GE Mentors to Female Students: ‘Be Bold. Take Risks. Believe in Yourself’
For the GE engineer Seza Vaziri, mentors provided her with crucial advice throughout her career. That’s one reason she signed up to mentor women in the UAE studying STEM fields: “If I have the possibility to change a young person’s life [by mentoring], there’s nothing better than that!”
Seza, the Quality and Process Compliance Leader for GE’s Power Services business in the Middle East and Africa and co-lead of the GE Women’s Network in the UAE, was one of 10 GE female engineers who recently concluded a six-month mentorship program. The inaugural program in the country involved 11 women from Sharjah University and the American University in Sharjah who are studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).
GE is running the mentorship programs as part of its global commitment announced earlier this year to employ 20,000 female engineers by 2020. The commitment is driven in part by the reality that the more diversified a workforce and leadership team, the better the company performs.
The STEM mentorship program paired mentors with the AUS and UOS mentees based on their interests and areas of study, and facilitated regular in-person meetings or phone calls, as well as text messaging for more immediate advice.
Another mentor, Lara El Saad, the Process Excellence Leader for GE’s Gas Power Systems business in the Middle East, North Africa and India, exemplified the spirit of the program:
“What impressed me was the amount of talent that these girls have and their interest in technology. I wanted to make sure, through our conversations, that I could instill in my mentee that she is intelligent, strong and capable of doing whatever she wants.”
Reflecting on her time with the mentees, Lara said, “One of the concerns we noted that the girls had was balancing the ability to put forward their thoughts and ideas without coming across as being arrogant or heavy-handed. We tried to encourage them to not hold back, to recognize what they were capable of and to always put their best foot forward.”
The GE empowerment program covered topics such as how to make elevator pitches, developing a professional CV, body language in a corporate setting and public speaking.
This fall, the UAE STEM mentorship program will launch its second cohort, while an inaugural program will be established in Riyadh.
Seza said that in talks with her mentee and during group mentoring circle sessions the main discussion focused on building confidence and not being conservative professionally. I told them: “Be bold. Take risks. Don’t be afraid of failure. There’s no such thing as failure. There’s only trying and learning.”
For Lara, the key takeaway for mentees was: “Believe in yourself. Believe in your capabilities and be sure to connect with more senior working women who can help you on your journey. Believe you can do everything you put your mind to, and know yourself. Otherwise, it can be easy to get knocked down by a comment that’s demotivating and could result in a loss of [career] momentum.”
Learn more about GE’s commitment to diversity by following this link, or more specifically about the GE Women’s Network by clicking here. GE Women’s Network in Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey Hub supports 1,200+ women at GE, with initiatives and events that provide exposures to leadership, develop skills, and share ideas.