The Best of: TechWomen 2015

Writing about life experiences is something very interesting. Before anything else, it proves to myself what I’m capable of, this is something brings happiness to my heart and shows self respect. Moreover, as I’m considering now my passion in life “Learning and Giving”, I’m working entirely to bring this into life!

Today I’m writing about “Best talks and sessions I attended during the TechWomen” program in the Bay Area, CA.

TechWomen program is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is an exchange professional mentoring program to help inspire and empower next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia.

I finished TechWomen program early of November 2015, after an amazing 35 days of professional mentoring at Mozilla Company, and attending lots of interesting talks and sessions hosted by Silicon Valley tech companies.

Here, I will mention two main sessions we had a chance to attend, hosted by two special companies. And in the coming blogs, I will write more about other sessions and events.

Program Orientation at Symantec

It was my first time ever visiting Symantec Headquarter in Mountain View, CA, and we met there with two awesome speakers who inspired us all with their wisdom and stories.

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Sheila Jordan, the Senior Vice President and the Chief Information Officer for Symantec. Sheila spoke to us about Personal Branding. Through her professional experience and her life journey, she was an inspiration to all the TechWomen group, giving us tips about how to work on our personal branding, and marketing plan, how to find our skills combination and how to be different and unique.

Rushton Hurley, gave us a special inspiring talk about Education and Educational Technologies. One of the best talks I ever attended. If you are in Education sector and looking forward to learn more about this, check the following website: Next Vista for Learning which provides resources and tools for teachers to look into.

One of the inspiring stories which Rushton mentioned is the Austin’s Butterfly story, which I believe is an important story in the learning process that the teachers should listen to, and then explain it to their students.

The other inspiring story he mentioned is called Heart Houses, and it tells the story of school kids trying to make a difference through their art!

Finally, Sue Austin: Deep sea diving … in a wheelchair.

Action Plan Workshop at Theranos.

We had been very lucky this year in the TechWomen program to be hosted by Theranos, for an action plan workshop.

Theranos, is a health-technology and medical-laboratory-services company based in Palo Alto, California. Founded by Elizabeth Holmes, who is the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire, who is working in field of high tech and health. We had a great chance to meet with her, hear from her startup experience, hear more about her passion and what steps took her to make the health information easily accessible for everyone by simple blood test that you can actually take at home with simple blood tests tools. More about Theranos.

The first session was about Brand Marketing and Social Media, given by Patrick O’Neill Chief Creative Officer at Theranos, and Jodi Shelley Director of Consumer Insights and Planning at Theranos. This one was focused on creating brand love, and reaching to customers by creating a caring product, engage with customers and understand their needs. After that, when designing a brand, to understand what is your message and how to communicate it effectively. A powerful brand has purpose, memorability and relevance.

Two famous brands stories had been discussed, Apple brand story and Unilever brand new video which touches the hearts, “Why bring a Child into this World?”.

The next session was about Agile Methodology, given by Cathy Simpson, who is a Scrum Trainer and Coach at Agile Learning Labs.

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Finally we had a chance to had a session about Making an Effective Pitch given by Andrea Barrica, Venture Partner at 500 Startups. In the following, some summarized tips to help making an effective pitch:

  1. Know your goal, know your audience. Hint: prepare more than one pitch.
  2. Tell a strategic story. Takes from 30 – 90 seconds. Taking into consideration this question: how does my story help me achieve my goal?
  3. Less is more! Be selective about details, it is about the other person.
  4. Know your special Sauce ! (Your team, your cause, your technology, etc).
  5. 20:1 rule! Practice 20 minutes loud for each 1 minute you want to present.
  6. You should have an authentic presence, yet quite powerful.

 

 

What does it mean to be a Mozillian?

On this day, 31st of Dec, as I’m leaving 2015 year and saying a proper good bye, I couldn’t come up with new resolutions for the upcoming on the corner new year 2016. It is not easy at all, to think about things that you want to definitely be doing all the coming 12 months of your life.
I have a lot and a lot of ongoing projects and I’m putting all my efforts into them, but looking back to 2015, trying to remember the most amazing things I loved and I did, I can honestly say: it is two main things, being an intern at Mozilla, and being a mentor at NYUAD hackathon.

And here I go, as I have told my story on being a mentor in NYUAD hackathon previously, now it is time to tell a story of the beautiful days I’ve spent being an intern at Mozilla. 😀

Let me tell you the story of how I got there. Yes It is something very unique. I always wanted to get the chance to work for a big awesome web company. So how about having this dream coming true? For a whole month (October 2015) I was a mentee and intern at Mozilla and my mentor was Rina Jensen who I was shadowing and learning from her experience, and working with her on my own project which is Education for Refugees. I got the chance to be an intern there by getting accepted in the TechWomen program 2015, an initiative by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which is by itself a very special and prestigious program that gathered 99 women in tech from 19 countries, and yes I will write a separate blog about it, mentioning all amazing events and site visits we had in October.

What to remember from those times? Or the proper question should be: What things I never forgot about being a Mozillian?

  1. You always belong. Being a Mozillian means you always belong here, you are welcomed to be part of this community all the time. Just come with new ideas and bring your efforts on the table and you’ll be up and ready.
  2. The awesome Mozilla spaces. (They are every where!) Do you know how awesome to visit a Mozilla space every single day? I simply love these posters on the walls!
  3. Rina Jensen. Yes, my awesome mentor! Who I spent most of my time there with her, learning from her experience, she gave me resources, inspiration, thoughts, ideas and opened my eyes on new fields in user experience and user research, a field I always enjoyed and wanted to learn more about it, and while being there I enjoyed attending meetings with her team and learned methods and techniques in User Research.
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  4. Mozillians Mentors: Larissa Shapiro, Rina Jensen, Lizz Noonan, Marcia Knous, Rachel McGuigan, Krupa Raj, Lindsay Saunders, and Ilana Segall. These are the awesome fairies who made our time at Mozilla awesome and beneficial. They organized a lot of meetings for us with different departments and people at Mozilla. We had the chance to meet Mozillians from different projects and departments, in HR, global engagement and diversity team, User Experience team, Virtual Reality team, Branding and Marketing, top management, Spacing and Events, IT and Developers. They opened the place for us, they encouraged us to ask questions, and look for details. We felt like we have been in our home companies, we have been truly Mozillians.
  5. Mozillians TechWomen fellows, yes we were 6 TechWomen mentees at Mozilla, distributed between San Francisco space and Mountain View space. Ayah Soufan, Esraa Abdelhalim, Lara Ammar, Mutriba Akhmedova, Kumba Musa and me, each one of us is unique, different, and I learned from them listening to their professional and personal stories.
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  6. Executive Chairwoman of the Mozilla, Mitchell Baker! Yes we had an exclusive internal meeting with the Chairwoman at Mozilla. She is very inspiring person, we talked with her about our experience as inters, we offered ideas and suggestions, we talked about our projects when we got back to our homes and daily work. Each one of the us the inters had ideas and projects to work on when we got back.
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  7. Mozilla Reps: We had the chance to meet George Roter who is leading the Participation Team and Emma Irwin who is a Community Development Team Mozilla Rep. George spoke to us about the participation team and the role they play at Mozilla, and he spoke to us about the power of people and the open internet. In addition to that Emma spoke to us about the Mozilla Reps, a program to empower the Mozillians volunteers who would like to be a reps for Mozilla in their region, and also about WebMaker, which is a software allows webmakers to create content and understand how the web works.
  8. Mozillians.org community! I used it to find Mozillians (either the employees, reps or the volunteers) from around the world, who helped me to collect info and thoughts about the project idea I was working on while I was at Mozilla.
  9. Work Meetings! The way the meetings are done at Mozilla, how each one is arranging their daily work with meetings and the punctuality of time. Especially my mentor Rina, she is the perfect in leading meetings and get things done 😀
  10. Rally for the user! Yes, building all these awesome tools considering the benefits for the user. Even though I couldn’t attend that event, it was very important to me to read about it, and know what Firefox is bringing to the user is really something unique, and how to give back the control and security to the user.
  11. Web developers :D. Yes I met with developers, Dev Tools developers, UI designers and other people. I was happy to interview them and learning about how they do their jobs on a daily level, how they deal with releases, products defects, working under pressures, working with other developers around the world either in the same time zone of different times zones.

Finally, I can honestly say that while writing all these words, I kept smiling, remembering all the previous awesome moments of being at Mozilla. And so, at the end I really send my thankful words to everyone helped me making my dream coming true, my mentors and TechWomen team, and I promise to keep putting all my efforts in continuous learning and inspiring next generations!

Photo Credits: special thanks for Mutriba Akhmedova, Lizz Noonan and Larissa Shapiro.