Freespee: Hi Alaa! So tell us more about what you do for Freespee?
Alaa: Hi. In this position, I am responsible for managing our cloud infrastructure, contributing to the expansion of our telco network, while helping developers and support in the issues regarding Freespee services.
Freespee: STEM week is here, as an engineer and a woman in tech, who is your female STEM idol?
Alaa: Well, this is a hard one! I would say any female who succeeds in the tech world is a role model for me. However, to be precise, I could say Lise Meitner is a female idol of mine. I know that despite being criticised and mistreated due to her gender and religious belief, she didn’t give up. Ever since I was a teenager and found out about her life story, I realised that in STEM world; the most important thing is to concentrate on your goal and never stop, follow your dreams and trust yourself.
Freespee: What is the industry like for women in the cloud operations field?
Alaa: I would say this is one of the fields in which I don’t see many women involved. But I’m very optimistic, and I believe women can perform any STEM job as well as a man — sometimes even better! Usually, operations jobs include more responsibility in every position and demand more care and patience in the role. Cloud operations could even be more challenging since it requires background and knowledge of cloud computing. I’ve seen female in tech who avoid this field due to these criteria. I strongly encourage all girls in IT to join this field because even though its challenging, it’s very fun and you can work with different aspects of technology.
Freespee: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Alaa: I get excited when I work towards implementing new ideas. The fact that I can combine cloud operations with telecommunications makes it even more interesting. I’ve studied communications, networks, distributed systems, and telecommunications. Now I can use the technology which is built upon all these subjects. IT is rapidly advancing, and this creates twists and challenges which inspires my curious mind to continuously learn and build new structures.
Freespee: How can we create an environment of inclusivity in the tech world?
Alaa: Women could be good representatives in STEM by encouraging other female workers to join the tech world. I could say we have already started to create such an environment in Freespee. I was the only female engineer for some time, and now that I see more women have joined Freespee I am happy and certainly proud to be part of the team! The movement has started from small-medium sized companies in many countries where gender equality is part of their culture. Moreover, I am aware that in some firms there are particular laws for hiring women. But this can only happen if women themselves are interested in being involved in the technology.
Freespee: A survey recently revealed, teenage girls aren’t interested in tech jobs due to a lack of self-belief, what are your thoughts on this?
Alaa: If women don’t step up themselves then, around half of the population in STEM, who are talented and educated cannot participate in this era. This leads to the lack of professionals with the necessary skills in STEM areas. I feel that teenage girls have more self-belief in comparison to the time when I was a teenager. Even though self-confidence in women has increased during the years, there is still a long way to go, and I’m optimistic that someday in STEM gender will not be a criterion for any job or position in all over the world. This could lead to more self-confidence not only in teenagers but also in all women of any age.
Freespee: What are you most excited about regarding tech development in the next few years?
Alaa: I’m super enthusiastic about cloud to the edge developments and conversational platforms. Both of these areas are very interesting and make me excited. The fact that shortly we can decentralise most of the computing power across multiple edge devices makes the server implementations a lot different. Conversational platforms are also getting more challenging, the interaction between human and smart devices, speech to text, webrtc, and similar technologies have made life easier for consumers, and at the same time in STEM world this has made new opportunities to implement new ideas, and this has opened a whole new development era in Tech.