activ8transformation: Coaching Meets Cultures


I met Shabih Zaidi last Thursday over a tea, and about an hour into our chat, I discovered she is also a painter. One wonders how a coach and mother of three finds time to paint while finishing up a PhD dissertation and setting up her own business, but Shabih is clearly a master of time management and discipline (although she probably wouldn’t admit it).

Self-described as a “third culture kid,” Shabih has called home to London, Nigeria, Kuwait, Scotland, Dubai, and Hong Kong (among others!) before settling down in Basel two years ago. Shabih, an expert adapter to foreign cultures and languages, has gained such singular experience in coping with change that she realized she had a wealth of insight and knowledge for helping others through their transitions. It’s only natural that, after receiving a Master’s in Anthropology in Hong Kong and teaching Global Awareness at a University in Dubai, she would now be writing a doctoral thesis on Globally Mobile Intellectual Capital at the Universität Basel and setting up her coaching business “activ8transformation”.

When did you know you wanted to be a coach?

I realized I’d actually been coaching all my life…I think it’s been my upbringing, when you move around so much as a child, you become really flexible and open-minded to different aspects of how and why people do things. And then, of course, the knowledge and experience of being an anthropologist reinforces and enhances that intrinsic knowledge.

How long did it take you from the moment you knew you wanted to set up your own business to working towards that goal?

Overnight! I just thought, “okay, I’m going to do this!” I spend time reflecting and thinking, of course, that’s the nature of what I do. But I’m action-oriented, I put my plans into action as soon as possible.

Who are your target clients?

Anyone who is experiencing difficulties with transitions and change sometimes compounded by a “career break” or feeling “stuck” professionally. Creativity in dealing with change enables a new perspective and can help set goals and ensure personal growth. My PhD at the University of Basel focuses on Globally Mobile Corporate Executives with a view to understanding the impact of relocation on highly qualified individuals and their families. I am also developing a programme to help companies identify and build corporate cultures with a focus on Diversity, Inclusion and Talent Management.

Have you had any advisors, mentors, or friends who helped you in the process?

My husband, I’m so lucky. I can talk to him about anything, and he gives great feedback and support. He sees the woods from the trees and knows me so well. Networking with organizations like PWG is so important too, to be given a platform to express my professional side. We all have different facets – mom, anthropologist, professional, wife, painter. PWG and other networking communities help me develop my professional side.

Thank you for your time Shabih and we wish you the best of luck in your business!


You can find her on LinkedIn here – for business queries, you can contact her at


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