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Thursday, 20 May 2021

My Morning Routine: Menna Shams El Din, senior director of investor relations and business development at Edita

Menna Shams El Din, senior director of investor relations and business development at Edita: My Morning Routine looks each week at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week Menna Shams El Din, senior director of investor relations and business development at Edita (LinkedIn).

I’m Menna Shams El Din, senior director of investor relations and business development at Edita and the board of directors’ secretary of corporate affairs. Over the past 17 years, I've worked in research, banking and corporate strategy at several domestic and global investment banks between Egypt and Dubai.

Leading the IR program for an EGX-listed company means managing lots of communication: It involves communicating our investment case and investment strategy to deliver long term shareholder value. Part of my mandate is also managing media, corporate communications and regulatory affairs.

I usually wake up by 7am and ease into the day at home before heading into the office. I start my morning routine with a cup of coffee and Enterprise to stay up to date with everything going on. I typically take it slow in the morning so I might watch something for a bit before spending 15-20 minutes doing my transcendental meditation practice, which helps keep me aligned and grounded. It’s one of the best things I’ve learned in my life, it puts me on the right track for the day ahead and has great benefits in the long term.

I like to write down a list of five key things I want to get done during the day so when I get to the office, the most important things are accomplished. This method allows my schedule — rather than being mostly driven by interruptions — to guide the day. On my short commute to the office I typically have a quick five-minute conversation on the phone with a childhood friend, which helps maintain relationships and keep in touch, especially with our busy lives.

By the time I make it into the office at 9am, I've already been awake for a long enough time that I’m well in the mood for work. I start my day at the office by reading daily news. My favorite is Pharos’ pre-trading thoughts — which is great because it links fundamentals to actionable ideas — then I meet with the investor relations teams. Some days are focused on IR, sometimes on corporate affairs, sometimes on regulatory stuff. I wrap up my day around 6pm, but sometimes I take late meetings or investor calls later in the evening, which is just the nature of IR.

The lR lifestyle has dramatically changed since the start of the pandemic. Between roadshows and conferences, we used to move a lot more than we do now. I remember we used to travel at least once a month between London, Cape Town, New York, and Dubai to meet face-to-face with global investors and funds. Now, most of our conferences and meetings take place virtually.

In my downtime, I usually like to schedule some form of exercise or yoga and I regularly see friends and family. Every two weeks or so I try to get out of the city to a weekend destination such as Ain El Sokhna or for some kind of retreat. Sinai is one of my favorite places to go in Egypt — it has great energy, and I loved Siwa as well. Al Tarfa Eco-lodge at Al Dakhla is lovely too.

When the pandemic first broke out, we quickly developed new norms to respond to the new dynamics of our changing environment. Initially, Edita took the proactive step of establishing a committee to implement and monitor the company’s guidelines for safety and business continuity. We have specific policies and procedures in place and these are regularly reviewed and updated in accordance with on-the-ground developments. Of course, it’s a huge responsibility for management and it is more difficult when you have thousands of industrial production workers.

We have a rotation system in place now for our office staff, which splits every department in half and runs every other day. We had this system in place at the start of the pandemic and we just recently reintroduced it as this third wave started picking up. Unlike some multinational companies, who were testing out flexible work models and had the right infrastructure to shift online, we didn't have a WFH culture in place at Edita before the pandemic. I prefer working from the office though — it makes a difference with engagement.

Covid has drastically changed the investment landscape. Foreign flows into the equity market is very limited now and the market is mostly dominated by retail investors. The landscape has dramatically changed from what it was before the pandemic and so has our IR strategy. In terms of mobility, you now have restricted exposure to investors, so communications have to change along with the circumstances. On a positive note, we are seeing foreign investors in particular taking a growing interest in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance of the companies they invest in, and Edita issues an annual sustainability report on these measures.

Diversity of experience and balance are crucial for getting through a crisis. Being good at what you do isn't enough, the things that personally add value to my life and have helped me adapt to challenges are the diversity of my experiences. Working in different industries, beyond investment, and my interest in alternative medicine and spirituality, I have a lot of interest in alternative medicine and holistic healing in general, helped me a lot in having a relatively resilient attitude. I also like reading about different disciplines that are unrelated to my career and frequently go on yoga retreats, silent retreats, and water fasts.

I've been into nutrition recently so I’ve been reading books by Isabella Wentz, who’s a nutritionist and a pharmacist by training. Another good read is a tiny book called Freedom from the Known by Jiddu Krishnamurti.

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