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'Embrace your setbacks, as they allow you to evolve towards success'

Saajida Abdulla believes great leaders are ambitious, driven, and aspire for transformation, but never purely for themselves. They are ambitious for others and possess an indefinite will to do whatever is necessary in service of this greater cause.
Coming from a strong business and entrepreneurial background, Saajida Abdulla is currently serving her Industrial Psychology internship in the Department of Organisational Development and Employee Wellness at the University of the Free State (UFS). 

Saajida Abdulla - Photo by Charl Devenish
Saajida Abdulla - Photo by Charl Devenish

Abdulla’s academic background includes several degrees in both psychology and business. After completing an honours degree in Business Sciences, she worked in the retail sector for several years. 

However, she still felt unfulfilled in her career path and returned to the world of academia to combine her passion for psychology and her inherent business strengths by pursuing further studies in Industrial Psychology. 

An interview with Abdulla sheds light on some of her dreams, inspirations, and challenges. 

Is there a woman who inspires you and who you would like to celebrate this Women’s Month, and why?

I am inspired by STRONG WOMEN LEADERS, those who are accelerants for change, who have pushed through obstacles, challenged the status quo, and strived for transformation in their space – woman branded with tenacity, grit, resilience, and the vision to lead others to excellence.

My greatest inspiration is my mother. Her strength of character, resilience, and perseverance in overcoming adversity is what inspires me to keep going and be the best I can be. 

I am inspired by STRONG WOMEN LEADERS, those who are accelerants for change, who have pushed through obstacles, challenged the status quo, and strived for transformation in their space. - Saajida Abdulla

What are some challenges you have faced in your life that have made you a better woman?

If I had to single out some of the challenges I have faced, I would say failure. The taste of failure and disappointment has propelled me to keep pushing myself and to not allow situations to define me. I have learnt to view failure as nothing but a temporary setback, because if you allow the feelings of failure and disappointment to halt your growth, you will never evolve. 

What advice would you give to the 15-year-old you?

Your life has been designed by the best of architects, and even though you may not understand all the turns and detours, they are all absolutely necessary to take you to the exact places you need to be. On this journey, you will also encounter setbacks and failure, but embrace it, for it will lead to the evolution of your success. 

What would you say makes you a champion woman [of the UFS]?

I am honoured to be considered as one of the UFS’s champion women, and I believe it is inherently linked to my strive for great leadership. I critically evaluate and challenge situations, provide a vision for innovative problem solving, and direct change and transformation within all areas of my personal and professional life. However, the greatest quality that makes me a champion woman of the UFS, is my fundamental purpose to make a difference in the lives of others.
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