Nadia Waber – A Responsible Leader

Nadia Waber was born and raised in Addis Ababa.

Nadia Waber was born and raised in Addis Ababa. After she finished her high school from Sanford English Community School, she went to the UK and did her BA Degree in History with Literature at Exeter University, UK, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Generating Transformative Change, University of Blastyr, through Pacific Integral, USA.

Nadia has eighteen years of experience in facilitating systems and organizational change, leadership and management development, cross-cultural training, coaching, communication and project management. Her work has enabled her to connect with large and small teams of women, youth, entrepreneurs, artisans, members of networks, EU diplomats, senior-level managers from not-for-profit organizations,  donor groups, UN agencies and teams from diverse backgrounds in the rural and urban settings in Africa to engage in peace building, leadership development and capacity building processes.erature at Exeter University, UK, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Generating Transformative Change, University of Blastyr, through Pacific Integral, USA.

Her cross-cultural work has enabled her to interact with people of different nationalities, especially the British, Americans, Dutch and Italians.  She enjoys working in multi-cultural contexts, creating spaces for authentic conversations and personal shifts, where reflection and action for results are combined.

Nadia aims to contribute to the conscious development of individuals and organizations for a sustainable and equitable Africa and beyond, through cross-cultural training, facilitating change, leadership development and executive coaching; and to grow compassionate and loving leaders who can hold different perspectives.

Nadia is presently a faculty member at Pacific Integral, Executive Coach and Adjunct Faculty at the Center for Creative Leadership, and partner of TSLP (Tong Schraa-Liu and Partners and Dean Fosters Associates). Her most recent experiences include:

–       Co-launching Generating Transformative Change (GTC) in Africa;

–       Serving as Leadership Trainer for the Leaders Managers Training at Jupiter International Hotel;

–       Serving as Coach and Programme Development Consultant, as well as Developing Facilitators and Group Coaches for Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) – Ethiopia;

–       Preparing and designing  ‘Open Space’ methodology workshops for  Global Gender Network members;

–       Delivering a ‘Cross-Cultural Competence’ training to European Union Diplomats in Brussels, Belgium;

–       As an Associate of the Center for Creative Leadership, coaching mid-level managers of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)- Ethiopia;

–       As an International Practitioner-Coach, has co-facilitated Leadership Development Programmes for Positive Women and Girls in Swaziland and Lesotho (UNDP), and evaluating the programme rolled out globally;

–       Having carried out an evaluation of a Leadership Development Programme, rolled out in 25 countries, delivering an edited manual (UNDP New York);

–       Co-designing and co-facilitating two rounds of a Leadership Capacity Building Programme for top-level and medium-level managers at the International Rescue Committee -Ethiopia, as well supporting in the strategic planning process;

–       Having designed and facilitated a Leadership Development Programme for 10 Youth NGOs in Ethiopia (International Institute of Education);

–       Serving as in-country Facilitator for the InterAction Leadership Development Programme for Africa (British Council).

Talking about giving back to the community, Nadia feels that she has received much more from the community than she has given back. “When I do something that I think is worthwhile for the community, I feel I am the one who grows more. I am grateful for this experience, as it makes me feel alive.”

Giving examples of giving back to the community, Nadia said, “As a student, I got involved in the Cheshire Home walks in Addis Ababa, where we were able to raise funds for every kilometer we walked. This passion followed me through University in Exeter, UK. In 1991, we raised resources for children in Rumania, who at that time required international solidarity. The following year, as member of the University Cross-Country Running team, I jumped into leading a ‘Run for Children’ campaign in Rwanda, which required raising resources, being part of a media campaign, organizing a relay run from Exeter to London (more than 300, with the aim of delivering appeal letters to the Prime Minister’s Office.”

She continued, “Completing my first degree, I was deeply drawn to return to my country, Ethiopia. With some friends, we set up the ‘Friends Raising Group’, where we would raise resources for individuals in our societies who would set up a business to support their family, or needed resources to mend their depleted homes. A memorable experience was chairing the Youth Ending Hunger– Ethiopia initiative, as members of an international movement of youth, which was based in Tokyo, Japan. In 1997, we raised resources for a Farmers’ Association in Akaki, outside of Addis Ababa, to obtain more agricultural tools for their work.”

Between 1998 and 2004, Nadia had the honour to be a co-founder of the Interfaith Peace Building Initiative–Ethiopia, member of the United Religions Initiative-Ethiopia global movement, committed to cultivate peace by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences, and work together for the good of their communities. .  She supported in setting up the office in the country, and organizing/facilitating workshops for the youth.

In recent years, said Nadia, “I have felt inspired to be part of initiatives that provided spaces for girls and women to grow up in their lives, economically, in their contributions to society and thus in leadership. In 2003, to respond to the challenge of HIV/AIDS, some colleagues and I worked with fifty mothers in Arada Administrative Unit in Addis Ababa to create ‘Mothers against AIDS’ and generated leadership to respond to the issue. Single mothers rose to lead conversations in their neighbourhood, had voluntary test for HIV/AIDS, looked after those living with the virus, and fought stigma.”

Talking about her shift to women’s causes, Nadia said, “Ever since I have felt the commitment to create spaces for women to grow up, my involvement with the Association of Women in Business (AWiB) since 2010, as a member, as a Board Member, and as Secretary in the Executive Board Committee served that purpose. I truly enjoy coaching and mentoring women, as they work through their life transitions or grow as professionals.’

Regarding giving back to the community, Nadia is inspired by the following quote:

‘Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.’
— George Bernard Shaw

Nadia loves to spend time with her son, husband, parents and extended family.  She enjoys being part of networking events, where new connections are being made. Swimming and practicing yoga are her hobbies. Most of all, she enjoys spending time with herself, in quiet reflection.

Lessons learnt through life’s ups and downs, Nadia reflected and wants to share these with the younger generation:

–       Be true to yourself! I have learnt that one needs to go beyond wanting to please others. It’s when we speak out and speak up that we can start being true to ourselves;

–       Take a risk to make a difference in the life of others and yours! Seven years ago I chose to radically change my work orientation, by dedicating my work to leadership development. I chose to venture into the unknown, even though there were many uncertainties. My invitation to all is to take risks in life, to walk into unchartered territory: that’s where we can make a difference. In my heart, I believe that being a leader does not have to do with position, but for people like you and me to choose to be one. As the saying goes: ‘If not this, then what? If not now, then when? If not us, then who?’

–       Welcome and invite feedback! It is an honour to have people who share how they experience us and enable us to grow by sharing their honest thoughts and recommendations. My invitation is that we all see feedback as a gift, and those who give us this  feedback, as our mirrors;

–       Deep in your heart, inquire what your life project is. For me it has to do with creating space for others to grow, evolve and transform the way they do things. It has to do with growing up so that we can respond to complex challenges in a more comprehensive and compassionate manner.’

Discussing on what Nadia is most grateful about, she said, “There are so many things to be grateful about. Think about it – the air that we breathe, the sun on our skin, the smile of a child, the love of a friend, they are all big gifts to be grateful about! In my life, I’m grateful for a mother who taught me that everything is possible, and that in life we need to keep on experimenting.  My gratitude goes to my father, who was the last child of the eleventh children.  He saw many of his sisters not having the schooling opportunities he had had and was committed to my education.  In addition, he taught me the fundamental value of respect for, and deeply connecting with others. I am grateful for the teachers, coaches and mentors who believed in me, and who keep on guiding me along the way.  Of course, for the immense support of my husband, Massimo, and the love of my son, Yacopo: he projects my dreams decades in the future, and reminds me of the power of unconditional love.”

Asked about what other information she would like to share about herself that she believes will inspire readers, Nadia said, I believe in the concept of Radical Responsibility: when we choose to respond to situations, and not to blame others, we operate from a powerful stance and offer creative responses.  Second, inspiring work has included working with members of communities in rural areas who experienced Community Conversations in a circle, under a tree, and as a result decided to end the practice of female genital mutilation in their villages.

Discussing about organizations and associations, Nadia is engaged in nurturing a community of practice for developing inner leadership skills for leading through complexity, she has co-founded and managed the Center for African Leadership Development (CALD), providing consultancy and leadership development services in Africa, and served as a Communication Specialist for the International Organization for Migration (IOM). She has served as Executive Board Member of the Association of Women in Business, and has founded the Interfaith Peace building Initiative (IPI)–Ethiopia.

AWiB Board Members described Nadia as a person of integrity, responsible, calm, loving, caring, humble, firm, accomplishing, detail oriented, communicant, person-centered, driver from the back seat and a precious gem of AWiB as well as of the nation, whom many would like to emulate her life style.

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