Story by Michael Seguin
Through Build a Dream – the non-profit that Nour Hachem Fawaz founded in 2014 — Nour utilizes her 13 years of experience as a workforce advisor, mentor and influencer to inspire youth to make informed career choices that challenge the status quo.
“It’s a national organization that empowers and educates women about their career path,” Nour explains. “We bring together all the necessary stakeholders—industry, education and family—to help guide young women towards more informed career decisions.”
Nour’s experiences are not just limited to the workplace. As a child, Nour watched her mother struggle and persevere as she grew a successful auto parts company in a male-dominated field.
“My Mom didn’t finish high school or have any work experience,” Nour states. “She didn’t gain financial independence until she went out into the workforce for the first time, as a single mother. That was so inspiring to me.”
Nour has traveled all across Canada speaking about workforce development and recruiting women for male-dominated industries. She also led a national research project with AIA Canada to develop a national strategy to help industries attract, recruit, retain and advance women in the automotive industry.
Nour has worked on programs for youth, newcomers, women on social assistance, internationally trained doctors, and has talked with hundreds of representatives from all levels of industry, education, and government.
In the last couple years, Nour has completed her MBA, which has helped her to run Build a Dream like a well-oiled machine, while maximizing the organization’s social impact.
“Looking at business through a different lens has helped me apply different resources and information tools that can help support young women when making career decisions,” Nour explains. “There’s a need for strong, financially independent women. I’ve literally seen it happen multiple times where organizations diversify and hire more female employees. You can’t imagine the difference that makes.”
From her role at the University of Windsor to motherhood to running a growing foundation, Nour wants to tell real stories about workplaces and share what leaders are getting right.
Continue reading for the original story we ran on Nour which
appeared in the Holiday 2014 Edition of Windsor Life Magazine:
Connecting With a Sisterhood of Inspiration
Story by Karen Paton-Evans
Photography by LiquidWild Media
#YOUbeautymoment, created by Carly Nicodemo and Erika Harnish, is continuing to spark conversation among local women age 40 years and younger who are defining ways to be their own kind of beautiful.
Windsor-Essex is blessed to have a strong force of young role models who epitomize true beauty. Windsor Life caught up with one busy, vital person, Nour Hachem, to discover the source of her inspiration and drive.
Nour has packed a lot of living into her 27 years. An active volunteer since high school, she felt her life change profoundly while volunteering in Khayelitsha, South Africa, where she taught life skills to young women. Her students voiced their issues regarding sexual violence and abuse, which tragically was the norm in their community.
Deeply concerned, Nour returned to Essex County and chose to focus her advocacy efforts on women’s empowerment and the challenges women face.
To further that aim, Nour became a member of the board for the Welcome Centre Shelter for Women. Over the past eight years, she has worked at Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor Inc. (WEST), Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex, New Canadians’ Centre of Excellence Inc. and other community agencies.
Recently, Nour was one of 25 women accepted into the Canadian Women’s Foundation National Leadership Program in partnership with the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS.
Early on, Nour recognized that fulfilling, good paying jobs are critical to a woman’s wellbeing, now and in future. The challenge is that “youth in Windsor currently face the highest rate of unemployment in Canada,” she says. Even so, “I strongly believe you need to love what you do, especially in today’s society.”
A lack of job experience is often a barrier to getting hired. “Young people do not know fully how to navigate through this changing system. You can’t simply get a job after school anymore. Networking is an important skill to grow,” says Nour.
Volunteerism or entry level jobs can build and strengthen a woman’s resume. “I recommend youth do networking and get involved in their community,” she says. As for securing work: “What may seem like you’re starting from the bottom is not necessarily that way. Many youth are worried about starter positions but that could be a gateway to a dream job. It depends on the amount of work you are willing to put in to show others how determined you are.”
Nour urges women to think beyond jobs traditionally held by women that offer little room for professional or financial advancement. “Why is it young women don’t consider high paying skill trades?”
She promoted opportunities in skilled trades when she was a project coordinator at WEST. The organization’s 2013 project, WE Succeed: Beyond the Status Quo, set out to address economic issues impacting girls and young women in the Windsor-Essex community; educate girls and young women on career opportunities in skilled trades, science, technology, engineering, math and entrepreneurship; and encourage community stakeholders to take specific action to improve girls’ and young women’s fulfillment of their economic potential.
Dream big, believe that anything is possible, work hard, commit to improving the life of at least one person, more importantly DON’T EVER GIVE UP!”— Nour
The WE Succeed program proved to Nour the importance of getting a group of young women together and empowering them with the tools, skills and confidence to help them influence change in their community.
One outcome was the creation of St. Clair College’s first all women CNC/Industrial Mechanic Millwright training program, funded by the Ontario Women’s Directorate. Nour also contributed to creating a successful partnership with Hackforge, a community organization offering a shared space where creative technological minds come together and make things happen. The partnership resulted in securing a three year Computer Girls program designed to address the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Nour’s own career path recently led to her appointment as the college’s project manager for pre-apprenticeship programs delivered by the School of Skilled Trades. Part of her role is to create a healthy and inclusive learning environment.
In mentoring, working and volunteering with young women, Nour assures them it is okay to make mistakes. “Forgive yourself,” she says. “Allow yourself time to grow.”
She received the same useful advice from her own mentor, Terry Weymouth, an
electrician by trade and Unifor’s National Education Coordinator.
Her first positive role model who continues to inspire Nour today is her mom, who raised four children by herself. “She runs her own motor oil company in a male dominated field. She never gave up and supported us on her own.”
Nour is motivated by her belief that “we all play a role in our community.” Determined to influence change, she stays on track by asking herself whether each day has been spent working towards this goal with all she has.