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.