PPS Welcomes Peacebuilder Leila Bidad - Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

Leila Bidad is a Workplace Consultant whose unwavering commitment to peacebuilding shines through everything that she does. As an Iranian-American immigrant, she first gained an interest and built her conflict resolution skills through community organizing as her family was adjusting to American life. While earning her dual undergraduate degrees at the University of California Irvine, Leila became a certified Mediator in order to begin her professional journey as a Peacebuilder. Among her numerous activities as a student, Leila partnered with her professors and colleagues to establish a branch of the Olive Tree Initiative. which addressed campus climate issues and trained students on conflict resolution through experiential learning.

Given her personal background, Leila dreamt of working with the United Nations to put her knowledge and experience to use in the international conflict resolution space. She planned to utilize her experience with the Olive Tree Initiative and her Farsi, Turkic, Spanish, and English language skills to support communities around the world. However, she was presented with an unexpected opportunity with an international auto-manufacturing corporation to manage their consumer dispute resolution department and oversee contracted employee relations. In addition to leading a team of mediators, Leila negotiated and settled disputes in lieu of litigation.

In her diverse professional experiences, Leila has found that companies often neglect to empower their employees. They fail to establish systems that allow organic and fluid exchanges between team members at various levels of the company. Leila believes that employees who work directly with clients have a unique perspective that could strengthen the entire organization. According to Leila, conflict often festers inside organizations that focus only on periodic employee evaluations.

When it comes to her work, Leila recognizes that the doors of opportunity in this field are not as open for her as a female mediator who is neither an attorney nor a judge. However, she uses her ability to connect and build relationships with others to push past every barrier that she comes across. Leila’s aptitude to be human-centered has been an advantage because she is able to give the extra human touch that her clients need. Because of this skill, Leila has seen a lot of success and built a reputation as a talented Peacebuilder. She is always prepared to “tango with the uncertain” in this field.

Having been in the field for over a decade, Leila has a lot of practical ideas to share with individuals who are new to peacebuilding. First, she places value on mentorship from those who have walked this path. Their wisdom can help one avoid common pitfalls and secure a community of like-minded people who can offer their support when needed. Second, Leila recommends serving one’s community through volunteer work. As she puts it, “volunteer work shows just so much dedication and commitment” and offers opportunities for skill-building. Third, she encourages graduates to accept and pursue opportunities that come their way even if they are not exactly what they planned. These experiences can help them build a strong foundation for the future. Finally, Leila advises new Peacebuilders to remain grounded and humble in order to face the challenges that are ahead.

Nezia Munezero Kubwayo

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