Following Her Passion for Big Data, ITLP Graduate Lands Her Dream Job
When Sama Kanbour was studying Information Systems at Carnegie Mellon University Qatar, she knew she loved big data, number crunching and analyzing spreadsheets. What she didn’t know was that there was a job out there that combined her three passions and even used her fluency in English, Arabic and French.
She found her dream job at GE, after being recommended by one of the university’s deans for an internship with the company’s Doha office. During the internship, she showed herself to be “focused, creative and resourceful,” in the words of Michelle Wu, regional senior IT leader and regional champion for the Information Technology Leadership Program (ITLP) at GE Global Operations.
Following the internship and just before graduating in May, Sama was selected to participate in ITLP with GE Oil & Gas. ITLP offers fresh university graduates the opportunity to rotate through projects in several of the company’s major business units. Although based in Doha, she works with clients across the entire Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Launching customer tools
During her internship, which began in October on a part time basis during her senior year, she explored company data and conducted interviews with GE teams in the United States and the Middle East to help streamline direct sourcing costs for an oil and gas project.
Since then, she launched a customer relations management tool for suppliers in Algeria, and led the implementation of a game-like platform to help familiarize new employees with GE processes and practices — a tool that has already trained 250 recent graduates in Saudi Arabia.
With the support of Wu, her mentor at GE, Sama is challenging herself to lead all of these projects, taking increasing ownership for the outcomes as the year has gone on. As a result, she is building not only her technical competencies, but also her leadership skills.
“I’ve been fortunate to work on data projects, on designing a training tool, and using my French and Arabic to connect people in the region. It’s like GE studied my résumé to find projects that would be a great fit for me,” Sama says.
An Iraqi raise in Qatar, Sama says she’s also learned many crucial “soft” business skills, including presentation and negotiation skills.
‘Acts like a startup’
One of the most striking things Sama has observed during more than nine months with GE is its entrepreneurial and fast-moving culture, something that she says means fresh ideas are implemented quickly, and it’s easy for her to collect feedback to help improve her work.
“It’s fascinating to witness a 120-year-old multi-line business and multinational corporation think and act like a startup, constantly investing in new technologies and processes. GE is committed to continuous change and evolution, and I feel lucky to be part of its growth,” she said.
Deepika Batra DiGiovine, GE’s Regional Chief Information Officer, says, “Such University and GE project partnerships are a great way to collaborate on upcoming technologies and real-life business solutions that give an opportunity for young and energetic talent to immerse in such experiences during their education and make informed choices about their careers. It also is an ideal way for GE to identify top talent for the company.”
GE works with university partners across the MENA region to boost human capital development by offering internships, training and leadership skills programs to university students and recent graduates.