Women in tech: Ghada Elkeissi, head of Professional Services, Public Sector - MEA at Amazon Web Services
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Women in tech: Ghada Elkeissi, head of Professional Services, Public Sector – MEA at Amazon Web Services

Women in tech: Ghada Elkeissi, head of Professional Services, Public Sector – MEA at Amazon Web Services

While the tech industry is male-dominated, we have seen progress over the last years and increased awareness of the importance of diversity in the industry

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How would you summarise 2021 for yourself, your company and the local/global tech industry?
In 2021 we were still experiencing the impacts of Covid on personal and professional levels. Throughout the year, I felt we were more adapted to remote work and better adjusted to work-life balance than 2020. When the pandemic first started in 2020, private and public sector organisations had to find solutions for their business continuity, implement remote solutions, review their architectures to support the peaks of traffic and adapt to so much more.

Cloud computing enabled organisations to move fast and transform their processes and systems. In 2021, we continued to see an acceleration in cloud adoption, and we remained focused on supporting customers in the Middle East and Africa with their digital transformation strategies. Last year, we announced that we will be launching an AWS Region in the UAE in 2022, bringing new opportunities for organisations to accelerate their cloud adoption. And of course, 2021 was a special year for the UAE with the launch of Expo 2020, where AWS’s technology supported the event’s virtual experiences.

What are your expectations for this year?
I am excited to see the return of in-person events and face to face meetings. I’m very optimistic about this year because of the opportunity for people to more closely collaborate and the positive impact this has in enabling teams to thrive and deliver more significant results.

As a woman leader, what challenges did you face in reaching the top, and how did you overcome them?
I started my career as a software engineer and architect and, from the beginning, knew the recipe for success is having clear communication and earning the trust of my peers by ensuring that I was delivering to my strengths. I have built my confidence through the years by breaking out of my comfort zone and taking on new challenges. My appetite for continuous learning has played a major part in my development. This includes learning from failure, which has allowed me to pivot and find new paths to success. Lastly, I never focused on titles – instead, I pursued opportunities that offered me personal and professional growth.

In the male-dominated tech industry, what steps should be taken to attract more women in tech?
While the tech industry is still male-dominated, we have seen progress over the last years and increased awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the industry. To attract more women in tech, we need to encourage more girls to study and major in STEM degrees. The sector has an important role to play here, and it’s something we take very seriously at AWS. Different initiatives like hours of code, hackathons, skills training programmes, and internships are critical for encouraging young girls to seek a future in tech. In parallel, for professional females in tech, it is essential to provide the right mentoring and coaching. Sharing stories about successful female role models is also very inspirational, not by focusing on the challenges they might have faced but by celebrating their journeys and successes.

What key tips/advice will you offer aspiring women leaders/entrepreneurs to help them progress in this industry?
Be proud of everything you have achieved so far, and keep believing in your ability to grow even further. Don’t say ‘no’ to an opportunity because you are afraid. Never stop learning. Surround yourself with supportive mentors, expand your network, and keep yourself open to new opportunities.

Read: Women in tech: Gina Collignon, VP and head of Marketing at SAP

Read: Women in tech: ServiceNow’s Cathy Mauzaize

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