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Charles Qabazard is a corporate trainer, executive coach, and mediator. He is a qualified Master Practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming, a Diagnostic Thought Field Therapist, and a professional with years of experience and knowledge in sales and marketing. We sat down with Charles to learn more about his past professional experience and find out what career advice he has for those just starting out.
I earned my degree in business in California; and then I started in sales and marketing – in fact, during my university years, I had a part-time job in sales. After that, I held various jobs, doing account management, IT, I worked in oil and gas industry for a while, import-export… I did all kinds of account management, product and service promotion tasks, and then also some marketing.
In late 2002 – early 2003, I changed careers completely, because I was quite bored with what I was doing. Don’t get me wrong: I loved what I was doing, and I was very good at it, but I was hungry for more. I changed paths because I ran into an old professor of mine at a university. He was a part-time corporate trainer: he trained companies through different courses, such as management, communication skills, sales, and stress management, among other tailor-made programs. So I got interested in that side of the business – corporate training and coaching.
In late 2002, I started training as an executive coach. After getting the certificate, I also obtained qualifications in Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP): I did my Practitioner and Masters Practitioner in NLP. In fact, I had the great privilege of training under Richard Bandler, the co-developer of the NLP system – I still consider myself very lucky to have done that.
I also trained in Diagnostic Thought Field Therapist and many other therapies that added on to what I did. On top of that, I did a Master’s degree in Corporate Communication part-time. So I have completely changed paths from being the senior executive in account management and sales & marketing to the corporate training side. Since then, I’ve been training companies from different parts of the world and different industries in all sorts of programs, such as marketing management, sales, emotional intelligence, customer service – soft skills, as they are known.
Since 2014, I have been teaching at Ashton part-time. I look at it as coaching as well: the teaching aspect doesn’t really change. I may have younger students with less experience, but they are equally hungry to learn the latest, up-to-date philosophies on how work is done.
There is so much that I enjoy about my job. If there is one thing that I love the most (which I see in the classroom frontier as well) is seeing the person on the first day, and then noticing all the changes that happen after the training. The changes happen so quickly, so rapidly, and they bring out so much of that individual.
Charles (right) accepting the 2014 Ashton College Faculty Award.
Sometimes, the person may be so shy and timid at the start, but at the end of the training or the class session, they are comfortable with themselves, they have a voice, their self-esteem goes up. It is as if I helped them open a channel of communication between themselves and themselves. That’s the magic of my job: I don’t teach them anything new, I just remind people of who they are and offer a bit of clarity. I come as an outsider who is objective and is trying to help them.
Coaching and training has a lot to do with personal development on top of professional growth: it all starts with an individual. Same with education: it is not as much about the knowledge that you get (although the knowledge and qualifications are important, of course), but it often comes down to having clarity about what you want to do and achieve in life, and how to get it done.
I teach sales, marketing, public relations and management, which is relevant to what I do. I try to make the classes engaging and dynamic. Instead of lecturing on chapter 17, for instance, I incorporate group exercises that would help them understand the main idea behind the chapter, and consequently improve teamwork, independent thinking, innovative and creative thinking, and problem-solving. I’d like to give the students a voice to argue, debate and disagree. Through that discussion, everybody contributes something to the topic or the issue at hand, and we often come up with interesting perspectives.
Right now I am teaching sales and marketing to a group of International Trade students. The focus of the class is sales, but also with a flavour of the current affairs in the market. I teach about the relations between different countries, trade agreements, currency fluctuations, and various factors that influence sales.
In business, you have to look at the broader picture and begin to notice and appreciate the relationships between things. For instance, if one thing happens in this part of the world and the currency changes, how will it affect trade relations in a different part of the world, including things like consumer prices and demand? So I always try to remind my students to look at everything from a macro perspective, finding the pattern and connecting the dots.
I always tell my students: the definition of a stupid question is the one you didn’t ask. There are no stupid questions, so go into the classroom with a curious mind, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarifications.
I would also advise students to stay up to date on current events. In my class, if Volkswagen had a scandal with their emission test, the next assignment the students get will be related to that. This way, students can read the news and study the current market and current issues. If you read a textbook printed in 2014, and it is 2016 – you’re a bit behind with current affairs. In the digital age that we live in, you have to be up-to-date, and you have to be dynamic enough to shine in an interview for a job. You have to have a finger on the pulse of the market, so to speak. So the advice I have is: read and remain up-to-date with what’s going on in the world.
I follow the law of averages: the more you try, the more likely it is that you will succeed. If there is one thing that successful people have in common is their resilience to failure or bad results. Every time they fall, they get up again. You have to keep trying and have a strategy that will slowly get you where you want to go. Keep hungry and keep trying, and keep an open mind.
Another thing I would recommend is to try things that have never been done before. If you do what everybody else is doing, you will be invisible. It’s the age of innovation and creative thinking, so I’d like to see students start thinking outside of the box.
I’ll give you an example: when I was trying to get my first job after university, I kept applying and sending my resumes to different companies. However, I realized that I was invisible, one of hundreds and hundreds of students waiting to get a job. So I bought myself the cheapest pair of shoes that I could find, took the right shoe, put it in a box together with my resume and a cover letter that said “I’m just trying to get my foot in the door”. It got me the interview, and I got the job, because I did something that nobody else had done.
That’s what companies want, someone who is radical, who can do what the job requires, but also have a personality. So do something that others have not done! Show creativity, independent thinking and initiative, and be different.
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