Saturday January 14, 2017
By: Iman Refaat
After working for fifteen years in the U.S. in information technology and financial services, Reem Asaad left behind a successful IT consulting firm and returned to Egypt in 2006 to join Raya Holding, a leading financial investment company specializing in IT and Telecommunication industry. Within months she became its IT Director.
In 2007, she became the Corporate Communications Director and was elected corporate secretary of the board of directors, where she holds the position till present.
Today, she is the CEO of Raya Data Center, a certified director and corporate governance consultant for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the chair of the Telecom Division of the Egyptian Information, Telecommunications, Electronics, and Software Alliance (Eitesal).
In 2015, she was ranked no. 32 on the list of Forbes’ Middle East 100 most powerful Arab business women.
Asaad got her Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Science and Information Technology from the University of Houston in Texas in 1993.
Women of Egypt interviewed Reem Assad to learn more about the reasons behind her return to Egypt and her support for Egyptian Women.
WOE: After living in the U.S for almost two decades, during which you ran a successful business, what motivated you to return to Egypt?
Reem Assad: I returned back in 2006 by choice. I felt it was time to return and contribute in making a difference in my country. I wanted to be part of the new generation rebuilding Egypt and play a role in redefining it.
WOE: How is your working experience in Egypt?
RA: I consider myself lucky to be a leader in the field of information technology. In 2014, I became the CEO of a well-respected company. The major success in my professional life came to me in my homeland. I believe that there are real opportunities for those who are serious about working and achieving.
WOE: In 2015 you were ranked no. 32 in Forbes Middle East as one of the top 100 most powerful Arabic Women, how was this related to your mission?
RA: Well, my mission is focused on three pillars: a balanced representation of gender diversity in the work field, sustainability and entrepreneurship. Women’s contribution in the work field is essential and needed. How would a country rise while half of its citizens aren’t contributing in the work force? I believe in the importance of women’s involvement in the work field, and I strive to expand their representation and innovation in the fields of IT, sciences and mathematics.
WOE: And how do you support working women?
RA: Women’s representation in the sectors of IT industry and economy must increase. To achieve that, I coach women, encourage them to make decisions, to focus more on details and to play an effective role in the work field. I also propagate to create the suitable environments to enable women to work effectively. One of the crucial needs for working women is to provide them with nurseries in cooperates to ensure that they can contribute to the work force while having families and children.
WOE: As an active social contributor, what are the areas you focus on?
RA: As I mentioned, I wish to be among the generation that rebuild Egypt. I represented Egypt in several United Nations Sustainable Development conferences. I support and volunteer in various causes. I am a co-chair of the American chamber of commerce and a steering committee member in (EBNI), an NGO that encourages and assists fresh graduates to turn their proposals into pilot projects. Moreover, I’m leading a program to fight corruptions in the corporate field, in addition to my collaboration with GIZ – a German program that aims to achieve a balanced representation in corporates, to ensure that women truly reach key posts and top positions.
WOE: In your opinion, what would be the elevator pitch for Egypt’s economy?
RA: Technology. Technology is an enabler and the more we introduce technology, the more our economy will flourish.
WOE: What’s the message you wish to share with mankind?
RA: You must have a personal mission statement. You must know your values, what you live for and what your life stands for. Make sure to live life intentionally and to contribute proactively.
WOE: And what would be your message to the new generation?
RA: As a key note speaker in women empowering events, I was invited as the guest of honor in several high schools graduation events. In my speeches to them, I encourage students to always seek better education. Follow your heart and be persistent. Travel to study if you wish, yet make sure not to forget your country. Come back to contribute to its development.