I AM JA – Stories from the JA Network

Stories of Success

Learn more about how we inspire success by reading these inspirational stories from local students, volunteers, alumni and educators. Do you have a JA story to share? Click here to submit your story today.

My name is Laila Tawfik and I have been a participant in the JA Company Program for the last two years.

Initially, I lived in Dubai and came to Canada 5 years ago, but was not used to the environment and had a fear of public-speaking, always stuttering or speaking too fast when forced to do oral presentations in school. I did not like interacting with strangers that much, and felt uncomfortable talking to people I didn’t know. However, JA helped me overcome all that by facing many situations in which I had to speak up and interact with others through the process of selling. I pitched a lot when gathering personal sales, making me more comfortable as I talked to more people. As a result, I got much better as I gained confidence and became more assertive. .

In addition to overcoming my fear of talking to strangers and in public, JA impacted my life in other ways, allowing me to learn a lot of valuable things; I learnt a lot about business through the last two years and have decided that in the future, I would like to become an entrepreneur or start my own business so I intend to study business in university along with my main major, computer science. Also, it is through JA that I have developed my network and business connections through LinkedIn; I attended many business events, where I was honored to connect with many famous people in the business world, enhancing my network. I was even able to land the co-op job I had in high school through these connections, which I am forever grateful for, as I learnt a lot about software development thanks to that. Not to mention that through the program I also enhanced my communication skills, organization skills, time management skills and most importantly, leadership skills.

The first year in the company program, I began as deputy of HR and Production, but eventually rose to being Production VP due to my hard work. I was a finalist for the best Production VP award and was even provided the opportunity to go to the Next Generation Leaders’ (NGL) Forum for being runner-up of the top salesperson in all of JA Central Ontario, achieving over $1300 in sales.

In the second year, I was the president of my company, Kibō, a mental health awareness company that sells color-coded bracelets for specific groups in mental health. I was a finalist for the President of the Year Award.

I was also the top salesperson in my company, achieving over $1600 in sales.

My experience in my last year was definitely challenging. I learnt a lot about leading a company and how hard it is at times, but I have overcome obstacles by being a leader that listens to everyone, gets them involved, actively helping them out when in trouble and giving them the spotlight. This is the leadership style I strived to pursue and have maintained throughout the year.

I am very grateful that I joined the Junior Achievement Company program, as I have learnt a lot and grown so much, learning valuable skills that I can take going forward into the future – my only regret is that I did not join sooner, as I only heard about it last year in grade 11 when a volunteer came to our economics class to talk about it and I thought it would be interesting and fun so I thought why not? That ‘why not’ was one of the best decisions I made, and I will forever be grateful to that volunteer for exposing me to this wonderful program.

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We love hearing how JA has made an impact and encourage you to Join the millions of others around the world who are part of the JA Worldwide network in sharing your JA story online using #IAmJA

To ‘spark’ some creativity and show you how inspirational your stories can be – take a look at some of these special JA Central Ontario Alumni profiles :