Our company recently participated in the 7th annual Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership. We hosted Douja Gharbi for three weeks, an entrepreneur from Tunisia and one of the 25 selected emerging women leaders. During that time, she participated in our Alignment Intensive®Breakthrough Intensive® and our breakthrough strategy process. Throughout all of it, she was mentored by our CEO, Pontish Yeramyan .

At the end of her stay, we sat down with Douja to find out what she learned, what she’s taking back to her business and country, and how she changed as a 21st Century Leader™.

Tell us about your businesses and what is the most challenging (or rewarding) aspect of your career.

I have founded five companies, sold two and currently manage three. The companies I manage sell and manufacture home accessories and décor. I am always looking for something we don’t have. I want to bring innovative ideas and new products to offer customers in Tunisia.

The most challenging aspect of my career is to keep my businesses growing. In Tunisia, the market is very small. I am not alone. We can’t survive if we can’t find new international markets to export to. There is a lot of international competition. It is not easy to find new markets and to compete against China and India.

What did you learn from Pontish and from Gap?

From my time with Pontish and Gap, I am taking away a new methodology for a new way to think about my business and everything around me. I want to bring to my staff and all my people this new way of working on strategy, to build our strategy around objectives we have never done before. It is this that will push us to think very differently about our business. We will think together, and I will push them to hear new ideas and new ways of thinking, new ways of doing things.

I feel like this will give something new, it will have added value if we work together on this. I understand very well from my experience at Gap that the team working together, our cohesion, is crucial for the success of the business, especially if we want to achieve some exceptional realization for our business.

What surprised you the most?

I was positively surprised about how complementary my relationship was between Pontish and me. I could have been matched with any of the other mentoring companies, but I felt that I was a perfect match based around our shared purpose of changing mindsets.

My purpose is to change mindsets in my country and to help people achieve their goals, to succeed by opening minds and sharing with others. I do this with my business now – I talk a lot with my people and about their ideas. I am not someone who works alone and decides alone, but I will take time to work on this more. I will go for the profound. I will try to go profound – the more we can push our thinking and conversation, the more we will have new ideas and innovation for our business growth.

Douja would love to hear from you. What questions would you like to ask? What comments do you have?