(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
Here is our interview with Shadw Helal, an Egyptian Entrepreneur based in Cairo, who is focusing on sexual harassment in Egypt. Shadw is the CEO & Founder of Rescue App.
What makes you do what you do?
The idea was inspired by the everyday life women face in Egypt, and when a close friend was subjected to a horrific incident I felt I had to do something about it. I believe that if you want to change something you have to start yourself and not wait for things to change on their own, I’m trying to redefine the meaning of women’s safety. And it is our absolute basic right to feel safe at all times, anywhere.
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
From a medical background to business it was a very tough road, I started by connecting with people in the field, learning one step at a time, taking business classes, applying for competitions, having mentors to guide me through the way till I had a solid base to kick off my start-up.
Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
The sexual harassment issue in Egypt is usually not spoken about, it’s a taboo, and to try and solve a problem like that someone has to talk about it and try to solve it, and I felt I owed it to myself being a woman to do that for all of us women, the unfair, unsafety and insecurity we face every day based on our gender is infuriating.
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
I have a mentor, we met at one of the startup competitions, and she was very supportive, We got along very well and then she became my mentor, she’s guiding me along my journey as an entrepreneur.
How did you make a match and how did you end up being mentored by him?
We met at a startup competition and she was interested in the app and in coaching me, we got along well. She’s been helping me all along the way now. She’s my mentor and my consultant.
Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
Talent is not enough, learning is more important so nurturing and feeding your talents is key. Focusing one thing instead of hurling yourself on many directions is what makes perfection.
Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I absolutely support diversity, I call it the secret to success, the more diverse a workflow is the most innovative I believe.
What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
It takes persistence, not taking no for an answer, believing in your idea, knowing when to slow down and recalculate your steps. Listening to those who know better, you’re never too experienced to learn, growing your circle of connections.
Advice for others?
My advice is to never underestimate an idea, one small idea can someday be a growing business with social impact! now that we’ve launched our experimental phase, we’re looking forward to officially launch the app and device within the next 2 months. We want to draw attention to the matter of harassment and women’s unsafety through campaigns and raise the social consciousness of their duty to participate in solving the problem from its roots.
To learn more about Rescue App, please see https://rescue-bea48.firebaseapp.com/.
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This article was co-written with Mariem Khemir.