Zbaideh is in business development. Or, in more simple terms: she works in sales.
At first, she believed she was an unlikely person to end up in this profession. She is a self-confessed introvert and is well aware of the age-old notion that only extroverts succeed at such an outgoing and people-focused job as hers. She grins and shares: ‘When I first started TAP, I Googled: can introverts do sales?’
Now, she is three months into her new remote role as Business Development Analyst at the Switzerland-based company, Covalo. Yann Chilvers, co-founder of the beauty product search platform, praises her outstanding people skills.
‘We are very happy with Zbaidah! She integrated quickly in the team and is able to successfully drive engagement with customers all across the world’.
POST-GRADUATE LIFE IN PALESTINE
Despite her obvious talent, sales was not Zbaideh’s original career destination. She studied English at university, but knew from the career options open to her after graduating (‘you could become a teacher or a translator, and I didn’t want to do either’) that this wasn’t the path for her.
Post-graduate life was tough. Zbaideh describes the landscape for university graduates in Palestine: ‘You don't get much help. You don't know where to seek help to give you a better understanding on what to do next’.
If deciding what steps to take next in your career is challenging, then landing a job is even more difficult. The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) estimates the unemployment rate for young people with a diploma or bachelor's degree at 53% in 2021. In the West Bank specifically, where Zbaideh lives, it’s 35%; in Gaza, rates are a percentage shy of three-quarters of graduates, at 74%.
It took Zbaideh a year-and-a-half to land a job in procurement, which she was referred for by a friend after having previously interviewed at the company independently, without success.
A WATERSHED MOMENT
After two years, Zbaideh made the bold decision to leave her procurement job despite the challenges she knew she’d face finding new employment. ‘I was in a place like I wanted a new starting point career-wise’.
In Zbaideh’s personal narrative, this feels like a watershed moment. The search is on, for something different - or better - than what she had known in her procurement career. What that something would be, she eventually learned at TAP.
‘A friend sent me TAP’s post. I had come across the co-founder, Jafar, before. I knew that if he was involved in something like this, it would be good! I was excited to be part of this. It felt like an opportunity’.
Zbaideh threw herself into the three-month Business Development course, despite her misgivings about whether it would be a good fit for her personality. A co-working space in Nablus became her new study space, where she participated in seminars, completed her assignments and read up on sales. “I took it on as if it was a full time job. It was my first introduction to working remotely’.
What stood out to her was TAP’s international focus and how the course took professionalism to a whole new level. It taught her how to deal with colleagues, managers, and how to interact in a work environment.
A REVOLUTIONARY MINDSET
However, the most valuable takeaway from her experience at TAP was a shift in mindset that helped her develop both professionally and personally. ‘TAP opens your mind and helps you think about what you’re looking for. What is acceptable to you in a work environment? What is not? What are the criteria that help you decide these things?’ This mindset, she says, was all-encompassing.
‘TAP gives you the confidence to think for yourself, to say no to stuff that you don’t approve of or doesn’t fit you.’
This value-driven attitude feels nothing short of revolutionary, especially in an environment where jobs are in such short supply. ‘It’s not just: I want to work in sales so I’ll take the first opportunity that comes along. TAP teaches you that there are so many more things to consider’.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
Zbaideh graduated from TAP in February 2023, with a host of partner companies she could reach out to. However, armed with her resume, cover letter, and the innate confidence she built up at TAP, she also searched for a job independently via LinkedIn.
She landed a first interview with a company; then, a second and third interview at the same company followed soon after. Although she didn't get the job in the end, this process confirmed the value of TAP for her. ‘I felt super proud for getting this far in the interview process by myself. I felt reassured that the skills TAP equipped me with and what I learned from TAP really had changed something in me’.
Not long after, and just two-and-a-half months after finishing her TAP course, Zbaideh landed her current job at Covalo.
‘WHAT TIME IS IT?’
What is it really like, then, to work in sales as an introvert?
The traineeship period during TAP set her up for success: ‘You try and you practice. Anyone can do anything, and it doesn’t depend on personality. I’ve even managed to get used to cold calling!’
Far more important than personality type are specific personality traits. Salespeople need flexibility and good communication skills, both of which Zbaideh is mastering. They allow her to excel at the most important part of any sales job.
"People seek help when they need it, and I help people find what they're looking for. It's my job to make it easy for them and build a relationship based on their needs."
She works from home, communicating with colleagues in Portugal, France and Switzerland across three time zones. She jokes: ‘Sometimes I have to ask: what time is it? In which country are we talking now?’
MAKING SALES WORK FOR AN INTROVERT
The value-driven employment ethic from TAP remains.
When we discuss what an ideal working environment looks like, one that makes sales work not only possible but desirable for an introvert, Zbaideh looks relaxed and confident. ‘I need to be happy in my work. And not be stressed out’.
At Covalo, she’s in the right place. ‘Their beliefs and values are very similar to mine. It’s a good part of why we connected’.