Serour Benbouza – Vodafone: Woman in Tech Changing the Future

Where do you work and your role title?
Data Engineer at Vodafone

Get To Know Me
Favourite ice-cream flavour: Caramel chew chew!
I think it’s called that. It’s like a £5 Ben&Jerry tub!

Wrap up in the shortest sentence possible what your role means.

Moving data from on premise storage to Cloud storage in Vodafone.

What is the interesting / challenging part of your work?

Learning everyday about new technology, new fields, new skills!

What attracted you to choose a STEM field?

STEM just made sense. Why wouldn’t I challenge myself? I’m as capable as the next man, just as ambitious, just as technical! I have always loved Maths so Engineering just made sense. Applying to university made me realise the huge gender gap, which motivated me by seeing all those men and only 7 ladies. I wanted to be up there with the ladies, holding the fort down! SO I made it.

I worked hard. I learned a lot. I failed and I succeeded. But I made it.

How do you find navigating your career path as a woman in tech?

I think being a woman in Tech is HARD work. It’s a shame. But I do see sexism often, worse, I see ignorance from colleagues sometimes. I think it’s changing, but there is a long way to go.

Someone once offered me a position in their company, but not as an engineer, as a “helping hand in the office“. My reply was simply – “No thanks, I have a career plan that doesn’t involve copying machines“. Others have asked me that why I took such a technical degree. It’s simple. I can. I did. I’m your classmate. Does that hurt? It shouldn’t, I’m your equal.

What is your biggest achievement that you are most proud of? How do you track and express your achievements in the workplace and beyond?

I think my biggest achievement so far is my degree. I know it sounds so plain because everyone has a degree and mine is pretty much similar. But I think I’m more proud of it since I know the background of how I got there, sacrifices that were made, changes that had to happen and people who had to be left behind.

LinkedIn is the preferred method to track my achievements virtually – I am a huge fan of it! I connect with ANYONE I meet because I do believe that every connection is a worthy connection. Also, I track my achievements on paper. I love to organise myself and have various planners. I’m a bit of a planner maniac – I have 3 planners, and yes, I follow them religiously.

I definitely recommend everyone to get into planners and tracking goals!

Who are your mentors or role models that helped you either directly or indirectly?

So many people!! I think both women and men can have positive influence around us. I surround myself with the most positive individuals, which helps me gain knowledge. But I’m afraid I’ll have to be biased, and say ‘my mum’. She taught me English, Maths, confidence, cognitive abilities and interview skills. She learned modules with me. She practiced for exams with me. I’m grateful for every contribution that she has made, plus I inherited a winning smile from her haha 😁

How do you think women can be game-changers in time of crisis?

In every possible way. We can be tenacious. As mothers, women are protectors, guides, and lovers. As employees, we drive for success and are career oriented. We do it all. At the same time. No time delay at all.

We can support each other and I think that’s the biggest game changer. We can succeed and help others succeed.

We educate, we mentor, we contribute daily to all aspects of life!

What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader? Are there any technology resources that you would recommend?

Leadership is an amazing quality. I take constant trainings online, I try and stay up to date with news and tactics. I have a mentor who is big on Leadership so we discuss approaches, scenarios etc. I also read a lot about everything that I have an interest in.

You can’t guide a team if you are blind on the topic. Read into your interest.

I love the IET website, their newsletters. Also, I read tech updates on the news. I don’t think it’s one resource. I think it’s more the willingness to find the right resource.

It’s your day off. What do you do to relax?

Hahaha. I’m currently on the path to become a so called ‘Beauty Influencer’ on Instagram and for my next step, I’m planning to start a YouTube channel. Other than that, I love DIYs – you can find me painting my house, building furniture or laying down flooring. When I tell people that I do these things, they think that I live a double life from my perfectly manicured nails! 💅

What advice would you give to your 21 year old self?

STUDY harder. Honestly so cliche, but so true. Looking back, I had so much time to improve so many skills! I could have studied harder for university, taken more personal development courses or even read more books, blogs and content.

What makes you RARE?

Me. My decisions, my choices. I am RARE because I am me. I’m a feminist, a skincare fanatic, a DIYer and above all: I am a woman in Tech job trying to change the latter.

Want to know more about Serour? Connect with her on LinkedIn

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