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Q&A with the founder and MD of GISR Institution for Survey and Research Navigating Success and Social Anxiety


Shaymaa has been actively involved in public opinion research in Egypt since 2014, aiming to bring it closer to the general public, particularly young people, through various programs offered by her company. Her efforts in this field were recognized when she received the “Pioneers of Egypt” Award in 2016.With 20 years in the field, her contributions span from overseeing extensive surveys at the Egyptian Cabinet and her own company: GISR Institution for Survey Research, to authoring articles for prominent platforms. An alumna of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science with a Masters in Euro-Mediterranean studies, Shaymaa also teaches project management and co-founded the youth-centric NGO, Waseela for Training and Development. Shaymaa emphasizes the importance of good mental health in life and shares her personal journey of overcoming challenges, including social anxiety, during her early career

Q: The journey of success is often paved with dedication, challenges, and inspiring milestones. Write your success story, delve into the remarkable achievements, failures, successes and so on, tell us yours:

Throughout my life, I never once imagined I’d be at the helm of my own business. Yet, as the saying goes, God’s plan often transcends our own.

In 2001, I earned my degree from the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, English Department. Soon after, I joined the Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) of the Egyptian Cabinet. Fate smiled upon me as I found myself deeply passionate about my early career in the domain of survey research and polling.

An unexpected interlude came when my manager needed to travel for several months. I was chosen to step into his shoes. This thrust into a leadership role came earlier for me than many of my peers, unveiling managerial aptitudes I hadn’t recognized before.

My tenure at the public opinion polling center of IDSC was richly rewarding. I advanced from being a team leader to an acting deputy manager, and with time, stepped into the role of the deputy manager officially. However, this period was interspersed with personal challenges. Behind the professional façade, I grappled with a general anxiety disorder that spiraled into depression. I found myself medicating for almost a year, later confronting frequent panic attacks. The endeavor to stay poised and professional despite my internal turmoil tested my resilience. But with faith and perseverance, I overcame.

The winds of the 2011 Egyptian revolution brought with them a renewed sense of purpose. I was inspired to establish an independent survey research center. Teaming up with friends who shared this vision, we embarked on creating the GISR Institution for Survey Research. Launching a venture in the post-revolutionary fervor wasn’t simple. However, bolstered by our expertise and the encouraging atmosphere for youth-led initiatives, we took the plunge, well-armed with plans and contingencies.

Our dedication bore fruit in just six months when we landed our first profitable project. Fast forward to today, GISR approaches its tenth anniversary.

Embracing Failure and Learning: write here all the obstacles you faced

In the governmental sector, women are often typecast, believed to be there mainly for the flexible working conditions to better care for their families. However, I joined due to my passion for survey research, a field with limited job opportunities elsewhere. 

My potential was truly unlocked under the progressive leadership of Dr. Magued Othman. Transitioning from the government sector to the competitive development sector after 13 years presented its challenges, especially in establishing a strong reputation. Networking, vital for career growth, posed another challenge given my introverted nature.

However, I’ve sought to leverage my strengths and collaborate with extroverted individuals to bridge this gap. Finding and retaining skilled Egyptian professionals aligned with our company’s vision remains a challenge. Personally, my commitment to detail and client satisfaction, while commendable, often comes at the expense of my mental and physical well-being, underscoring the need to prioritize my work/life balance.

 Path to Becoming a Pro: What was  the path you took to become a pro like?

The path was a mix between formal and informal education and working. Getting the right mentorship was also essential for me to be a pro and stay on track. I was also lucky to have two great mentors in my life. Dr. Magued Othman and Dr. Sahar el Taweela. Finally, My path always include continuing education. Online courses anfd webinars now has made learning easier, and anyone can stay up to date to the updates in their field easily.

Describe your journey of becoming a pro in one statement : 

When passion meets hard work the result is always satisfying. 

Message To young and aspiring individuals

There is no happy ending, as long as you are living there is no ending, sometimes you will succeed, and it won’t be the end, as soon you will fail, and it will neither be the end, but as long as you keep working hard whatever the situation is, every now and then you will look back and you will be proud. Don’t compare yourself to others, as each one of us has a different road to take. Always remember, success is relative, and passion is an elusive target, just try to live a life of “no regrets”.