A new-age leader helps people change their lives


In this day and age, many people are making big changes in their lives as well as in others’ lives by doing what they love. Rozana Rafeeq AlBanawi, a young Saudi girl, is no different.
Being a wife and a mother of two, she took a leap of faith to pursue her dreams and followed her passion of helping others to make a difference in their lives by being an adviser, personal trainer and an organizational leadership coach.

Life coaching is a great option to make a change in the others’ lives, and it’s a delightful job for those lucky people who have a talent for listening and understanding. Rozana shared her beautiful journey and wisdom behind being a coach.

Why did you make the decision to become an adviser, personal trainer and an organizational leadership coach?
I am a hybrid of cultures and backgrounds: Saudi, Lebanese, Turkish and Bosnian. I have come to love the richness and paradoxes of my upbringing. Being the eldest of 10 siblings, I have experienced multiples step families of different continents: Asia, Africa and North America, and these life experiences were the most important education I received. From a very young age, I learned to be curious about our differences, learned to create meaning from them and to connect with others with compassion and love, rather than having conflicts and struggles disintegrate us.
I learned that coming together for the sake of the whole, whether it is a family or a community is a huge gift because it creates power, the sum is larger than its parts. I love to co-lead in the creative community (which is how CreativeMornings came to be), and my passion is growing leadership in everyone who is willing to do so, because I believe we are all born to be responsible for the world around us.

Tell us about Rozabee? What does it mean?
Rozabee is the combination of my first name (Rozana) and last name (Banawi). It is also the relationship between the rose and the bee — they are very different, yet their interdependence creates the much-needed honey and pollination for this world to thrive, and from this metaphor, when we also allow our “being” and “doing” to inform our actions, we thrive and evoke goodness all around. So Rozabee is the name of my working space where I offer services in coaching, training, mentoring and advising — in Human Relations and Leadership Development.
What inspired you to form Rozabee?
My life’s experiences, work and education all put together in one blender! All these helped me to see myself as a leadership mentor that incorporates coaching as a tool.

Does your work involve art and exquisiteness?
Art and beauty are huge values of mine, because I believe people are creative and beautiful human beings with rich inner resources and whole worlds waiting to be explored. I believe we are naturally born to bring beauty to our lives, hometowns and relationships.
Moreover, when we are surrounded with beauty we are more creative, more mindful, more spiritual and more connected with the world around. It makes sense that we are all makers of art, and that we strive to find beauty in daily life!

What type of discussion or training do you provide?
Initially, the first meeting with any client, be it an individual or organization, is about ‘curiosity’; I need to understand that person’s needs very well. Once that is established, we start to co-design a starting plan that fulfills their needs and brings the desired outcomes. Hence, I see “human relations work” like art. There is no one size fits all. Every person is unique and every work process is unique, non-linear, and full of learning and developments. I also offer workshops sometimes in personal growth, and leadership development. I am working on a few new titles for the summer.
Who have you worked with till now? How was the experience working with different organizations?
I worked with individuals, small businesses, multinational corporations and governmental organizations. I worked with nonprofit organizations and academic institutes. That is what I love about my work, I get to meet people from all walks of life, and that enriches my experience. I know I did a good job when I leave a project feeling changed or different as a result of new learning or new insights that emerged because of the people involved. You can check the names on my website

This concept is something new in the Kingdom. Was there ever a time when you worried about failure?
It is still a challenge to bring this type of work to our part of the world, because even around the world, coaching and leadership development as a profession started to prevail in the west in the 90’s, which is only two decades ago. Counseling as a practice only became common locally when I was an undergrad at Effat University, in 2005. Now, ten years later, people are open to counseling and I see individuals seeking “professional” guidance when it comes to parenting, relationships, divorce, etc. There is a respect for counselors now and I sense something similar is emerging with coaching which I am hopeful about. Over the past few years, I learned that coaches shouldn’t ‘convince’ people to take on coaching. I work better when organization leaders ‘believe’ in this type of work and trust the process, and go through the reality of this work.
Results are more impactful when the leaders are walking the talk, seeking help and getting the support they need, because modeling is the most powerful tool to change a culture.

What is CreativeMornings?
CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast series for the creative community. Each event is free of charge, and includes a 20-minute talk, plus coffee! It was founded in 2008 by Tina Roth Eisenberg in Brooklyn. It now has grown into 142 chapters worldwide. The Jeddah chapter was granted on Feb. 19, 2016 and we are chapter #137. Our third event is coming up this June, and it will be Ramadan, the theme is Broken, we are excited!

Do you have any advice for someone who is contemplating working with a life coach, but is unsure of the benefits?
To work with a coach demands accountability and a true desire to bring change to your life. The coach does not do the work for you. The coach holds the space for you to lead in your own life. So coaches are not experts in your life, you are! Coaching is a growing experience; clients feel expanded and grown because not only do they find answers to what they were looking for, they find a deepened sense of self-understanding and self-awareness that becomes available once you start to unravel layers of who you are (i.e. values, purpose, and vision) in the coaching process.