic, more visual, and interesting,” he said.
“I really try my best to support others in their education to make them really enjoy learning,” he added.
Emad shifted from engineering to entrepreneurship as he had the interest to be in a field where he loves to see himself.
“What sparked my interests in entrepreneurship is that I opened doors that I did not really like, as I studied engineering because it was my parents’ belief that this was something secure to help families grow,” Emad recalled.
“I followed this idea but I never felt much attraction to my field of study. When I graduated, I was working in jobs like logistics and manufacturing, and I did not really see myself fit. I just found there is a long way to be recognized, and it was a lot of restrictions. So, I felt it is not the life I want to live, I want to be more flexible. So, I turned toward entrepreneurship not really seeking to start a business, but it was more like I wanted to have an open mindset,” he described.
However, Emad mentioned that his experience studying engineering was a part of his journey to shape him to the person he is today.
“I never looked back and felt any regret. It was a part of my journey. So, it teaches you discipline, and hard work. Engineering is not easy, but it shapes you. However, I do not think it is enough, and it is a small part of my journey,” he said.
Talking about his experience being a lecturer, he mentioned that he is always learning as he always teaching, and part of his job is not only the technical side but also it is almost like a coaching job.
“When you are a student all of what you think about is a degree, but then you will see that it is a small part of your journey. You are going to build on it, and today with the way the world is, you can really do many jobs. I am an engineer and teaching in the field of business, who would have thought this could happen? It is interesting to look at education as on-going process and there is no limit,” he described.
Emad believes that being a teacher is more of a mindset; it is not only about having the skill. As it is always about helping other people grow, and whatever knowledge the teacher has he will transfer to the students.
Emad is the founder of Lego Serious Play Meetups, which bring strangers together to meet in a public location like a café and they go through an experience of an hour and a half, where they build, reflect, and share stories.
In 2017, Emad became certified in the Lego Serious Play (LSP) methodology.
He delivered lots of trainings ever since which mainly served universities, corporate and various organizations.
Lego Serious Play is a problem-solving methodology and an amazing tool to improve communication focused on creating innovative solutions to enhance team performance.
This play meetup challenges the startups to create innovative models using Legos, and encourages them to target problems in a different manner.
“Part of my work at university is I do a lot of training, and I do not like to waste peoples time with lectures and boring things, so I do try hard from my experience to make things as fun as possible,” Emad explained.
“With that mindset, I was looking at how I can make the training more engaging. I came across -Lego Serious Play-, it is a methodology, but I was not sure what it was in the beginning. I became certified in the methodology in Singapore over three years ago and it really changed my life forever because I found something that really is my language,” he said.
Emad sees Lego as a methodology, not a topic, and it is a way to communicate and solve problems for teams. Also, it follows the theme of -Stranger + play = friends-.
He is passionate about entrepreneurship and is heavily engaged in building the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Qatar.
He sees Lego as a tool of learning instead of always looking at knowledge as a lecturer or expert coming and telling you what the information is, Lego is different, as it is extracting within you the answers that you didn’t think you were capable of providing.
“At the beginning, you might think that it is Lego for children, but when you understand what it is, it is not really about the Lego. Lego is only the medium, it is the language that we use. So, you have your hands, your eyes, your ears, you have all the senses, so 80 percent of our new runs having the connection to our hands, we are not really using our hands, and our hands are having huge connection to our brain, we are not touching things, so we are missing out accessing that deep knowledge,” he said.
COVID-19 affected Play Meetups, and it put it on hold for a while. However, this never stopped Emad from finding another way to keep it going,
“When COVID hit, we had to put it on hold, but I started innovating so I started virtual play meetups,” he said.
His main goal is to connect as many people as possible in Qatar through play, and he mentioned that he is inspired by George Shaw’s quote: “We do not stop playing because we grow old, but we grow old because we stopped playing.”
For Emad, his main inspiration came from his mother as she used to tell him that he is an (artist) and she kept on repeating this word to him when he was a child.
Additionally, Emad is inspired by anyone who is authentic, and the people he met through play meetups.
“Inspiration flows around me now because of the bubble I created here in Qatar,” he described.
Emad concluded by giving all the entrepreneurs two pieces of advice, “one is to start and the other is to be consistent.”
“Starting is hard sometimes but if you just say here is something, I feel good about, you have to explain why, if you feel it just take the action and then keep doing it. When you’re consistent, this is where you start getting results,” he ended.
To know more about Emad Saif and his project, you can check his Instagram pages: @esaifpro or @playmeetup
You can also visit the websites: www.emadsaif.com
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