Back to the complete issue
Thursday, 23 April 2020

My WFH Routine: Fatma Ghaly, partner and CEO of Azza Fahmy Jewelry

Fatma Ghaly, partner and CEO of Azza Fahmy Jewelry: Speaking to us this week is Fatma Ghaly, partner and CEO of Azza Fahmy Jewelry, an international, family-owned, 50 year-old artisanal jewelry brand.

Azza Fahmy Jewelry is a family business, and I've been there for 20 years. I started as a junior in the marketing department and held roles in different departments, working my way up until I took on the position of managing director in 2016. In 2019, I became the CEO.

My WFH days vary, but meditation and exercise are a must to give me energy and clarity, and keep me productive. I usually wake up around 8am and meditate for 30-40 minutes. Then I do an online workout at home from 10-11am with Sarah Helmy at TheStudio. Recently I took up running, which I sometimes do in the afternoon. Now I have some extra time, I’ve been able to go back to painting — something I hadn’t done in years — and I actually displayed a painting last month at a TAM Gallery exhibition.

The madness of Zoom meetings and calls begins at 11:30am and lasts until 6 or 7pm. It’s often a little more stressful than being at the office. We have two types of meetings — crisis management and planning — and together they take up a big chunk of the day.

I usually go for a walk in Zamalek, where I live, after finishing my work day around 6pm. I’m really noticing and enjoying the use of public space on the island now, and it feels like I'm getting to know the neighborhood differently. Afterwards I head home, shower, watch some TV, spend some time with my family and head to bed very early.

The current environment is very challenging financially as jewelry is not a necessity. I’m aware that we provide luxury goods that people can easily live without, so when our revenues take a hit we have to reassess everything we’re doing, especially from an organizational perspective. It's a very challenging time but the circumstances have forced us to become creative, and some of our new approaches will continue beyond the current situation.

Managing production costs and determining how to continue operations are our major challenges. We have craftsmen who cannot work remotely. In mid-March, we reduced the number of people in our factory from 160 to 10 of the most essential workers living close to the factory.

We’re operating with a mindset of survival, rather than growth. We shut the office in mid-March, and our sales, marketing, and commercial departments transitioned to WFH quite easily, then we followed up with operational reductions. Shops remain open between 10am and 5pm, but we’ve cut staff numbers down to two people per shift, and one shift a day.

Good communication has been instrumental in easing everyone’s anxiety. Regular communication from the partners to the team through e-meetings, calls, and even personal WhatsApp messages have been key to maintaining that connection.

Right now I'm watching the silliest stuff you could imagine: The IT Crowd, with its dark, cynical British humor, has been at the top of my list. I’m also re-watching Yes, Prime Minister, which is one of my all-time favorite shows and highlights the failure of bureaucratic institutions. I had started watching Narcos: Mexico before the height of the pandemic, but I can no longer watch it right now.

Now I’m in the mood for fiction, and getting caught up in a story that helps me think of lighter things. I currently have at my bedside Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, which people have repeatedly recommended. And I recently read The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, which is great. I felt a connection to the people and relationships depicted, but it's also pure escapism, which is what I need at the moment.

I really miss human interaction. I miss sitting with all the people that I love and physically giving them a hug.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; and Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt.