Born in Miami Florida, Jawdat Abulhaj is the eldest of three children and the only son of two immigrant parents. Abulhaj was raised by his parents to be respectful of everyone and to embrace every opportunity that presents itself. They taught him the value of hard work, honesty, the importance of being involved in his community, and achieving higher education.

During Jawdat Abulhaj’s last year of high school while discussing college plans, his academic counselor suggested attending community college for two years before transferring to the university of choice. Community college has enabled Abulhaj to adapt to the rigor of college classes, show that he wants to be challenged, continue to learn, and develop academically. 

Jawdat Abulhaj is also involved in his community and volunteers with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which brings people together by building affordable housing and communities, and Shop With a Cop, which works to provide funding to underprivileged children.

Currently residing in Charlotte, North Carolina, Jawdat Abulhaj works with Offsitek and assists with some of their cost accounting. The company manufactures prefabricated walls, floor, and roof trusses from light gauge steel for the construction of better, safer, smarter homes that are more affordable. This has piqued his interest in real estate and the delivery of much needed affordable housing to communities. Jawdat also attends community college and aims to earn a finance degree.

What keeps you motivated?

I am motivated by success and making a difference in people’s lives. That’s why I spend a lot of my free time volunteering with organizations like Habitat for Humanity. I also work for causes I believe in, like affordable housing. There is a real shortage of affordable housing across the nation and I think that now it’s more important than ever before that we address that issue. So, I am motivated by that idea.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get inspiration from my father. He raised me with a lot of traditional values like respect, hard work, and honesty. He also always encouraged me to make sure I had a good education. It’s ultimately what pushed me to start studying at community college. My father is an entrepreneur that owns and operates several companies in real estate development and employs many people. He focuses on building affordable housing to benefit our community. 

How do you maintain a solid work-life balance?

I operate very much under the idea of working hard and playing hard. There are certain times where your mind reaches its capacity for the day and you just have to learn to switch it off and do something you enjoy, whether it’s watching a movie or going out with friends. There are obviously times where you feel like you can’t switch off, maybe for weeks at a time depending on your workload. But, if you don’t allow yourself to switch off ever, you’re going to burn out and you won’t be useful to anyone.

What traits do you possess that make a successful leader?

Mostly I think my hard work and dedication go a long way in making me a successful leader. Others can pick up on those qualities and are motivated to work harder themselves.

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

Transferring from private to public school was a difficult transition for me at first. I was the ‘new kid’ at first and it took a while to get accustomed to the new environment. It was a really good learning experience and taught me how to adapt to any situation.

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

Never give up, no matter how hard some things may seem. It’s easy to dig yourself into a hole when you experience difficulties, but the important thing is to move on and keep pushing forward. Otherwise you are just standing still and you are letting yourself down.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I started as a warehouse employee and worked my way up to the accounting department. A lot of people may scoff at being a warehouse worker and consider it to be ‘grunt work,’ but that position allows you to excel rather quickly because it requires a lot of patience, coordination, and collaboration. Those are important qualities in the workforce overall.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?

Never underestimate the value and the importance of hard work. It’s a very important quality to possess. If employers perceive you as lazy, you won’t get very far or move ahead. When you work hard, it will translate into positive habits in other aspects of your life.

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

Nothing is impossible. You can accomplish anything you want with a positive outlook and dedication. A lot of people don’t believe that and they think that it’s all a matter of luck.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

I really care about my family and friends. The people I surround myself with help define me as a person. I make sure I put time and care into all my relationships.