Guest post by Zeinab El Sayed, 2020-2021 Emerging Leader of Egypt
Editor’s note: Zeinab El Sayed’s guest post is part of our series, Emerging Leader Voices, which invites TechWomen Emerging Leaders to share their voice, perspective and experiences with the TechWomen community.
I was born and raised in Ismailia, a city on the west bank of the Suez Canal. My parents exerted huge efforts to grant me and my brother the best possible education. I played sports, too: I was the only girl in my Suez Canal Club open water team, which I joined at a very young age. My parents taught me how to manage my time between studying and my daily swimming practices.
Privileged to have been raised by a supportive family
I finished high school with academic excellence in Thanawaya Amma, extracurricular activities and sports achievements. And I had my family’s greatest support when they believed in me as I applied for a pioneering scholarship at The American University in Cairo (AUC). The scholarship was to choose only one student from all of Egypt to study STEM. On the 28th of January 2011, amidst country-wide chaos, my parents traveled all the way from Ismailia to hand in my handwritten application to AUC. After hard screening phases, I was proudly selected for the scholarship, and majored in electronics and communication engineering — my dream major. I graduated with honors in 2017 and was granted another fellowship to pursue my master’s degree in the same field.
Owing a lot to AUC
Throughout my college study, I maintained my academic excellence and worked in different leadership and community services activities, as well as being an undergraduate teaching assistant (TA) too. I was so passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation, so I decided to minor in business administration. In 2016, I was nominated by Air Liquide multinational company to be part of its summer school in Paris, among almost 20 more students worldwide. In Paris, we were introduced to Air Liquide’s plants and iLabs. Then, we had a global business case in which we were required to invent a new solution for sleep apnea treatment. My team and I got the first place.
Opportunities and challenges continued while doing my master’s in science. I worked as a graduate research assistant and published publications related to drone trajectory planning, machine-to-machine networks and drone communications, including my master’s thesis. Luckily enough while doing my masters, TechWomen’s delegation trip to Egypt visited AUC. And this was when I first knew about the program. The delegation was so inspiring and left attendees with great vibes. And now here I am, a 2020-2021 TechWomen Emerging Leader.
My master’s taught me how to do research, to add to the technology and to always think in terms of optimization, which I always apply in my work as a technical support engineer at Dell Technologies. Today I provide technical support for Isilon NAS products and always find myself excited about new business challenges. I learned about Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and its belts, and now design thinking. I am currently solving business-related problems using design thinking methodology I learned in Dell’s CX accelerate academy program.
Throughout my journey, I have always challenged myself as the only girl in my swimming team, a pioneer female recipient of AUC’s competitive scholarship, a STEM MSc. scholarship recipient and a leading multinational company technical support engineer.
STEM fields are always inviting women to excel. Whatever the challenge is; the above and more can be achieved by passion and hard work.