Get to know your fellow VYPers in this recurring series of Q&A sessions with some of the Valley’s top young professionals. This month, meet VYP board member Hayfa Aboukier, director of operations at Jannenga Enterprises and recently the subject of a Phoenix Business Journal “People on the Move” feature. Holding a B.S. from the University of Illinois, and a master’s from ASU, Hayfa is a first-generation American and the first in her family to attend college, which, she says, fulfilled a “bucket list” entry and “still feels surreal to this day.”
1. How is your work at Jannenga Enterprises rewarding?
I get to work with smart people on a variety of impactful projects. One of the most rewarding areas of my job is focusing on economic development and community development for the warehouse district in downtown Phoenix. I am deeply passionate about putting downtown Phoenix on the map for young professionals and feel that this can be accomplished through building on solid opportunities that meet the demands of our growing young-professional population.
2. You are a mentor for Social Venture Partners Arizona. Tell us about SVP.
SVP multiplies the value of a single individual’s passion for helping others by combining that commitment with a network of similarly focused people to bring about real, positive change. As a mentor, I specifically work with other non-profits to help them define their story. It’s inspiring, and I’m fortunate to have worked with other nonprofits around the Valley.
3. As a VYP board member, what are your goals for this group?
I want to help VYP bridge the gap for young professionals. I strongly believe that we need to invest in young professionals. I want to help VYP create a bridge between young professional talent and opportunity.
4. What’s the greatest piece of career advice you have received from a mentor?
That I need to think of myself as a business, and that the decisions I make personally and professionally should help grow that business. I have that at the forefront of my mind not only when I am making professional development decisions, but also in what I am doing with my personal time.
5. When you consider the chamber’s VYPers, what gives you the most reason for optimism moving forward?
The chamber’s VYPers represent so many different industries and possess an abundance of talent. This group of individuals gives me confidence in peer-to-peer mentoring and building a strong future for Phoenix and for young professionals.
6. What have you found most beneficial to being involved with the VYP program?
The people. I have found the greatest value of being an active part of this amazing group to be the building of relationships and connecting with other young professionals. VYP brings together individuals from various industries that I typically wouldn’t interact with regularly, but bring such value to my life personally and professionally.
7. How have VYP members helped you in your professional life?
Networking, friendships, sharing perspectives and ideas, discussing professional and personal challenges. I am a strong believer in peer-to-peer mentorship; VYP creates a pathway to enable the relationships you build to influence various parts of your life!
8. If you could shadow a Valley business or civic leader for a day, who would it be and why?
Kimber Lanning, executive director at Local First Arizona. She has built an incredible network for local businesses across this state. She took a risk and created something unique that impacts so many members of the community. I would love to see what she does in a day and how she continues to weave a network of support for local businesses.
9. Cabin in the mountains or an umbrella on the beach?
Cabin in the mountains. I love adventuring into the wilderness and hiking in foreign countries. The density of the mountains is a place of comfort for me.
10. Favorite Arizona spot to get away for a weekend?
Flagstaff. I hike, spend time with friends and eat delicious food.
-Written by Sandy Des Georges.