“When I started to work with SEKEM there were no technical devices yet. We had to manage bunches of papers and folders”, remembers Rabaa El-Mashtouly, the Personnel Supervisor who works for SEKEM already for 20 years. “Since that time many things changed and everything that I know today, I have learned at SEKEM.” This is what Rabaa appreciates the most: “SEKEM gives its people a huge opportunity to develop. Here, everyone is not only keen on learning new topics, but we also on learning how to pass the knowledge to others.”
A special birthday present
Rabaa’s employment at SEKEM was in a way a birthday present. With great joy, she remembers her 25th birthday when she met the SEKEM Founder Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish for the first time. “He had already noticed from my submitted resume, that it was a special day for me” the long-standing SEKEM co-worker recounts with a smile. “He wished me a happy birthday and told me that it was a nice coincidence to meet me on such occasion – he was such a kind person.”
After her recruitment, Rabaa got enrolled to an apprenticeship program, provided by SEKEM. Through that program, she learned documenting and archiving techniques in order to set the employees’ monthly salaries or vacations. “Back then, all that was manually done: bunches of files and folders were shelved everywhere in the office,” she tells. “I was eager to learn all the details, although it was much more exhausting than nowadays with the advanced technologies.”
That was in 1998 – a year after the establishment of ISIS Organic, today SEKEMs biggest company. At that time SEKEM Initiative was growing fast: new lands, new companies, and an increasing number of employees. Hence, also the HR duties grew and Rabaa became involved to the issues of over 1000 co-workers. “I am very grateful to my team members who were supporting me during that time. We used to help each other when someone was overloaded,” says the good-hearted Rabaa.
Thereafter the change happened: all the offices at SEKEM were provided with computers and the latest technologies. However, the relation with her team members stayed the same. “I can always rely on my colleagues. Still, nowadays, when a new employee joins our team, we care on informing him with all the knowledge we have. As I am knowing SEKEM for a long time, I can share a lot of my experience which gives a meaning and special value to my job,” she states.
Before joining SEKEM, Rabaa graduated from the faculty of Commerce of Ain-Shams University in Cairo and worked then as an accounting assistant at a pharmacy in her neighborhood. There, she sold SEKEMs herbal and health teas. “That was all I knew about SEKEM,” says the devoted co-worker. “I didn’t even know what Organic agriculture is and was very surprised when I got to know the whole SEKEM story.”
“We should be honest with ourselves and love each other”
Rabaa El-Mashtouly, who is married for almost 18 years, deeply believes in destiny and love. Confidently, she resumes her life motto: “God has the perfect plans for us, if we are honest with ourselves and love each other. I deeply belief in the basic goodness in every human heart.”