Introducing the Women of WOLF

At the World’s Online Festival we pride ourselves on the communities that are built on our platform around self-expression and creativity, and how these communities connect people all over the world. This month, in honour of International Women’s Day, we want to connect you with some of the internal community of women who help to drive the WOLF business and platform forward every day.

From developers to Finance Directors, women take on a variety of important roles across our business. Currently, half of the business’ senior staff in the Middle East are female and we employ more women than men in our Middle East operations – something we’re very proud of given that less than 10% of the Middle East’s tech workforce is female. While there is still more work to do, we’re proud of the progress we’re making.
Read more about some of our key women below; what they love about their jobs, how they’ve overcome challenges and the advice they would give to their younger selves.

Sally Karkash | Support Officer

1. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. What specifically are you passionate about challenging when it comes to gender bias?
I would like to see every woman following her dreams no matter how hard it might seem, we are all capable and we should all believe in ourselves.


2. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement(s) so far?
I’m proud of how much I’ve grown in such a short amount of time in terms of my career. Learning and adapting to new things is a bit hard and to see where I was when I first started and where I am now is amazing.
Go wild, never limit yourself!

Go wild, never limit yourself!


3. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
I never thought that I would be given the opportunity to manage at a young age, I always thought it would be when I was older. Convincing myself to get out of my comfort zone was hard, especially when you have a society setting standards and expectations that you start to believe, Letting go of all the limitations and trying was a challenge at first but now I would never let anyone tell me what I can and can’t do.


4. What do you love most about your job?
Getting to work in such a dynamic environment with a supportive team. We’re encouraged to try new things and you learn so much about how to do things and in different ways, as well as learning about yourself.


5. What advice would you give your younger self when starting out in your profession?
Go wild, never limit yourself!


Anna Bauza | Software Developer

I truly believe that we need to keep telling those little things to others. Just spread the good word to let women believe in themselves and then the rest of the world will eventually believe too.

1. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. What specifically are you passionate about challenging when it comes to gender bias?
I think there are two biases that are currently very challenging. Firstly, girls who want to choose tech as a career path but they don’t because they believe they are not good enough or they have been told so. Secondly, women who are ready to become leaders, but are not being seen as a good fit for leadership or they don’t believe in themselves.


I am constantly working to increase the number of women in tech. I personally believe that increasing the number of women in tech starts with girls, this is why admins and I in AnitaB.org came up with a program called Open Source Hack for 13-year-olds and above. Young girls have not yet developed their own opinion and this is why they often take others’ opinions as a source of truth, which make them think they are not “good enough” for tech. We try to get to those girls early to show them there is no such thing as “good enough”. With Open Source Hack participants are assigned simple tasks, so they can prove to themselves they are actually a great fit for tech.


Open Source Hack is not only for girls, it’s open for everyone! We’re also constantly looking for mentors and it’s a great opportunity for women to get more experience as a mentor.


The next biggest challenge is in adulthood when women have established careers in tech but can not grow as leaders. We try to fight this by addressing the issue with another program which we prepared in AnitaB.org Open Source. Every half year we call for leaders – these are people who have contributed to our organisation in the past, so we know we can trust them as a leader. We try to make this program as inclusive as possible so we do not limit it only to coding skills. The program lets people grow leaders’ skills in design, testing, project management, documenting as well as coding.


2. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement(s) so far?
Personally being a mum, professionally being a finalist of the Women in Tech Excellence Awards.


3. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
I definitely think discrimination has been the hardest part, there have been too many situations.
I was told I was not good enough to study IT. A guy in the computer store laughed at me when I tried to buy a part to fix the PC. One of my university teachers told me – “Ok, you have a C for your program, now tell me who wrote it”. In my first year, my university colleagues laughed at me when I didn’t know there was a difference between java and java-script.


I overcame it all because I was lucky enough to always have someone who would say it doesn’t mean anything, and that I’m amazing at what I do. I truly believe that we need to keep telling those little things to others. Just spread the good word to let women believe in themselves and then the rest of the world will eventually believe too.


4. What do you love most about your job?
Learning, challenges, trust, and respect I’m given.


5. What advice would you give your younger self when starting out in your profession?
Trust yourself when others doubt.


Katherine Ellis | Finance Director

Be confident in your abilities and value your strengths rather than looking at your weaknesses.

1. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. What
specifically are you passionate about challenging when it comes to gender bias?
I would challenge the need for flexible working policies within the workplace to ensure that neither women OR men are penalised for wanting to spend more time with their families. It is still common to see women feel a need to step back from their careers in order to look after their children and on the flip side for men not to be able to ask for flexible working policies and therefore feeling that they are missing out on quality time with their families. An even playing field for both would help to close the gap when it comes to hiring decisions.


2. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement(s) so far?
My two girls aged 8 and 4. They are growing up to be strong and independent young ladies which makes me a really proud mum.




3. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Making the move from a management position in an Accountancy Practice to setting up and running the in-house Finance and HR function at WOLF. In practice, I had the support of my fellow professionals on a day-to-day basis. Setting up and running the in-house department meant I had to trust my instincts and be much more confident in my capabilities. With a supportive management team around me, I have enjoyed building up the Finance and HR teams within WOLF.


4. What do you love most about your job?
One of my colleagues said to me the other day “you aren’t a normal Finance Director, your work isn’t just about producing the accounts.” It’s because my role isn’t a standard Finance role that I enjoy it so much! Every day is different, I get the chance to get involved and influence many different areas of the business helping to shape WOLF and its future growth strategy, as well as making sure the finances add up. If I had a “normal” FD role I think life would be much less colourful!


5. What advice would you give your younger self when starting out in your profession?
Be confident in your abilities and value your strengths rather than looking at your weaknesses.


Hadil Mosa | Marketing & Community Specialist

Never say “I don’t know”, there is always time to learn.

1. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. What specifically are you passionate about challenging when it comes to gender bias?
I want to prove that it should be totally up to me to decide what I can and cannot do and that it should have nothing to with my gender. If you set your mind to something, you should be able to achieve it, and failing to achieve it should not be because you are a woman and therefore not given the opportunity, but because you need to practice or learn more.


2. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement(s) so far?
2020 was a challenging year for everyone, however, unlike a lot of people who experienced a year where everything stopped, I had a full schedule – my job at WOLF, studying for my master’s degree and ensuring I made time for myself and my personal life in a responsible way. Being able to get through it all, and with really good results at the end of it, is something I’m incredibly proud of.


3. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Generally getting out of your comfort zone into something new is a bit challenging, because you are not used to it, you are not quite sure what to expect and how to handle things. It’s challenging yet really exciting.
There is a phase where you feel like you are lost between what’s new and what you are used to doing, as challenging it is to see yourself and how you respond in such situations, it’s a thrill and really exciting to see what else you can do.


4. What do you love most about your job?
The creativity and the acceptance of the (sometimes crazy) ideas we come up with! Also, the chance to learn something new every day – I develop myself in so many ways and on lots of different levels.


5. What advice would you give your younger self when starting out in your profession?
Never say ‘I don’t know’, there is always time to learn.


Roumila Anenden | HR Manager

1. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. What specifically are you passionate about challenging when it comes to gender bias?
Breaking the stereotype and challenging cultural norms. Inspiring the next generation of employees to push boundaries, challenge traditional trains of thought, think in and around their vocation, and not be afraid to upskill and learn outside of it. Push negativity to the side and see everything as an opportunity. Working for WOLF encourages that inclusivity, feeling of belonging, and support.


2. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement(s) so far?
Professionally, I completed a Chartered qualification within a year of returning to work after my second round of maternity leave.Personally, being a working parent and being a role model for two daughters. They are being taught to be non-conformist, assertive, adventurous, and embrace all aspects of their lives.They challenge gender stereotypes by playing football and even playing the drums!


3. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Co-leading a project to drive an asset swap between shareholders for the UK businesses.Being thrown in at the deep end meant that initially what was reactive became pro-active behavior by being super organized, delegating, asking for support where needed, and balancing out a family life as well. Exhausting but a great learning curve!

Push negativity to the side and see everything as an opportunity.


4. What do you love most about your job?
The variety and pace, and the chance to support and guide the business and colleagues in a people-centric culture. The opportunity to further learn about this industry and to have an insight into what is coming in the next, exciting phase of WOLF’s life cycle.


5. What advice would you give your younger self when starting out in your profession?
Don’t worry so much. Have more confidence in yourself. Trust your gut instinct. The quiet determination and drive you have will pay off and will get you to where you need to be.


Sundos Saqr Othman | MENA Media & Communications Manager

1. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. What specifically are you passionate about challenging when it comes to gender bias?
That we as women can get great job opportunities in life, achieve success, provide for ourselves and be happy all through our own actions and without depending on a man to provide us with that.

2. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement(s) so far?
Living abroad on my own – I’m the first woman in my family and among my friends to do that. Becoming MENA Communications Manager at the age of 23.Buying my own car.Traveling where I want when I want.Developing my own Android virtual reality tourism app in 10 Days.

3. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
I find it hard to delegate which can result in work overload and stress. I’ve learned to understand that most things don’t need to be absolutely perfect to work and to trust the people around me more to deliver great things.
Wanting to take on bigger projects and manage them proved challenging due to being a younger team member and my lack of experience, but I started small to prove myself and, over time, built my manager’s confidence in my capabilities resulting in being handed bigger projects to manage.

It’s OK to say No sometimes


4. What do you love most about your job?
I love that the company believes in me and in my capabilities, and gives me opportunities to show that I can deliver great results. Experiments and failures are encouraged in order to learn, which is rare in many companies.
In my Communications role in general, I love that it combines several of my passions – photography and videography, writing, designing, managing projects and event planning, and last but not least psychology side and interviewing people – and the tasks always vary so you don’t get bored.


5. What advice would you give your younger self when starting out in your profession?

It’s ok to say ‘No’ sometimes. Believe in yourself and in your capabilities, be patient, and everything will work out as it’s supposed to if you give it time.


Kate SJ | QA Analyst

1. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. What specifically are you passionate about challenging when it comes to gender bias?
The expectations in our societies are still driven by gender, where men are expected to be strong-willed, intelligent leaders, and women are expected to be softer and traditionally homemakers. I feel like these expectations weigh us down and prevent us from achieving our full potential. I am passionate to challenge these expectations, and gently but firmly educate my society to help them see these biases.


2. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement(s) so far?
The country I am from didn’t have a competitive tech industry when I started my career. As such, I had no exposure to tech around me, and there was no one to mentor me and because I didn’t have a technical background, I feared failure. But, with support from the Internet, family, and the amazing staff at WOLF, I was able to learn, adapt and deliver in my roles as a liaison, a translator, a tester, and currently, as a QA. My achievement is being able to conquer these fears and take up opportunities that challenged my comfort.


3. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Becuase I had no technical background when I joined WOLF, my confidence was very low, and I was always afraid to be wrong. But whenever I took a breath, and engaged in a professional conversation, I found patient ears. When I dared to ask questions, I was surprised by the ease with which my peers offered knowledge. Over time, It became easier not to overthink before talking, and I became vocal enough to constructively contribute to a conversation.

Don’t miss an opportunity just because you are scared


4. What do you love most about your job?
For me, finding bugs in software feels like a treasure hunt, with the bugs hidden there by my talented developer friends! Being a QA is like a stimulating game to me, but one that earns me more money than the games I play on my Switch!


5. What advice would you give your younger self when starting out in your profession?
I would tell her not to feel lesser than others for not having a technical degree. Just be consistent with the effort and keep gaining knowledge, and opportunities will start showing up. Don’t miss an opportunity just because you are scared.


Hala Alsaket | Marketing & Community Specialist

1. The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #ChooseToChallenge. What specifically are you passionate about challenging when it comes to gender bias?
One of the many things that I desire to change is the perception of a woman’s success. A woman’s success should be based on the woman herself, not the standards that society has set. I want to challenge females all over the world to get up now and follow their passions fearlessly regardless of what the people around them are telling them! And always remember that you were born to be strong.

2. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement(s) so far?
After finishing my Bachelor’s with an honours degree, I decided to continue with my postgraduate studies abroad in London. This was definitely the most terrifying decision I’ve ever made! It was a milestone in my life, it made me grow up and become more mature at the age of 22 but it was a time I’ll always hold in my heart. My undergraduate was in accounting and my master’s degree was in management, but along that journey, I discovered my passion for marketing and decided to pursue this despite how long and tiring the road was going to be. And now I’m working as a marketing specialist.


Never, ever stop learning

3. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
As my background was in business generally, not specifically in marketing, it was a huge challenge for me to make marketing my career. I worked during weekends and stayed up late during weekdays just to read more and enrich my knowledge. I read articles and case studies and took courses, and I had the privilege of working with some of the best people in the field so in time I gained a huge amount of knowledge and became a specialist myself.


4. What do you love most about your job?
I love that every day I face a new challenge and have to learn how to overcome it, as well as the challenge of meeting some of the very short deadlines for projects that we receive. This has helped me to develop a set of skills.
5. What advice would you give your younger self when starting out in your profession?
I would tell her to get out of her comfort zone and try out new things and of course, never ever stop learning!

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