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  • 27 Sep 2023 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Philippe Boutros moved to the US from Lebanon to study Philosophy at the University of Portland. From 2015 to 2022, he worked as a consultant for B2B tech companies (ranging from startups to Google, Amazon, and Microsoft). He subsequently ran Marketing for Transform Data, a Series A startup that was acquired by dbt Labs in February 2023.

    Since 2014, he has been deeply engaged in a variety of projects, amassing considerable expertise in the B2B market and marketing for dozens of tech companies. In 2022, he assumed the role of Vice President (Tech Sector) at ClearPath Strategies. He subsequently took the helm of marketing efforts at Transform Data, a data analytics firm that was acquired by dbt Labs in February 2023.  

    Boutros –an active LebNet member since 2015– recently relocated from Portland, Oregon to Boise, Idaho, where his wife joined Boise State University as a neuroscience professor. After Transform's acquisition, he deliberated running Marketing for other startups, but ultimately settled on trying to solve a problem that had irked him his entire career.

    “When software buyers at businesses need to buy something they don't have experience with, they spend an inordinate amount of time searching for, buying, and implementing software, even though someone in a similar position has already had to learn things the hard way. This results in, at best, wasted time, and at worst, the wrong software decision, a costly mistake,” he explained.  

    Hence he founded GetWhys, a resource to help software buyers find the right answers. Using the same data collection process as they do in market research, GetWhys is building InsightsDB, a proprietary database of research interviews with software buyers. GetWhys uses a commodity LLM to access the information in that database, helping customers save time identifying the right solution, negotiating the cost and contract, and efficiently implementing it. As Boutros put it in a prior interview, “It leverages the hindsight of people who come before you.”

    In August 2023, Boutros launched GetWhys’ first product, which is currently in closed beta testing with a dozen customers, ranging from AI startups to enterprises. Over the next few months, Boutros will keep letting organizations off the waitlist and they are always on the lookout for new joiners.

  • 22 Sep 2023 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As you navigate career goals and face personal challenges, your mental health well-being significantly impacts your overall quality of your life. A study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimated that over one in five U.S. adults live in moderate to severe mental health conditions (57.8 million in 2021). While treatment approaches differ based on specific conditions, the recommendation  to ‘talk with people’ remains a crucial piece of advice for individuals coping with stress or managing mental health concerns. Consequently, we now witness a range of services providing support and guided meditations to address this need. 

    One such service is Mind-Easy

    Emerging as a response to the cultural shock faced by its three co-founders (pictured below), Alexandra Assouad (Lebanon), Dalia Ahmed (Yemen), and Akanksha Shelat (India) - Mind-Easy is a mental health resource designed to aid clients while they wait for therapy services. By seamlessly integrating this resource into teletherapy services, Mind-Easy assists clients in preparing for their upcoming therapy sessions, leading to a reduction in drop-out rates, fostering an enhanced therapeutic alliance between clients and therapists, and ultimately improving the treatment outcomes.


    (The three co-founders Akanksha Shelat to the left, Alexandra Assouad in the middle and Dalia Ahmed)

    “I experienced a lot of external upheaval in my upbringing, and while I was fortunate enough to move to Toronto for education, I encountered a different form of turmoil, and this time it was internal,” shared Alexandra Assouad during an interview with LebNet. “Being far from my family in Lebanon, I had to adapt to a new culture and a new language.” 

    Assouad further explained that she and her co-founders struggled to find the support they needed. “It was particularly challenging to locate mental health solutions that truly understood our unique identities, or were available in our native dialects and languages. This is when we decided to pool our distinct but very complementary skill sets to create Mind-Easy.”

    The founding team is an embodiment of diversity. Beyond their cultural backgrounds, each member brought something new to the endeavor: Assouad’s background encompassed venture capital funding within the healthcare industry, Dalia Ahmed is pursuing a PhD in education with a specialization in Counseling and Psychotherapy, and Akanksha Shelat holds a BSc. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science. 

    The Next Frontier: Technology in Mental Health

    Launched in March of 2021, Mind-Easy offers virtual therapists proficient in several dialects and over 120 languages. These therapists take the form of AI-based avatars designed to represent diverse cultures and ethnicities. These avatars serve as helpful guides in areas such assertive communication, managing email-related stress, and handling challenging situations with a superior, among other relevant topics.  

    “We've established a premier network of more than 70 mental health specialists, representing diverse ethnicities, cultural and religious backgrounds.  Their invaluable clinical expertise ensures the rigorous assessment and validation of the modifications we make to our resources,” remarked  Assouad. “These dedicated experts have devoted their lifetimes to researching effective strategies, identifying suitable terminology and careful approaches for distinct identities. Our rigorous clinical validation process is applied to everything before it’s made public.  Our entire approach is self contained and devoid of reliance on any open-source data.” 

    At present, the founders focus on engaging companies that enroll their employees on the platform as a vital aspect of the company’s mission to deliver wellness services to its workforce. The team has more than a dozen corporate partners, primarily concentrating on large enterprises boasting a staff of 25,000 or more. Although they piloted a mental health clinic in the Metaverse, the team have been more focused on their online platform and B2B contracts. 

    “Our on-boarding process is straightforward, involving a brief set of questions to gauge each employee's current well-being, enabling us to tailor a personalized program. The interaction isn't a real-time conversation; it’s based on stored information. Whenever I, as a customer, pose a question to the chatbot, it responds with the knowledge it possesses,” explained Assouad. 

    Presently, the co-founders are actively seeking funding for their seed round, aiming to grow their team and acquire the talent to elevate their mission. Their ultimate goal is to establish themselves as frontrunners in the realm of mental well-being.  They plan to diversify their reach by venturing into additional sectors, with a strategic focus on partnering with hospitals and healthcare systems, as well as engaging the younger demographic through education institutions such as schools and colleges. 

    Each day presents an opportunity to promote awareness of individuals facing mental health challenges. A meaningful conversation, a thoughtful gesture, or a supportive action can have a profound impact. Thanks to technology, the world has the potential to improve significantly, with the assurance that there’s always someone to engage with even during the times when it seems otherwise. 

  • 25 Jul 2023 3:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Elie Habib is an accomplished venture consultant, investor, entrepreneur, and corporate executive with extensive experience in leadership, global venture investment, and consulting.  He is the Managing Principal at Venture Consulting Partners, providing advisory services in the USA and MENA regions. Elie founded the first VC fund in the Middle East, and has extensive experience in global venture investment serving on the boards of various VC-backed startups. He has also held several executive positions at Nokia and other US corporations. He holds an MS in computer science from Case Western University and a Maitrise in Computer Science from Toulouse, France.

    In 1999, Elie had the vision to create LebNet, a community platform for Lebanese high-tech professionals in the Bay Area. Serving as its president until 2010, Elie aimed to connect LebNet’s members, facilitate knowledge exchange, and encourage community contributions. Together with George Akiki, Fares Moubarak, and Khaled Nasr, they laid the foundation of this premier diaspora network for tech professionals worldwide.

    Tell us about your early beginnings

    Like numerous Lebanese immigrants, my personal journey mirrors those who were compelled to leave Lebanon during their formative years and eventually establish their lives in the United States after completing their higher education. Initially our contact with our families was limited to sporadic phone calls, letters, and infrequent visits.  Lebanon was still reeling from the aftermath of war, and each of us had to navigate our own paths and persevere to achieve our goals.

    In your current job: What do you enjoy the most? 

    Currently, my primary focus revolves around aiding funds in the US in their capital-raising efforts and providing consultation to corporations in the MENA region as they design and implement their VC programs. I firmly believe that this serves as a crucial foundation for large local corporations to strategically invest in startups, thereby expanding their distribution channels and markets. Ultimately, this can lead to the acquisition of startups and the provision of liquidity to local stakeholders. I enjoy solving this intricate puzzle and enabling a win-win situation for the local ecosystem. This entails fostering the growth and successful exit of startups and entrepreneurs, while enabling corporations to embrace external innovation internally. This, in turn, creates new job opportunities, markets and business models, ultimately culminating in liquidity for the investors. 

    You worked with Nokia before launching your own company Vusion: what influenced your decision and how would you describe your experience co-founding a company? 

    In 1998, I led the product team of a startup that went public through a successful IPO.  Following, Nokia acquired the company, and I became the Global VP of Engineering and SVP/GM, responsible for enterprise products, including security appliances.

    After six years at Nokia, I felt a strong desire to venture into another startup. In 2006, I partnered with a co-founder, secured funding, and established a company aimed at disrupting Netflix’s CD distribution business while pioneering high-definition video streaming. Our innovative value proposition gained traction, and we landed our first deal with Def-Jam to stream Rihanna’s “Umbrella” in high definition through a browser.  Although commonplace now, this exemplifies the ongoing cycle of innovation. As a CEO and founder, the experience was exhilarating, thrilling, daunting, challenging, and pushing the limits of creativity and tenacity. Enjoying the journey and trusting  intuition,  along with the advice from trusted friends, are crucial elements in this role.

    In 2010, you moved to the MENA region to take on the role of country manager at Abraaj Capital. What motivated this move?

    After selling my startup in 2009, a conversation with George Akiki,  who was leading a major initiative supported by Cisco and Intel for Lebanon, inspired me to establish a $50 million VC fund exclusively for Lebanese startups. This decision required me to move to Beirut to effectively deploy the fund. Initially, Abraaj Capital joined as a limited partner (LP) and later became a co-general partner (GP) under their own brand. 

    Moving to Lebanon from the US brought a blend of excitement, challenges and apprehension. The endeavor required more effort than anticipated, overcoming intricate social and geopolitical hurdles. My decision to start and lead LebNet, establish a fund, and relocate to Lebanon stemmed from a deep passion for driving positive change for the aspiring young Lebanese community. 

    You worked with funds in the US and the Mena region: How do you describe your experience in both? 

    Engaging in VC work is an exceptionally unique and fulfilling experience regardless of location, but the MENA region poses challenges compared to the US. The region lacks the same seamless economic systems, leading entrepreneurs to allocate more equity capital to address regional deficiencies vs. focusing on the core value proposition. There is also an imbalance between capital inflows and the supply of quality startups, resulting in inflated valuations without corresponding liquidity events for investors. Despite these challenges, job opportunities are being created, and local solutions are driving progress in the region. 

    What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?

    Professionally, LebNet.

    What do you see as LebNet’s most remarkable achievements?

    I am proud of LebNet’s remarkable evolution and grateful to all who have believed and supported our vision. Our unwavering faith in our mission, commitment to supporting our global community, and investments in our role as a professional bridge to Lebanon, have been key to LebNet’s success for the past 24 years and counting.  

    Another achievement is our commitment to reinventing LebNet while upholding key principles: 

    1) Implementing succession planning by setting term limits and electing diverse and younger board members. This empowers the next generation to lead and ensures the original founders and other board members transition gracefully into advisory roles, 2) Emphasizing inclusivity, and diversity among our members, communities and board members.  This generates excitement, volunteerism and engagement surpassing Lebnet’s early days. 3) Expanding LebNet’s reach beyond the Bay Area to major cities across the US and Canada through our effective organizational structure. By consistently implementing these principles, we propel LebNet forward, ensuring its relevance, impact, growth and engagement.

    LebNet’s success is exemplified by its ability to transcend religion, politics, social divisions, and gender issues that often hinder organizations. This harmonious collaboration among diverse individuals requires immense effort and unwavering commitment.  We take pride in LebNet’s brand value, as it showcases the possibility of creating a thriving environment of unified cooperation.

    As LebNet grows in membership and impact, there are ongoing challenges that require attention. One primary challenge is securing a budget to sustain and operate LebNet at its current scale. Historically, we have relied on a small group of generous donors for funding. I invite all members who benefit from the Lebnet platform to consider making donations and offering financial support. Every dollar makes a meaningful impact and contributes to the continued success of LebNet.

  • 27 Jun 2023 3:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Edgar Masri is the CEO of Accton Group, a $2.5 billion Taiwan-based leader in advanced networking and communication equipment. He has been a non-executive director at Spirent Communications plc since January 2018 and serves on the board of directors at Kollective, a provider of cloud-based video distribution solutions. Previously, he was the president and CEO of Qualtré, Inc., a startup developing sensors for industrial and automotive applications,and led its acquisition by Panasonic Corporation. Prior to that, he held executive positions at 3Com Corporation and Matrix Partners. Mr. Masri holds an engineering degree from l’Ecole Centrale de Paris, an MSEE from the University of California at Berkeley, and an MBA from Stanford University.

    From 2013-2016, Edgar became a member of the LebNet board, playing a pivotal role in driving the organization’s expansion on the east coast, specifically in Boston.  Additionally, he actively engaged in recruiting esteemed board members, contributing to the organization’s growth and influence.  Edgar’s extensive network and exceptional networking skills made him an invaluable asset, as he not only mentored startups involved in our programs but also served as a reliable resource, always willing to offer assistance and support.

    Tell us about your early beginnings and challenges

    I was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon in a structured, family oriented environment, and was blessed to receive a rich and intense French Jesuit education at College Notre Dame de Jamhour. I used to spend my summers at my mother’s family house in Bcharre in the north of Lebanon. There, with no TV reception at that time and limited social activities, I developed a keen passion for hiking and outdoor activities, two pastimes that have served me so well throughout the years, bringing balance and clarity to my professional and personal lives. With limited financial means, as my father lost his job during the Lebanese civil war, I learned to be resourceful and provide for my tuition and other expenses by tutoring or teaching math and science. Determined to have a US education, I saved enough money to afford attending engineering and business schools in the US. I focused on turning every challenge into an opportunity to improve or excel.

    You were the CEO of several companies throughout your career. In your opinion, what constitutes a good CEO/leader? 

    Among the numerous qualities that define a leader, there is one particular description, imparted by a communications professor, that has stuck with me: Leadership=Communication and Communication=Leadership. Expanding upon this notion, exceptional leaders and CEOs exhibit traits such as unwavering conviction, magnetic charisma, and the ability to drive towards tangible results. Moreover, I have come to appreciate additional attributes highlighted in a Harvard Business Review article, namely self-awareness, self restraint, humility and empathy.

    How do you manage your time between being the CEO of Accton, the Non Executive Director at Spirent Communications, a board member at Kollective Technology? 

    My primary focus and commitment revolve around my role as CEO of Accton (headquarters in Taiwan with a global customer base). While the board positions I hold at Spirent and Kollective do add travel burden, incidentally, they do help me maintain and share perspective in my CEO role, as companies often face similar issues (geopolitical tensions, supply chain disruptions, etc). I have been able to lighten the travel and attendance burden through careful planning, including incorporating customer and partner visits when attending board meetings or relying on online participation. This approach has proven critical, enabling me to prioritize and schedule key meetings in a proactive manner.

    What part of your job do you enjoy the most? 

    I enjoy working with a team on identifying the latest technology trends and engaging early on with potential prospects and partners to define innovative products and solutions. I take pleasure in ensuring any company I lead stays ahead of the curve, whether by being the first, best, or only companyto introduce a particular solution.With the advent of generative AI, I enjoy interacting with thought leaders and entrepreneurs starting from vague or loosely defined ideas. I then collaborate closely with technology architects and company officers, motivating and guiding them to develop next-generation products and systems that surpass industry standards.

    What part of your job challenges you the most ?

    Of the many challenges I face in my job, two stand out as the most difficult: 

    1- Balancing personal, family, and professional life is a challenge that increases exponentially when working for a public company with multinational presence. I thus make a point of planning and giving priority to regular family gatherings throughout the year.

    2- The cultural differences that eventually make the strength of our company require a lot of steady attention. To navigate, I find myself continuously shifting my mindset between Western and Eastern ways of thinking, ensuring a comprehensive understanding and effective decision-making. Reading foreign novels, especially folk stories, and studying the local language have helped me to a great extent to deal with that challenge.

    What is your biggest accomplishment till now? 

    I am most proud of the successful acquisition in 2006 of the joint venture, H3C, between 3Com and Huawei, which involved navigating through challenging negotiations while being confined to a hotel in China for nearly three weeks. Despite the initial skepticism from shareholders and investors, I remained patient, determined and resilient throughout the process.  The acquisition proved to be a remarkable success, as, within three years, the value of H3C nearly doubled. This accomplishment serves as a significant milestone in my professional journey, and I take pride in the courage and determination that fueled its realization despite the criticism I had to deal with.

    As someone who has been involved with LebNet, what role do you see yourself playing in the future of this organization? Where would you like LebNet to be in the near future? 

    I have been, and remain committed to being, a mentor and coach to young Lebanese entrepreneurs as they embark on their entrepreneurial journeys or encounter challenges in their business ventures. Looking ahead, I anticipate LebNet’s continued dedication to fostering connections within the Lebanese entrepreneurial community. Especially in the face of Lebanon’s current economic difficulties, I hope to see LebNet’s unwavering support in promoting the establishment and growth of businesses within Lebanon while also facilitating their global expansion. In addition, LebNet can play a vital role in helping to leverage the exceptional pool of talent available in Lebanon to meet the demands of businesses worldwide.

  • 25 May 2023 10:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    George Skaff is the Sr. VP of WW Marketing at Daon, leading a global team focused on delivering impactful programs to F1000 companies for seamless cross-channel onboarding and authentication. He previously served as the GM of the Digital Line of Business at Nuance Communications and held the role of VP of Worldwide Marketing at Nuance. With over 30 years of experience in B2B SaaS, George has also held senior marketing positions at SGI, DigitalPersona, Wyse, and NEC Computers. 

    From 2012 to 2018, George played a pivotal role on the LebNet board, contributing his expertise to the design of the LebNet website and spearheading the organization's marketing campaigns.

    Tell us about your first roles and how they shaped you and your journey as a marketing expert

    After graduating from AUB with B.E.E. in Computer Science and an MBA, I emigrated to the USA in search of the right opportunity and I landed my first job at Logitech. Throughout my tenure there, I moved through various roles starting from product support, transitioning to product marketing and eventually assuming the position of head of marketing. Following my time at Logitech, I ventured into the startup realm. 12 years later, I then joined NEC Computers. My passion for marketing was nurtured during my early days at Logitech when I was involved with the creation and introduction of innovative products. I took an active role in bridging the gap between product features and consumer needs. I quickly realized that addressing customer needs is fundamental to a company’s success.

    When it comes to product marketing, what are the key tactics for launching and growing a successful product?

    When launching a successful product, there is one and only one rule to keep in mind: Does your product genuinely address customers’ needs, fill a market gap, or serve as a leading indicator? Understanding the market needs is essential for companies to position themselves for a successful product launch. This knowledge will drive the development of comprehensive marketing strategies and tactics such as creating impactful website landing pages, designing compelling promotional material, executing targeted email campaigns, and more.  

    What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

    At this point of my career, I enjoy mentoring my staff and sharing my business expertise, enriched by real-life experiences. Having been in high tech marketing for startups and larger companies for over 35 years, I have succeeded and failed many times along the way. I have learned more from my failures than from my successes. Ultimately, if I can help someone avoid the pitfalls and failures, it makes my day. 

    What part of your job challenges you the most?

    I find ignorance to be my worst enemy and biggest challenge. And I am not talking about someone being ignorant on purpose, but rather not taking the time to research the topic, understand the real issues, ask the right questions, and draw the logical conclusions. I always encourage people to ask before they act. 

    What is your biggest accomplishment till now?

    On a personal level, I have been married for almost 40 years and, along with my wife, have raised two wonderful daughters who now have great careers of their own and make me proud every day. It’s amazing how fulfilling it is to watch your own children grow and prosper in their own world. 

    On a professional level, I am proud to say that I am living the American dream. I emigrated to the US for a better life, and my background and ethnicity have helped me work hard towards achieving my goals. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to start from scratch and be where I am today. 

    As someone who has been involved with LebNet, what role do you see yourself playing in the future of this organization? 

    As LebNet continues to expand, we, the senior members, have made the decision to step back and empower the younger generation to chart the course, devise effective strategies, and develop plans for LebNet’s growth. It is their fresh perspectives and innovative approaches that will enable us to engage more individuals in fulfilling LebNet’s mission of networking, nurturing, and connecting Lebanese-American professionals in the Bay Area community and beyond. While we take on a support role, we remain available to offer assistance and support to the new leadership team as needed.

    Where would you like LebNet to be in the future?

    It would be beneficial for LebNet to become the voice of the Lebanese-American professionals and establish ties with business communities across North America. By doing so, we can effectively promote the value and expertise, thereby enhancing awareness and recognition of our community as a whole. This forward-thinking approach will contribute to the overall growth and prominence of our community on a broader scale.

  • 03 May 2023 3:05 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Fadwa Mohanna, CEO and Founder of One37, is spearheading the company's emergence as a leading provider of decentralized identity solutions. One37 empowers individuals and organizations to securely store, manage, and verify digital identities and credentials using Distributed Ledger Technology and AI technology.

    Having experienced the challenges of proving one’s identity during her extensive travels, Fadwa founded One37 to provide a seamless identity verification experience. “One37 Digital Identity Wallet” serves as a secure repository for personal credentials, on your phone, that can be easily accessed and shared with service providers such as banks, telecom companies, and airlines for identity verification purposes. Users maintain complete control and ownership of their data, while enjoying the convenience of streamlined identity verification.

    Fadwa is a highly experienced professional in information technology and services. She graduated with a BE in Communications and Computer Engineering from the American University of Beirut in 1991 and later pursued her MBA in Management at ESA Business School. Fadwa has held leadership positions at prominent companies like Orascom Telecom, Nokia Siemens Network, and Nakheel. She was involved in launching large-scale telecom operations in various countries, including Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.  In 2015, she founded Micity. Fadwa's passion for entrepreneurship stems from her desire to solve significant problems, make a deep impact, and improve people's lives. She is an active member of the Women's Entrepreneurs Community and focuses on topics such as AI & DLT.

    Furthermore, Fadwa is a member of the LebNet Toronto steering committee and recently received the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award for the Ones to Watch Award, recognizing entrepreneurs who have launched impactful businesses in under three years. Most recently, she has been named a finalist for the 2023 Top 25 Canadian Immigrant, with voting open until June 9th.  To show your support, please visit this link

  • 04 Apr 2023 9:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In honor of International Women’s Day 2023, LebNet celebrated throughout the month of March the many inspiring women tech leaders who have made it a point in their career to support and empower other women. We’re proud to have many great examples as part of our LebNet team.

    To recap our March activity on social media, we have listed below the month’s main highlights. 

    LebNet WiT’s Fellows: 

    In honor of IWD 2023, LebNet Women in Tech (WiT) Community is celebrating this year’s 25 WiT fellows. The WiT fellowship program, led by Aya Mouallem (WiT outreach lead), equips the next generation of Lebanese women technologists, studying at AUB, LAU, and the Lebanese University with the skills needed to succeed in tech careers post-university. Join us in celebrating these women and women all over the world as we work together for a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

    Quotes from LebNet women leaders

    In honor of Women’s History Month, join us in celebrating these amazing Women Leaders who support other women. 

    Thank you Aya Mouallem for driving all aspects of the LebNet Fellowship program aimed at empowering women in tech with great life tools!  You are an inspiration and a true leader!  LebNet is proud of your accomplishments!

    Thank you Karine Sarkissian for being a leader in the Founder’s world and a great Co-lead to our LebNet Women in Tech community. LebNet is grateful for your passion, leadership and support! 

    Thank you Ayah Bdeir: an entrepreneur, engineer, social activist and inventor of littleBits. Ayah spent 10 years of her career growing her company littleBits and is now driving to make the tech world more equitable and diverse in addition to helping other founders succeed. 


    Thank you Layal Rouhana for being a LebNet board member and for leading the LebNet Women in Tech community and its mentorship program. We are so grateful for your passion and efforts to empower tech women to reach their full potential! 

  • 12 Jan 2023 1:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Growing up, Katia Tamer always had the entrepreneurial bug. At the age of 17, she was going around interviewing entrepreneurs and VCs to come up with a thesis on the key success factors of startups. She then interned at several startups before joining the Marketing team at Google. In 2021, Katia launched her own venture, Chaya, to address the lack of accessibility when it comes to basic nutrition information. Her goal was to make holistic wellness accessible to all through on-demand nutrition coaching. 

    1- If you had a rewind button, what would you change about your journey?

    Looking back, I would have loved to have more moments of pause and reflection. I would have told my past self to remember to enjoy the journey, not just think about the destination. There were so many great moments along the way, and we have to remember to pause more and soak those in! 

    2- Can you name three milestones on your wishlist? 

    As I graduate from my MBA in June, I’m excited for the opportunity to bring my marketing and entrepreneurship skill sets to a team that is growing rapidly. In my time as CEO of Chaya, I loved the different elements that were required on the job, and I hope to leverage those skill sets to have a global impact in the long-term. My personal milestone is to travel to as many countries as possible with family and friends.It is truly a gift to get to experience new cultures. 

    3- What’s the best lesson you learned?

    It’s all about people. At the end of the day, I believe the one thing that truly matters is people and building genuine connections. 

    4- Who is your role model?

    My parents have always been my role model. I feel grateful to have grown up as a first generation American, as I got to see my parents surpass expectations on what they’ve achieved in an entirely new country. Growing up and seeing their work ethic, the strong value they place in prioritizing family and friends, their generosity, and their steadfast commitment to their Lebanese roots, I’ve always strived to emulate them. 

    5- How did surrounding yourself with a good support system help you advance in your career?

    I’ve been lucky to get to work for teams where leadership entrusted me with stretch opportunities. In my first role at Google, I was essentially the Marketer you had to go to in order to publish a campaign on google.com globally. Leadership entrusted me with running the equivalent of several Super Bowl ads every day. I then had another manager give me the opportunity to lead International Women’s Day globally for Google. It was thanks to the leadership around me that was invested in growing talent that I could build out such a robust skillset.

    6- What is one habit you worked hard on breaking to improve your life or career?

    Gaining confidence in my voice - throughout my career, I was lucky to have managers that made sure I was in the room and had a voice. It’s thanks to them that I now have built confidence in using my own voice. I try to ensure now that I create this space for peers and others on my team as well. 

    7- What characteristics do you look for in people you choose to work with?

    Honesty, humility, empathy, and a get-it-done mentality. Low-ego is also very critical. We need to be able to be in the trenches together as a team when push comes to shove. As a team, nobody should be above doing some of the grunt work, if it means helping each other succeed. 

    8- What skills did you work so hard on acquiring? 

    I’m always working on my skills in active listening, empathy, and relationship building.Another skill I’ve worked extremely hard on throughout my career has been the art of storytelling. This is an often overlooked skill, but the need is huge, whether you are selling a product, your talent, or your ideas, the best way to do this is via storytelling. 

    9- What made you jump from the corporate to the entrepreneurial world?

    While I always had a personal itch of starting my own company, it was when COVID-19 hit and I found my own anxiety worsening that I started to develop a passion for changing the state of wellness. I grew frustrated by the disjointed and impersonal wellness ecosystem and wanted a solution that provided a more holistic approach to my health. I met my co-founder a few months later, and together we set out to solve this broken narrative surrounding wellness. 

    10- What lessons did you learn after launching and closing your startup? 

    I learned 4 important lessons from being an entrepreneur. 

    1. Community is key: You need to build community to succeed as founder. I began by finding another co-founder, who was as passionate at solving the problem at hand as I was. We were then lucky to find a community of entrepreneurs within different incubator programs. 

    2. Talk to people: We spent over 100 hours interviewing people to better understand the problem at hand. We were married to the problem, not the solution, and adapted based on what people told us they needed. 

    3. Just do it: The key to achieving milestones as a startup is to go for progress, not perfection. It’s important to keep testing and being scrappy, and finding those first test users who will give you the feedback you need to hear.  

    4. Better to try and fail, than fail to try: If I could go back and start Chaya again, I would do so in a heartbeat - I was lucky that I found a problem I am deeply passionate about, and that I gave myself permission to go and try to start something. This certainly won’t be the last time you see me taking a stab at starting something from the ground up. 

  • 28 Nov 2022 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This is the ninth 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.

    In this part, we give you a closer look at Omar Kahil, Senior Product Manager at Amazon and steering committee leader for the Pacific Northwest community.

    Omar graduated from the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering before he pursued his MBA at MIT Sloan School of Management and his Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT School of Engineering. He worked as a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton then moved to Amazon. Omar’s fresh perspective on business and dynamism are a welcoming addition to LebNet’s team and we look forward to all his bright ideas.  

    - How would you describe your career path and what do you enjoy most about your current job? 
    My path has been exploratory with a goal of maximizing optionality regardless of the troubles that come with it. Jumping from engineering to management consulting then operations research and now product, I am fascinated with building intuitive solutions to any type of problem. The world is filled with opportunities, and I am funneling what I can sustainably tackle. Next on the list, delving deep into Machine Learning and woodworking.

    - What are you looking to achieve or excited about as a Pacific Northwest steering committee member? 
    There is a big Lebanese community in the Pacific Northwest. Having some of the top tech companies in the world headquartered here means the majority of Lebanese residents are in the tech space. The challenge with the area being so big or the weather being so gloomy, is that the community is a bit dispersed. My goal is to bring it closer and make it a tight knit community.

    - What is a unique experience or specific event that led to where you are today?
    My parents’ focus on the importance of education and humility. My parents struggled to get access to education because of the need to prioritize providing for their respective families. This made them instill the values of learning and development as my siblings and I grew up. No ceiling is high enough and no opportunity is out of reach. That’s the intention that I start my day with. I count my blessings, lead my life with curiosity, and keep pushing to improve myself and the people and communities around me.

    - Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
    1- Keep maximizing optionality in my personal interests but zone in on building consumer facing tech products.
    2- Double down on leading a principled driven professional and personal life.
    3- Fail fast and learn
    4- Find more ways to support the Lebanese in Lebanon.
    5- Get in touch more often with the people I love,
    6- Complete my first triathlon.

  • 26 Oct 2022 10:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A self-made entrepreneur, Marianne Zakhour started her journey as an immigrant. Her determination to independently succeed in a new unknown environment pushed her to maximize her opportunities throughout her career and continue to push herself to new heights.

    She is now the co-founder of Orderbot, an order management platform that helps modernize commerce for online ordering and fulfillment. Throughout the years, Orderbot has helped hundreds of clients sell their products online and is proud to have a diversified team from several countries and backgrounds working in one office and sharing the same values and goals. 

    In her early twenties, Marianne started her career at CGI, where she worked as a financial and business analyst. “I was working with executives, a portfolio of millions of dollars, doing financial analysis every month and talking about increasing revenue and lowering cost. I learned so much from my very corporate environment. After that great experience I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial” explained Marianne during an interview with LebNet. 

    It started with food and a bit of tech 

    Being the food lover that she is, Marianne combined her passion for food and tech and moved to San Francisco to work for Boudin Bakery, where she was tasked to increase sales, grow the business, and automate processes. They wanted every technology and process to be “Best of Breed” in order to succeed with exponential growth. 

    Her entrepreneurship journey was ignited when she hired a Vancouver based company to develop a custom catering and e-commerce software for some of Boudin’s businesses. She realized how empowering it would be to use such software to help a wider range of businesses grow and sell products. Two years later, she moved to Vancouver and partnered with that same software company owner and they started their venture toward Orderbot: the SAAS software provider.

    “I feel so blessed to be in this industry. One can continuously innovate to make consumers’ and companies’ lives easier. With a bit of creativity, it’s not very hard to thrive in this business, but it’s a matter of planning and always reassuring the people you’re working for, whether they are investors or customers,” she said. 

    Although Marianne finds joy in helping other businesses, as a founder she is constantly focusing on staying ahead of the curve. “You’re always thinking about the next thing. In software, it’s always about being ahead of the market needs. It’s a combination of product and finances,” she added. Being in a different role than earlier in her career, she strives to look at the bigger picture rather than being “in the weeds,” as she describes it, so she can maintain her focus on growing the business. 

    In her younger days as a founder and a professional, Marianne was determined and a multi-tasker at heart. “I got excited very fast. I can multitask and do so much in so little time. It takes a lot of crazy passion to start a business but it takes a lot of well thought out strategy to grow it. Passion and strategy are not always on the same side of the game –  it is important to take a deep breaths and find the right time, funding and team to execute.” 

    One of her recent hires, Omar, was someone she met through the LebNet network.  Omar’s exceptional skills and hard work ethic resulted in his hiring and move to Canada from Lebanon to become one of Orderbot’s lead developers. In addition, Marianne has hired 8 more developers from Lebanon to cover the night shift and secure her business’s 24/7 operation. 

    Growing by helping other businesses has always been Marianne’s dream and this makes her a thought leader in her industry. But what makes her a true inspiring figure is her dedication to instilling trust and joy in the people around her and helping them create better lives for themselves. Marianne is a passionate and proud Lebanese leader in tech living in Vancouver who is now on the LebNet board and is excited about spreading LebNet’s mission and growing its impact!

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LebNet, a non-profit organization, serves as a multi-faceted platform for Lebanese professionals residing in the US and Canada, entrepreneurs, investors, business partners in a broad technology eco-system, and acts as a bridge to their counterparts in Lebanon and the rest of the Middle East

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