The CEO of Educatly on Finding Your Calling in Life
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela.
Mohmmed El Sonbaty, CEO of Educatly, deeply believes that access to quality education is a fundamental human right. With this belief, he created Educatly, with a very important mission: to make quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances.
El Sonbaty, the CEO, joins Elsa Barbera, Head of Marketing, in a live interview to discuss the past, the present, the future of Educatly, and how an engineer found his true calling in life and became the Founder & CEO of an EdTech startup.
The interview transcripts have been adjusted to the article format. For the full, live, interview click here.
Mohammed, why did you choose to study engineering?
“In Egypt, engineering and medical science are considered the best majors, and if you manage to study them, then it means you’re a good and successful student.
If you study something else, then, you’re not seen as a good student. At the age of 18 years old, we’re surely influenced by our friends, family, and society’s definition of success. However, that “success” is just societal standards and a definition put by someone else, it’s not a fact.
This is exactly what happened to me, and once I started studying engineering I knew this was not the path I wanted to pursue. Maybe if I could go back in time I’d study business, but there was definitely little support when I was younger. At that age, no one is there to help you figure out what your career path could look like by choosing one major over another. Sadly, in our world, we have to make that decision when we’re as young as 16 years old.”
You’ve also taken a master’s degree in engineering, this time abroad. Can you tell us about your experience getting your master’s degree abroad?
“So I did my master’s in engineering management in Italy and that was actually one of the key moments for me on my journey to start Educatly. I spent two years looking for a university, going through different platforms, learning, looking up fees, and sending applications. It was really challenging. However, the final experience was transformational for my life. It was the first time in my life that I sort of had an idea of what I wanted to study. I was aware of my past experience, what I didn’t enjoy in university, and what I knew I liked: entrepreneurship and business.
I chose this master’s consciously because I thought it could help me do what I actually wanted to do. One day 1 started at my new university abroad, and the transformation was in every aspect of my life. I traveled to different countries, met different people, and even changed my career. It was the seed that got me thinking about how I could help other young people find their passion before they make a decision that could set them back some years. This realization was my inspiration to start Educatly.”
How did you turn from an engineer to the Founder & CEO of an Ed-Tech company?
“It was an evolutionary path. You know when you try many things, and some stick and resonate with you, and some don’t? That’s how it happened. When I was studying abroad, I started trying new things, and I was in a student organization that taught me a lot about myself.
Yes, I am an engineer by profession, but I didn’t find myself in engineering. It was sort of a self-discovery journey that taught me that maybe my passion might be something other than electrical engineering. It took a lot of trial and error, as well as putting myself out there. And I think it took a lot of courage to really pursue what I am passionate about, you know? My self-discovery journey turned into an entrepreneurship journey, inspired by a problem I myself have faced in my life.”
So, engineering and entrepreneurship are alike because they’re all about problem-solving, right? Of course, entrepreneurship is on a whole bigger scale. But do you think that engineering has taught you anything that influenced your entrepreneurship journey? Or is it still a part of what you do?
“That’s an excellent question. You’re absolutely right,” El Sonbaty said. “During the 5 years I’ve studied engineering, my biggest take was learning how to solve problems. It taught me to scan problems, to think of how I can solve a problem, and if I do have a solution, how can I make it better? It’s basically analytical thinking. It’s true that they’re similar, and engineering has taught me a lot and has influenced how I started my company.”
Did you ever try to start a company or a project that you weren’t passionate about? If so, how did it go differently?
“I did, actually. While I was in school, 19 years old, and figured out that engineering was not my thing, I started my very first business. Actually, I’ve started 3 different businesses before. One was an outdoor marketing startup, and another was fashion-related. None of them got stuck with me, and I quit them. Whenever I found something more exciting, I dropped them. That taught me that if it’s not resonating with you, you’ll quit it fast.
“So I learned the hard way that it’s really important to find something that really talks to you individually. For me, it was education and leadership. I had experience with that when I was a part of AISEC and while I was doing my master’s broad. Those experiences took me on a discovery journey that never ended and to this very day, I am still working hard to achieve. My mission now is clear. I want to help people to advance and have access to knowledge for the rest of my life.
“It was all an outcome of finding my call and my passion through self-discovery, trial and error, taking action, and engaging with people to refine and shape my goal.”
This is just a little bit of how the EdTech platform Educatly came to life! It’s always here to help you. So, if you’ve always wanted to study abroad but don’t know where to start, you can DM us. It’s completely free, and there are more than 34,000 programs. Just send us a message on Instagram, and we will support you every step of the way.
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