Meet Hoda Abokhadra, a passionate voice in the Accelerate Her Future (AHF) community as a Fellow in our 2022 Winter Fellowship Circle, a Mentor in our 2023 Winter Fellowship Circle, and member of our Advisory Group (AG).
Hoda is currently working as an Analytics DevOps Engineer at Scotiabank while pursuing her Master’s degree in Data Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. As an active member of the Google Developers community, Hoda currently holds multiple positions as a Women Techmakers Ambassador and an Organiser at the Google Developer Group in Mississauga.
In an enlightening conversation, we had the honour of sitting down with Hoda to discuss her career path and other insights.
Championing Youth and Women in Tech
Hoda is committed to championing youth and women in tech. As an immigrant woman of colour, switching to tech from an art background wasn’t a smooth step; it came with lots of challenges. Hoda was determined to support youth and women who were in her shoes navigating their careers in tech in the middle of the pandemic. After serving her student community through multiple positions as a student mentor, Java tutor, and Vice President for the Women in Science and Engineering club, Hoda gained valuable experience on what students are looking for and how she can support them in navigating their co-op terms and academic success.
With a long list of volunteer experience and community involvement supporting fellow Women in Tech, Hoda shows true initiative. Her proactive leadership started at Sheridan College as the founder of the Google Developer Student Club (GDSC). It all began with Hoda’s intention to enter the Solution Challenge hackathon, GDSCs’ annual programming competition where she started Sheridan College’s official Chapter. With a great team of executives and members, the club gained a lot of regional attention after securing 1st place in the “30 days of Cloud” competition over all the GDSCs in North America.
From AHF Fellow to Advisory Group Member
When asked what motivated her to apply for the AHF Fellowship Circle, Hoda reflected on her experience as an immigrant woman in the tech world. “I didn’t have access to professional networks or mentorship programs that fit my background and personal experiences.” Hoda explains, “as a Fellow graduate, I gained self-confidence and learned to embrace my authentic self.”
Hoda learned much through this experience, highlighting how “expanding my network came along with more valuable lessons and career labs from many inspiring role models for women of colour.” Hearing stories from Black, Indigenous and women of colour can be both a validating and eye-opening experience, building allyship and solidarity within our communities.
After completing the Fellowship Circle as a Fellow in 2022, Hoda wanted to give back to the AHF community through volunteering as a Mentor for the Fellowship Circle in 2023. “Knowing how much the Fellowship Circle program has impacted my personal and professional growth, I wanted to offer the same support to fellow women who need support and guidance navigating their careers in business and STEM.”
“I was also informed of the challenges that other women from other minority groups are facing (Indigenous, Black, Asian, and more) which was an eye-opener that achieving equity won’t happen without supporting all the minority groups in our community.”
Hoda was inspired to accept AHF’s invitation to become an Advisory Group member after experiencing the positive impact AHF had on her own journey of personal and professional development. It motivated her to “keep supporting AHF’s mission and particularly the work you do on creating impactful programs for early career Indigenous, Black and other women of colour.”
“By joining the Advisory Group, I’ll be able to share my suggestions for AHF’s annual strategies (quite an honour) to make the most out of AHF programs and initiatives.”
Celebrating and Amplifying Accomplishments
Success stories would be incomplete without acknowledging the mentors who have helped us along the way, and those who have paid it forward in our lives and careers. Hoda agrees, “I’m grateful to have multiple mentors and individuals who engage in allyship behaviours within multiple organisations in which I’m working and volunteering.”
“My first would be my former Java professor at Sheridan College, Simon Hood, who is one of the main reasons I loved programming. His teaching style makes programming a fun learning experience while giving attention to the details in evaluating our applications making the whole learning experience outstanding. He also supported me before my technical interviews for co-op job applications during office hours meetings.” Hoda explains.
Hood’s support didn’t stop at graduation; he also helped Hoda in applying to The Grainger College of Engineering of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her Master’s degree in Data Science by writing an academic reference letter to the school.
“Scotiabank’s Campus Recruitment Team for tech (Velocity) is one of the main reasons I stayed with the bank after graduation as the program was filled with mentorship sessions which helped me succeed in my co-op terms.” Last but not least, Hoda recalls her “managers and seniors in the MLOps team at Scotiabank who have been supporting me since day one. Being a mother of three children, sometimes unpredictable events would happen, like having to pick up my kids from school early or attending medical appointments with them. My team has been supportive throughout the year and a half I’ve been working with them on both personal and professional levels.”
As an Analytics DevOps Engineer at Scotiabank, one of Hoda’s key role responsibilities is “developing and delivering tutorials and workshops about Google Cloud to CID&A (Customer Insights, Data and Analytics) teams.” When recalling her proudest experience, she highlights “presenting these technical workshops to CID&A teams at Scotiabank.”
“Before switching my career path from arts to tech, I used to work as an Arabic language teacher for almost 5 years.” Hoda reflects, “With this particular task, I’m thrilled that I’ve joined my passion for teaching with my passion for tech.”
Advice and Instructions to Allies
As a parent, full-time woman in tech, Master’s student, and active community member, Hoda provided us with some advice for women who are juggling parenting with school and work. “I’d love to tell every parent that raising children in these times is not an easy mission at all!” Hoda muses, “Setting priorities is the main strategy I follow to stay on top of my work and school.”
Hoda emphasises, “it is also important to know how much you can take on and listen to your body when it tells you it needs a break. Tough days are there sometimes indeed but all shall pass.”
“Finally, having a support circle will have a great impact on your growth,” Hoda recommends, “surround yourself with women who are lifters so you can support and lift each other.”
You inspire us Hoda!