Azin Alikhani, Business Development Manager for Africa and the MEA Regional Marketing Director, for Open Platform Business Group, at ASUS, says women add more to whatever industry they work in
Can you share a little bit about what it is that you do and what a typical day for you is like?
As the regional marketing director for the Middle East and Africa and the Business Development Manager for Africa, I head five different teams. Since my role covers both sales and marketing aspects of our business, my days are filled with back-to-back meetings. From status update meetings with the different teams to strategic marketing meetings with our head office and the local marketing teams for all the campaigns that we need to execute, and customer meetings in our developing regions such as Algeria and Nigeria.
Did you always know that working in technology was what you wanted to do? How did you decide on it?
I come from a family filled with artists, and as exciting as that world is, I have always been fascinated by technology. This might reveal how old I am, but you can consider that from the time a “Walkman” was considered a luxury, I loved learning about them and also loved to own them.
So, you can imagine how much time I spent with the first family computer, learning how to play computer games and browsing the web. It opened up a completely new world to me. So when the time came for me to pick a university major, I decided to study both of my bachelor’s degrees related to IT, IT science, and IT Engineering.
What first got you interested in tech?
My friends and I always play a game, “if you could live at any time where would you pick.” And my answer was always Now. And the only reason is because of the level of development in technology that I have seen in my life. I have always thought of technology from more of a “pro” side than a “con”. Everything is much more convenient by learning new tech and adapting ourselves to using it.
Do you have a role model?
I come from a family of strong women, whom l have had the pleasure of learning throughout my life. My Grandmothers were both strong and intelligent women who took care of our big family and still followed their dreams. One of them was one of the first women Doctors in her university and ended up finishing her studies in the UK, and the other one oversaw raising not only her own five kids, but almost half of the rest of the family while following her passion, travelling.
She ended up seeing more than half of the world. So, I do consider both of them to be highly inspiring! Then there is my mother, she picked graphic design at a time when it was not a well-known subject. She went on to win multiple national and international awards as well as publish and translate several books. I cannot thank these women enough for teaching me to be strong and confident and to follow my dreams.
Would our world be different if more women were working in the tech industry?
Our world is different because women exist, period. Women add more to whatever industry it is, so yes l believe that the intellect and self-drive that we possess as a species would be a benefit to the Tech world. It also important to note that success in the Tech industry is not based on brut or gender but on intellect which makes the playing field very level.
What obstacles did you have to overcome?
IT is a very male-dominated industry. Almost every meeting I walk into, the higher management level is occupied by a male. Hence, I believe the same obstacles were applied to any woman that decided to join the industry. On the other hand, it also shows a great opportunity for all women to aim for this goal and not lose hope only because currently things are the way they are.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
To be able to be one of the few women in the tech industry in a male-dominated position, it truly represents that although there is still a lot to be done. However, it also shows that we are all on our way to making it a fair competition for everyone regardless of their gender. This is the most rewarding part for me – for me to be a reason for anyone with a passion for tech to think that it is a place for women as much as men.
Do you notice a lack of women in technology? If so, why do you think that is the case?
Absolutely, and although within ASUS, the current company I am employed at for over a decade, you would not really feel it as such since their female employment rate even at the leadership level is quite high. I think that technology is perceived as a man’s thing.
They are the ones perceived to be interested in the latest tech whilst women are not thought of in that way. So, l believe that once girls in school are offered or included in more Tech oriented courses it will really open up the industry to more females.
What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
Never stop learning. The tech industry changes daily, and you need to keep yourself up to date and be willing to learn new things. Sharpen the saw and start over by accepting that in many topics you will again become a learner. Then there is no doubt that there will be a place for you in this industry.
What do you do to unwind after work?
This is a stressful industry by nature. So, it is very important to balance it out and make sure of a healthy routine that you can stick to. For me, it is a soft workout at the gym 3-4 times a week. But it is also OK sometimes just to do “nothing” which is most probably my favorite way to unwind.