Marah Ayad believes in putting yourself first.
The University of Toronto Scarborough management program alumnus is now a technical account manager at Google.
She says the opportunity only arose after she quit her former full-time job at Microsoft to make time to travel. But before she could leave for South America, she received a call from the search engine giant. Two months of learning new technical skills and six interviews later, she landed her dream job – and still managed to make it to Ecuador to volunteer as a hiking guide.
“If I had stayed [put] like everyone told me, I could never have prepared for my job at Google,” says Ayad. “Listen to your body, mind and heart, and if you have a dream, go for it.”
Ayad graduated from the first cohort of the Management and International Business (MIB) Cooperative Program in 2017. The program provides students with fundamental management skills, combined with national and international work and study opportunities to network and learn industry through a global lens.
She previously studied economics at University College London before landing an internship at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. She also completed two co-op placements at Microsoft Canada, where she gained valuable experience working with non-cloud and cloud technologies.
As a communications facilitator in Kenya, Ayad worked in the hospital provost’s office to secure donations from private companies to help families pay for health care. She credits the experience for preparing her to work in her current industry.
“At 19, I learned a lot about how to communicate and how to get people to hear you. Being a girl who can speak loudly and make her voice heard is super helpful, especially in tech and business, which is still a male-dominated industry.
During her years as a student, Ayad pursued extracurricular activities that prioritized connecting communities and facilitating insightful conversations. This is what brought her to TEDxUTSC – first as Director of Speaker Relations, then as President. Under the role, Ayad hosted their 2015 conference, Unleash Your Fantasy.
Despite a passion for public speaking, Ayad was not always comfortable with the idea. She credits a communications management course taught by James Howard, a strategy lecturer, as a launching pad that equipped her with presentation and leadership skills.
“It changed everything for me. The whole class aimed to be able to stand in front of a group and speak loudly and clearly to communicate meaningful points,” says Ayad, who was Howard’s assistant for two semesters. “He helped us discover a side of ourselves that we always wanted to show.”
Now able to help others, Ayad strongly believes in the value of servant leadership, which focuses on supporting employees’ professional and personal goals to foster an inclusive and uplifting work environment.
“Servant leadership is key to having a diverse workplace – it allows someone to climb the ladder, the new parent to have stability and the 22-year-old to travel. It’s non-negotiable in the future of the workforce,” says Ayad.
Ayad encourages students pursuing any field to earn certification in foundational knowledge of the cloud ecosystem, coding languages, and data science – all platforms that increasingly drive our daily lives and our power. of decision.
She also wants to share her experiences and mentor business students considering the tech industry – especially new immigrants, women, and LGBTQ professionals.
“I will never ask myself if it is good to take time off. I will have no doubts about my employability with a gap on my resume. We have to let go of that mentality,” she says.
“If you invest the time and effort and truly believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything.”
Ayad will join the Management Pathways IT Career Panel on February 8 to share his career story and advice to students on breaking into the tech industry.
“There has been an increased demand for talent and growth in the tech industry for co-op management students in the BAA program,” says Sicha Maharaj, Deputy Director, External Relations and Communications in the Department of Management.
“It’s wonderful to have alumni like Marah ready to help current students break into emerging tech careers.”