Guest post by Raghda Medat-Ali, 2023 Emerging Leader from Egypt who is part of our San Francisco cohort.
Editor’s note: Raghda Medat-Ali’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.
The last five years have been an exhilarating roller coaster ride for me, and today I want to take you along on this thrilling journey. It all began after I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics. At that point, my mind was buzzing with questions about my future, my career path, and what it meant to be a professional. My economics degree had equipped me with a strong foundation in general theories, but I yearned for a career in the dynamic and ever-evolving tech industry. However, like many others who seek to shift their careers, I found myself standing at the crossroads of uncertainty. The one thing I was sure of was my unwavering passion for finance and numbers.
I took my first step towards the tech industry by accepting a position as a financial analyst at a prominent company in my country. To my surprise, the role primarily involved using basic tools like Excel, which did not challenge me as expected. However, it wasn’t all in vain. During my time there, I gained invaluable business acumen. More importantly, I had the opportunity to explore various career paths such as Product Management, Data Analysis, Marketing Analysis, and Product Analysis. Over three years, I rubbed shoulders with top management, conquered my fears, and discovered that there is no such thing as a linear career path. Everything is interconnected. As a financial analyst, I delved into understanding the reporting system, product cycles, and pricing strategies. This marked the first stage in my career – “Exploring Myself.”
It’s Time for Risks:
In the second stage, which I fondly refer to as “It’s Time for Risks,” I embarked on a daring venture. I
joined a fintech startup, becoming one of its pioneers in an industry known for its dynamism. Here, I
assumed the role of Growth and Pricing Team Leader. My responsibilities included engaging with
investors, designing compelling pitches and presentations, and devising innovative initiatives and pricing
strategies. It was during this phase that I came face-to-face with the harsh realities of business. I learned
that even with a great idea, a stellar team, and extraordinary execution, external factors like economic
fluctuations and funding challenges could impact your business. Despite the hardships, that year was the
most fulfilling of my life because I built something from the ground up.
As I reflect on these five years in the professional world, I’ve gathered some valuable takeaways:
- Gain Early Exposure: In the early years of your career, seek exposure to diverse experiences. Work in both startup and corporate environments and be open to new projects and initiatives. Always say yes to new challenges.
- Embrace Distractions: Don’t be afraid to explore various avenues in your learning journey. Your junior years are the perfect opportunity to diversify your knowledge and skills.
- Build Your Brand: Invest in building your personal brand and reputation. Your network and reputation will become your greatest assets in the years to come, with most opportunities coming through referrals and word of mouth.
- Embrace Risk and Failure: Take risks and don’t fear failure. Learn from every experience, connect with people, ask questions, and celebrate your hunger for knowledge. Your youthful enthusiasm is an asset.
- Don’t Say No to Yourself: Don’t dismiss opportunities prematurely. Take chances, even if you think you might not be the perfect fit. You might surprise yourself with what you can achieve.
In conclusion, my journey into the tech industry during a time of uncertainty has been a wild ride filled with ups and downs. The key is to embrace the unknown, take calculated risks, and keep pushing forward. I can’t express my excitement as I prepare to embark on my next adventure as a Tech Women fellow. It’s proof that sometimes, the opportunities we least expect can turn out to be the most rewarding.