We Are Not Machines: Interview with Nana Woo on SEKEM’s Core Program

Nana Woo joined SEKEM in 2018. She came to Egypt from South Korea as a part of an internship program; she found a home within SEKEM and was fascinated by its vision and mission. So she decided to stay and took over the responsibility for the Core Program, a program offering cultural and educational activities to all employees in order to support their personal development. In the upcoming interview Nana Woo speaks about how the Core Program developed in the past year and plans for the future.


SEKEM News (SN): What does the Core program mean for you?

Nana Woo (NW): For me, the Core Program  is to find people’s potentials and the core value of each individual. I aim to support more educational programs for the employees and farmers to be themselves, to recognize the core of each other. I also aim to support the employees not only with their technical or professional skills but the core of the human being, including value, appreciation, tolerance, acceptance, love, and compassion. Each person has a diamond that needs to be polished to shine, and the Core program makes people take care of themselves. 

SN: What have been the key outcomes of the core program at SEKEM this year? 

NW: This year many more participants attended the Core Program. People at SEKEM have become more self-motivated to attend the sessions and share the experience. They also asked for the program to be repeated regularly. Reasons for this were the more comprehensive offers and the number of skillful employees that have been engaged as instructors.

SN: What is the feedback of our employees on it?

NW: Due to people’s different social backgrounds and dynamics in SEKEM, the influence varied from one to one. I’ll share with you how the mindset of an engineer has been influenced by the activities held. At the beginning of the program, he was wondering why we are doing that, and I told him to wait and try with me for three months. Later, I asked him the same question, and he answered that we are not machines. We are human beings; we need to breathe, be happy, think about ourselves, and stop acting like machines.

SN: Besides such a feedback, how will you know it’s working?

NW: I am using the methodology of survey and interviews. The participants have shared their experiences, made performance presentations and shared the Core program’s experience in the Sunday meeting is a perfect way to evaluate. 

SN: How are you making improvements to the core program?

NW: I intend to include better, well-trained, and more inspiring instructors, involve more of SEKEM’s gifted employees as instructors, and improve the participant’s motivation and make it increase to join the core program. I also want to make it a regular program, do more systematization, have a clear system, and collaborate more with the human resources department.

SN: What are you most excited about in the next months?

NW: I’ll be working to create a happy committee that is self-organized by the employees who are motivated to create this kind of human development program, who want to voice, ask colleagues what today is, and hear the feedback themselves. I want the Egyptian energy to hold this together and the Egyptian colleagues to have a group conversation together about what is a happy working environment.

Read more in the SEKEM report 2020

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