SPOTLIGHT: Receiving the Excellence in Leadership Award (STEM Category)
As Asha D. Abinallah, this is my first award in my lifetime which directly acknowledges me in alignment with my career since my first time ever to had seriously embraced technology through Digital Citizenship Engagement Technology. Joining as a volunteer and eventually as a partner from 2012, the journey has been non-stop for me. The space consecrated me to be fully and effectively savvy and knowledgeable in Technology, Information flow, Information systems, the Internet entity and access, laws and policies governing the internet, internet governance and ICT in general. I am always passionate about what I do, I learn a lot from others, I acquire a lot by myself and I absorb from the lessons, mistakes and successes. The “Excellence in Leadership Award”, Women in Management Africa (WIMA) in the category — Women in STEM 2022, has taken me back from where my journey commenced and to where I intend to reach, guided that I am blessed with a long and healthy life.
My first phase of my career
My life has been of three phases of career. My first phase was a small-time self-motivated entrepreneur interested and actively working as a designer and tailor. A skill which I had accidently learned from my Mother, which was her main business. She never wished for me to be a Tailor, she wanted an educated daughter working in whatever office. But still, I loved and still love fabric and anything associated with making beautiful things out of it. I am happy that I can proudly claim to be one of the best tailors to have existed. As much as I was passionate about it with time, I felt a hunger and a need to do much more, something which involved serving the community and being a force of impact in one way or another. To achieve this, I knew that I had to go back to school. As a wife and a mom of two, I decided I will go back to school. One of the hardest decisions to have made in my life. It disrupted this phase of my life for the better, and I started a new chapter.
My second phase of my career
My second phase of my life involves my going back to my Mom, begging her to support me towards my new journey of going back to school. One of the best moments in my life is being able to pass as a Private Candidate and going back to school as an Advanced level student to which I eventually went on to landed at the University of Dar es Salaam which I completed in 2011. I joined as a part time volunteer in my previous organisation in 2012 and after a few months worked as full-time volunteer until 2013 when we officially partnered and I came on board as part of the team. My journey has been one of the best learning experiences and curve for my life and career. This second phase of my life is where through my determination on being better at what I do and make sure that I grew and nurture into expertise, I successfully enrolled in International programs such as, the Mandela Washington Fellowship, in Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Austin in the United States, the Organizational Leadership, Business Administration and Management at the Swedish Institute Management Programme Africa in Stockholm, The International Training Framework for Media Regulations in a Democratic Framework at Fojo Media Institute/Linnaeus University in Sweden and many more others. I have had opportunities to participate (and some at the level of panellist/speaker) in conferences such as International Rights Con forum, Stockholm Internet Freedom, Global Media Forum in Germany, PBO Africa Leaders’ Summit, Forum for Internet Freedom Africa, Human Rights Council in Geneva to mention but a few.
Most importantly I have been integral to the fight for Freedom of Expression and the rights to Protection and Privacy; and made more actively since 2016, when we were under constant pressure to disclose user-information of clients. This time opened a phase for more learnings on Cyberspaces, laws and associated regulations. As hard as it was, it was one of the best learning experiences. In this phase, I had reached my goal, “of being part of a space that did impactful work to/for the community”. We did work beyond what the nation or community could imagine. When things got better and easier, I applied for a the highly competitive UK based, Chevening Scholarship to which I was fortunate to have been selected and be privileged to acquire my Masters in New Media at the University of Leeds in United Kingdom. My Masters main component was Digital Practices, which made more for savvy in Information and Technology. I built my first website from scratch through coding at the University. The experience in the UK was one of the best although disrupted by COVID19. Once again in my life I felt that there was more I can do than where I was and it was time to spread my wings and look for something new. One of the second hardest decisions to have made in my life, letting go was not easy but certainly necessary. My journey of the second phase ended June 26, 2020 on to my next important chapter.
My third phase of my career
My third phase is still brand new, the future hopeful but yet as any future, uncertain. This phase came in with the establishment of my own initiative which I am creating with intent to have many on board as part of the organization. Media Convergency Company was registered August 31, 2020, it is a multidisciplinary ICT organization that appraises Information and applies Technological Innovations and Applications that provide impactful Digital Solutions. The goal of Media Convergency on its very first year of operations which started January 2021 was to position the organization as one of the key players in the tech ecosystem. It is through our work as an organization which is guiding my career, and it is through this organization that I have acquired this award. If anything, the WIMA Women in STEM award, has been able to validate that the Company’s first year goal has been met. This is just a start, there is so much more to do, more to learn and so much to live up for. I know and acknowledge that it is not easy, but what offers me strength and optimism is the readiness of the ecosystem, of our predecessors in the ecosystem and most importantly the wind of change part of what is required of the fourth Industrial Revolution. There is a lot I can say about Media Convergency, but that is a story for another day.
The Women in Management Africa (WIMA) annual awards honour and applaud outstanding leadership, inspiration, vision and innovation, in organizations that play a role in advancing women to the forefront of the economy. It covers, all major economic sectors, and awarding business from SME- to national-level. The main outcome of this Initiative/Programme is to ensure that women are honoured and profiled for their great achievements in their careers thus leading to women’s economic empowerment. The WIMA awards ceremony was held at Hyatt Hotel in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania on the 26th March 2022. The event brought together intelligent minds from the corporate world from government, public and private sectors to celebrate success and honour their contributions in various activities and projects.
What the future holds…
I was privileged to get a WIMA Award Honorary in the STEM category. The category is one of the six categories acknowledged by WIMA. I would like to use this opportunity to extend gratitude to the WIMA coordinators, all partners in the ecosystem, the stakeholders, our partners at Media Convergency, my guardians, my loving and understanding family, my Mother who has always been my pillar and most importantly my Media Convergency family who make it seem and look like easy while it really is not.
As a leader, I am committed towards harnessing the potential opportunities that come with the fourth industrial revolution. I am assertively embracing and incubating talent of young minds who when shown the way can do things unimaginable. I am determined to the best of my ability and capacity to be part of the change for the better, part of a solution to many challenges and obstacles we face as a nation and most importantly part of an influence to the Girl Child. For her to know it is never too late, it can be done and that the sky’s the limit. Insh’Allah may the Lord Almighty bless and guide me towards reaching the overall goal and vision.
Asha D. Abinallah
CEO | Media Convergency