How An Entrepreneurial Spirit Can Make An Impact: An International Woman’s Day Celebration
Mar 7, 2015
Celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day, TechWomen participate Sabine El Kahi joined us for this Q&A. Thank you Sabine!
Juniper Networks is celebrating International Women's Day today by spotlighting participants of our TechWomen program! Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
When you were a kid, what did you imagine that you would be when you grew up?
When i was a kid, I always used to answer that I want to be like Albert Einstein. I meant at that time that I don't want to live a passive life where I just come, work and when i quite life I become a forgotten Human who one day existed on Earth. I wanted to be memorable, make a change in my community for a better future, to prove that I deserved living.
What led you to a career in network engineering?
I am in the mechanical field more specifically, in the product design. What led me to this field is my passion to use my theoretical studies in creating new functional designs and products. It is my curiosity about science and my passion to learn about ways how we cancreate objects and turn ideas into real products.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
In my freelance work as a mechanical engineer in the product development field, what is rewarding for me is the feeling that I am contributing in solving problems, that are faced, by creating new products. It is the combination of challenge, creativity and satisfaction.
At the same time, I am an entrepreneur and I founded Kids Genius, a youngsters' workshop to develop practical skills and technological knowledge. In this start-up, seeing kids acquiring dexterity and analytical skills and raising a Maker spirit in them is the rewarding part of the whole business. It makes me feel that I am leaving an impact in the society and opening new opportunities for young generation.
What do you think makes your job unique from other careers?
It is unique because it combines the creativity in hardware development with engineering and science (materials) knowledge and it provides a feeling of self satisfaction and contribution in finding new solutions for new or old problems. While when it comes to Kids Genius, it is unique because it is the first and only workshop for youngsters in Lebanon that allows them to explore skills that they never had the chance to my working on small yet real machines. It bridges the gap between theory learned at school and practical and technological work. All this is done using the Learning By Doing technique through hands-on projects
Have you had to or are you still overcoming challenges as a women in your field?
I always cared about hardware. But since in Lebanon, product development is absent, I tried to apply for a position in maintenance departments in companies but no one accepted that I access such a position because I was a girl. They thought I can't do it. The result was Kids Genius in order to break these barriers that they have in their mind. This is done by letting kids, girls and boys at early age access a workshop and work together to achieve a certain project that they take back home. (www.kids-genius.com)
Did you have a mentor or role model?
My role model is my father who passed away when I was 17 years old. He did not pursue university studies because of his parents economical situation. He started working in a company and than established his own company, got married and raised us and provided education for us. He was a successful entrepreneur and hard worker. I always remember him saying that we should not accept to live a passive life. We should make a difference. It became my motto.
Now my mentor in life is my mother who took care of her family and had to take brave decisions in critical situations.
And of course, I have mentors in my professional career one of the my mentor at Juniper Rebecca Biswas with whom I am still in contact and I refer to her whenever I need any technical support.
Which women in leadership roles do you admire?
I admire women leaders in companies who preserve their feminine aspect but at the same time can make firm decisions for the best of the business and their team.
What would you tell young girls who are interested in science and math?
For young girls who are interested in science and math, you can have your own impact and contribution in this field if you are passionate about it. Remember that determination, persistence, focus and hard work are the way to achievement. Keep yourself surrounded with positive people and positive vibes and never listen to people trying to tell you that what you are passionate about is not suitable for you. The greatest impact and outcomes come from people who are passionate about what they do.
Outside of work, what are your hobbies or interests?
I am a football player and a salsa dancer. In addition, I seek for adventure and extreme sports and activities as bungee jumping.
What’s on your list of goals for 2015?
Launching our first Lebanese coffee machine, opening minimum 3 branches of Kids Genius in Lebanon.
Tell us about your Tech Women experience with Juniper?
It was one of my best times in life. Juniper, having hosted 6 ELs, gave us the opportunity to build new friendships between each others on our way to Juniper and back home. Our mentors were so supportive, caring and willing to share their experience and knowledge with us on technical and personal skills development levels. Finally, Christina was our Godmother at Juniper willing to fix last minute changes for our best and making sure that we are getting all what we would want to learn during our training at Juniper. We built a deep friendship with her. Congrats Juniper for having such great and dedicated members on your board and thanks for hosting us during our technical training and for giving us the chance to meet some of your leaders. Happy International women's day to all of you.