Editor’s note: After a social media pause, TechWomen is sharing weekly highlights from the Spring 2022 TechWomen program that began on February 23 and concluded on March 31, 2022.
After laying the groundwork for both mentorship and action planning in week two, week three of TechWomen was all about diving deeper: taking action to fulfill their mentorship goals and objectives, working together on creating impactful social projects and networking further with their Professional Interest Groups.
Action Plan Workshop 2
Where Action Plan Workshop 1 set the stage for defining an issue and optimizing teamwork and collaboration, week three’s Action Plan Workshop 2 moved Emerging Leaders into designing a solution, creating a clear social impact statement and a carving a more defined path forward. After sharing out their progress with the wider cohort, Emerging Leaders and Impact Coaches spent the remainder of the session in speed mentoring, where Impact Coaches visited other teams’ breakout rooms for 20-minute feedback sessions. In Uzbekistan’s breakout room, Impact Coaches advised Emerging Leaders on mentor recruitment and retainment for their project, an online platform for women in Uzbekistan that focuses on gender equity and supports them in picking an IT profession. Together, the group spoke about customized mentor/mentee matching as well as ways to attract mentors to their platform. In one of Team Jordan’s sessions, Emerging Leaders and Impact Coaches brainstormed the best platform for their initiative that will empower young women in high school with financial literacy and soft skills training. While building out their online STEM exchange program for young students between the ages of 12-18, Team Kenya received two contacts from mentors that will help connect them to schools and programs that support youth.
Professional Mentorship spotlights
Fatma Telib of Egypt, an entrepreneur and co-founder/CFO of a property management startup, had three main goals for her TechWomen professional mentorship: to increase her knowledge of fintech, to learn more about how to accelerate her startup and to take products and solutions from Silicon Valley back to her country. When Fatma was matched with Fayez Asar, Ji Hyun Park and Christine Phu of GoDaddy, she was initially unsure if an e-commerce company could support her with her goals. “They are so supportive, and have an entrepreneurial mindset. They are doing everything they can to facilitate my learning goals,” Fatma said. Since she started working with her mentors, Fatma has gained exposure to new best practices and has met with C-level leaders who have shared their experiences and connected her to new networks. “They’ve exceeded my expectations,” said Fatma. “I’ve met with people from all nationalities and cultures, working in harmony. I feel inclusion, and I feel belonging. That’s what I love.”
When beginning her mentorship, Janatu Veronica Sesay of Sierra Leone, an associate lecturer in biotechnology, hoped to find ways to empower children with STEM skills. Asha Ramachandra, director of IT strategy at California State University, Channel Island was ready to help Janatu with her main goals of forming a girls in science group and creating a television show that empowers children. “I have a very dedicated mentor,” Janatu says. “She is helping me to develop a business plan, and supporting with activities, timelines and resources needed to carry out my goals,” said Janatu. And Asha has learned from Janatu as well, gaining greater context about the STEM ecosystem, schooling and learning goals of children in Janatu’s community.
Yollanda Washaya of Zimbabwe works as the innovation manager for Africa University and is the founder and first head of the university’s innovation hub. When beginning her mentorship alongside Priyanka Sahay, the director of product marketing at LinkedIn, Yollanda wanted to learn how to build effective teams, strengthen her network and more effectively fundraise. During the mentorship, Priyanka has exposed Yollanda to experts with diverse specialties, and has helped her expand her network: “They are building me as a person, and as an Emerging Leader,” said Yollanda. “They have taught me how to advocate for myself. They said they are inspired to see the scale of impact on the projects I have been working on, and it has given them a different perspective on the challenges that they know vis-a-vis the world around us.” Yollanda knows that remaining passionate, energetic and engaged is serving her well: “I never take no for an answer, and always say ‘let’s figure this out.’ In spite of challenges, I’m learning and growing, and I am brave.”
Tursunai Bektemirova of Kyrgyzstan, a researcher at the Institute of Geology at the National Academy of Science, is working on a water purification project that uses environmentally friendly materials. Alongside her mentor, Debbie Whaley of Jacobs, Tursunai set out to find partners and collaborators for her project and possibly find an internship to continue learning about new technologies in water purification. “Many thanks to my mentor for her efforts in helping me find grants and funding,” says Tursunai. “I’m getting knowledge and skills to implement my project. She is the best mentor!”
Leonida Soi of Kenya is a computer science teacher who, during TechWomen 2022, wanted to learn new technologies in education, allowing her to establish and sustain a STEM center for young children in Mombasa, Kenya. Her mentor, Kathy Giori of ZEDEDA, has used her extensive background with MicroBlocks to show Leonida how to introduce kids to coding and hardware components. She is also connecting Leonida to educators working in STEM around the bay area. “Kathy is my inspiration,” said Leonida. “I am learning new tech skills through her diligence and patience. She is very supportive and always available to help.” Since Kathy has not worked in a school setting, Leonida is teaching her about school management as well as the tools she uses in her classroom. Together, they have begun working with one of the MicroBlocks program developers to translate it into Swahili, a language widely spoken in East Africa.
In week four, Emerging Leaders will learn about what makes an impactful pitch, will give back to the Bay Area community at Volunteer Day, and will prepare for their final week of #techwomen22!