Ashraf Saleh is a part of SEKEM family already for more than half of his life! The 48 years old joined SEKEM 27 years ago when his two sisters who had been engaged as teachers at SEKEM school told him about that “special place”.
His first interaction with SEKEM community was then with Ibrahim Abouleish, SEKEM’s founder, who made sure to interview every new member himself. He asked him: “Would you work here if we would offer you new fields of knowledge but for little pay?” As Ashraf was young, inexperienced and enthusiastic, he accepted the job although he was newly graduated from the Faculty of Law.
“Heaven” in the strangest places
The first ten days he worked in the security team; which was shocking to his surroundings, considering his educational background in law. But as the young man had felt a fatherly relation with Ibrahim Abouleish, he trusted him from the very beginning when the SEKEM founder promised him: “I will take you to a place you wouldn’t dream of.” And indeed he did. “It was the least expected place but it was like heaven to me”, the SEKEM co-worker reveals about his work in the SEKEM archives where he kept track of all sorts of files and helped extract them when needed. “From then on, I trusted Dr. Abouleish entirely and followed his vision wherever he led me.”
Ashraf Saleh read everything he got his hands on, before he started a new job as Cafeteria Manager. Later on, he was transferred to the logical place in regard to his educational background to the Administrative Affairs followed by the Personnel Affairs department. Ashraf now is the Personnel Manager for Heliopolis University, after having held the same position but for SEKEM Holding including its subsidiary companies. The committed SEKEM co-worker got to appreciate the cycle he went through: “I did not only gain a lot of professional experiences but also learned many moral values which are especially important to my current position in the HR department. Working with the security team taught me humility and compassion and my time in the archives was a gate to all sorts of knowledge, which qualified me for my administrative position.”
Important values learnt
Throughout his time and experience in SEKEM, one value touched him more than any other: “Dr. Ibrahim used to tell me to stand by and support especially the smallest position holders; business should be a personal matter in which the individual development of each employee matters, for we are all one family,” Ashraf remembers Ibrahim Abouleish’s words.
It was also at SEKEM where Ashraf Saleh found love! After he first met his former colleague and todays wife he got directly attracted by her and six months later they were married. Their daughter Salma, 15 years of age, and Mahmoud, only 5 years old, always join all SEKEM festivities and events. And the community and its methods have affected the way the young parents raised their children, as they nurture their love for arts and the benefits and discipline resulting from having hobbies.
Also the Human Resources Manager himself found a great platform within the Core Program (an obligatory course for all SEKEM employees about arts and culture) to develop his own hobby of writing comic sketches. Hence, even after 27 years, Ashraf Saleh’s excitement and eagerness to learn is still undiminished.