Noha Abousonna –Commitment and Possibility

Noha

When 27-year-old Noha Abousonna returned home from the TechWomen program, her start-up quickly took notice of her newly developed skills and provided her with additional responsibilities. “My company understood that I now have connections with investors. I have promoted my company well. They know I could more.”

Months earlier, Noha applied to the TechWomen program as an entrepreneur who understood the importance of expressed cultural connectivity. Her plan was to record and take notes of her experiences and make them available for everyone to read through social media. But she was shy, reluctant and fearful. “Before I came to TechWomen I had stage phobia,” said Noha. “I couldn’t do a presentation in front of small groups of people or a large audience.”

In January 2009, prior to joining the TechWomen program, Noha developed a desire to build her own company. She craved an innovative space where she would have the freedom to turn her dream application ideas into reality. It was her appetite for innovation that helped her begin the journey that led her to the TechWomen program. At the time, she had secure employment. However, her drive to produce something new was stronger than her desire to fit in with the norm, so she left behind the known for the unknown and went to start her own company. “Everyone around me called me crazy and unrealistic to think about leaving my job,” she wrote in her TechWomen application. But Noha imagined being part of building and enabling an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Egypt.

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Making the impossible possible— Evelyn Zoubi’s journey with TechWomen

When Evelyn Zoubi applied to the 2012 TechWomen program, she did not believe she would be accepted. As a 25-year-old Jordanian entrepreneur, she faced a myriad of obstacles. Some even laughed at her ideas. But she did not give up.

In 2007, Evelyn was a visionary student at a top Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) university in the Middle East. During her time as a student, she often mulled about the impression she made on people. In her opinion, wardrobe plays a big part in creating lasting imprints on people’s minds. “At the time, I often did not know what to wear and I would take a moment to remember if I had worn something twice in a row with the same person,” said Evelyn. “It was at this time that I began experimenting with digitizing my wardrobe. Most investment panelists underestimated the need women had for clothing related technologies. But to her surprise, the most supportive individuals were the ones that comprehended the concept of digitizing wardrobe the least, her professors. “My professor thought it was a great idea and strongly encouraged me to pursue it,” said Evelyn.

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TechWomen Participate in Entrepreneurship Workshop at Fenwick & West

The 2012 TechWomen Emerging Leaders kicked off the second phase of the program with the TechWomen Entrepreneurship Workshop on October 1st. The workshop occurred after completing three weeks of professional mentorships at technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The full-day event was hosted at the Mountain View office of Fenwick and West LLP, a major technology and life sciences law firm whose clients include tech giants Apple, Facebook, Virgin Group, Google, Twitter, and Hewlett Packard.

The event was organized by the Institute of International Education and the TechWomen Entrepreneurship Advisory Committee comprised of Jill Finlayson, Menekse Gencer, and Anar Simpson. The Advisory Committee members are all currently serving their second year as TechWomen Mentors. While the first three weeks of the TechWomen program focused on projects-based professional development and cultural enrichment, the last two weeks of the program focused on building leadership skills, entrepreneurship, and innovation.   Continue reading

Meeting the 2012 TechWomen Mentors!

Mentor Workshop

Heather Ramsey, Director of TechWomen at IIESF, presents the TechWomen emerging leaders stats to a crowd of 2012 Professional and Cultural Mentors.

The 2012 TechWomen season has officially begun! We opened with a fantastic Mentor Workshop on Tuesday, August 7th hosted by Walmart Global eCommerce in San Bruno, CA. The workshop aimed to prepare the new TechWomen mentors for the three weeks they will spend mentoring emerging women leaders in technology from the Middle East and North Africa. More than 60 mentors attended the event, representing 50+ leading technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. The participants were welcomed by Walmart Global eCommerce CTO, Jeremy King, followed by Trish Tierney, Executive Director of IIE San Francisco. Representatives from the U.S. Department of State—Lee Satterfield, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and Sheila Casey, Deputy Director of the Office of Citizen Exchanges, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs—also spoke to the mentors via live video conference.

Katy Dickinson, a local mentoring expert and Professional Mentor for TechWomen, presented best and worst mentoring practices and challenged the audience to think about the concept of being a change agent. Among the participants were mentors from the 2011 TechWomen program, who participated in a Q&A panel. Panelist Fabiola Addamo presented her formula for TechWomen success: “Connect, listen, understand. This is all you need to succeed as a TechWomen Mentor.”

TechWomen Mentor Panel

Fabiola Addamo, pictured speaking, shares her experience during Q&A. Also pictured are Larissa Shapiro, Christine Duran, Taghrid Samak, and Trish Tierney (from left to right).

After the general panel, alumni mentors led breakout sessions specifically geared toward Cultural and Professional Mentors. The Twittersphere was abuzz with excitement for the program:

@techwomen: “I think the thing that struck me most was the impact the program had on the American participants” DAS Lee Satterfield #tw2012 @StateDept

@jfinlayson: #Techwomen will make you “want to step into new roles” and help you “reconnect with what matters” @TechWomenMENA alumni on #mentor rewards

@taliareyesortiz: @NetApp is very excited to be a @TechWomen technical #mentor for the 2nd year in a row  #TW2012 #NetAppCTO

@stephanieblock: Super excited to kick off #TechWomen #tw2012 my mentee is from Yemen yay! @IIESF @StateDept

@katy_dickinson: In mentor training for 80 @TechWomen, 12 of whom were with me for 2011 initial program.  Exciting and heart warming to see so many friends.

@ericalockheimer: Looking forward to being a mentor for @TechWomen. Thanks @LinkedIn #in :-) pic.twitter.com/G2QoPYdv

Stay tuned for more TechWomen updates. The Mentees arrive in less than four weeks!

Cultural Mentor Breakout Session

Cultural Mentor Breakout Session

TechWomen Mentors: In Their Own Words

 

We’ve put together a new video from 2011 Professional and Cultural Mentors about their experience with the TechWomen program. We hope you enjoy their stories as much as we do!

Don’t forget, the deadline to become a Mentor is coming up quickly. Apply before May 15 to be considered in the first round of selection. Applications will be accepted after May 15 on a rolling basis. Additional information about the mentorship is available on our website. We look forward to receiving your application soon!