“I had always thought about doing something for underserved girls in the world,” Thekra explains. She had an idea to start an NGO, Edugirl. “Most NGOs focus on university-aged students,” Thekra says, “I want to focus on girls in neglected areas who get married early, who are isolated and who don’t have anyone who is fighting for them.” Thekra had this idea, this dream, but she had never shared it with anyone until she attended Barbara Fittapaldi’s workshop on Breakthrough Leadership in the first week of her TechWomen mentorship.
“One of the most amazing workshops was with Barbara,” Thekra shares when describing the highlights of her TechWomen experience. “Her workshop had a huge effect on me. I learned I should speak the thoughts I have and not be afraid to take some risks in my career and life.”
“She split us in groups, asking each of us to talk about what we wanted to change after returning home. I got the courage when Babara started to shout, you should speak your idea, just find a good listener. Everyone was listening and supporting me; it was something really huge. This was the first time I talked about Edugirl and my idea became more real after I spoke about it.”
Before coming to the US, Thekra wondered how her mentorship would impact her. “It was a new concept for me,” she explains, “but after spending time with my mentor, it was like magic. I felt I was changing from inside. I started to feel I have a loan from the community that I need to pay back.” Part of this loan, she feels, was sharing the knowledge she had gained through the program.
The first thing Thekra did when she got home was to contact Amman TechTuesdays, the biggest monthly tech event in Jordan. “I was given time to speak there about our experience and the impact of the mentorship. I also talked about my initiative, Edugirl.” After presenting at TechTuesdays, Thekra was hosted on Jordanian national TV where she spoke about women and technology. “I talked about how we can implement a mentorship model in Jordan and the reaction was great,” Thekra explains. An entrepreneur supporter contacted Thekra after her appearance asking her to discuss her ideas for implementing a mentorship program in Jordan. Thekra is now working with him to develop an implementation strategy and raise funds to support the initiative.
In addition to working on the action plan for her Edugirl initiative and promoting mentorship programs, Thekra has just received a significant promotion, taking on new responsibilities at Hewlett Packard Jordan. Thekra’s managers believed in her skills and saw that she was ready for a new challenge. In November, Thekra was promoted one whole level–– the equivalent of 5 grades — and is now the Customer Solution Center Supervisor. She went from managing a team of 3 to a team of 18. “Before,” Thekra explains, “I was a project specialist; the role I’ve been promoted to is much wider. I have to be technically strong, I have to maintain good relations with customers, and I have to keep my team motivated.”
Thekra continues to be in touch with her TechWomen Mentors and others she met through the program. She draws on support from her TechWomen network as she launches new initiatives and takes on new challenges at work. “These are not just relationships for a very specific time,” Thekra says when describing relationships with Mentors and others she met through the TechWomen program, “they are life partnerships – those 5 weeks were just the beginning.”