An Interview with Barjis Cohan
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
The biggest challenge for any business woman with kids is juggling motherhood with running a business. Luckily, I have been fortunate enough to work around my kids and only work from 9.00-3.30.
How did the corporate speaking begin?
I was called in to be a speaker at my college where I studied. I went there unplanned but somehow it was a success and people were asking me questions at the Q&A session. This is when I started getting invited to events for speaking and holding workshops.
Which event has been your favourite and why?
I really enjoyed being a speaker at Cass Business School. It had a variety of different speakers from different backgrounds. I liked the fact that it was not only about creativity but more about the business side of being a creative. Business has always fascinated me and I would say that I enjoy being more of a business woman than a designer.
Why do you love being a speaker?
Speaking gives me an opportunity to connect with people from diverse backgrounds. I love human interaction and I strongly feel that speaking brings people together. This can only better our lives. If I can by speaking, change people’s lives for the better even in the smallest way then I feel that I have accomplished something. It’s my way of giving something back to the community.
If you could speak at any event, past or future, what would it be?
I would be interested in speaking at corporate events that want someone who can give a fresh approach to doing business, dealing with situations and having an entrepreneurial spirit that you tend to lose when you are pressured into meetings targets. To inspire the youth on holding their own and not being afraid of not being accepted. Maintaining their identity whilst moving forward in their careers. To give an insight to employers who have employees coming from a cultured background and give them a better understanding between their working lives and traditional personal lives. I would also like to work on a grass root level with charities and non-profit organisations. Hence a balance between corporate events and non-profits would be ideal.
Who would you most like to share a platform with?
Karen Darke, Phil Ashby, Jo Malone. I like people who have been through dark times but have managed to make a success of their lives. People who started with nothing and make something of their lives are very intriguing.
What do you do to ensure your presentation has a lasting impact?
For me the most important ingredients for a great presentation is a mix of entertainment, thought provocation, wisdom with a human touch. You want the listeners to take something from the talk that will challenge them but also inspire them to see life from a different perspective.
What can a typical corporate audience learn from your experiences?
Breaking stereotypes, showing the REAL Muslim woman opposed to how the media has portrayed a Muslim woman. Challenging misconceptions but through logic and intellect rather than a defensive political approach. How it’s important to understand and connect on a human level to perform better in business. Lastly for employers to see their employees in a different light and understand the role that culture and faith has in enhancing employee’s performance at work.
What’s your favourite way to spend a Sunday?
Cooking, cleaning, being a mum and bathroom singing!
What personal ambition must you fulfill before you die?
To write a book that can be made into a movie, to dance with Justin Timberlake and to sing for a Bollywood movie.
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