In order to build a critical mass of women as Information Technology leaders, innovators and leaders in prominent positions in our Saudi community’s IT workforce (from academia, industry, and the public sector) have the opportunity to shape the future of IT in Saudi Arabia. Women in leadership positions and successful female innovators often inspire the new generation of rising stars in technology domains, and contribute towards developing the skills of aspiring young females embarking on their career path in technology. Launched in Dec 2015, the “Women Mentoring Women” program was offered as part of the ArabNet 2015 conference program in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Held at the Four Seasons Hotel, a speed mentoring program was designed for women who are interested in, or who by virtue of their position in an organization, share a passion for advancing other women in our technology community in Saudi Arabia.
The ArabWIC Saudi Arabia Chapter participated in the mentoring session in ArabNet’s Riyadh event, one of the largest digital gatherings in the the MENA region. ArabNet aims to grow the web and mobile sectors in the Arab world through its activities. Also, it helps to build business bridges across the MENA region, and support the creation of new businesses and job opportunities for aspiring youth.
ArabNet Riyadh 2015 hosted the mentoring and networking session on Wednesday, Dec 16, titled “Women Mentoring Women” to support and mentor female attendees; providing them with meaningful insights into the sector’s local context and opportunities to grow their perspective. The event featured distinguished high-caliber female individuals, ranging from deans in computing disciplines, entrepreneurs and IT decision makers to IT business leaders and technology market experts.
The Saudi Arabia Chapter of ArabWIC participated in this mentoring session with three leaders from ArabWIC’s Saudi chapter, Dr. Areej Al-Wabil (Saudi Chapter President), Ashwag Alasmari (Saudi Chapter Vice President, and Social Media coordinator) and Fatimah Alabadrabalnabi (Saudi Chapter event coordinator).
The “Women Mentoring Women” session was designed to engage female attendees at ArabNet Riyadh with regional and international women leaders. This session allowed women leaders to tap into female entrepreneurial innovation and provided an opportunity for female entrepreneurs to connect with mentors via in-depth discussions about how to advance their careers and enhance their role in their organizations. Overall, the speed-mentoring session lasted 1 hour 30 minutes with a structured flow of sessions for meeting with the women attendees. This hour and a half consisted of a series of 5-minute slots amounting to 18 meetings during which female attendees networked briefly rotating between mentors. As evident from the turnout for the “Women Mentoring Women” session at ArabNet Riyadh 2015 and the level of engagement of Saudi female youth with mentors in this event (in-person and online after the session), the new generation of Saudi youth seems to be taking steady steps towards carving out their own path of success and gaining momentum in the transition towards a knowledge economy.
Dr. Areej Al-Wabil, a mentor in ArabWIC and president of the Saudi Arabian Chapter of ArabWIC, highlighted the contribution of this mentoring program after the event, “ArabNet’s session was an incredible platform for women leaders to explore a largely untapped source of entrepreneurial innovation and tech talent in Saudi Arabia. The mentoring session created a space for female entrepreneurs to actively discuss ways to advance their careers and connect with local and regional female leaders and role models. Growing the talent of Women in Tech in the region is a bigger task than one entity’s reach, hence the need for us to work together in order to build bridges across the technology, education and innovation sectors in Saudi Arabia to stimulate growth and build synergy. We recognize that ArabNet is the hub for Arab digital professionals and entrepreneurs, and women in Saudi Arabia are realizing that ArabNet’s online and offline platforms provide invaluable opportunities for them to connect, learn and grow. ArabWIC aims to inspire, retain, encourage collaboration among, increase visibility of and help advance the careers of women in technology and we are always ready and willing to collaborate with entities that align with our vision and objectives.”
Reflecting on the mentoring event, Ashwag Alasmari, the Vice President of the Saudi Chapter of ArabWIC added, “I am very delighted to be part of the ArabNet women mentoring session and represent ArabWIC organization as ArabWIC chapter leader in Saudi Arabia and social media coordinator. It was really an inspiring experience talking to other women interested in technology from different sectors and hearing their stories. The session was successful in terms of having the mentors ranging from academia, entrepreneurs to IT business leaders and technology market experts. That made the discussion more efficient for the attendees to share their thoughts or inquiries with guidance by distinguished leaders.”
Participants in the “Women Mentoring Women” program in ArabNet Riyadh explored issues facing female IT students, business owners and members of the computing academic communities. The session established connections with female mentors who contributed to strengthening individual talents and skills needed to work more effectively and efficiently in Saudi Arabia’s technology fields, and provided female mentees and rising stars with the tools needed to develop peers, co-workers, protégées and other IT business owners. Additionally, the program provided opportunities for networking, as participants rotated between mentors in the program and engaged with several mentors from a distinguished group of the most prominent women leaders in technology in Saudi Arabia from CellA, ArabWIC, and local universities and businesses as well as women leaders from the region.
Our Saudi ArabWIC team extends their sincere appreciation to Fatima Mousa, ArabNet’s Senior Program Executive, and Racha Ghamlouch for the opportunity to take part in ArabNet Riyadh’s “Women Mentoring Women” program and their generous support by engaging with our local professional Women in Tech communities that aspire to develop the interest and confidence of Women in Tech in Saudi Arabia so as to persist and succeed in technology programs and careers.