Hanan Hafez said she had a "luxurious life" in Alexandria, Egypt. So when she left at 22, settled in Arlington Heights and raised a family, she also pursued her career.
After working up the ranks at some local banks and a hotel, she decided to become an event planner and formed her own business, Events with Style in Lake Zurich.
Had she returned to Egypt to raise her children after a divorce, she would never have lived the American dream, she said.
"I lived a luxurious life in Egypt and never did anything on my own. I never got involved in anything," she said. "But here, you really live your dream. You feel it. You can promote it. I never really thought I would leave Egypt at all, but I did, and now I don't miss it at all."
Hafez was born and raised in Egypt and came to Arlington Heights in 1991 because her now ex-husband wanted to move here. But with two of her three children born at the time, she wanted to do something more outside the home.
She had a master's degree in accounting and finance, and took a job at a local bank and worked her way up the ladder. She was recruited to a couple of other banks before she opted to manage a local hotel, she said.
In the meantime, she moved to Wheeling and then to Lake Zurich.
"I really believe it is important to be patient and learn more and to get more knowledge, instead of just jumping for another job," she said. "You should learn and earn your promotions."
Since she felt customer service came naturally to her, she started to plan events as a side job in 2010.
"From Day One, I always wanted to make customers happy," she said. "I was doing it naturally and decided to become a certified event planner."
Last June, she took the plunge and made her event planning side job into a full-time reality. She focuses on weddings, private parties, corporate and other events, some with as many as 450 guests. Her company now has a second office in Wauconda, she said.
She believes she would not have been able to do that if she had returned to Egypt.
"After my divorce, my family just wanted me to return and I did not want to, and all of that just made me stronger," she said.
Egg freezing party?
Dr. Eve Feinberg, medical director of the Fertility Centers of Illinois Center for Fertility Preservation, said she is hosting "Ladies Night Out: Egg Freezing Party Freeze Your Biological Clock Until The Time is Right For You," where women can get information about freezing their eggs. The event offers complimentary appetizers and cocktails starting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Flight Neighborhood Bar, Restaurant & Market, 1820 Tower Drive in Glenview. From 2013 to 2014, the center said it has seen a 32 percent increase in women freezing their eggs to delay childbearing. This year, the center said it is on track to assist about 325 women preserve their fertility.
Pastries and passion
Sisters Katarzyna Mierzeyewska and Emilia Augustyn moved here from Poland a few months ago to pursue their passion for serving their country's signature coffee with homemade pastries. They recently cut the ribbon on Spring Donut in Barrington. They offer Polish flavored drinks, pastries, quiches, sandwiches and soups in the winter months.
Alex Gourlay, executive vice president of Deerfield-based Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and president of Walgreens, is expected to be on hand to accept the 2015 Corporate Ambassador Award from the World Business Chicago and Chicago Sister Cities International on Dec. 15 in Chicago. Walgreens Boots Alliance was selected for creating global connections for Chicago; promoting Chicago's economy and business environment; championing Chicago's growth; and putting Chicago at the forefront of the global economy.
Mary K. Otto, of Wheaton, received the 2015 Susan R. Meisinger Fellowship at the Society for Human Resource Management annual Volunteer Leaders' Summit in Washington, D.C. More than 800 HR professionals attended the event. Otto is the manager of human resources for TouchTunes Music Corp. in Schaumburg and is also an independent consultant, working with various business and individual clients.
Gina Haspilaire, the chief human resource officer of Reliance Communications and Global Cloud Xchange, has been appointed a director at Bloomingdale-based PCTEL Inc. She has held executive and leadership positions at Henkel, PACNET, Heidrick and Struggles and AT&T.
Richard Glover, director of Reverse Mortgage Lending at American Fidelity Mortgage Services Inc. in Lisle, attended the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders annual conference in San Francisco Nov. 16-18. ... Leda Treu recently opened her Brazilian Beauty Skin Care shop in Barrington, which offers clients skin care services from acne treatments to anti-aging, facials and waxing services. ... Lauren Graczyk is the new marketing director for J.C. Anderson Inc., a general contractor based in Elmhurst.
Michael E. Podboy, who was executive vice president and chief investment officer of InvenTrust, has been appointed as executive vice president chief financial officer, chief investment officer and treasurer, at InvenTrust Properties Corp. in Oak Brook. He replaces Jack Potts, who resigned on Nov. 23. ... Tom Minichiello, chief financial officer for Aurora-based Westell Technologies Inc., will speak at the LD Micro Main Event Investor Conference in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Bruce Brda, executive vice president of Systems & Products at Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions, will speak at the Raymond James Technology Investors Conference on Tuesday, Dec. 8, in New York. ... Mark Tarlov, a Hollywood director and founder of Chapter 24 Vineyards, will host "Up Close and Personal" Wine Series on Tuesday at Bella Bacinos in LaGrange. Tarlov founded Chapter 24 in 2012 after leaving Evening Land Vineyards, the winery he founded in 2006. He also founded Chapter 24 Vineyards alongside winemakers Louis Michel Liger-Belair and Max Marriott.
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