Guest post by Dina Sayed, 2015 fellow of Egypt
Receiving the acceptance letter from TechWomen was one of the most remarkable moments for me. I was thrilled to be selected as a TechWomen Emerging Leaders in 2015. During my stay in the U.S., I have seen a new technical and cultural perspective. I attended many events in the most prominent companies in the Bay Area. I was inspired by different talks from technical experts and managers. I was lucky to have a Professional Mentor dedicated just to me. She introduced me to experts in my technical field of interest. Thanks to the Cultural Mentors, I had more insight about the American culture. I personally expanded my network and had many productive discussions and received advice for how to advance in my career.
She Is Back rocking the pitch event
One of the biggest accomplishments was the Egypt team being awarded a seed grant for the action plan competition hosted at Google. The action plan, She Is Back (SIB), will provide an internship for women who have been disconnected from the tech workforce. For example, a woman who graduated from engineering had to stay home for five years to take care of her kids. Now, she has time to pursue her career, but she faces difficulty to enter the marketplace. She is challenged by the lack of work experience, and she is not up to date with the latest technology. This is a typical story that affects many people among us. Many studies have proven that women do not remain in the STEM fields, as compared to men. Our program is to help these women return to the job market by hosting them in different companies in Egypt as interns.
I believe that one of the most crucial success factors for SIB is the co-founding team. I was lucky to work with such a diverse team. We have skills in project management, research, entrepreneurship and more. What I liked the most is how we tackled problems. In one instance, one day before the pitch event, we did not decide, yet, who was going to present SIB. I noticed how other teams struggled about that, too. Everyone wanted to be the presenter. However, on my team, nobody wanted to present. We knew that we equally have good presentation skills, so eventually, we decided to follow the most complicated scientific algorithm to make the choice for us. This algorithm called, “toss!”
Yup, that is how we decided. We simply wrote our names on small pieces of paper, and we randomly selected the SIB presenter – Raghd Magdy. We ended up with an amazing pitch. Here’s a recap of the event.
Tips for future action plans
I would like to share three tips that might help future TechWomen groups excel with their action plan.
- In any meeting, you need to answer this question: Who will do what, and when? Learn how to run a successful meeting because time is really limited throughout the program.
- As a team, you need to answer these questions: Is our project realistic? Can we imagine ourselves doing it when we get back home? If your answer is yes, then you are on the right track.
- Respect other team members’ ideas and background; this is how brainstorming blooms.
About the author
Dina Sayed has 11 years’ experience in software development with IBM. Dina worked as a software developer from 2004 through 2010. She has designed and implemented various solutions to leverage Arabic language support in IBM products. She also contributed in developing different open-source projects. She has hands-on experience with different programming languages, APIs, tools and IDEs. In 2011, Dina took on the role of technical project manager. She is a certified Master IT Specialist through The Open Group, a global certification program for accrediting professional skills, knowledge and practical experience for IT specialists. She is also a member of the North Africa Technical Expert Council, an affiliate to IBM Academy of Technology. Dina has a bachelor’s degree in communication and electronics engineering from Cairo University. In December 2014, she earned her master’s degree with merit in natural language processing from the University of Nottingham – UK Campus.