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Spotlight 64: meet software engineer Ahlem!

Yes, you’re right! It’s Spotlight Friday! What better way to start the weekend then with another Spotlight? This week I’m introducing you to Ahlem, she’s a software engineer, consultant, data scientist and she writes about tech as well! Thank you Ahlem for sharing your inspiring story and how she, among other things, wants to organize free workshops in Tunis!

Name: Ahlem and it means dreams! Cool name huh? ;) That’s what keeps me motivated on earth: dreaming and waking up every day with big ambitions to make these dreams come true.
Job: I am a software engineer and I am currently working as a Consultant – Data Scientist.
Favorite website, app or gadget:  My favorite website is LinkedIn, it is there where my current company manager found me! (Success is not only about hard work, but sometimes about meeting the right people at the right time :-) ). I also have many other valuable connections in the field of data science and engineering. Therefore, it is useful to keep up with new things in this field. I like stack overflow and slack and of course Twitter and Snapchat! Snapchat is the next innovative social network! I believe in this app and it is where I share some of my stories and best tips about things I love to do on a daily basis! If you want, follow me here @ahlem_official. I like YouTube as well and I have an innovative idea to create some kind of motivational channel where I share about technologies and lifestyle tips. I like sharing blog posts on my website ahlemmustapha.com about data science and much more!
Favorite book: “Les Identités meurtrières” for Amin Maalouf. He questions the notion of identity and the conflicts it can cause. It is one of my favorite books and among the first ones I read for this author! I find too much of what I am experiencing right now as an Expat in Germany.
Twitter: @Ahlem Mustapha
Site: www.ahlemmustapha.com (I will update it as soon as possible with more articles about things I love in life: data science, lifestyle, and traveling tips, Self-motivation and inspirational ideas…)

What inspired you to pursue a career in IT?
I had a computer only when I was 19 years old and it was a gift from my older brother which I appreciated so much. Honestly, I had no clue what computer science was about! I was watching some series in TV like numbers and I found out quite fancy to use computer! Ahaha, I would have liked to have a computer at an early age. Things now are changing but still in some countries and in some regions people are deprived from finding out that they can do so much with a computer. In our region in South of Tunisia, it was not common to have some fun activities to do, neither It clubs and it was only when we moved out the capital Tunis, that I started to have a better idea about what we can do with a computer and here I am today I am spending so much of time with it.

What inspires the most is actually the fact that IT can help resolve social problems, health care, improve education and help growth economy. I prefer to stick to the dream/idea of being part of some kind of project that helps in resolving a common problem in our world today! Something bigger than my job! :-) (Again dreams are what keeps me alive!)

I hope one day, I can encourage more girls to pursue a career in IT and attract more in the field of data science and I am planning in future to organize some free workshop for people in my hometown and in capital of Tunis where I spent the rest of my teenage life. Why not as well in my new home country “Germany “.

What does your working day look like?
My days are pretty busy during the week. Some people are not fan of a “to do list “but I use them most of the time because they help me to stay on track and achieve what I plan for every Week. Usually every Sunday, I enjoy a very delicious breakfast on my balcony and I read a book. At the end, I write some tasks on my “to do list “for the whole week and I can be happy if I achieve 80% of it.

Every day at work, there is something new to do, even in projects that take 3 to 4 months! We are constantly learning new things. Our Business Unit manager introduced us to something new which we call “innovative Friday “on a monthly basis, it is something extra that we are currently doing and we are trying to set up a demo environment for some use case, which probably will be used in a client’s site! It is nice to have this kind of atmosphere at work and that’s what keeps me motivated! we could be rewarded by the end anyways.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The two first projects I started at my current position. In the first one, I was introduced to new technologies and news tools, a new topic and I had one month to create a POC (Proof of concept) for a client and I was successful in doing it from scratch.

In the second one, I was challenged to prepare a solution architecture which covers many technologies in a very short time interval.

Do you have a hero, or someone who inspires you?
My parents are my heroes and biggest inspiration. Both of them did not have so much, however they were successful to raise 5 children who are working all around the world. My father worked hard during the last three years to provide me with a good education. My mother was there for me all the time and she is my biggest supporter though she never went to school. They are the first ones who believed in me and were there for me all the time. They pushed me to my limits and encouraged me in any decision I took. Thus I owe them all the success I achieved.

I am also easy to get inspired by the smallest things around me, even someone across the street helping a person in need would be a good inspiration for me either by the beginning or the end of the day.

Why do you love working in IT/Tech?
You won’t believe this! Before I discovered the computer science fields, I was so passionate about health care, I always wanted to be a doctor or at least working in health care! It was a coincidence that made me took this deviation and start studying computer science. My first year was not funny, after I failed in my first year at university I was challenged and I realized that I fell in love with this domain. All I wanted to reach is excellence and to be the best!

Years and years I stood up for what I believed in and here I am I have an amazing job in this scope and my biggest passion is to use what I know in It/Tech in order to help change the world. My biggest dream would be being part of an academic research project to help improve health care and/or education. I believe in the strength of IT and how we could use it to empower and change our world to a better place.

Do you have a degree in IT? If so, what taught you the most? And if not, did you miss some important knowledge?
I have a bachelor in computer science and management and a master in software engineering option Business Intelligence and ERP. I consider myself lucky, I have a good education, and the best skills I’ve earned are ability to work with a team, storytelling, management and presenting! I believe that technology can be self-taught you don’t need a degree to be a successful data scientist, software engineer or a good programmer. All you need is “Passion “.

What would be your advice to everyone who is interested in a career in tech? (or learning to code?)

  • Passion is the key. Be honest with yourself and focus on the things that you love most! You will be amazed about how many hours you would spend doing that without even counting!
  • Real failure is when you fall and never stand up again. Learn how to MOVE ON!

Personally failing many times was my biggest motivation to achieve the best things I did so far. I never gave up and every time I fail, it is just a new lesson to learn and to move on.

Extra question from Tracy:  What is one thing non-tech related that influences the way you work and code?
Being useful and remembered as someone who had something special, positive and valuable to add to everything I am part of. I constantly think about what if I die tomorrow, what would be the amazing legacy that I’d leave behind me? It seems a little bit dramatic, but I think that way, and I feel it keeps me motivated to do my best at everything I do.