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  • 18 Nov 2021 10:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This is the third part of a series titled ‘Up Close and Personal’ covering the career path of several steering committee members of LebNet communities, spread across the US and Canada. 

    Like many bright Lebanese professionals, Hala Jalwan graduated from a university in Lebanon and was set on changing the world with her degree. However, after finishing her Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering at the American University of Beirut in 2012, she realized she had picked the wrong career and decided to pursue a Masters of Engineering in Supply Chain Management and Logistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. This decision kicked off her career in the tech industry. She has worked for four years at Facebook as a Product Manager, then as a Lead Product Manager before working with Google for two years on the Google Assistant, and finally managing products at Apple.  

    Jalwan followed the path closer to her heart and has been on a roll ever since. In this Q&A, we interviewed this inspiring Women in Tech steering committee member to better understand her future plans for the community, what drives and challenges her and the exciting stuff she’s working on. 

    1- How would you describe your career path and what do you enjoy most about your current job?

    Ten years ago, I would have never imagined that I would end up living in San Francisco and working for tech companies. My career has evolved naturally but in an unexpected way. I have been working as a product manager for the last eight years and I enjoy building consumer-facing products.

    2- What were some of the challenges you encountered in your career and how were you able to overcome them?

    I encountered my main challenges early on in my career. It is always hard to find your first job and even harder to find a first job that you like. Having only a Lebanese passport (which I think every Lebanese would be able to relate to) adds a lot of constraints to where you can apply. However, it was a blessing in disguise as it pushed me to think creatively on how to differentiate myself. The second challenge was the decision to change careers from civil engineering. In retrospect, it was the right decision, but the process was not straightforward and a lot of people helped me to see it more clearly. 

    3- Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

    I am lucky to love what I do. In five years, I would love to be leading a team of product managers on consumer-facing products. 

    4- How do you maintain a good work/life balance? 

    I make it a point to work a fixed number of hours a day and have a work-free weekend. It is also important to pick a company with a culture that pushes for a healthy work/life balance. 

    5- What are you looking to achieve or excited about as a Women in Tech steering committee member?

    Helping out other people the same way other people in my life mentored me and helped me out. I am excited to be part of this great initiative! Please reach out if you would like to join one of our webinars as a panelist! 

    6- What is a unique experience or specific event that led to where you are today? 

    The same person that gave me the idea to do my masters, referred me to Facebook and positively impacted my career path, twice. Raja was someone I never met, he was the friend of a friend but made a big difference in my life. It is interesting how sometimes people that you have never met change the course of your life. This happened to me and I would like to do the same for other people.

  • 15 Oct 2021 8:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    While Lebanon’s education sector remains one of the country’s strongest pillars, it is being jeopardized today due to several factors such as the dramatic devaluation of the Lebanese pound and the deterioration of living conditions resulting in increasing rates of student drop-outs. 

    “Lebanon needs to urgently reform the education sector and build forward better,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank Mashreq Regional Director in a press release about the Bank’s recent report on education in Lebanon. “Now more than ever, Lebanon needs to invest more making sure Lebanese youth are well equipped with the right skills required by the job market to enable them to contribute to Lebanon’s economic recovery”.

    Since the future of any country relies on its youth, there’s an increasing need to invest in the future generation and feed it the right skills needed to build a sustainable future. 

    As a key player in investing in Lebanon’s youth, LebNet has partnered with the Lebanese American University (LAU) in 2020 and the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) since 2019, to offer customized seminars, lectures and programs given exclusively by LebNet expert members to students. 

    AUB/LebNet Partnership: 

    A Glimpse at The Silicon Valley Knowledge  

    Since 2019, LebNet has been working closely with AUB’s engineering faculty to offer tech talks ranging from robotics, 5G, tech trends to career development. The series - which is named The Silicon Valley Channel and features six episodes to date - is one of the major components in the partnership and aims at leveraging the expertise of LebNet’s members in North America to support college students in Lebanon. 

    “The collaboration between LebNet and MSFEA has been successful so far as we were able to expose MSFEA students to a wide range of speakers and experts in interesting and diverse fields from North America,” said Mona Itani, Coordinator of the Entrepreneurship Initiative, Senior Instructor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at MSFEA. “It was very timely as we introduced the SiliconValley Channel just before the pandemic and our students were very receptive to it since everything moved online.” 


    Access to North American based Companies 

    In addition to the tech talks, LebNet’s partnership with the MSFEA included giving engineering students the chance to work with US-based companies for their final year projects (FYPs) and course projects. For the academic year 2019-2020, four teams from AUB worked with two companies in the US: Asurion (a device insurance, warranty, and support services provider for cell phones, consumer electronics, and home appliances) and FADEL (the creator of rights and royalty management software). Here’s what the mentors at these companies had to say about working with Lebanese tech students. 

    Other components in the LebNet-AUB partnership included offering internship opportunities, entrepreneurship support and soon to be announced is a customized mentorship program for their senior engineering students. 

    “We aspire to increase the number of events planned with LebNet to foster the interest of more students from various backgrounds including design and architecture. We are also planning to increase the number of female speakers, mentors, and judges in entrepreneurship competitions and programs with the help of LebNet,” said Itani. 

    LAU/LebNet Partnership: A iLEAP of faith 

    iLEAP, which stands for Industry-focused Lebanese Education & Academia Partnership initiative, is a program established between LebNet and LAU that offers LAU students accredited academic seminars and lectures given by experienced LebNet members. 

    The topics are industry focused and complement LAU's academic offering. So far, the program has delivered four lectures on autonomous driving, AI applications within semiconductor manufacturing, technology trends and challenges in the automotive, aerospace and e-commerce industries and 5G. For more details on the lectures and the speakers, visit this link.


    “One main goal of LAU’s School of Engineering is to enable our students to succeed as engineers, innovators and responsible citizens, and to provide them with distinctive skills that are sought after in the professional world and in graduate schools. iLEAP supports this goal by leveraging the industry experience of highly qualified LebNet members who engage with us in mentoring our students on emerging technologies and businesses,” said Lina Karam, Dean of the School of Engineering at LAU, IEEE Fellow and  

    In the future, Karam would like to expand iLEAP further: “We would like to grow and expand the iLEAP initiative by offering short courses and full courses to our students given by highly qualified LebNet members. We would also like to engage LebNet members as co-mentors for our students on real-world projects as well as coaches on entrepreneurship and innovation.” 

    LebNet is committed to support these initiatives to enrich the Lebanese education sector with North American industry experience and help maintain Lebanon’s high standard of education.

  • 16 Sep 2021 9:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This is the second part of a series titled ‘Up Close and Personal’ covering the career path of several steering committee members of LebNet communities, spread across the US and Canada. 

    Karine Sarkissian is proof that creativity and investment go hand in hand. As a founding partner at Tamar Capital (TC), a single-family office based between the Middle East, the UK, and the US, she oversees the family office’s Impact and Venture portfolio in the US, manages Impact Investment ventures, and leads the exploration of multiple social impact initiatives. Through her background in design and design strategies, she has an extensive amount of experience in social innovation for urban and economic development initiatives internationally. Leveraging her expertise, she supports many of Tamar Capital’s portfolio companies through a designer’s lens offering strategy development. She is also the co-founder of Le Studio - a TC’s venture builder initiative - which empowers exceptional entrepreneurs and investors to grow, scale and generate sustainable impact.

    Karine also co-facilitated the Open IDEO NYC Chapter, designing solutions for social impact, and served as a Design for America mentor to graduate students within New York University. She is also an active investor and speaker. 

    On top of all that, she is LebNet’s WiT Community Co-lead & Networking and Startup Program Lead. We’re honored to have her part of our team and look forward to all the great activities she has planned for the community! Find out more about her plans for LebNet and get to know her more personally in the interview below: 

    1- How would you describe your career path and what do you enjoy most about your current job? 

    Unconventional! I studied art, design, and sustainability. Currently I run the VC arm of Tamar Capital. With my background, I co-founded Le Studio, a venture builder that supports exceptional entrepreneurs and investors within design, impact, and financial advisory. I love every part of it, especially supporting impact driven founders and social innovation. 

    2- What is a unique experience or specific event that led to where you are today? 

    People I’ve met! Moving to the Bay Area, I met all sorts of new people, joined networks, and explored. Without those experiences, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today. 

    3- What are you looking to achieve or excited about as a Women in Tech steering committee member? 

    Bringing more women into the tech ecosystem, especially within the Lebanese network. Supporting women in finding their voice is what this is about for me. I can’t wait to introduce, promote, and connect incredible women changing the world! 

    4- What were some of the challenges you encountered in your career and how were you able to overcome them? 

    Finding a way to bring creativity into my everyday role was a challenge. I'm creative at the core, and I believe design and design processes can change the world! With Le Studio, we’ve found ways to bring in creative thinking, design, and problem solving within the family office role. 

    5- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?  

    Continuing to support entrepreneurs around the world and creating a program that becomes a new standard: bringing social impact and good design processes at the core of all ventures.  

    6- How do you maintain a good work/life balance?  

    I am lucky that I control my own schedule. I know when to push and when I need to stop. But, it’s really about making sure I do things I love. Being outdoors, in the water, making art/painting murals, or being with friends helps me find the right balance. 

  • 14 Sep 2021 9:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    LebNet is committed to enabling tech entrepreneurs of Lebanese descent succeed on a global stage. With 7 successful editions, LebNet’s flagship program Ignite has been leaving its footprints on the path of successful Lebanese founders since 2015.

    Ignite is a Silicon Valley Residence program for Startups designed to immerse Lebanese startup founders in the Silicon Valley culture. Every year, several prominent startups are identified and invited to Silicon Valley to attend a tailored acceleration program to help them gain the needed expertise to expand their vision and scale their companies globally.

    The program’s comprehensive agenda tackles a range of topics covering the basics of venture capital, raising money in Silicon Valley, legal and financial issues of born-global startups, Silicon Valley’s code and culture, pitching to investors, receiving legal and financial advice, business and strategy mentoring, and PR assistance.

    In addition, LebNet connects the participants with global industry experts, mentors, advisors, LebNet Board members, and thought leaders to get customized analysis and advice regarding how to build and grow their business on a global scale.

    The most recent edition in 2019 was held in partnership with the Lebanon-based accelerator Speed and the program was powered by Draper University. It was spread over 5 weeks with a demo day and an optional extended stay of 4 to 5 more weeks to allow founders to finalize any pending business transactions.

    Success stories from our LebNet entrepreneurs:

    Speed:

    “LebNet Ignite has been instrumental in helping our startups see the bigger picture and think globally. The program fast-tracked the entrepreneurs to their next major milestone, whether it was a pivot, a fundraising event, or even a complete shutdown. We have seen in many cases the relationships that were built during the immersion program evolve and keep going over the years, accompanying the startups on their journey,” said Sami Abou Saab, CEO of Speed.

    Lemonade Fashion:

    After graduating from the program, LebNet kept close relations with the Ignite alumni startups to monitor their progress and support when needed. Arthur Bizdikian, co-founder and CEO at online marketplace Lemonade Fashion and one of the Ignite graduates, decided to spend a few extra weeks after the program ended to set up meetings with potential investors. In 2021, his startup received financing of $300,000 from a syndication of seven LebNet members, with plans to raise additional funds from VCs in the US and GCC to expand in Dubai and San Francisco.

    “This trip saved us, I do not know what would have happened to us if we did not have the help of LebNet and Draper. We’re excited about 2021,” said Bizdikian. “This is a very important year for us and we are glad that we have the right people to back us up [...] The quality of the people in the program was amazing. You are only surrounded by positive, innovative people who are trying to make a change.”

    Ostaz:

    Another success story is Ostaz, previously known as Synkers. This private tutoring matching platform was acquired in May 2021 by Inspired Education Group in order to scale in the GCC, Egypt, Europe, the UK, Spain, and Italy.

    “LebNet Ignite was the best experience ever. We had access to people we could never have access to in Lebanon. The Lebanese market is in need of more role models and success stories they can look up to and seek advice from,” said Audrey Nakad, one of the three co-founders.

    Instabeat:

    “I found it amazing how many members are willing and want to help, and they have been super accessible. We have tackled some big questions like warehousing, supply chain, shipping, quality and manufacturing with their assistance. It was very helpful, and I know I have a board of advisers to report to with my progress and reach out whenever I need anything” said Hind Hobeika, CEO Instabeat.

    As we look forward to more Ignite editions, LebNet is counting on its members' financial support to be able to continue focusing on such programs and dedicating resources to make Lebanese founders successful. Find out how you can support by visiting this link.

  • 25 Aug 2021 4:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This is the first part of a series titled ‘Up Close and Personal’ covering the career path of several steering committee members of LebNet communities, spread across the US and Canada. 

    Early in her career, Layal Rouhana has emerged as a distinguished technical leader in her field. After earning her Bachelor of Sciences in Chemistry from the Lebanese University in Beirut in 2004, she moved to the US in pursuit of her Ph.D in Materials Science and Nanotechnology at Florida State University. She then completed a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Pharmacology Department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.  

    Her professional career started at Qualcomm where she reached Staff Engineering level while leading integrated circuits packaging research, development and manufacturing on substrates for new wireless electronic component technologies, supporting the launch of over 24 products at Qualcomm. Her work resulted in 5 granted patents. In her current role as a senior staff engineer at Illumina, the DNA sequencing giant, Layal is serving as a process development lead for the manufacturing of supplied substrates and CMOS based sequencing consumables, in New Product Introduction (NPI) phase and on-market.

    With over 11 years of experience in the high-tech and biotech sectors under her belt, and with over 20 technical publications, Layal is an accomplished leader with extensive experience in driving technology roadmapping and downselection, as well as a technical expert in supplier management for pathfinding, process development and high-volume manufacturing. 

    She is the recipient of numerous professional awards, including, Illumina’s ‘Platform Management Most Valuable Players (MVP) Recognition’ for excellent technical and leadership skills; Illumina’s ‘Execution Excellence Award’ for swift customer issues resolution; Numerous QualStars given by Qualcomm to exceptional contributors; and  received The Graduate Student Leadership Award given by the Florida State University Graduate School for outstanding graduate student leaders. 

    Beside her busy career, she enjoys giving back in different ways: as a Co-Chair of the board and Mentorship Program Lead at Women at Illumina Network Employee Resource Group; as a translator and interpreter at Casa Cornelia Law Center, a pro-bono law center that provides legal services for victims of human rights violation ; and as the Community Lead and Mentorship Program Lead at LebNet’s Women in Tech (WiT) community

    We could not be prouder to have her leading our WiT community! Find out more about her plans for LebNet and get to know her more personally in the interview below: 

    1- How would you describe your career path and what do you enjoy most about your current job? 

    My career path has been driven by a strong sense of purpose to make a positive impact in the world, and it has been a learning journey about myself, the people around me and the tech industry. Through my previous work in high tech at Qualcomm, and currently in biotech at Illumina, I get to make an impact through the products I develop. What I enjoy the most about my current work is the fact that it is playing a role in transforming human health through unlocking the power of the genome and advancing genomics-led precision healthcare.

    2- What is a unique experience or specific event that led to where you are today? 

    I have a specific belief rather than an event that led to where I am today, and I would like to acknowledge my parents for instilling it in me and my siblings: It is the conviction that I could achieve any goal I set my mind to if I worked hard enough and did not back down in the face of challenges. But that cannot lead far without being given the right opportunities, which I could not have had without the relentless encouragement, support and inspiration from my family,  my husband, and many mentors who keep believing in me and pushing me to be the best version of myself.

    3- What are you looking to achieve or excited about as a Women in Tech steering committee member? 

    As the committee lead, I am very excited to work with such a dynamic and highly accomplished committee to increase the constituency of Women in Tech of Lebanese origin in LebNet, and showcase their professional talents and impactful work across North America. We are looking forward to providing WiT members with opportunities to build partnerships with other like-minded professionals in the network, as well as providing them with collaboration opportunities to give back to Lebanon. In the coming year, we are very excited about launching WiT-focused mentorship and coaching programs, collaborating with LebNet Early in Career community on STEM programs geared for girls in Lebanon, in addition to hosting career development workshops and networking sessions that will help propel WiT community members careers further! 

    4- What were some of the challenges you encountered in your career and how were you able to overcome them? 

    Influencing without authority and rallying cross-functional teams around my idea and vision, while faced with multiple opposing paths. I found that by listening to the other parties to understand their point of view and concerns, bringing forth supporting data, using diplomacy and focusing on a common end goal, I was able to build consensus and solve issues. Ultimately, the goal should always be to solve the problem while keeping the best interest of the company in mind. This will build your credibility and get you to the target you plan to achieve.

    5- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?  

    I see myself playing a more strategic role in influencing and leading the technical roadmap for products in biotech or high tech, as I transition to a wider scope/customer facing role. 

    6- How do you maintain a good work/life balance?  

    I think work/life balance is very difficult to achieve so I approach this topic more as work/life integration, where I constantly find myself making prioritization decisions between work and personal life needs, to keep both going successfully. I also work hard on being present in the moment to make the best out of my time at work or in my personal life. More specifically, to prevent burnout at work, I block time during weekdays on my calendar for lunch and to take a short walk to recharge, while listening to an educational/inspirational podcast. In the evenings, since I am a parent to energetic 5-year-old twin daughters, I make sure I am available for dinner time and bedtime, and I schedule work meetings around that. I also use weekends to recharge and “resharpen the saw”, by catching up with my family in Lebanon, hanging out with friends, hiking, practicing a hobby and learning a new skill. 

  • 12 Aug 2021 3:42 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    [Disclaimer: LebNet needs the members' support to sustain its internship program and keep it going. Find out how you can help by visiting this link.]

    A great internship opportunity can set the stage for a strong start to any career. 

    In 2019, LebNet launched its internship program to provide internship opportunities to Lebanese students residing in North America and Lebanon. The program offered internships in the areas of technology and biotech with 7 opportunities in its first year, 9 in 2020 and growing to over 23 in 2021. Most of the opportunities were filled by enthusiastic students eager to gain experience before going into the workforce.

    To guarantee the success of the program, LebNet worked with reputable US and Canada based companies such as BridgeAthletic, EcrioJoun, Technologies, Orderbot,Probi SolutionsSPARK Microsystems, Sowlutions,Turo, Qnovo CorporationWearable Sensing, and many others. They all hosted interns during the summer months and gave them exciting projects to work on.  The internship opportunities were listed on the Lebnet platform and interested applicants went through an internal screening process before being introduced to the companies.

    “I am impressed with both their skills and hunger to learn! They were focused and executed on their tasks in a very conscientious way” said Fram Akiki, President at hosting company Joun Technologies. 

    “We are very happy with our intern. He presented to the company management the work he has done on AI/ML and I was quite impressed,”said Michel Gannage, Founder and CEO at Ecrio Inc.

    “Both our interns are crushing it! The team and I are very impressed. Thank you LebNet for making it happen,” said Fadi Zoghzoghi, CTO at BridgeAthletic. 

    How the pandemic broke boundaries and barriers

    In the summer of 2020, LebNet had to temporarily suspend the internship program due to COVID-19, but decided the following year to switch to remote internship opportunities to keep the initiative going. Luckily for them, Lebanon-based students now had a greater chance to intern at global companies as they no longer needed to obtain a pre-authorization to intern or work in the US and Canada.
    “In the past year, companies have realized that remote work is possible and productive. This allowed us to open up our internship opportunities to students residing in Lebanon” said Jeanine Akiki, LebNet’s executive director and internship program lead.

    The first three years were indicative of a thirst for technical know-how and practical skills and the feedback received from our students highlights how crucial it is to continue expanding this program and its opportunities. Jeanine adds, “we will continue to expand this program by reaching out to more companies in North America and offering a wide variety of internship opportunities to students of Lebanese descent here and in Lebanon  The talent, creativity and work ethic that our students bring are highly valued.”

    What our students had to say about our program 

    Rayan Al Sarih, Electrical and Computer Engineering at Joun Technologies
    Thank you LebNet for the internship opportunity! I am so excited to have done this research about the internet of things!  I look forward to continuing my growth as an engineer and using this new knowledge in projects that serve the environment in the future.”


    Bashar Baajour - Software Engineering Internship with Turo
    “It was an amazing experience all around. The internship has helped me grow immensely on a professional level. I also learned a lot about the work environment and met a lot of great people. I think the internship program itself is really great.”



    Khaled Baghdadi - Software Engineer Internship at Ecrio
    “What I loved about the experience is that we were working as a team towards the same goal even though we come from different countries and backgrounds.” 


    Heba Harb, Computer Engineering at Joun Technologies
    "Thank you LebNet and Joun Technologies for giving me the opportunity to widen my knowledge in the field of digital transformation generally and digital twin specifically. It was a wonderful experience learning from experts and understanding the research procedure."



    Rami Ismail - Software Engineer Internship with ProBi Solutions
    “The internship was very interactive. I learned a lot about teamwork and cooperation as well as working with the Agile methodology. I also honed and upgraded my skills in the field.”


    Anthony Kahwaji -Industrial Engineering at Sowlutions
    “I have had a great experience so far! I got the chance to work as a product manager on launching, optimizing and growing four products from startups based in the US, the Middle East and Africa. I felt like I was a full-time employee rather than an intern which was great! The process was streamlined and easy. The program manager Jeanine Akiki was extremely helpful from the time I applied through LebNet to when I got accepted at Sowlutions.”


    Garo Keuchkarian,  Electrical Engineer Internship at Joun Technologies
    “LebNet gave me a ray of hope in the darkest times of Lebanon’s history. I worked with Joun Technologies on a Machine Learning and object detection project which I was truly inspired by. The experience was very insightful, interesting and well organized.”    


    Hisham Masri - Engineer/Computer Scientist Internship with BridgeAthletic
    “The internship was great in all aspects. It gave me a lot of valuable assets and the chance to technically contribute to real-life situations. I also got to learn from people from all over the globe. The lessons ranged from personal to leadership and technical skills. I worked with many people from diverse ethnicities and participated in a lot of daily meetings that were deemed valuable to my communication and leadership skills. Technically, the company helped me get introduced to Git and Github, in addition to SQL and many new Python programming libraries. It was a brilliant experience.”

    Anthony Moubarak - Engineer/Computer Scientist Internship at BridgeAthletic"From a technical standpoint, I improved my coding and algorithm building skills and how to deploy models that can be used by other people - something which will benefit me for the rest of my career in data science. Additionally, I got hands-on experience on how software-oriented companies operate in the short and long term. From a personal standpoint, the team spirit at the company was exceptional. The remote work aspect gave me the chance to improve my time management and productivity skills. The process of applying through LebNet was very smooth and what I really liked about LebNet is that the first interview heavily focused on who I am as a person, which I personally think is more valuable than anything else.”

    Anna Rita Moukarzel, Mechanical Engineering at Wearable Sensing
    “LebNet helped facilitate an amazing internship opportunity.  Their application process made the experience of finding an internship smooth and easy.”  



    Hanna Saade - Mechatronics Engineer Internship at Joun Technologies
    “It was a great experience, very professional yet enjoyable. I learned about the importance of hard work and commitment to succeed at work. It was very beneficial and needed due to the number of crises we are facing in our country Lebanon.”

    LebNet is already preparing for a new edition for the summer of 2022 so stay tuned! 


  • 27 Jul 2021 1:33 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The economic conditions in Lebanon, coupled with high unemployment, increased poverty and escalating inflation rates, continue to further deteriorate due to political unrest and instability. The unemployment rate, which was estimated at 11.4 percent in 2019, has now skyrocketed to over 40 percent.  

    To help relieve this crisis, many Lebanese expatriates are assisting by sending medication and basic food necessities. Driven by the saying: “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”, Bernard Chamma chose to focus on job creation to help limit the brain drain from Lebanon and provide North American funded jobs.  


    “The goal here is to help young graduates find remote jobs in Lebanon and receive fresh funds to be able to survive these difficult times,” said Chamma during a LebNet interview about his recently launched job creation initiative.   

    Under the umbrella of his company, ProBi Solutions - a Business Intelligence consulting firm headquartered in Montreal launched in 2005 - Chamma started a job creation initiative in January 2021 to match his clients in Montreal, Toronto and Boston with talented developers and computer engineers based in Lebanon. 

    To help match his clients with their resource needs, he hired a full-time staff of recruiters and sales people in Lebanon to source, train and prepare candidates for the international job market. So far, he has been successful in creating around 20 jobs, a very modest number compared to the ambitious plans that Chamma has for the future.

    Coming full circle  

    In his effort to hire more candidates in Lebanon and accommodate additional clients abroad, Chamma is hiring more staff in Lebanon to recruit and keep candidates on standby. He spends a lot of effort training candidates on resume writing and job interview preparation to maximize their chances of getting hired.  

    He also offers his clients a full commission refund if they are not satisfied with the service.  

    “Being physically located and well-established in Canada gives us credibility and attracts clients to work with us. We are expanding and opening offices in Toronto and Boston to get more clients and open more employment opportunities for Lebanese professionals” Chamma said. 

    Until now, he has been relying on social media ads, Life Lebanon, LebNet and Jobs for Lebanon to increase awareness. 

    A passionate Lebanese at heart 

    Like many Lebanese during the eighties, Chamma applied for immigration to Canada while he was still studying Biology at the Lebanese University. When his application was accepted, he moved to Montreal where he switched to Computer Science and Math-Statistics. He then specialized in Business Intelligence Analytics and Data Integration at Concordia University. Throughout his career, he helped many clients design and implement BI solutions projects. He is now focused on creating an impact in his home country Lebanon by porting his business and opportunities there.

    Chamma is seeking business partners with a passion for business intelligence and Lebanon, to help him grow the network and help improve the Lebanese marketplace, one step at a time. 

  • 06 Jul 2021 4:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Chatting with Walid Ali-Ahmad was a breath of fresh air. I found him to have a unique ability to simplify complex concepts and explain them clearly. 

    With a career spanning over a bit less than three decades, Walid has worked for the top three companies in wireless communication chipset development: Mediatek, Qualcomm and Samsung. He describes an exciting journey where there was never a dull moment. 

    In 1988, Walid graduated with distinction from AUB where he earned his Bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering. He then proceeded to the United States to pursue his Masters of Science and completed his Ph.D in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the University of Michigan. Today, he is the Vice President of Cellular SoC - RF Systems Engineering at Samsung Electronics. 

    What can you tell us about your current work?

    I currently lead a group of engineers focused on RF-modem system engineering for Samsung LSI’s cellular chipsets that eventually go into Samsung’s Galaxy phones. We’re very focused on RF system architecture and RF-modem algorithms and work on everything from the antenna down to the modem.

    What’s the most exciting project you worked on? 

    The most exciting project was the one at Maxim Integrated Products, the second company I worked for. It takes me back to 1999, when 3G was a big deal as the new emerging cellular standard. At Maxim Integrated Products, I was the lead RF system engineer and I worked with fellow RFIC designers to tackle all the challenges of moving from the incumbent super-heterodyne radio architecture to direct-conversion radio architecture for cellular transceivers. The direct-conversion architecture has since then been the enabler for higher radio integration in cellular SoCs and minimized the use of external front-end filters. Our work at that time resulted in the development of the first low-cost low-power 3G transceiver solution for dual-band cellular applications. Currently at Samsung, the work on 5G chipsets development, with its present and future challenges, reminds me of that exciting 3G time some 20 years ago.

    How would you describe your early beginnings? 

    I was privileged enough to be taught by two excellent teachers: professor Gabriel Rebeiz who was my Ph.D advisor at University of Michigan and professor Fawaz Ulaby who was the founding Director of the NASA-funded Center for Space Terahertz Technology at U of M. I owe them both a lot. Dr. Ulaby offered me the graduate assistantship which allowed me to come from Lebanon to the US. The two of them greatly influenced my career, giving me a strong background in radio technology and applied electromagnetics. When I went to the Bay Area right after my Ph.D, I worked at a company called Anritsu-Wiltron and we were doing high-end high-frequency test equipment back in 1996. I was observing what was happening around me and teaching myself more about the wireless revolution; this was the time when we were moving from 2.5G to 3G radio access technology. 

    What skills and knowledge helped you get to where you are today?

    When I was at AUB, I really enjoyed the technical side of engineering. Doing my PHD at the University of Michigan in the field of millimeter-wave and sub-THz radio systems engineering for satellite and remote sensing applications forced me to become sharp technically and allowed me to lead a project from a technical perspective. The knowledge of how radio systems work from a phone to a Bluetooth headset to a GPS were crucial to my career. Technical difficulties never fade away and if you want to become a strong manager, you need to figure out how to stay in shape technically so you are able to understand and contribute to projects with your engineering team. It makes the relationship between the manager and the engineer more fruitful and helps the manager be sympathetic to his team members and understanding of obstacles that may arise. The key is to drive your team to deliver with excellence without pushing them too hard. Being able to achieve that balance is an important skill! 

    What are some of the toughest challenges that you have faced? 

    Some challenges led me to greater success while others pushed me to the brink of failure. They all eventually give you the tough skin that you need to excel. I am not someone who spent years at one company. When I worked at Qualcomm for three and half years, I worked with people who had been there for over 20 years. Moving from one company to another was very rewarding for me because it allowed me to grow professionally and allowed me to bring a diverse set of experiences into each new role. However, you are often faced with people asking more from you and sometimes you have to prove yourself anew, and this pressure required me to strive to be at my best technically throughout my career. Moving from Mediatek as a Senior Technical Director to Qualcomm as a Vice President of Technology marked a transformative period of my life on both a personal and professional level. During that time, I also got married and moved from Singapore to San Diego. 

    What do you like most about what you do? 

    The fact that I've seen how cellular technology evolved from 2G when I started working in 1994 makes me love what I do. As a Lebanese-American with my heritage and working in the US, one thing that amazes me is that everything that has been developed in the wireless communications field always started by what NASA or the US Department of Defense have developed: GPS started for the US Army then became commercial. Cell phones were also used initially by the military, and Satellite or millimeter wave communication was restricted to federal use but now you can have that hardware in the palm of your hand.  

    Can you share a few tough lessons you picked up throughout your career? 

    The first lesson is that when you jump between companies you always have to invest time in learning the culture and how the company operates. Don’t be complacent by just saying ‘I'm a great engineer, I’m going to go in and change everything’. People have to accept you first and you have to build credibility in any role. No one can join a company and take with them the cachet they built before. The other important lesson I learned was when I was at Mediatek in Asia: one of my managers asked me if I knew Tai Chi. It’s an Asian martial art that is typified by its slow movements and by the use of leverage through the joints based on coordination and relaxation, rather than muscular tension. When you’re in a new environment and focused on change and contribution, you have to move slowly, gain confidence and credibility, and avoid alienating people around you or on the same team. 

    What  advice would you have for young professionals in your field? 

    We are very well-rewarded in the high-tech field as engineers but that reward doesn't come easy. Any young professional in the high-tech field must stay sharp in their expertise and build on their academic background. I am lucky in that regard because I was a professor in my career, with three years at AUB and as an adjunct professor at University of California San Diego. Teaching requires you to keep a firm grasp on the basic principles of your field. This will take you a long way in the high-tech area. 

    What excites you about the future of your industry? 

    Being able to see the contribution of NASA to the area of communications (Satellite to Satellite or Satellite to Land-based radio links). Wireless communications and their evolution certainly excite me as we look beyond 5G towards 6G. Thinking about how far this industry has come from the original bulky cell phone to today’s smartphones shows how limitless the possibilities are in this field, especially as we consider other new applications in AR/VR. 

  • 28 Jun 2021 1:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Houda began her journey at AUB with a Bachelor's degree in Engineering, followed by a Master’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering at Telecom Paris in France. She later went on to complete an Executive Program on Influence and Negotiation Strategies at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

    When Houda Soubra started her tech journey, she was surprised when she was told aggressive and selfish behaviors were the only means to become a respected leader and advance her career. She believed that her character along with her skills and expertise would make her a successful leader and endeavored to prove that true. After a few years working in Paris, she moved to the bay area and then joined Cisco Systems as a technical marketing engineer. Soubra later became unhappy with the toxic work culture and decided to look for a new position and a more inclusive team culture.

    “My biggest challenge was when I ended up in a non-collaborative team that focused on individual gains. The culture was toxic and I was miserable. I dreaded going to work.” said Soubra “The challenge of being a woman in tech is exacerbated by the leadership and the team culture. Earlier in my career I was told I was too nice and I needed to be aggressive to succeed. It took me a while to figure out that I could be successful without pushing people around. I could succeed by building trust and establishing relationships that are critical for my success.

    When she joined Cisco Systems in 1998, she was able to have many different roles and growth opportunities and received several promotions as the years went on. Her current position is the Head of Product Growth at OpenDNS, a cloud security enterprise that was acquired by Cisco Systems.

    Witnessing the shift from hardware to software to SaaS

    Joining Cisco Systems was a life-altering experience for Soubra. She witnessed first-hand the company’s shift from building hardware to becoming a software provider to selling software as a service.

    “I had so many different careers [at Cisco Systems]. I started as a technical marketing engineer, then I was managing software development teams, then I went into hardware product management, then to network security and now I'm in cloud security,” she said. “I am always making sure that my role is challenging and that it is providing me opportunities to grow and learn”.

    Her current role is focused on product growth, partnering closely with the sales and marketing teams to get a better understanding of the market trends and customer needs and finding opportunities to grow the product revenue.

    The project she is working on right now focuses on helping customers build their security stack in the cloud, as more and more of the applications move to the cloud and employees access them from everywhere. “When you work remotely, you would typically establish a Virtual Private Network or VPN, to encrypt your data and protect it. Your data will go to your company’s data centers and from there it will go to the internet. What’s been happening over the past few years is that more work applications moved into the cloud and more people are working remotely,” explained Soubra. “You have more and more branches connecting directly to the internet and so many customers are now considering reducing the load on their on-prem security stack by building a security stack in the cloud and allowing branches and remote workers to go directly and safely to the Internet.. There’s an industry term for this architecture called ‘Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)’. It’s interesting because it’s adapting to the way we work.”

    Soubra considers herself lucky to be involved in producing new technologies that will make people’s information safe. “Security is an area that will continue to evolve and have its own challenges and that’s what keeps me happy: knowing that there is a problem that I will figure out how to solve and learn along the way.”

    The Challenge of Being A Woman in Tech

    Many women in the tech field face unique issues ranging from bias in the workplace to difficulties receiving fair compensation. “Unfortunately bias is a reality in the workplace today and more specifically in the tech world. However, things are starting to shift, with companies like Cisco Systems taking active steps towards enabling a more inclusive work environment and improving pay equity. Tech companies have come to realize that fostering an inclusive culture increases employee engagement and grows productivity and innovation, “ she said.

    Soubra believes the challenge of being a woman in tech highly depends on the work environment and to what extent it allows you to flourish. “My advice to young women starting in the tech field is to find a work environment that encourages different points of views and builds inclusive teams.” She gives the example of the women in engineering groups at Cisco Systems, Women of Impact and Women In Science and Engineering, that help women engineers grow their network and learn from each other’s experiences.

    She advises early career professionals in her field to observe and identify the stress factors at their workplace and channel their energies towards roles that work for them and can help advance their careers.

    After moving up in the corporate ladder, Soubra still believes that passion, teamwork and leading by example are key to advancing and prospering. She was fortunate enough to realize that early on and take the necessary steps to improve her career. Her future plan is to continue to focus on her passion which is to understand customers' needs, and help them grow their business securely. “Secure Access Service Edge (or SASE as defined by Gartner) is a promising architecture that can help customers move securely to the cloud. I'm excited about the opportunity to help customers on their journey to SASE, a trend that will continue to grow over the next few years.”

  • 19 May 2021 6:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    While technological inventions are often developed and adopted by advanced countries, they are often a much needed solution for underserved communities. This has proven to be true in agriculture. Advances in technology have introduced modern irrigation and farming methods that have saved cost and enabled efficiency in crop production for many farmers. Technology and holistic solutions to improve farming methods have unfortunately not been implemented equally at the global level. Jehane and her team are driving to fix this in Lebanon.

    In 2018, Lebanese social entrepreneur Jehane Akiki conducted a field trip to Zahle in Lebanon to identify farmers’ needs and challenges. She came back to New York and formed a team of designers, engineers, architects and farmers from different organizations and started designing Farms Not Arms, a modern farm targeting to address three main issues: food security, climate change and social cohesion.

    Solving food security through technology 

    Farms Not Arms officially started operating in the Beqaa area in May 2021. The current team in Lebanon consists of five members, mostly women and young individuals, who manage the entire process from installing the equipment to sourcing and planting seeds, irrigating and harvesting. “It’s a women-led farm. This was not planned but we’re glad it is,” Jehane added. 

    The actual farm - ‘Turba’ which means soil in Arabic - is an integrated model that uses regenerative agriculture and low tech hydroponics to yield more produce in a smaller area. Regenerative agriculture is a dense hybrid multiple cropping system that incorporates different plants on different levels and rotates different crops, explains Jehane. Farmers can plant more and diversify their crops. 

    “In our model, you can plant 3.5 times more food in any given area, making farms more productive and enriching soil health while bringing carbon back into the soil, hence combating climate change. In traditional agriculture, the carbon isn’t going back to the soil compounding the issue of soil degradation because of pesticides,” she said. “If we don’t take care of the soil, we won’t have anything left to plant by 2075 and our food system will be jeopardized.”

    Jehane believes that if the Farms Not Arms model spreads on 3% of Lebanon's lands then it can feed every person in the country their entire yearly dietary needs. 

    Currently, her organization is relying on a grant received from a food competition it took part in last year, organized by the Rockefeller Foundation and design agency IDEO. Farms Not Arms came in the top 14 and won $25,000 to cover its first year of operation. In order to become more financially independent, the team is planning to sell a part of their harvest to end consumers and donate a percentage of it to NGOs and individuals working with the organizations. They will also run an educational program in the summer to teach unemployed individuals innovative farming techniques. The program will be offered for free to those who can’t afford it. 


    (A futuristic sketch of Farms Not Arms)

    A social entrepreneur at heart 

    Jehane’s passion for helping communities extends beyond Farms Not Arms. She has been involved in founding many startups focused on driving social change and serving underserved communities.  She is also the founder and CEO of Learning Blocks, an education technology startup that creates a skill-based education certification system powered by blockchain. Its main goal is to provide certification for underserved communities in developing countries. In addition,  Jehane is the founder of IOI Strategic Design, a consulting agency that fuses design and development to target social and governance problems. Jehane is a Global Shaper, an initiative by the World Economic Forum to create a network of young people in their 20s who are driving social change.

    Her biggest concern remains “the current state of the world and what is going to happen to the planet,” she said. “The climate crisis is not just about the environment but also a mix of all the things we’re doing! All of our systems are broken in some form and this is contributing to the state of the planet.” 

    Despite leaving Lebanon to pursue her college studies in Boston and New York, double majoring in International Studies and Business Management, Jehane remains passionate about giving back to her country and to underserved communities. 

    One can only hope that with more people like Jehane, Lebanon will witness a rise in community-geared agriculture initiatives that can put a stop to food scarcity and help Lebanon become self-sufficient.  

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