Noha Salem, Head of University Outreach for Google across MENA
As part of Google’s commitment to empower the Middle East and North Africa’s academic community, Google has launched the Google Student Ambassador Program in MENA. The program invites student enrolled in universities across MENA to represent Google on campus and serve a tenure of one academic year. The program is aimed at providing knowledge, infrastructure and tools to help develop MENA’s future leaders. For the first-ever MENA Google Student Ambassador Program, more than 866 students applied, from which Google has selected 73 ambassador from 33 universities across the region.
The ambassadors were selected based on a number of criteria including their familiarity with technology, their commitment to making a significant impact on their respective campuses, and their desire to highlight the innovations that allow Google to bring economic, social and cultural benefits to society. The student ambassadors will be given a week-long training, during which they will explore everything Google and be provided with exclusive insight into Google’s strategies for future programs and services. Specifically, the training will cover Google products, developers’ tools, an overview on university programs, sales tools and marketing overview as well as sessions on Google itself.
Google notified the chosen ambassadors, 30% of which are female, in early June. Upon receiving the news of their acceptance into the program, students from across the region expressed their excitement about being selected for this unique opportunity. “This is a stepping stone to my dream, which is to work at Google one day," said Ayman from Egypt. "Thank you for choosing me as a Google Student Ambassador,” said Mazen from Lebanon. “You cannot imagine my excitement or how I looked jumping around the room once I got the email. I was ecstatic!"
To offer students the best possible training and understanding into the world of Google, Googlers from MENA and Europe will provide training to all the ambassadors. Mohammad Gawdat, Google Managing Director Emerging Markets, and Ari Kesisoglu, Google Managing Director MENA, will elaborate on what it means to be an Ambassador. They will also share Google’s business strategy as well as its upcoming expansion plans. Travelling from Zurich, Ahmed Hamzawi, Head of Engineering for Google MENA, and Abdel Karim Mardini, Head of Product for Google MENA, will provide student ambassadors with in-depth knowledge about a variety of Google services, specifically those related to academia.
“Providing access to knowledge, improving communication, and developing innovative tools to foster freedom of expression are the core components of every Google initiative,” said Wael Fakharany, Country Manager for Google North Africa and Egypt. “The Google Student Ambassador Program is another innovative way we’re actively engaging youth from across the region to help them make the most of technology - academically, socially and culturally,” said Noha Salem, Head of University Outreach for Google across MENA. She added “we recognize the amazing potential of university students; the Google Student Ambassadors Program will help foster their enthusiasm and energy for the benefit of university campuses across the Middle East and North Africa.”
The week long training will provide student ambassadors with the understanding and skills to enhance their experience at university. The Student ambassadors will work closely with Google teams to organize events and help raise awareness among MENA students about the opportunities and value of Google and the Internet.
Following the week long training, Google Ambassadors will return to their universities, where they will work closely with Google teams to organise events and help raise awareness among Egyptian students about the opportunities and value of Google and the Internet. They will spread the word on campus about competitions, boot camps, scholarships and other opportunities; attend Google events as a Google representative; test products and features; be a source of knowledge for their university about Google products, as well as spread Google goodwill to fellow students.
As the innovators of the tomorrow, students are highly valued by Google. As a strong supporter of innovation, Google sees the potential of the Student Ambassador Program as something that will develop universities in the region as well as the technological ecosystem as a whole. In 2010, Google was the fastest growing company in the world with respect to research and development (R&D) expenditure, spending more than US$ 140,000 per employee on R&D annually.