Recording: VGL Forum – Football and Leadership

VGL Forum

30 June 2021 | VGL Forum

In a recent Virtual VGL Forum on Football and Leadership and with the backdrop of the UEFA European Football Championship, our featured speakers Kat Khosrowyar (former Head Coach of Iran’s National Women’s Football Team), Ahmed Abdelfattah (Senior Service Program Manager, Giesecke+Devrient and Football Player) and Pascal Maygnan (International CFO, Cerner), moderated by Pari Namazie, shared their stories and insights on motivation, trust, mental toughness and leading performance.

Conversation guide

  1. (02:54) Introducing Kat Khosrowyar and her story of becoming a player of the national Iranian Women’s Football Team and then a Head Coach
  2. (08:59) Introducing Ahmed Abdelfattah and his story of playing five-a-side football and how it inspires him as a leader in the corporate world
  3. (15:26) Introducing Pascal Maygnan and his story as a CFO and executive business coach
  4. (20:32) Kat, how do you help your team deal with the pressure of a country watching? How do you cultivate mental toughness and help them focus?
  5. (24:54) Kat, you had psychologists and other people in your team to support mental toughness. What was the role of your larger team to support the common goal and vision? When was a time you saw this?
  6. (27:51) Ahmed, you play five-a-side football. This comes together without a coach. Who becomes the coach, who becomes the captain? How do you create team spirit, drive and trust?
  7. (33:11) Ahmed, communication, trust, feedback — these are big words and so hard to do. For that to happen, the team have to trust one another and have a sense they are treated fairly. How does that happen? 
  8. (33:50) Pascal, we have such egos in football and leadership. As a leader, how do you deal with star performers, with low performers and toxic performers?
  9. (45:45) How do you pull up a team’s morale when failure seems imminent?
  10. (48:06) What about when you’re actually on the pitch and you feel you’re going to lose? How do you pull up morale then?
  11. (56:55) In a time or place when leadership is handed out and not necessarily earned, how do you ensure trust and cooperation of team members apart from their own agenda in the team? How long does it take for the team to accept you as a leader and not just someone giving out orders?
  12. (01:02:28) Is there is a quick fix solution a manager can take when you have a high performer, but a toxic team player?
  13. (01:11:06) In one line, what is respect?
  14. (01:11:34) Where did you fail?
  15. (01:11:59) What is your mantra in times of hardship?

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Kat Khosrowyar

Kat Khosrowyar

Kat — previously Head Coach of Iran’s National Women’s Football Team — is the first American Iranian championing women’s rights to play football in the Middle East, specifically in Iran. Having spent the last decade changing the stigma attached to women’s football, her mission was to encourage millions of girls to play worldwide.

During a family holiday to Iran, she was scouted while practicing and asked to join the first Iranian women’s national football team.

She started her campaign by captaining the national team and helped lead them to the top 10 teams of Asia. She then became the first woman to receive the prestigious FIFA ‘A’ license for coaching and was the Head Coach of the Under 19 National Team.

Kat has a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Birmingham and is currently studying Global Affairs at Rice University.

She has been interviewed for the Wall Street Journal, CBS 60 minutes with Lesley Stahl, USA Today, FIFA magazine, and she has spoken about using football as a diplomatic tool at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, She Believes Summit in NYC and UC Davis School of Law with a United Nations Special Rapporteur, and gave a TED talk.

Ahmed Abdelfattah

Ahmed Abdelfattah

Ahmed — an avid football player — is a Senior Service Program Manager in G+D Currency Technology, currently managing the services portfolio in multiple fully-automated currency technology projects across the Middle East and Africa. Before joining G+D Currency Technology, he held different regional managerial positions in Procter & GambleHP and DXC Technology.

With a career span of more than 20 years, Ahmed has unique multinational experience in service management and consultation, strategic service implementation, team building, and company collaboration.

Ahmed holds degrees in both Economics and IT, a PMP Certificate as well as other management and technical certificates.

He played professional football in his teens and to this day remains a passionate football player.

Pascal Maygnan

Pascal Maygnan

Pascal is an experienced CFO with more than 25 years of international experience at blue chip companies like Spie-Batignolles, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, and Cerner. In his multiple roles, Pascal has successfully developed and led multi-cultural teams and acted as a strong business partner to define and implement profitable growth strategies.

Pascal is also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) as well as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with CTI and ICF, the two most reputable coaching organizations worldwide. Driven by his passion for leadership and people development, he coaches executives, first-time managers, leaders transitioning into new roles, or teams.

Pascal holds an MBA from Columbia Business School. He is also a wine connoisseur. Pascal does not play football, but he watches it from time to time.

Dr. Pari Namazie

Dr. Pari Namazie

Pari is the founder of the platform Vienna Global Leaders and will co-moderate this session. She is an executive coach, facilitator and the Managing Partner and Head of the Leadership and Organisations Division at EUNEPA. She has over 25 years of experience in the field with multinational and international companies. 

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