Leadership Spotlight: Noona Nafousi, Founder of Neo Noor

Tell us about yourself and your background. What is it that you do?

I am a Master NLP certified trainer and corporate coach, with a rich background in leadership development and personal empowerment. I worked as a headhunter for 22 years and became obsessed with what made one person good at an interview and another struggle with them. My life’s work has been to understand the human mind and the power each of us has to shape our lives by learning to adapt the way our brain works. My journey has been driven by a passion for understanding the human psyche and helping individuals unlock their true potential. As the founder of Neo Noor, my role encompasses coaching, mentorship, and developing programs that aid personal and professional growth.

What is your mission and purpose as a Master NLP certified trainer and corporate coach?

My mission is to illuminate the path for transformative growth in individuals and organizations. I leverage my expertise in NLP to help people reframe their mindset, overcome barriers, and achieve their goals. My purpose is to instill a sense of empowerment and personal power, helping people lead more fulfilled lives and organisations to foster a culture of positive growth and innovation.

What inspired you to found Neo Noor?

The inspiration for Neo Noor, which means ‘new light,’ came from my desire to shed light on the untapped potential within individuals and organizations. I recognized, through my headhunting days, a need for a holistic approach to personal and professional development, one that not only addresses skill enhancement but also focuses on mental and emotional well-being. I realized very early on in my career that people leave jobs because they do not like their managers or the culture of their company. The hardest person to headhunt was someone who really respected their manager and felt looked after by them. My vision is to train, mentor, and coach leaders in a way that creates teams that are inspired to be at work. We spend more time working than we do with our families and having worked in a toxic work environment myself and seen the damage this does to individuals, my aim is to create leaders that build teams that know how to deal with difficult situations and can embrace failure and succeed to the best of their ability.

What are the benefits of corporate coaching?

Corporate coaching offers substantial benefits, including a notable increase in work performance, with over 70% of individuals reporting improvements, according to the International Coaching Federation. It also enhances employee engagement, crucial for boosting sales and profitability, as highlighted by Gallup. Leadership development is significantly impacted, with over 80% of coached individuals experiencing heightened self-confidence. This coaching leads to better communication skills, higher employee retention rates, with a notable 32% increase in organizations with strong coaching cultures, and an impressive average return on investment of seven times the initial cost. Additionally, coaching contributes to reduced workplace stress and improved work-life balance, fostering overall job satisfaction and well-being.

Do you believe coaching is something every individual looking to advance their career can benefit from?

Absolutely. Coaching is a powerful tool for anyone aspiring to elevate their career. It provides personalized guidance, actionable feedback, and strategies for overcoming specific challenges. Whether it’s developing leadership skills, managing stress, dealing with burnout, or improving decision-making, coaching can have a profound impact on an individual’s professional trajectory. The results I have seen from my clients and the way it has propelled their career blows my mind. Coaching is very much forward-thinking. It works directly with what people are looking to achieve in their careers and uncovers obstacles standing in their way, such as limiting beliefs and blind spots. Through coaching, these obstacles are lifted and replaced with a new way of thinking and being, allowing clients’ careers to propel forward.

Can you share a case study of a client you have worked with and their transformation/success story?

One of the most impactful transformations I’ve witnessed was with a client, let’s call him Dan, who initially came to me doubting his leadership abilities and lacking confidence. He was often too agreeable in team meetings, struggled with difficult conversations, and his indecisiveness impacted his team’s results. This not only affected his professional life but also spilled over into his personal life, straining his relationships with his partner and children.

When we began our sessions, Dan set ambitious goals for himself: to grow in confidence, prioritize his family life, and get promoted from Finance Manager to Finance Director within 90 days. Despite the challenges, Dan was committed to making a change.

Through dedication and by implementing the strategies we worked on, Dan achieved remarkable results. Within three months, not only did he secure the promotion he had been aiming for, but he also received another promotion six months later. His newfound confidence allowed him to take a more active and effective role in meetings, leading to significant improvements in his team’s performance. This change didn’t go unnoticed; he earned the respect and admiration of his boss and the board.

On the personal front, Dan rebuilt a strong, healthy relationship with his wife, who noticed a positive change in him even before she could pinpoint what it was. His transformation also led him to build a relationship with himself based on trust and self-belief, which opened up new opportunities, including speaking at a conference, something he had never imagined possible.

Dan’s story is a testament to the power of unleashing one’s inner leader. By learning how to guide, inspire, and master the art of intentional influence, he was able to elevate not only his leadership and his team’s performance but also his personal life. This case clearly showcases the effectiveness of the methods and strategies I teach in bringing about profound personal and professional growth.

What current recruitment trends do you see?

The trend is increasingly towards valuing soft skills alongside technical expertise. Companies are looking for individuals who not only have the necessary job skills but also possess emotional intelligence, adaptability, and a growth mindset. One of the things I am seeing is that companies want to hire people who will stay in the business. Retention is a big factor for CEOs’ bonuses, so when hiring, they want to make sure that the person being hired is the right cultural fit for the business, as well as having the right technical skills.

What are some of the challenges you have faced while establishing Neo Noor in the UAE? And how have you overcome them?

Establishing Neo Noor in the UAE presented unique challenges, particularly in aligning our coaching methods with the diverse cultural landscape. We addressed this by customizing our programs to respect and incorporate various cultural nuances, ensuring our coaching is accessible and relevant to all our clients. Additionally, building brand recognition in a competitive market was a hurdle we overcame by consistently delivering high-quality, results-driven services.

What does a day in the life as the CEO of Neo Noor look like?

I love the fact that no two days look the same. However, most mornings, I get up with the kids and take them to school with my husband, and we either go for a walk on Kite Beach or go to the gym together. I like to set my intentions for the day and plan my day before I get going. I normally do 10 minutes of meditation. I then get ready for the day. Most of my client calls take place in the morning, and then I spend the rest of the afternoon either creating content or working on the business or meeting with my own coach. At 3 pm, its school pickup time, and when we get home, I normally do a couple more hours.

You can find out more about Neo Noor here: https://neonoor.com/

Editor-In-Chief of Bizpreneur Middle East