Sireen Kutieleh

National Information Communication Technology Coordinator and National Review Coordinator SOS Children's Villages in Syria
photo: © 2018 Stefan Lechner Photography

You can! Discover what you can do

"Please do me a favour and don't accept me for the position." This is what I said when I started my job interview with the recruitment committee of SOS Children's Villages Syria.

The beginning of a life in SOS Children's Villages
I used to work for Alitalia Airlines. I have a Diploma in Hotel Management and I loved my job in the field of aviation. However, due to some changes and the working conditions, my father insisted that I change my work in order to have more regular working hours to improve my health in the long run. I refused, as I was very happy, but he insisted and asked me to apply to SOS Children's Villages for the position of secretary. I tried to avoid doing this but he kept on at me. As it turned out, I was asked for the interview. Once I got there, I told them not to accept me, and when they asked why, I told them the truth. They interviewed me and asked me different questions, and I explained that I have no experience at all in secretarial work and if they recruited me they would need to teach me everything. 

Three days after the interview, I received a call from SOS Children's Villages informing me that I had been selected by the recruitment committee. I again refused the job and asked them not to bother me and to look for someone else. However, they gave me one week to think it over. After one week, they called me again, and after a long discussion with them, I accepted the job.

Challenges of a new SOS life
I tried hard to overcome the difficulties that might crop up and I read far too many articles about secretarial skills. After a few months, the national director called me about a meeting with the regional director for the Middle East to tell me that there would be a regional meeting, which was going to take place in Damascus, Syria. They told me that both regional and continental directors would attend this meeting. Not only this, they also assigned all the necessary preparation to me. I again told the national director that I had no experience at all, I would never manage and would not succeed. He answered me with one sentence: "I trust you, and will support you when you need it. Go and do your job."

Facing the difficulties
The first thing I did was to have a meeting with the regional director and get all the information needed for the preparation in addition to the list of participants with contact details so I could check their nationalities and whether they needed an entry visa or not. After securing visas for all the participants, I called the hotel and booked the rooms and the meeting room and fixed all the necessary breaks and meals.

After finishing all the preparations, I noticed that they had a lot of free time, which we could use to take the participants on tours of Old Damascus, Sednaya, Maaloula and Tadmour. In addition, I bought them traditional mosaic boxes as a gift to take home. I suggested this idea to the national director and he was very happy with it and approved it.

Hard-earned success
When the meeting started, I was very nervous and worried. What should I do if anything went wrong? I escorted the team throughout the whole meeting, which was remarkably successful. They enjoyed every minute of it, especially the free time and the activities, and were thrilled with the gifts they received at the end of the meeting.

During the last day when they were closing the meeting, the regional director thanked me personally for the very professionally and well organised meeting and all the participants joined him. When I went back to work, I asked my national director about his feedback and whether the participants where happy and satisfied or not. Again, he answered with one sentence: "You amazed me".

Passing on success
At that moment I was completely satisfied, happy and willing to do more. After one week, I started to receive many e-mails. All of them were from the participants expressing their appreciation for all my efforts to make this meeting enjoyable and a success. They considered it as one of the best meetings they had attended.

Whenever I meet a new employee of SOS, I tell him or her not to be afraid of asking. Ask anyone in SOS Children's Villages and you will be answered and, if no one does, I will be there for you anytime needed. Believe in yourself so you can do things you never thought you were capable of.

Ms Sireen Kutieleh,

national information communication technology coordinator and national review coordinator, administration and ICT, Syria

Sireen has worked for SOS Children’s Villages since 2005, after working in the field of aviation. Sireen has had a wide variety of positions during these years. She enjoys sharing information and during her work has learned that there are places where you don’t just work for the boss or for money, but for our most valuable asset: the children. She enjoys the fact that, in SOS, you not only work for your own department but also work closely with others.

Sireen grew up with two younger brothers, enjoying both Christian and Muslim festivals with her parents, whom she sees as her teachers in life. She has family all around the world and is now aunt to a lovely niece.

In her spare time, Sireen treats herself and likes to spend time with family and friends. She lives in Syria but was born in Morocco and lived in Saudi Arabia until 1991. Since then she has lived in Damascus, known in Syria as Sham. It is the city of Jasmine, and the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.

Video Harvesting Workshop 2018