Published on March 11, 2022 in Philanthropic Groups
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re talking to women who support their communities in collaboration with United Way for Southeastern Michigan. We’re discussing their experiences, sharing their passions and motivations, and shining a light on the women who have inspired them along the way.
Below, we talk to Rema Nasif, Managing Director at OneMagnify, a multidisciplinary marketing, analytics and technology company with 600 global professionals on staff. Rema has been a force with Women United since 2015.
United Way: Rema, understand you have an MBA, and that education was always a focus. Tell us more about your passion for education. Was education something that was important to your family?
Rema: Absolutely! I’m first generation American. My parents immigrated from Syria after college. My father was a Neurologist, and my mom was trained as a pharmacist. She ended up managing my dad’s practices. My siblings and I were born here and there was a lot of emphasis placed on our education. It worked – my older sister is a lawyer. My younger brother is a doctor, and through my parents’ persistence on furthering my education, I decided to get my MBA.
United Way: Love that. Does your family’s laser focus on education inspire your work on early education through Women United?
Rema: It really does. Early education is so important. It’s the foundation for everything. I still remember my preschool and kindergarten teachers. I laugh because I don’t really remember my experiences from elementary or grade school, but I really remember those early years. I remember my friends and doing the school play, “The Hungry Caterpillar.” It was a Montessori school and I remember practicing long division. I remember being in the “red” room and the layout with circle time. Early education is your first introduction to school and being in an environment where your parents aren’t there to guide you. It just speaks to the importance of quality early education.
United Way: So, we know education starts long before a child’s first day of school. We heard you speak about the importance of increasing access to high quality childcare recently during our Women of Influence Summit. How does having reliable childcare help you as a working mom?
I’m very fortunate to have the best nanny. My husband and I go to work full time. My girls are two and four, so they’re not fully immersed yet in school. They do a ton of activities and I know they’re learning and being engaged while I’m away. That cuts down on the mom guilt. It’s the only way that I can continue to work and help support our family. Whether it’s a nanny, a daycare, or a school, it’s a relationship that’s built on trust. You have to trust in the skillset of the caregivers you’re leaving your kids with. And you want them to love your kids the way that you love your kids – of course they can’t, but even an ounce of that love is what you’re looking for.
United Way: On the topic of your girls, what are your hopes for them? What do you envision for their future?
Rema: I really want them to find their passion and pursue it. I always had interests, but I didn’t always have pure passion. For me, I was more general. I knew I wanted to go to college, but for what – I wasn’t clear. I hope they have a passion that they fall in love with. I don’t know if it makes the road easier or harder, but it certainly makes it more defined in terms of where they want to go and what they want to do. And I’d like them to have passion for many things. I don’t want it to just be about work. That shouldn’t define us. I want them to be happy. I want them to find something that they want to do and to feel loved – and I want them to golf.
United Way: Golf, that’s interesting. Are you a golfer?
Rema: Yes – I fell in love with this sport that is incredibly challenging, but rewarding and social too. The pandemic has blurred the lines between my work and home life and one thing I’ve learned from the younger women and men on my team is the importance of having my own hobbies. So, while I’ve always been a golfer, it was in part because of my work – I’d golf with clients and things like that. Now, I’m taking my own time to build my skills. I’m taking lessons and focusing on me. My husband and I love to golf together, and we joke that if our kids want to hang out with us in the future, they have to take up the game! With them being so little right now, their hobbies are my hobbies – and most of the time, they are my hobbies.
United Way: Of course, you’re a great source of inspiration for your daughters. Tell us about who inspires you.
Rema: Obviously, my mom. She was my role model growing up and she still is. She’s who I always aspire to be like. She is a hard worker, loving, funny and vibrant. She moved to a new country at 22 without her family when she didn’t speak any English. She’s beautiful inside and out. No one compares to your mom. Also, my sister is one of the strongest people I know – personality-wise and overcoming any obstacle that comes her way. She’s my best friend. We went to college together. We studied in France together. Outside of my family, Michelle Obama inspires me. She’s a brilliant communicator like her husband and she’s such a force in that relationship. I look at her not just from a leadership perspective but also from a family standpoint. They make decisions together. They have taken each stride in life together. And that’s so important. She guides me as a role model for family life. Coincidentally, my husband’s name is Michel and my nickname for him is “Mich” just like President Obama calls his wife, which makes me feel connected on another level.
United Way: Lastly, any words of advice to share with other women?
Rema: Yes. Don’t underestimate the power of relationship building and having a strong community. When I rejoined OneMagnify in 2015, I noticed a gap and that led me to co-found Amplify, our internal women’s network that serves as a woman to woman, peer to peer forum. I encourage women to create opportunities, form these types of groups and get involved. Our community is open to everyone – regardless of gender, role or tenure – it helps even the playing field and makes everyone more accessible. When we host a workshop, everyone is in the workshop together from junior staff or senior leaders – it’s a way to put everyone on level ground. My advice is if you see a gap – speak up, form a community and build relationships along the way.
United Way: Thank you for sharing, Rema – and for all that you do with Women United.
Rema: Thank YOU – child care and early education are so important – it’s critical to all of our future – and I’m honored to be involved.