Sajda Ouachtouki

bookworm and Disney global public policy team member 

southern california 

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can you relate to the feeling of being divided between two worlds?

Sajda, who was raised in America by Moroccan parents, turned that feeling into her whole career. “every few years as a kid, my parents would take me to Morocco to see my family there,” she says. “the contrast between Morocco and America always stood out to me and during my visits, i was able to see what true poverty meant. i grew up knowing that i wanted to help people in different countries and give them the opportunity to create dreams for themselves.” that same intention and thought is a ribbon she has woven throughout her life. her travel secrets, book recommendations and style tips are guaranteed to spark something in you, too.


there are thirty-one more days of summer. how will you spend them?

“i know this is weird but i'm not a summer person! i really can't handle the heat, so my summer plans usually involve planning how to stay in air-conditioning as much as possible until someone drags me to the beach or the pool. i do have an epic late summer trip planned, though. in early September (when it's not so hot!) my husband and are going to Bali, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. i'm in charge of planning the trip and you can bet that i squeezed in time for a flower bath.”


how romantic! What else is on your bucket list?

“i always tell my husband that if i ever won the lottery, i would quit work and travel the world. i absolutely love to travel and my absolute dream would be to live in different countries for a year or so at a time. my other passion is to write a book. i've had an idea for an epic fantasy book that involves 1400s southern Spain, magic, and a forbidden romance for years but haven't gotten the chance to write it yet.”


we’d read it. what is your job in the meantime?

“i currently work at Disney on the Global Public Policy team and i'm really enjoying my time there. i never thought that i was the type of person to work for a massive corporation but once i found out that one of my favorite brands in the world had a team that worked on issues i was passionate about, i just had to apply. i hit my two year mark at the company about a month ago. my desire to be a global citizen led me to study international affairs, and i love that i get to use my background at a company that i respect and love.”


where do you gather inspiration?

“i love stories about people's paths and journeys because that always leads me to self-assess and determine how i can become a better person. i've always loved Michelle Obama but after reading her book, Becoming, and learning about her struggles and how she overcame them, i gained so much more respect for her and she became an even deeper source of inspiration for me. i also love listening to podcasts where speakers detail how they got to where they currently are. NPR's podcast, “How I Built This,” is phenomenal and always inspires me to work harder. and Oprah's podcast, “SuperSoul Conversations,” never fails to lift me up spiritually and emotionally.”


we’ve heard you’re a prolific reader.

“i’ve read about thirty books this year so far! my favorite was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. it was the perfect balance of humor and darkness, and tackles some very tough issues related to mental illness. Reese Witherspoon is actually working with MGM to adapt it for a movie and i’m so here for it.”  


five books for everyone’s air-conditioned late summer reading list?

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: you won't be able to put this down. 

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor: absolutely perfect for fantasy fans — the writing is gorgeous and the world-building is phenomenal. 

 Daisy Jones & the Sixby Taylor Jenkins Reid: you've probably seen this book everywhere by now — it's so captivating. 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang: if you're looking for a romance beach read, this is perfect. 

Becomingby Michelle Obama: because Michelle Obama is a boss and her memoir proves how incredible she is.


so, how do the heat-averse get the most out of this time of year?

“my hack is to go out around sunset, especially if you're in Southern California and it's above 90 degrees every day from July to October. as much as i don't love summer days, i absolutely adore summer nights. sometimes my husband and i will decide to grill for dinner and i love being able to have grilled meals with a smoothie out in our backyard while we watch the sunset.” 


how do you dress for summer (and for life)?

“i tend to dress modestly and wear a lot of loose clothing so i love layering my époque pieces. The black bomber jacket is such a staple piece and goes with anything -- it's one of my favorite things to throw on top of an outfit for a cool casual look. i also really like throwing a kimono on top of the nonstop tee dress and pairing it with sneakers for a more relaxed look. also, my mantra is ‘someone else’s opinion of me is none of my business."