International mentoring: Fatimazzahra takes on Silicon Valley
What is TechWomen?
It is an annual initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to get in contact emerging women leaders from the Middle East and Africa, specialized in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with their counterparts in the United States. The aim is to support the next generation of women leaders in these areas, by connecting them to their colleagues and empowering them. I was one of five Moroccan women selected from among 2,000 candidates from all over the world. In total, 100 women from 20 countries benefited from TechWomen in 2018. The aim is that, at the end of the day, we will launch development projects in our respective countries.
What did you do in Silicon Valley?
F.Z.: I spent 5 weeks there. The first week, we were hosted by the companies: Google, Symantec, LinkedIn, etc. The senior managers explained the program to us. Then we had three weeks of professional mentoring. For me, this was at Autodesk with four other women. We received technical training and met individually with all the women members of the management team, with whom we discussed their vision and management style. At the same time, we benefited from social mentoring. Women from the same country had to come together to propose a social development project that would be implemented upon their return. For this purpose, we were coached by certified American offices. We presented our Moroccan project during a "Pitch Day" at Google. Five winning projects were awarded $3,000 to help them be implemented. Finally, the last week was devoted to cultural mentoring. This allowed us to get to know American culture by visiting San Francisco, Washington, including many embassies and even the White House!
What was your social project for Morocco?
F.Z.:We have called it "Connect to impact." The aim is to support Moroccan social associations by giving them access to financial resources via an online platform that connects them with companies.
What did you enjoy most about this experience?
F.Z.:Meeting with women from all the various cultures! It was very stimulating and intimidating to see these women who have succeeded in technology. On a personal level, I have gained in confidence. This experience opened up a new world of possibilities for me. The culture of Silicon Valley is very different. The competition is fierce and the diversity impressive. I now have to share with the Moroccan community what I have learned. And I will pursue my professional life with new objectives in mind!