Interview with Lea Atallah
- Why did you choose to embark on your journey in the medical high-tech industry?
My journey in the medical industry started 10 years ago as a regulatory intern for the Middle East Region when I was just completing my last semester at the American University of Beirut (AUB). I grabbed the opportunity as soon as I knew that Zimmer Biomet saves the lives of millions and millions of people worldwide. Until today, I am still taking up the corporate ladder at this American multinational company, which is now well known to be the boldest in med-tech, focusing to invest in patient safety using the highest technologies. My pride is to call this workplace a second home where I can invest my design and strategic thinking as well as my passion for digital transformation and agile leadership.
- What was the main challenge and how did you overcome it?
My main challenge was on a personal level which helped me overcome many professional roadblocks. I suffered from the age of 13 until the age of 26 years a disease called Anorexia Nervosa, which is by definition an eating disorder that causes people to obsess about their weight and food. It is in fact much more than that, because people who suffer from this disease tend to be perfectionists and use weight and food as tools to manipulate their own brains and they use their bodies to punish themselves, reaching a level where it is not anymore controllable. I was severely hospitalized and despite the tremendous support of close friends and superb family, I was not able to get over it until the day when I challenged myself at the age of 26 and decided to run the Women’s race and then the Beirut Marathon. I told myself back then if I am able to make this happen for myself and for every woman out there, for every person suffering from bullying and from sadness or loneliness, then I will be able to stop medications and heal from Anorexia Nervosa. I didn’t need anyone anymore, except believing in the universe and myself until I made it happen with a society that doesn’t judge but loves instead. It has been now 2 years that I am totally free from this disease and trying my best to help others heal from this disorder.
- What are some of the most important qualities you think a leader should have?
The quality to pick would be one and straight to Love. If a leader loves, then she is able to (1) be agile and adapt to changes (2) love herself and accept others the way they are (3) be empathetic and give back (4) transparently accept feedback, and (5) never give up her values.
- If you could introduce one piece of legislation to further social equality, what would it be?
I am a candidate for the Executive MBA at ESCP Business School. Based on my multicultural connections worldwide which allowed me to see things from different perspectives and to meet people who made a positive unforgettable impact on my life, I would want one day to introduce an additional piece of legislation focused on people with mental disorders. I was diagnosed with this years and years ago, I was misjudged and had to go through ups and downs until I made it my own way. Sex Discrimination, Equal Pay, Disability Discrimination, and many others are a major focus, but there is a larger community in schools and in corporates those who have potential and need their lives to be saved.
- You founded E-Touch, which emphasizes in pain management physical therapy, and online services. What can you tell us about it?
While my day job is at Zimmer Biomet, I also have a start-up called E-Touch together with my business partner Elie El Dahdah, DPT. It is based in Dubai and focuses on physical therapy and pain management. The idea came from the intrapreneurship mindset that I have grown throughout my EMBA and took the decision to empower my brain map. This is when I became an investor at E-Touch with a role limited to B2B Partnerships, Financial Performance, and Strategy Advisory. One of our key achievements is partnering with The Brain Matters Center (neuropsychology center), and being the only online services with a full-fledged web platform for clinicians.
- What’s your motto in life?
My corporate life and my start-up are not just what I do. I have dreams that I don’t chase, but make them true. Another example is my upcoming startup to go live in July 2023 focused on careers mentoring where I sketch tailored programs from scratch based on books I study for months to train and mentor university students, corporates, start-ups, and whatever it takes to design the brain on agile thinking.
- What piece of advice would you give to people struggling with limiting beliefs set by societies?
We all have dreams, but we just need to love ourselves a little bit more and believe in the process of the universe. We are not alone; everyone suffers in his/her own way. Instead of focusing on the others or on the bad story, look at the bright side and remember: you are your only limit.
- What would you tell your younger self?
Do you remember when you used to feel lonely and bullied? Do you remember when you lost hope and belief? Do you also remember when you look at the mirror on 26 October 2018 and told yourself that you will make a change in this world? The time is happening.
- Where do you see yourself years from now?
I wish I can imagine myself.
The Power of Now is crucial, and I can just say I am very excited about doing whatever is meant to be.