Mar 7 , 2023 read
At Novelis, International Women's Rights Day is an opportunity for us to showcase our exemplary record of supporting women's success in the workplace. We currently have a near 50% gender parity, which is not always common in the tech industry where women often struggle to make their mark.
In line with the women who inspire us daily, we would like to share interviews with female entrepreneurs and CEOs who share their experiences and recommendations for young girls who are the women of tomorrow in tech.
Entrepreneur, mother and committed woman, Nihal Djebli is the CEO of AUSIM, a leading association in the field of IT and digital in Morocco.
Trained in strategic marketing, Mrs. Djebli obtained a degree from the École Supérieure de Commerce (2001-2005) and a master's degree from the École de Gestion de Toulouse (2005-2006). She completed her training with an Executive Certificate from Centrale Supelec in digital transformation.
Passionate about communication and event organization from a young age, her professional experience allowed her to acquire expertise in event organization before launching Chicadresse.ma, an innovative platform to disrupt the family event and wedding industry, which provides advice and information to young couples preparing for their wedding and matches them with service providers.
In 2019, Nihal Djebli joined AUSIM - the Association of Information System Users in Morocco, as CEO. The Association supports more than 100 member organizations (large groups, SMEs, administrations and offices) representing the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors in their implementation of digital transformation projects. AUSIM is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year in the service of the IT and digital sector in Morocco and organizes every two years one of the largest gatherings in Africa dedicated to the IT and digital sector, the AUSIM Congress with more than 1200 participants in October 2022.
Question 1: What did you want to do when you were a child and what do you do now?
I certainly didn't dream of running a professional association in IT and Digital or becoming an entrepreneur. What I mean is that no matter what our childhood dreams are, the path we choose as a starting point can change through the different stages of life. As a child, I received an education, teachings, concepts, and values that accompanied me and made me who I am today. I was influenced and inspired by women and men whom I have encountered in real or virtual life, and who have helped shape my personality. As a child, the women, but also the men who marked me, were those who distinguished themselves by their courage and leadership, but also by their kindness and big heart. Those who shone by also being at the service of others.
I didn't dream of a profession (doctor, architect, etc.) but rather of identifying with these free, strong, fighting, inspiring, courageous women who create value, generous with a big heart and a lot of love to give to help others. Have I succeeded in becoming that woman? I still trust the path and continue to be inspired to give the best version of myself.
Question 2: What difficulties did you encounter to get where you are today?
Looking back with a little wisdom, I would say that the difficulties we encounter are the most valuable lessons in life. The obstacles we face allow us to test our ability to reinvent ourselves, to renew ourselves, and to act by changing some parameters in life. Personally, I have always applied the "Reset, start over" approach. I encountered difficulties in my professional career, especially when I decided to start a business in 2012 in a field I did not master: digital. I learned a lot by experimenting and acting "learning by doing", I also made some mistakes that cost me time, money, energy, some sacrifices... Do I regret it? Not at all! If I hadn't gone through that, if I hadn't made those mistakes, if I hadn't experienced difficulties in my career, maybe I would never have been able to discover my ability to navigate in turbulent waters or to deal with the uncertain, I would not have developed my agility and resilience, my strength to bounce back and find solutions, and my faith and confidence in myself, my skills, and my values.
Question 3 : What advice would you give to your younger self to achieve your dreams?
Never limit yourself! Our potential is limitless. Dare to discover yourself. Sometimes it happens naturally, but often life experiences force us to dig deeper to discover ourselves. Don't be afraid, quite the opposite. You choose a career path and over time you realize that it's not where your heart is! It's never too late to change and discover what you love.
Do you have a project that is important to you? Take a piece of paper and write the first lines... It's always the first step that's difficult.
A successful life? Define what success means to you. What are the necessary ingredients for you to qualify your life as successful? Everyone has their own reference frame. And let us remember that life is filled with thorns and not just flowers, and sometimes we must accept getting stung to pick the flower.
Question 4 : Another piece of advice for young girls who hesitate to pursue a career in science?
Take the time to inform yourself about the opportunities offered by the ICT sectors. There are interesting employment prospects in IT and Digital fields to explore, and these sectors are not exclusively for men. ICT is a constantly evolving and fast-growing sector. Take the example of cybersecurity, which has become a major issue for companies and organizations, or of AI & Big Data, which are booming and offer many job opportunities.
My advice: do your research before starting your studies and choose your field based on your interests and skills. Don't necessarily choose the easy path, but rather where you know you will excel and give your best. And for those who want to launch a startup, surround yourself and choose mentoring and support programs to succeed in your first steps and beyond. There are several programs and structures that support young girls with project ideas and want to develop them. Another piece of advice, never stay alone! Open your address book, access networks and get the right information before making a career choice, studying, or embarking on an entrepreneurial adventure.
I'll end with this quote from Alvin Toffler who said, "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." One last piece of advice: it's never too late to start over. If you love technology and digital, go for it! Who said it's too late? Never limit yourself!