Curious about the leaders in WCE?
This issue’s coffee chat features Ayesha Hassan, a WCE Board Member, former Vice President Stakeholder Relations at the Internet Society and former Senior Policy Manager/Executive at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), to discuss her career in tech, the Internet, involvement in WCE, and advice for the next generation.
WCE: What is your background?
Ayesha: I moved through my career in an unconventional way. I was originally a lawyer but moved into global policy work in the Internet space. From there, I grew into roles including stakeholder relations and
partnerships. I still use my experience in law, policy, mediation and stakeholder relations. Even if everything did not look coherent at the time, it all made me who I am today.
WCE: How did you become interested in WCE?
Ayesha: WCE’s mission and activities resonated with my values and I felt pulled to contribute.
WCE: What have you been working on in WCE?
Ayesha: I’ve been trying to use my passion for relationship building and my global network to open doors and build contacts in countries that WCE is working in or aspires to work in. As part of the Female Role Model initiative in the Inspire Girls project, I have referred women in my network to be featured in videos. They are excited about sharing their experience in technology and the Internet so that other young women are empowered to pursue a path in this area. In addition, I believe in the mission and work that WCE does that has impact, so I am trying to help with the fundraising efforts as well.
WCE: How did you feel working in a male-dominated industry?
Ayesha: : Even though tech is a male-dominated industry, I had a really lucky, perhaps atypical, experience. First, the partner I worked for at the law firm was male and a supportive boss, who helped me grow and learn and believed in me. He is a treasure friend and mentor to this day. At the start-up company, SquareTrade the staff and leadership were balanced. Then, I was hired by an incredible female ICC Secretary General who empowered me to lead the work in the digital economy area. She too remains a dear friend and mentor in my life. My experience is that if you demonstrate your professional abilities you earn the respect of your colleagues and can succeed.
WCE: What advice do you have for people pursuing careers in tech/Internet?
Ayesha: Finding your niche in the Internet and tech area is important. There are a variety of roles and functions in this sector so see where your interests and skills best fit. Also, part of the enrichment I have
had is the global nature of the work I have done and the enriching interactions with people from around the world and a range of backgrounds. Some people may want to focus their energies locally or within a country, which is great too.
WCE: Lastly, what advice do you have for young women entering the workforce?
Ayesha: Go with your heart. Where do you get satisfaction? What comes naturally to you? Assessing what you are not passionate about is also part of the puzzle. Work for good people who share your values and principles.