Dreams of Science and the Science of Dreams

Dr. Hayat Sindi

Dreams. We all have them. Some are discarded as wishful thinking. Others are wrecked by a litany of roadblocks- some real, many perceived. Then there are dreams that explode into reality – crashing through all obstacles – in spite of nearly impossible odds. That type of combustion doesn’t happen spontaneously – ignition and fuel are required. Ignition comes in the form of inspiration. The fuel is a combination of determination, commitment, and talent.

As a child, Hayat, one of eight children in an average family, loved learning. Her school days were the happiest days of her young life. She was particularly enamored with scientists – finding them confident and innovative. She was especially taken with the impact their work would have in the world. The dream of becoming a scientist was born.

Hayat approached her father to share her ambition of becoming a scientist. She was convinced that he could teach her anything she wanted to learn. His advice was supportive and direct, telling her that with education and learning, she could become anything – she could become a scientist. Sounded simple.

However, Hayat faced nearly impossible odds. She was born in Mekkah, Saudi Arabia. Cultural beliefs and tradition presented very limited opportunity for advanced education for a female. Hayat would not be deterred. With her family’s blessing, she set off to London to pursue her education. A Saudi girl, not yet twenty, traveling on her own to a different country, was anything but the norm. Adding to the challenge was the fact that Hayat didn’t speak a word of English.

The admissions clerk at the University of London told Hayat, through an interpreter, to go back home – that her idea was crazy. Instead, Hayat became determined to learn English. She watched the BBC network, studied hours on end and eventually was accepted to King’s College of London where she earned a degree in pharmacology. There was pressure on her to abandon her religion and cultural beliefs, along with her traditional Muslim dress. Hayat refused to submit to the pressure, stating that one’s religion, gender or color weren’t factors in her professional pursuits. 

Hayat was accepted to the Cambridge University biotechnology doctorate program – the first Saudi women to do so. By 2001, Hayat had become the first woman from any of the Arab Gulf states to earn a PhD in the field. 

Earning her doctorate was not the end of her dream. Her goal all along had been to better integrate science with society. Hayat pursued science for the sake of humanity – which is what led her to biotechnology. She envisioned science becoming more accessible, affordable, and easy to use. Improvement in diagnostics became her focus. Frustration became an early byproduct. She struggled with how to move science from the lab to a product. Her lack of understanding when it came to business was one more hurdle. Another hurdle meant one thing – one more solution was needed. Hayat enrolled in the Harvard School of Business. 

Hayat went on to become co-founder of Diagnostics for All, offering cost-effective diagnostic tools for people and geography outside of traditional medical care. Their diagnostic patch, made of paper at a cost of less than a penny, provides quick and affordable assessment of liver issues – saving tens of thousands of lives. She has been recognized numerous times winning awards and honors that include, the Honorary Global Thinkers Forum Award of Excellence in Science and was named a 2011 Emerging Explorer by the National Geographic Society. CEO magazine has named her the 9th most powerful Arab woman and the 3rd most powerful Saudi Arabian women. She’s was appointed by UNESCO head Irina Bokova as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and was part of the first group of women to serve in Saudi Arabia’s Consultative Council. These accomplishments – having her dream come true – are the result of Dr. Hayat Sindi being a fearless brand.

Fearless Brands pursue their dreams with determination, inspiration, and talent

Dr. Hayat Sindi has faced – and overcome – more obstacles and challenges than most people can even imagine. She has faced cultural bias, language barriers, gender bias, and more. Her integrity has been challenged – falsely. Accusations and rumors have swirled around her – initiated by close-minded, cultural conservatives seeking to derail a successful woman – a scientist. 

Dr. Sindi refused to have her dream smashed. She launched the i2 Institute of Imagination and Ingenuity whose mission is to to create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and social innovation for scientists, technologists and engineers – its primary focus being on youth, both male and female. 

Her dream began at a very early age. To make that dream a reality, Dr. Hayat Sindi educated herself, overcame all challenges, and maintained her determination and persistence. Dr. Sindi has never lost sight of her primary goal of using science to create sustainability, fight poverty and address climate change. Her dream is now reality because she is a fearless brand – one from whom we can learn a great deal.

Find a mission in life and contribute something to humanity – Dr. Sindi is driven to contribute to humanity. She has broken barriers between East and West, smashed cultural stereotypes, led the development of technology which saves lives and empowers people. It’s that mission – that dedication to enhancing humanity – which fuels Dr. Sindi. We all have a mission – it’s a matter of discovering what that is. Each of us can positively contribute to society as we pursue our mission and realize our own dreams.

Focus on relevant factors – Gender, color, religion and race aren’t factors when it comes to capability and potential. We need to remain focused on truly relevant factors. Doing so allows us to commit 100% of our energy and effort to realizing our dream. Doing so keeps us from diminishing our impact. 

Embrace your dream – We all have dreams. It’s up to us to embrace them – to commit to them – to put forth the effort required to make them a reality. The mere pursuit of our dreams will fuel us – motivate us – drive us. When you know your dream – embrace it. You might not impact the entire world – but you’ll certainly impact your world.

Dr. Hayat Sindi is a truly fearless brand. Her drive and commitment, her effort and talent, her belief in humanity all contribute. Those traits exist in each of us – it’s merely a question of how big you want your dream to be. 

Friday's Fearless Brand Personal Branding

Coach, International Speaker and Thought Partner - Bill’s mission is to add value to the world – one brand at a time. Bill guides individuals and companies alike in building what he refers to as a ‘fearless brand’. This is the process of discovering, embracing and delivering their greatest value – which allows them to realize greater profit. Read More

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