Late last year, a group of colleagues and I had the opportunity to participate in TechWomen, a mentorship and exchange program that brings emerging female leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) from Africa and the Middle East, together with counterparts in the United States. The purpose of the program is to encourage women in these countries to pursue STEM careers and strengthen partnerships among them. I was excited to participate as I am passionate about leveraging my technology background to give back, but little did I know that I would come out of this experience completely transformed both personally and professionally.
In March, Veena Bhasavaraj and I went on a life-changing trip with the TechWomen delegation to Morocco. We met young women who had dreams of becoming positive change agents in the world. They didn’t focus on how small or big their ideas were, but rather on taking action to make a positive social impact. We learned about a project that involved technology and social media to build sustainable economic opportunities in the tourism industry for boat drivers trying to integrate back into their communities after being imprisoned. Another group is creating a portal for listing and effectively matching jobs for disabled and less skilled workers. These stories illustrate how technology can bridge barriers and help us collaborate towards a better world.
Participating in TechWomen has given me the opportunity to move out of my daily routine and comfort zone and gain a new perspective on giving back to the community. In fact, I’m so inspired that I’m making a personal commitment to give back. As a first step, I applied for LinkedIn’s Nonprofit Innovation Grant to support Families Without Borders – founded by a fellow TechWomen mentor Terri Khonsari – to improve education and sustainability in Sierra Leone. My TechWomen experience reinforced in me the importance of relentlessly pursuing goals that I believe in and tapping into a professional network of smart and dedicated individuals who share similar values. Having realized the benefits of mentoring and being mentored, I plan to work with my colleagues to implement a mentoring program for those of us in technical program management and leverage lessons learned from my TechWomen experience.
At LinkedIn, one of our core cultural values is Transformation – transformation of self, company and world. My experience with TechWomen has transformed my perspective and I’m better for the experience.
For a more detailed version of my experience with TechWomen, please visit the LinkedIn Engineering Blog.