It has been another exciting week for the Emerging Leaders of #techwomen18, each getting a unique opportunity to dive deeper into their mentorship experience. They have learned coding in the office, installed solar panels in the field and sat down for tea with Silicon Valley tech leaders; they’ve pitched their ideas to venture capitalists, been featured on panels sharing their expertise and presented to high school students about their journeys as international women in STEM fields.
At their host companies, Emerging Leaders and Professional Mentors collaborate to develop a project that will both utilize Emerging Leaders’ existing skill set and leverage company resources to help achieve their professional development goals. Below are just a few of the projects Emerging Leaders have developed with the support of their mentors and host companies:
Machine learning at Veritas
Gina, a software development engineer from the West Bank, began her mentorship at Veritas with a curriculum: her Professional Mentors supplied a framework, tools and courses for Gina to expand her knowledge on machine learning and develop her Python coding skills. After exploring the resources provided, Gina began developing a machine learning algorithm that classifies whether a breast cancer tumor is benign or malignant. Using plot points, Gina plans to analyze and visualize the data, presenting her project to Veritas staff members at the conclusion of her mentorship this week. Gina believes that the work she’s done at Veritas can be further developed and translated into a user-friendly app, helping increase awareness and education about breast cancer to healthcare centers in her community.
Aircraft communication and telemedicine at Qualcomm
Vanny, Emerging Leader from Rwanda, has a background in electronics and telecommunication engineering. With a self-described “aviation obsession,” Vanny works as a development engineer in avionics at RwandAir. After beginning her mentorship at Qualcomm, Vanny coordinated with her mentors to learn more about Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, exploring how she can apply Wi-Fi and 5G technology to Rwanda’s aviation industry. Although Rwanda has used smart sensors in airplane-to-ground communication, Vanny learned at Qualcomm that the technology can go further: “The next step is having these smart devices be able to connect to the internet, each other, and central processing locations so they can share the data from their sensors. This will completely transform the aviation industry.” Vanny is concluding her mentorship at Qualcomm feeling inspired to bring more seamless, effective communication tools back to her home country, but also to explore it on a higher level: she hopes to pursue a master’s degree that will allow her to further explore into these innovations, eventually applying them to spacecraft
In her home country of Uzbekistan, Tamilla, a chief design engineer, developed and implemented a remote medical education system that spans the country. When she was presented with the opportunity to explore telemedicine technology at Qualcomm, Tamilla knew that her project would have real-world application in her community. During her mentorship, Tamilla is working on a device that will connect cardiac patients, emergency lines and hospitals. Tamilla hopes to bring this technology to Uzbekistan, where 60% of its residents have cardiovascular issues.
Bringing solar to Sierra Leone with SunPower
As station manager at the Sierra Leone Water Company, Emerging Leader Bernadette oversees all operations, leadership and management of her station. When she began her mentorship at SunPower, Bernadette immediately saw how her company could benefit from using solar energy. “In Sierra Leone, solar has never been linked to utility,” she said. With guidance from her mentors, Bernadette expanded the scope of her project, developing a tangible plan for how she could power her local water treatment station through solar energy. If successful, her project has the potential to provide power to an area that lacks adequate electricity. Bernadette will return home prepared to present her ideas to the utility, showing how her project can transform how her city uses energy.
Finding a moonshot idea at Singularity University
When Ayesha, an Emerging Leader from Pakistan, applied to the TechWomen program, she wanted to learn about entrepreneurship; she hoped to observe a start-up ecosystem and see how a business takes an idea and turns it into reality. At Singularity University, Ayesha immediately picked up on the theme of exponential – or moonshot – thinking, observing how the company applies innovative ideas to their business incubator. Ayesha noticed their multi-faceted, holistic approach to entrepreneurship and began to see how she could apply their framework to student incubators in her community: “My city lacks opportunities and resources like this, she said. “Students have great ideas but need to get to the next step and get exposure.” Ayesha hopes to return to Quetta with a moonshot idea of her own: establishing a partnership with Singularity and opening a student incubator in her city.
Preparation for Pitch Day
The week concluded at Salesforce for Action Plan Workshop 3, where Emerging Leaders further developed, refined and practiced their action plan pitches. Professional Mentor Jill Finlayson and Impact Coach Cathy Simpson opened the workshop sharing best practices on what makes an effective pitch. Thoughout the day, Emerging Leaders practiced telling captivating stories, worked on speaking confidently and learned to “kill your darlings” by letting go of beloved but inessential pitch elements. The day concluded with a fireside chat featuring angel investor and Impact Coach Rekha Pai-Kamath and Lisa Jones, board member and co-lead for impact investing at Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund. Sharing their expertise on what makes a compelling pitch, Rekha and Lisa spoke about how Emerging Leaders can narrow their focus and deliver an impactful and persuasive presentation.
Emerging Leaders’ diligence and hard work will culminate at Friday’s Pitch Day, where each country team will pitch their action plan project to a panel of expert judges. At Monday’s Community Celebration, five seed grant winners will be announced, kicking off the last portion of #techwomen18, which brings Emerging Leaders to Washington, D.C for a final week of programs and activities.