Cultural Mentors are an extremely valuable piece of the TechWomen experience, offering support and acting as a guide for the Emerging Leaders. We asked Salima Fassil, a 2012 Cultural Mentor, to answer our questions about being involved in the TechWomen program; her words are below.
What inspired you to participate as a mentor in the TechWomen program?
When I learned about TechWomen, I felt I had to participate. The fact that I grew up in one of the countries where the Emerging Leaders were selected from, I knew immediately that the program would be high quality and that I would meet some of the smartest women from the area. I also thought that I could help out using my languages skills.
How did mentoring with TechWomen impact you?
I met some lifelong friends and met a lot of local women in technology. I would like to share two highlights. The first was the luncheon at Benjamin Franklin State Dining room; it was such an honor to be in the room with so many smart and accomplished women and dignitaries. The second highlight is having my Emerging Leader accompany me to a 5k race in San Francisco. I was elated to be greeted by her smile, encouragement, and snack when I reached the finish line.
Were there any “aha” moments or new realizations as a result of being a TechWomen Mentor?
My “Aha” moment came during the first morning workshop after the emerging leaders came to the Bay Area, when I had goose bumps from being in the room with so many high caliber women. It was so inspiring.
Do you still keep in touch with your Emerging Leader?
I consider my Emerging Leader as a sister, and life long friend. We are still communicating via email and Skype to keep in touch with what’s going on in both our lives and professions. The last I heard was that she’s getting married. I am so happy for her.
What would you say to others who are considering being a TechWomen Cultural Mentor?
It’s very rewarding to get to know Emerging Leaders and other women mentors from other companies. The interactions are very informal, and one can pretty much do any type of activity with other mentors and Emerging Leaders. As a Cultural Mentor, I weaved activities with my Emerging Leader with activities with my family and friends, and it worked out great.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
When I signed up for the mentoring program, I thought that the Emerging Leaders were going to benefit from the program more so than mentors. After meeting them, I ended up learning a lot from them and from other mentors. My Emerging Leader showed me what real grace looks like. Despite all the challenges that she faces in her home country on a daily basis, she always has a smile, and carries on. I admire her strengths and composure.
Salima Fassil is a Staff Engineer at Walmart Global eCommerce. She grew up in Morocco where she attended Ecole Mohammadia d’Ingenieurs in Rabat. She since moved to the US to pursue her education in Computer Science at University of llinois at Chicago. She is a passionate software engineer, always busy learning new things, and loves to mentor other women in the field of software development. When she’s not at work or bit twiddling, she runs, plays soccer and bikes with her son.