Building Emotional Firewalls through EQ

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein 

Behavioural Change

Cyber breaches and attacks are rising and are estimated to have cost organizations in the 1 trillion USD in 2020, with forecasted numbers increasing to 10,5 USD trillion by 2025. Cyber breaches have increased by 600% since COVID, and over 96% are due to social engineering attacks, e.g., the emotional manipulation of human vulnerability to steal data, inflict digital pain and cause reputational damage and skyrocketing financial losses.

If anything, the pandemic has exacerbated the cracks of human preparedness for the changing cyber landscape. Current systems, structures, and mindsets are insufficient to protect us against cyber crimes, as evidenced by recent large-scale attacks on national critical infrastructures and highly classified government systems.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”  – Albert Einstein

Current cyber awareness training and initiatives primarily focus on training people to use the technology to safeguard against the rising cyber-attacks. But in a world where between 70 – 90% of cyber breaches are due to human vulnerability in the hybrid workforce, people need help in building emotional firewalls.

We help you build human preparedness by assisting people to develop emotional firewalls against cybercriminals’ malicious emotional manipulation techniques. Our services include training, consultancy and awareness talks. Learn more…

“Everything human kind does exists in polarity, as does the criminal mind. We may never eradicate cyber crime, but we must think faster and act prepared so we can recover and thrive quicker than before”. 

Stakeholder Engagement

The role of Information Technology leaders responsible for cybersecurity in their organizations transcends the technical realm. The alarming trend of increase in cyber breaches is causing a ripple effect in the economic -, political-, security-, and societal landscapes. A complex ecosystem of stakeholders concerned with cybersecurity is pushing for a transformational role of IT leaders.

Managing cyber risk against an increasingly diverse set of controls, engaging and managing expectations of a growing ecosystem of stakeholders, and communicating cyber risk in people’s maps of the world and across disciplines are major responsibilities. The significant shift driving IT to change as a business change within the organization to IT as a cultural transformation both inside and outside the organization can only be successful if it starts with a people-centric approach.

“As we’ve come to realize, the idea that security starts and ends with the purchase of a prepackaged firewall is simply misguided.”-  Art Wittmann

We help you leverage emotional intelligence as the bridge in navigating these transformational changes, minimize your pain in engaging and achieve your individual, team, and organizational objectives through the art of stakeholder engagement. Our services include training, consultancy and awareness talks. Learn more…

What is Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a set of emotional and social skills that collectively establish how well we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use dynamic information in an effective and meaningful way.

Emotional Intelligence is not a measure of cognitive Intelligence (like IQ), but a measure of professional aptitude, vocational interest, or personality preferences (like psychological type/temperament).

While many people remain uninformed about the EQ-i and assume that it is “touchy-feely” and overly reliant on emotional and subjective issues, the EQ-i 2.0 is a scientifically validated tool used worldwide that deals with many objective elements, including Problem Solving, Reality Testing, Flexibility, and Independence to name just a few.

EQ is a vital skill set to help people respond to their immediate surroundings, challenges, and environment in the short term; while IQ is necessary for long-term and strategic thinking.


What are Emotional Firewalls

When applied in the cybersecurity world, emotional intelligence can help people build their emotional firewalls by having several lines of defense and reducing the risk of human vulnerabilities . The science and research behind behavioural change,  shows that emotions are linked with people’s perceptions and concepts stored in different brain regions.

These are also referred to as “cognitive biases” that make up people’s map of the world. Imagine everyone has filing cabinets with information stored from the past as their blueprint for behaving and responding to their immediate environment.

Everyone sees, perceives, and processes information within their map of the world based on past experiences, childhood upbringing, and cognitive biases. In a nutshell, and without entering the realm of neuroscience, concepts trigger emotions, and emotions drive behavior, e.g., people’s response options.

Emotional firewalls can help people exercise responding instead of reacting to their immediate environment and cultivating healthy response options, which is the stepping stone for behavioural change. It requires exercising empathy which is easier said than done when fighting fires to ensure minimal risk of cyber breaches occurring or amplifying.

Who do we serve

Our Clients

We work with IT leaders in the critical infrastructure sector within the financial services, healthcare, defense industrial base, and information communication technology industries. We help our clients drive cybersecurity as a behavioural change and assist them in navigating the complex web of stakeholders impacted by their cybersecurity strategies and policies.

Our Testimonials

If you understand the cyber threat landscape, you will understand why Nadja El Fertasi’s contribution is so important. Her expertise in strategic cyber security, emotional intelligence and human approach in explaining complex issues with so much passion and clarity is only one of her qualities. She is an awesome professional, outstanding in her field and a thoroughly decent person, because yes, being decent absolutely matters.


Rois Ni Thuama PhD
Head of Cyber Governance – Red Sift Limited – Global Cyber Alliance Ambassador


I’ve had the good fortune to meet some very exceptional people in my life – and Nadja is one of them. She has the robust professional focus, acumen and credibility that comes from building a highly successful career in a challenging military environment; and an unparalleled sensitivity to the inner workings of our individual human condition, which allows her to delve deep into otherwise untapped sources of performance and well-being. What makes Nadja special in her domain is her innate curiosity and commitment to continuously extending her own body of knowledge with scientific research to build methods and frameworks that are proven and repeatable. From individual visualizations that build emotional intelligence (EQ) to table-top exercises that develop organizational muscle-memory in dealing with cyber crisis situations, Nadja has a vast repertoire of developmental capabilities that will be hugely beneficial to leaders and organizations who believe people are the key to building better cyber defenses. Thanks to Thrive With EQ, achieving enhanced individual and collective cyber outcomes is no longer a matter of chance but a predictable result from the consistent application of Nadja’s unique approach of bringing ‘the right EQ tools to the job.


Anne Leslie
Senior Managing Consultant | IBM Security


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



Welcome to our secret to successful workforce development. How can we help you?

× How can we help you?