Samar Baba: Enabling The Youth Digitally

#GirlsInICT Inspiring The Future Series | Lead Developer Advocate IBM Z Global Student Hub and co-founder TAWASOL, Samar Baba talks about promoting student’s tech skills, prioritizing their needs to ensure best experience.
Samar Baba: Enabling The Youth Digitally

Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey that culminated in where you are today?

My name is Samar Baba, from Tunisia, in the Middle East & North Africa and I am currently the Lead Developer Advocate responsible for the IBM Z Global Student Hub.

I hold an Engineering degree in Applied Mathematics and Modelling from the High National Engineering School of Tunis (ENSIT) and pursued a master’s degree in data science in Paris Dauphine.

I am a member of the world’s largest technical professional organization for the advancement of technology, for sevenyears now. I also co-founded an initiative in my country, called TAWASOL, that aims to connect primary schools across the country to the internet and train students to use the internet through ICT skill-building workshops, in order to create an internet-empowered generation of youth, thus reducing the digital divide in Tunisia.

I am also a youth adviser within a consultancy focused on creating innovative ideas and social impact opportunities, I was in charge of a team of 25 youth for a Microsoft project preparing for the next generation workforce.

You can guess that IT and youth empowerment take a huge part in my life!

We would love to know more about your work.

I am the Lead Developer Advocate responsible for the IBM Z Global Student Hub. I am the product owner of the IBM Z student hub platform and I am an IMB Z Developer Advocate.

My mission is to help build a strong IBM Z community and talent pipeline. We work with universities, students, professional developers, startups, and partners around the world to expand the Z solution portfolio and build critical Z skills needed in the marketplace by IBM and the broader community.

Through the student hub, we work on promoting student’s tech skills, prioritizing their needs to ensure that they have the best experience while learning about Z, and improving their professional development skills!

Do you think we should be wary of the shift from human power to machine power?

I think that through technology we should make life better for all people around the world but also be careful about the impact on humanity! We are not machines and we should use them to facilitate life.

Technology is around us! It’s everywhere, whether you are working in the IT field or any other field, everyone is using technology, through social media, industries, Mobile apps…

This, we should be careful about data security and emotional intelligence and be aware of its impact on our lives and our privacy.

What is crucial to do right now in ensuring humans evolve?

Technology is now important in our lives. I think that everyone needs to acquire digital skills since the world is evolving with technology in its center. Also, we should be aware that we are human and that our vulnerability is important, and that is what distinguishes us from everyone else.

Maybe the most important skill is the power of adaptability! If you need to learn new skills or to change your professional field, you are ready to do that, and that’s what makes us evolve in front of the innovation movement! The world is evolving and won’t wait for us. As technology shifts the balance of power and opportunity in society, does it impact gender equality?

How is automation evolving in your field of work?

AI and Machine learning are getting to play more central roles in IT field and if we won’t have the capacity to adapt to the new changes and to evolve, by learning new skills, a lot of individuals will lose their jobs. IT field is requires a lot of adaptability and everyone must be up to date and eager to learn as required by the job market.

What are the most important skills that are essential for our future and the future of work?

I think the future of work will depend on three factors most probably: creativity & innovation, digital skills and critical thinking & adaptability.

As the future of work is rapidly changing, how is digitalization empowering our society and especially those who were being left behind before?

With information technology, people are gaining new ways to participate and express themselves in a networked society. Thanks to digitalization, people are getting access to education, E-healthcare, online services, building a professional network, and finding remote jobs while staying at home. It enables people to get access to information and be proactive citizens. However, it’s not the case of all countries and regions in the world, not everyone has this privilege, due to lack of internet access. I think our role here, and the role of the big IT organizations, is to provide equal opportunities to people around the globe and help to get better education and future.

Why is an inclusive dialogue about gender equality important especially in this fourth industrial revolution of technology?

We can’t talk about inclusion without bringing on the table gender equality. Half of the world’s population is composed of women. Therefore, to be able to move forward within a society, we should collect and consider the pain points, concerns, and struggles of a society and it won’t be possible without considering both genders.

Gender bias is a huge topic as far as tech and machine learning is concerned. What needs to be done to address this?

When engineering is modeling critical problems to program machines that consider all existed hypotheses, they should include human facts, such as gender equity issues, transparency as factors, and use gender decoder to identify biased language when used. They can implement blind applications when recruiting employees to give a chance for females to get considered for example.

I think that every company should be accountable for moving the needle toward becoming an entirely gender diverse and equal opportunity employer.

How can we realize an inclusive future?

We can create an inclusive future by considering the importance of gender equality, by empowering each other to pursue lifelong learning through mutual support and mentorship, and by having empathy for others!

Any last words?

Every one of us is observing a social issue around us, let’s all be proactive and try to make this world a better place! We don’t need to have a magic wand to live in peace altogether! We just need to consider other’s feelings and empathize with others sometimes 😊


This interview was organized and conducted by interns participating in Ananke’s Empower – Digital Capacity Building Program (Anam Javed, Mwajuma Faridah Abdallah, Tooba Arshad Khan)


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