At StartUp Terminal, we believe our diversity is our strength. Today, on the occasion of International Woman’s Day, we celebrate the achievements of women around the world.
To kick off our celebration, we’ve asked Riyadh-based Sarah Toukan, Chief Product Officer, Ziina, few questions on her experience achieving success in the corporate world, and what advice she has for women entering the workforce today.
ST: Please tell us briefly about you.
I’m a co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Ziina, the UAE’s digital wallet. I’ve worked in product management across a range of diverse and exciting spaces, including the fintech space in the UAE, the proptech space in London, and the autonomous vehicle space in Silicon Valley. I’m an ardent practitioner of the lean methodology. I’m also the mother of two and blessed with a wonderful husband and family.
ST: Who is a woman that inspires you the most and why?
I’m most inspired by my mother, who excelled in every field she chose to pursue. Mona Ataya, founder and CEO of Mumzworld, is another woman who I really admire. She entered the tech space quite early on and has built two amazing companies, Bayt.com and Mumzworld. She’s extremely intelligent, articulate, and elegant, and has paved the way for female tech entrepreneurs like myself in MENA. Lastly, I’m inspired by Lubna Olayan who took the helm of her family company and drove its expansion, among other major accomplishments.
ST: How are you celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day?
I’m grabbing coffee with a few friends and catching up, and later on I hope to read a fun article or two highlighting the stories of women.
ST: What is the most important message you want to send out to all the women around the world on this occasion?
Do not listen to the naysayers, and especially your internal critic. You can achieve whatever you set out to do. Be patient with yourself and find the right time and partners– it sounds cheesy but it’s honestly never too late to pursue your ambitions.
ST: What according to you is ‘women empowerment’?
Women empowerment is when women have access to the tools and opportunities that allow them to lead their best lives – whether that is with and through their families, their friends, their passions, their work, etc.
ST: What would you say are the main challenges facing women at present globally?
Sadly, there are a whole range of serious issues, from female genital mutilation, honour killings, objectification and sexual harassment, to the gender pay gap, discrimination in the workforce, and lack of support in the household. Each of these issues needs to be solved and luckily there are amazing women and men who are fighting to do so.
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