Building Emotional Firewalls through EQ

Cyber criminals manipulate people based on their emotions. We help you mitigate social engineering attacks through emotional intelligence.

An often-overlooked critical aspect of cybersecurity, resilience, and preparedness is the human factor. Many organizations invest in building technical firewalls with state-of-the-art technology in a world where over 96% of cybercrime is due to social engineering.

Cybercriminals leverage social engineering techniques to manipulate people based on their emotions of fatigue, distraction, isolation, and chronic stress while working remotely.

Cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated in leveraging phishing attacks as the first entry point to degrade organizational networks, steal data, replicate authentication details, and exert pressure through ransomware attacks.

Building emotional firewalls helps people exercise how to respond to their immediate surroundings and challenges with a rational response option instead of a flight or fly mode.

Emotional firewalls address the emotional, personal, social, and survival dimensions of intelligence, which are often more important for daily functioning than the more traditional cognitive aspects of intelligence. 

Our Tabletop Exercises are innovative, dynamic, and people-centric training workshops to simulate, exercise and collaborate between multidisciplinary teams. 

We leverage the science of emotional intelligence to help you build and exercise emotional firewalls and build cyber preparedness, resilience and hygiene across your workforce. 

We help you identify and ask questions which address the human factor of cyber security:

  • How do you communicate with your internal and external stakeholders to raise awareness and reduce cyber risk in their map of the world?
  • How do you foster cyber hygiene behaviors across all workforce layers by changing mindsets instead of personalities?
  • How do you reduce human error in a remote/hybrid force plagued by cyber breaches, budget cuts and lack of cyber hygiene fundamentals?

The answers may not be clear-cut, but simulating, exercising, and collaborating will help you work as one corporate team to beat cybercriminals at their own game. 

“Beat cyber criminals at their own game. We help you build emotional firewalls against social engineering attacks.”

What We Offer

Tabletop Exercises

Training Modules


Latest Resources

What does this look like?

We help Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) implement people-centric cybersecurity training to tackle the root cause of human vulnerability in the digital age.

Want to learn how?

Meet John! John has been a CISO of Company Y for three years now. Ever since COVID-2019 disrupted ways of working in his organization, he has had some sleepless nights. Cyber-attacks have seen a sharp rise of 600%, and over 75% are because of human error.

Despite all the cybersecurity awareness and training, human error continues to increase. The cybersecurity and IT teams are working around the clock to mitigate, recover and contain the aftermath of the cyber breaches. Getting the message of cyber risk across with your Board of Directors, Senior Leadership, Peers and Employees seems like a mission impossible as everyone sees perceives, and processes information in their map of the world.

We helped John turn this around. We worked with John and his peers to design and facilitate Tabletop Exercises where Stakeholders, Senior Leadership, Management Teams, and Staff build emotional firewalls and transform human weakness into human organisational shields. 

Through Simulating, Exercising, and Collaborating, participants managed to:


  • Increase their stress tolerance and focus on the immediate and priority action items to mitigate cyber risk;
  • They build resilience against emotional manipulation techniques employed by cybercriminals;
  • Clarified roles and responsibilities and exercised through role-play simulations what these would look like in the organizational -, team-, and individual maps of the world;
  • They fostered functional trust between multi-disciplinary teams and build on the differences to find solutions that contribute to organizational preparedness, resilience, and success in the digitized century.

John’s peers loved this approach! They have been struggling in managing their team remotely and in a hybrid setting for months now. The stress and pressure of implementing cyber hygiene practices on top of their day-to-day workload seemed like an extra weight on their shoulder.

Now, not only have they learned how to foster cyber hygiene across their teams, build cyber preparedness and resilience; they have practical EQ tools and techniques to manage their energy, lead their teams through disruption, and include the fundamentals of cyber hygiene and human preparedness in their ways of working. It no longer feels like due diligence or an extra chore, but it is part of a new mindset. 

A mindset which has been exercised in people’s map of the world, so they know and feel what it means for them.

Within six months, human error decreased from 75% to 55% as people learned strategies to respond instead of reacting when they receive suspicious emails, phone calls, or take part in online conversations. They are more aware of their social profiles on the internet and how cybercriminals leverage this information to build rapport and manipulate to get access into their networks.

Finally, they have more energy, higher levels of productivity, and are more resilient to navigate and adapt to the new ways of digital working.

Who do we serve

Our Clients

A Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) who understands that Cyber Security Awareness Training must be people-centric, and  is no longer a technical expertise field. It requires  a new way of thinking, behaving and responding to the rising cyber threats across all layers of the organizational workforce. 

“We provide an innovative and creative way of team-building experience while learning how to build cyber hygiene as part of a new mindset”.

Our Testimonials

World Savings Banking Institute (WSBI) and Global Cyber Alliance joined forces and organized a series of webinars on “Cyber Transformation: From Strategy to Operations”. Thrive with EQ led the regional training webinars for our members in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Central Europe. The CEO, Nadja El Fertasi, facilitated transformative, innovative and dynamic online training which focused on exercising collaboration during a simulated cyber crisis. Our members learned new ways of approaching stress management, problem-solving, decision making while navigating a disruptive cyber event. Nadja’s work ethic while looking for excellence, coupled with a good sense of humor, enabled us to approach our customer needs best, while working in flexible and convivial manner. I certainly recommend Thrive with EQ’s Table Top Exercises for any organization who is looking to exercise collaboration and be prepared against the inevitable cyber disruptions of the digital age


Laurie Dufays,
Head of Institutional Relations with Africa at WSBI-ESBG


Nadja’s grasp and explanation of EQ, along with explaining its application within the personal and work environments, is something I believe should be incorporated not only into every business but educational systems as well – the information received is that important. Being able to give a person a foundational understanding of where they fall in the range of 15 different areas – and how to balance over and under-compensating factors – truly is a gift of clarity. Nadja’s reporting also provides strategies for improving areas which is exciting as you have a starting point, an actionable game plan, and a truer knowledge of yourself. Speaking with Nadja was never a like a lecture that she needed to get through, it was always a meaningful conversation – she put me at ease, asked thought-provoking questions to get to the heart of a matter, and practiced active listening. If you want a better functioning team – in any capacity, but I know her focus is cybersecurity – do yourself a favor and get set up with Nadja. I cannot recommend her services enough!


Sue Lemm, PMP
Senior Consultant, United States


Nadja impeccably designed and facilitated a two-part online EQ training for a dozen emerging leaders from the Eastern Partnership countries. She was a real pleasure to work with and I greatly appreciated her creativity, good sense of humor, openness to dialogue and flexibility to build a training program for a diverse group of individuals. Through a mix of crisis simulations, role play, presentations on how emotions impact the ability to make decisions and one-on-one coaching, Nadja helped each of the members of the group become better decision-makers and increase their impact in their communities.
Nadja is a passionate coach and leader, and an inspiration to all those she helps grow. I strongly recommend her to any organization that works on leadership development.


Ana Aelenei
Head of Leadership and Democracy Initiatives at German Marshall Fund of the United States


I had the pleasure and privilege of co-chairing “Disruptive Dilemmas: Cyber Crisis Simulation Exercise”, the largest side event and the first-ever/inaugural cyber crisis simulation exercise at the 2019 GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum with Nadja. Nadja is a brilliant, passionate and visionary leader who is a true inspiration to those around her, myself included. Her tremendous work ethic, sense of humor, creativity and ability to connect with and establish rapport with others was invaluable. It is evident that she was a great asset to NATO as a senior executive at NCIA and I am confident that she will touch and positively influence many lives in her role as entrepreneur. I very enthusiastically provide Nadja with my highest recommendation.

Keerthika Melissa Subramanian
Securities Lawyer @Mintz; Lecturer at Yale Law School (Fall 2019); Global Thought Leader, Data Privacy and Cyber

I have known Nadja since October 2016 and she is one of the most passionate, creative, intelligent and ambitious individuals I have met. Her global vision and leadership in driving change is an inspiration for all who work with her. Through her excellent verbal and written communication skills, she has an innate ability to present complex strategic issues in an effective and concise manner. Nadja is an outstanding role model and a talented thought leader who continues to touch people’s lives. I highly recommend Nadja to any organization struggling with the challenges of workforce development. Nadja is a passionate and inspirational entrepreneur with a purpose, a vision and a mission to transform the workforce in the 21st Century.

Denis Mercier
Deputy General Manager FIVES Group, former Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation at NATO (2015 – 2018)

I had the great pleasure of participating in Nadja’s workshop and crisis simulation on emotional intelligence. She provided a fascinating presentation on how emotions impact your ability to make decisions, solve problems, handle stress, be flexible and agile in an age of disruption. She designed and facilitated a real-life cybersecurity scenario with five uniquely designed personality types across generations, cultures, backgrounds, and sectors. The role-play allowed us to step outside our own map of the world, develop more empathy for other team members, develop greater self-awareness and become more rational decision-makers and problem solvers. I highly recommend Nadja to any organization who is seeking innovative and uniquely designed workshops to face the challenges of workforce development in the 21st Century!

Muddassar Ahmed
Managing Partner at Unitas Communications, Founder & President of John Adams Society, Founder & Chair of Concordia Forum, a Fellow at the German Marshall fund and on Advisory Boards at the Faiths Forum for London, Atlantic Council (US), ENAM (Greece), IAYP (US), ISTAC (Malaysia) and IRM (Pakistan).

I had the pleasure of participating in the inaugural cyber crisis simulation exercise at the GLOBSEC 2019 Bratislava Forum on 6 June 2019. Nadja designed two out of the four innovative, strategic and real-life cybersecurity scenarios. I participated in one of them and found the emotional intelligence aspects to be critical for decision-making and problem solving within diverse teams who perform under high pressure. I have known Nadja for several years now and she continues to impress me with her creativity and leadership. I highly recommend her to any organization seeking to build a thriving and successful workforce to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Benedetta Berti, PhD
Head, Policy Planning, Office of the Secretary General at NATO

Nadja has designed and facilitated two cyber crisis simulation exercises for our Inclusive Leadership Hub, the German Marshall Fund of the United States Office in Paris. The simulation exercise consisted of a presentation highlighting the foundations of emotional intelligence, personality type preferences, value-based beliefs, and unconscious bias. The presentation was followed by a cyber crisis simulation exercise based on role play. Nadja designed the personality types for a generationally diverse team across cultures, sectors, and backgrounds. What made the crisis simulation innovative and unique is the use of emotional intelligence curveballs so the participants could practice their human resilience. The creative and innovative workshops addressed some of the critical challenges of the workforce in an era of digital transformation and disruptive security challenges. Participants found the workshop a great success! I highly recommend Nadja to any organization who is looking for innovative, creative, and practical real-life crisis scenarios to transform the workforce and build human resilience for the 21st Century!

Kristel Ba
Programme Officer for Inclusive Leadership at the German Marshall Fund of the United States office for Paris

Nadja designed and facilitated a cyber crisis simulation exercise based on emotional intelligence for ‪the Young Professionals‬ in Foreign Policy in Brussels. She explained the impact of emotions on decision-making, problem solving, stress tolerance, interpersonal relations and self-confidence in a way all participants could relate. These soft-skills are critical for all generations, and in particular young professionals who are at the beginning of their careers. Building professional resilience and developing emotional intelligence was at the heart of our workshop, and should be high on the agenda for any organisation struggling with the challenges of building a workforce fit for the 21st Century. We highly recommend Nadja to any organisation working with young professionals for a journey of transformation and innovation in an age of disruption!

Georgiana Dragomir
Executive Director, Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, Brussels

I recently participated in one of Nadja’s crisis simulation exercises based on emotional intelligence. In my role as a Policy and Advocacy officer, I have extensive experience in crisis management and stakeholder engagement. I regularly deal with stakeholders from various countries, cultures, backgrounds, and sectors. What was innovative about Nadja’s workshop is her ability to explain and convey complex strategic issues into practical and simple exercises. The highlight for me was the use of personality types. It has been also a great exercise to learn how to manage a certain issue from another personality perspective. As well as, I had a chance to gain more insights into adjusting my own personality to a different one with the aim of problem-solving, finding consensus and being impactful as a group.She designed them with such attention to detail and personality so that we could experience the crisis scenarios through the eyes of another person. As a result, we learned to become better at rational problem-solving and decision-making. I highly recommend Nadja to any organization who is looking for an innovative and creative workshop that addresses intergenerational workforce challenges.

Ronald Ferkovics
Policy and Advocacy Officer at Roma Education Fund Budapest

Clients & Partners we have worked with



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