Shukria Shawqi: Onward + Upward

insight

Shukria Shawqi: Onward + Upward

Mar 10, 2020

The DAVIS logo was created with the onward + upward ethos in mind. It is both our legacy and our vision for the future. We're interviewing 20 people in '20 to find out what onward + upward means to them (along with some other interesting details you might not pick up on at the jobsite). Keep up with this series to get more insight into the DAVIS team!

Meet Shukria Shawqi, DAVIS' resident education coordinator, an integral part of our Corporate Knowledge Center (CKC) team. The CKC designs, manages, and delivers continuing education and professional development opportunities for our employees.

After successfully holding the annual DAVIS Conference, where all 400+ DAVIS employees traveled to a college campus and participated in class sessions and roundtables to build teamwork and learn even more from each other, Shukria sat down to talk about her role on the CKC team, her experience as a preschool teacher, and more. Keep reading to learn more about her!

LIFE AT DAVIS

So, you were a teacher before you started at DAVIS?
Yep! So, I got my bachelor’s degree and elementary education certification at Central Michigan University—Fire Up Chips! Then I worked in Flint for a few years as a preschool teacher.

Preschool! Tell us about what that was like.
Stressful! I loved teaching, but it can be a really exhausting job—there’s so much more to it than just loving education. I knew I wouldn’t be a teacher forever, I always thought I'd end up in administration or curriculum development.

And how does it compare to your current role as the DAVIS Education Coordinator?
Well, I’m working with adults now, so it’s a little different! The general idea is the same – each class has a topic, and we create courses for that topic. But there’s more freedom within the development. When you’re teaching preschoolers, you don’t have that kind of flexibility, and I like how in corporate education you can be a bit more creative.

It’s a pretty interesting journey – what does it take to get from there to here?
You can’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I was so used to being a preschool teacher, and moving to corporate education was really scary, but I knew it was the right step, so I had to get past my fear and just do it. Everyone has that voice in the back of their head, but sometimes you have to ignore it and just…jump.

What’s been so rewarding about your role?
If I ever have ideas for how to do something differently, they’re more than welcome. I have the independence to change things up, which I really appreciate. It’s nice to know I have that input.

What inspires you about your role?
My team is inspiring. We’re a small group, and we’re all equally important. When you’re in a bigger group of people, ideas can get lost, people can get lost. It’s inspiring to know that you matter on your team. You feel valued. DAVIS as a whole is really teamwork-oriented. I love the culture here.

So we just held the 2020 DAVIS Conference – what’s it like, planning for something like that?
It’s hectic, it’s chaos, you know? Our team made sure to constantly check in with each other to make sure we were all on the same page. I always make sure to have plenty of lists on hand for planning something like that. Lists are essential—that’s the teacher in me.

How do you plan for the classes you hold at the CKC?
We want to make sure we’re catering to everyone—you have non-operations and operations staff together. And within the Operations teams, we have people in the field and people in the office. So you just try to make everyone happy. From a superintendent in the field to a receptionist, everyone has something to participate in. Everyone can get something out of it.

It was relieving to finally get through the annual DAVIS Conference. But we’re not done for the year! Soon we’ll be rolling out DAVIS Learning Plans. We have a lot of core days coming up this year for the Technical Advancement Field, and Office Learning plans, so we’re in the middle of developing those right now.

Shukria and her dog Nora on the beach at Lake Michigan

LET'S GET PERSONAL

What was your job before teaching?
In college I worked at Red Lobster—I was a bartender and a hostess. I think everyone should work at a restaurant at least once. You learn lessons that you take with you for the rest of your life. Be kind to others! At the same time, I worked at Target. So, I worked in retail AND food service at the same time, and I’m never doing that again!

Who has been a role model for you?
Probably my mom. Is that cliché? Moms always have an answer for something—even if it isn’t the answer, they give you an answer, which is so inspiring…that sounds cliché but I’m sticking with it!

Do you have any cool hobbies we should know about?
I spend a lot of time on schoolwork, since I’m studying for my master’s degree in Instructional Design right now. But I recently started boxing! It was intimidating at first, but the coaches are so helpful. It’s a great way to get the stress out.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?
Dog person. Definitely. I love hound dogs – beagles, bassets. I used to have a basset hound who I swear slept 20 hours a day. I try to get outside with my dogs whenever I can—technically they’re my brother’s dogs, but I still steal them.  

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Australia—I want to check out the Gold Coast. I’m a beach person, all the way.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
Netflix chick flicks. And Hallmark Christmas movies. No shame. The acting is so bad, but I can’t help myself.

If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?
Tom Hanks. He just seems so nice!

What’s your biggest fear?
I’m a perfectionist – I hate the idea of messing up.

Are you a city person or a country person?
I feel like I’m a little bit of both. My parents’ house in the country has a backyard, and a garden, and I miss that.  My best friend and I would go biking down dirt roads and play in the creek together. Country living is so much fun.

One last question  - What does “Onward + Upward” mean to you?
I think it means being able to embrace change, and adapt to different thinking. Doing things differently might not always mean success…but failure is a part of everything in life, and to find success you might have to fail a couple of times. I’ve been fortunate to work with people who are so flexible and open minded. People at DAVIS are always coming up with new ways to improve, and I think that’s what makes this place so special.

Follow @DAVISbuilds to see more from this series and keep up with our latest!