Breaking Boundaries


It’s not often that one decides to switch careers after being in the same profession for almost two decades, but that’s what ex-Qatar Airways pilot did when he figured that teaching was his real calling.




When Jassim Shahbik decided to leave his comfortable job as an airline pilot to pursue his dreams of becoming a teacher, many scoffed at the idea.


“Friends and family were surprised at my decision. Some even expected me to fail as a teacher,” he says. However, after months of proving his ability, they began supporting his decision. “They are now encouraging me after realizing that I can really succeed in my new role. Personally, I am very comfortable with my decision,” he adds.


In this interview, Shahbik speaks to us about his passion for teaching, his role as an educator and the life he left behind.


How long were you a pilot?

I spent 18 years as a pilot. I graduated in 1998 and joined Qatar Airways in 2000. In 2016, I decided to pursue a career in education. I’m glad that I was able to realize this dream. If not for Teach For Qatar, I would not have had this opportunity to become a teacher.


Why did you decide on teaching?

I’ve always had a keen interest in education and in teaching. Plus, I like taking on new challenges. I was looking for a role that would enable me to give back to society and to contribute to the development of the community. I realized I could do this through Teach For Qatar. I was attracted to Teach For Qatar not only by its noble cause, but also because they were able to help me discover my talents and achieve my true potential.


Was it a difficult decision to make?

It was difficult in some aspects because of the economical and social impact it was going to have on my life, but thankfully, I was assured of my decision. Thanks to the help and support I received from Teach For Qatar.


Did you seek guidance from a career counselor before making this decision?

Naturally, I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I did a lot of research and asked experienced people in both industries for their opinion. I then measured the pros and cons, and made my decision accordingly.


What do you hope to gain out of teaching?

I just hope that my contribution will help develop a responsible and productive generation.


Has your teaching experience been fulfilling so far?

I am very comfortable and satisfied with the experience so far. It’s fulfilling to know that I am contributing towards a better generation and instilling some values in them. The experience has also benefitted me in many ways. If I ever go back to being a pilot, I will bring with me all the experience I have gained from the field.


What subjects do you teach currently?

I teach general science to preparatory school students.


Have you had any form of informal teaching experience in the past?

I practiced teaching with my colleagues while I was at college, and informally during my career as a pilot. When I joined Teach For Qatar, I received training from competent professionals that strengthened my personal ability as a teacher.


What do you think of the Teach For Qatar’s Leadership Journey program?

I managed to achieve success in this field only because of the clear mission and goals that the Leadership Journey program has. This program is excellent for attracting talented and competent people who love education and teaching. I feel that it should be adopted all over the region, as it offers an opportunity for those outside the education system to contribute to the community.


Who would you recommend the Leadership Journey program to?

I recommend it to all people who desire to contribute to the development of future Qatari leaders.


What advice would you give people who are looking for a career change that’s vastly different from what they currently do?

If someone has a strong desire for a change, my advice to him or her is: don’t hesitate. In the case of the educational sector, I can assure them that the field is satisfying and challenging. As a teacher, you are constantly learning and discovering new things that you need to present to your students.


How important do you think teachers are in shaping and influencing future generations?

It’s a lot more important than it is given credit for. Teachers have a very crucial and significant role to play in the development of young leaders.


Is your experience as an ex-pilot contributing to your current role?

My role and my personality as a captain have greatly helped me in my current role. My “pilot charisma” and interpersonal skills helps me control the class, and make a good teacher.


The Leadership Journey program is a two-year initiative. What are your plans after that?

I am looking forward to adding the experience I gained as a teacher to the aviation sector one day. I also look forward to taking part in development and training programs.