Wednesday, 7 November 2018

GIRL BOSS - INTERVIEW WITH NAFISA GREY

This week we chat to another #girlboss - and she's literally the boss! Nafisa Grey has built a name for herself as a mother, wife, blogger and CEO. This is a unique edition of the #girlboss series and is aimed at motivating and inspiring you to conquer this exam period! Nafisa recently went back to school and is in progress of her second masters degree - talk about doing the most.





1. It's not every day that someone decides to study their second masters degree. You're already the definition of what people see as successful, what inspired you to decided to do your second masters?

My pursuit of my first Masters was to better myself as a leader as well as an entrepreneur. As much as I felt that I had learnt a lot of my skills through trial and error, as well as in the company of those who inspired me in the business world, being a leader means leading more than one, and managing more than one department or sector, and I felt that I required to be properly equipped to lead each area correctly which was the reason for my first (MBA).

My second (Masters in Finance) was born from the very same pool of thought … as the business had grown and flourished and my role had become more “far removed’ as the tiers of management increased, my dependence on managing things from a strategic financial level have increased. As much as again I feel I am equipped to handle it, increasing your knowledge base has never harmed anyone, and has in fact been the route of most success for most.  I am a firm believer of learning more to increase my knowledge base and bettering my skills set as an entrepreneur in order to better deliver value to myself and the business. There is no limit to gaining knowledge, learning more or bettering yourself. I look at myself in every area as a work in progress.

2. How has this degree been different to your previous studies? How have you taken a different approach to your study techniques or have you kept the same approach?

My first Masters (MBA) gave me an overall broad understanding of each area of a business (human resources, financial management, leadership, strategic management, project management etc). It gave me the knowledge base to correctly guide each area as well and structure or restructure these areas with a knowledgeable understanding backing me .

My second Masters is my Achilles heels (hated accounting in school)…. It is a Masters in Finance which is driven only into the financial aspects of a business.

Given that both are a bit different , one required more on the job learning (I found that I was able to apply each module into my work environment and it made it easier for me to absorb the information ) and the current is more numerically driven which gives me a headache …. I’ve thus learnt that I have to approach studying differently this time.




My last Masters I also did it on campus even though it was part time. I made the most amazing knowledgeable base of friends from all different industries as well as educational backgrounds and we became a family study group that united on an agreed night weekly to get hours of work in together. We were each other’s tutors/backbones which helped greatly as we each had strengths in different areas which we capitalized on.

At present my Masters in through a UK university. All my sessions are online (I feel them impersonal). They are stricter with ‘English’ and I feel they don’t like the way I write my assignments (so I’m learning slowly to adapt) , and I don’t have a study group (so I’m all alone on this one) . This was therefore a huge study curve for me as it involves a huge amount of self-discipline, time management, work-life-study balance and self-motivation to make the time to study as well as make sure that when I do sit down and study I am giving those hours the very best of me.


What are your go-to study tips and techniques?

I never study hungry (I’m one of those people who are irritable and have limited concentration on an empty stomach)

I choose a place that is comfortable to me, but a structured one so there is minimal distractions (when I used to study in my office, I was easily distracted to choose any work distraction to take me away from my books)

I take supplements, yip I ensure I have taken my vitamins for the day as well as tablets that increase my energy levels (I use Turbovite)

I generally can put through long hours of studying, but this only works well when I take breaks in-between to be refreshed again. I find that taking a walk or just sitting in a different space for a bit, closing my eyes and thinking of anything but numbers is a break to me. It allows me to come back to my books a bit calmer.




When you are studying there are times when you feel like you feel you are hitting a wall and you become frustrated, to me this is a sign that I need to close up what I’m doing as my mind is not relaxed and I’m absorbing nothing. I stop and return when I feel better. Wasting hours attempting to absorb something is wasted when you are not in the right mind-set.

Given that I am in this alone, and naturally come to moments where I am unable to understand a concept … at moments like this I call in on my ‘life lines’. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. My life lines are friends in the Finance field who love teaching others and are happy to come and help explain concepts I’m stuck with in an idiot proof manner. (so yes ask for help)
When studying and if I reach a module that confuses me , it’s easy to get stuck loosing time in it , what I’ve found that’s always helped me is choosing to leave those for last . That way I’m utilising my time efficiently and getting through the rest while affording me additional time to the areas where I know I need more time to understand .








4. What advice do you have for people still doing their first undergraduate degree/diploma who are lacking motivation?

Motivation comes from within. There are times in life when you are faced with hurdles and frustrations, but these are the stepping stones in your journey to where you want to be.

As a student you need to understand that this moment in time is your stepping stone, and in order to get to where you envision yourself to be, you have to give this time the very best of you.




Motivation is a constant attempt, you will find that out as you progress in life and grow that when you reach speed bumps it is always easier to feel deflated and give in than charge forth. You need to believe in your end goal passionately enough to keep giving your level best to this part of your journey. By doing this you will find that love for what you are doing will naturally follow.

At each phase of being a student, even starting out, I too have had moments of where I felt like in a bit of a monotonous cycle. I wanted to get to my goals faster, but instead seemed to be stuck in place which did not feel exciting. I found that changing my mind-set towards the task and space I was in helped a great deal.

Set goals and targets for yourself be it for the months ahead or for the next two years and use that as your daily motivation. Nothing will excite you more than having something to achieve and a checkered flag to pursue.


5. As someone who has taken a completely different direction than what they initially studied in undergrad, do you have any advice for someone studying something they don't enjoy or doesn't think they want to pursue in the future?

I believe personally in following your passions because in that lies the strength to take you through the failures that await ahead.

If you have the capability to change your direction and have a clear direction on where your passion lies, then do not hesitate … take the step and give the path you envision yourself to follow the drive it requires for success, but in saying this there are experiences that I have come across through other that have shown me that unless you truly cannot fathom this direction, it’s possible that you have just not given it a proper attempt .

I have the pleasure of knowing someone very close to me who went into a field which she did not enjoy. She constantly felt that this was not for her, and pursued each day with that negative mind-set which carried a cloud over her . She did well (more of a robotic process) but she was unhappy.

I immediately noticed the day she decided to wake up and look at it differently, and with that mind-set change fell in love with what she was doing. Today she is a successful engineer and honestly loves what she does. If I had to ask her if she would choose anything different, it would be clear ‘no’.

This reaffirms that mind-set matters in every area … how you choose to approach what is in front of you can either chart a path of success or pave the way to failures.



6. How do you instill in your daughter the value of education and working towards your dreams?

I believe the only way to do this is by living by example and I try as hard to show her the value of consistency in every area. Yes that’s correct, I try and share with her my work life just as how my dad used to when I was little, as for me this helped motivate me a lot.

Through my first Masters Daisy was a little small but she remembers clearly being dragged to study groups and being part of my weekend studies. Today she is exposed to me trying my best to sacrifice my free time to focus on my books which I hope will also show her that if her mum can keep doing it, she has a greater ability within herself.




When she is wondering what’s the purpose of homework she has in front of her (typical kid) when playing seems like a better alternative, I remind her about how she tells me she wants to do my job one day or be a doctor . That cannot be accomplished without effort. I usually explain to her how hard I have to work, and how many nights I come home tired… you cannot achieve that without hard work.

Nothing will be handed to you in life. These are conversations I have with her in a manner which she understands and helps look at her homework or schooling differently. At this age it’s our duties as parents to help instil consistency and the understanding of it in our kids.

As kids they have their own version of “goals” … I believe that everything needs to be achieved with effort and not handed over without the understanding of value. By instilling this, my daughter understands that to get A, I need to ensure that I achieve what is required.




7. How do you balance work, studies, blogging and family life?

It’s important to credit those around you, so I must give credit to my little family. Having a partner who supports your goals is important as it contributes to the environment you are in daily (this role has to go both ways) . Having a daughter who appreciates her mum’s efforts and understands when I am not home at times helps as well. So for me this is an important ingredient and starting point.

Balance is a small word but it encompasses so much. It encompasses dedication, consistency, perseverance and belief. Sometimes the scales get a bit wobbly in my own balancing act and I need to realign them again (it’s never a once off plan). The success of it I believe wholeheartedly  lies within investing your time in things that drive , challenge and interest you … in that lies the passion to ensure that you will find a balance to make it fit into a part of your life.

I love my family and look forward to being with them so that time for me is important and I do not believe in injecting any less energy into that time. I am driven by work therefore whatever comes my way I am motivated to continue in the pursuit of my business goals.




I believe in self-improvement to enhance my capabilities, and am thrilled when I am able to learn new things and understand different areas which where once foreign to me with ease.. therefore as difficult as the process of studying is , the end goal is so satisfying … therefore again I  have to find a way to fit that in and ensure that the same amount of energy and attention is given.

Helping others is a satisfying feeling … my blogging has been so much more than that to me and I have found that through sharing my journey, struggles, passions, potholes … some are inspired to achieve their own .

The reality is that there is nothing special about me , I am just like everyone else , I have the same hours in everyday and encounter speed bumps as well, sometimes more often that I would like. I have started bottom up and have encountered so many slammed doors …. and still encounter a few today. Sharing my journey and watching others get up and brave their dream makes me feel honoured within, given I myself constantly draw the very same inspiration from others. Again for me it’s a love, not an obligation, therefore I make the time to find balance in giving it my attention.

Balance is achieved where love lies … when you love what you do (through the good and the bad) … you will ensure that you find the time to cultivate and grow those things.




8. Is there a PhD on the cards? (Dr. Grey *wink, wink*)

This was what everyone has asking me post my first Masters … but the truth is that I am driven at present to educate myself towards bettering me for my business to grow to the levels of my goals …. A PhD requires a lot of research and time which will be opposite to what I am trying to achieve at present as my attention needs to be vested elsewhere, so the Dr on my name is not something on my goal chart at present ….

I can’t say whether that will change in the future as it has never been part of my vision but nothing is impossible, and change is always expected in a journey.




9. Tell us a bit about yourself outside of the hustle! What do you enjoy doing to unwind? What are your hobbies, guilty pleasures and what inspires you outside of work and studies?

Apart from my love for traveling and fashion, which form part of my hobbies … at heart my happiest moments which I find myself unwinding are with my family.

Being in the presence of food seems to be at the heart of it. Baking for me with my daughter has always been such an unwinding and equally bonding experience. We have been making ‘experiments’ in the kitchen for years, and I look forward to weekends where we can tinker together in the kitchen.

I also love being in the kitchen with my husband, even if I’m not the cook of the moment, and just enjoying each other’s company while a meal is being prepared, is priceless for me.




Other than that I love walking my dogs (they are such a ball of fun), and spending time with them … they drain all my reserves.

A guilty pleasure for me would be being on an open road with ideally no speed cameras in sight or options of being prosecuted. (Disclaimer: I used “would be”). I have had a passion for cars for as long a I can remember (I love my Formula 1 Sundays). My school books used to be covered in cars instead of Backstreet boys ( yeah I had no aspirations to marry anyone but  Shumacher) …so an open road and me behind the wheel falls into guilty pleasures and I’ll just leave it like that.




10. Tell us a bit more about The Grey Blog? How did it start and what do you enjoy most about blogging?

It was born from my personal page where I used to and still share my work life, studies and single mum life. I used to share my daily posts as an entrepreneur trying to get as much achieved in a day as well as sharing the raw deals of goal pursuit as well as how long it takes to sometimes to achieve what you want.

I shared my love for fashion and my passions as well as my relationship between my daughter and I as we charted a new path together.




As the page grew and became popular I started @thegreyblog to cement my content given I found that I used to be contacted by so many start-ups, students, women at home and people from a broad spectrum who just wanted advice , motivation, or wanted a sounding board to share their goals, struggles, potholes or just idea input.

For me that is what I love the most about blogging , being able to help another even if it’s in a small way . When you understand the need for it when you required it, you will value being able to fulfil that to another if life affords you the chance.








11. Where can we find you? 

@thegreyblog
@nafisa_grey


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