ABU DHABI // Fatima Al Marzouqi is helping to steer the next generation of Emiratis toward careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.
As head of Mubadala’s education and training division, she plays a crucial and direct role in developing academic programmes that introduce pupils to Stem, and professional training opportunities that offer students and recent graduates hands-on experience with major engineering and manufacturing companies at home and abroad.
In the nearly 12 years that she has worked for the Abu Dhabi investment and development company, Ms Al Marzouqi says her greatest source of pride comes from witnessing the professional and personal achievements of pupils and recruits guided by Mubadala’s programmes.
“From the beginning of my career I saw lots of people growing and they are becoming very successful,” she says. “When I see myself, that I had a small role in that, that I affected those people and being a part of their lives, I really feel happy.”
Over the years, Mubadala has teamed up with Abu Dhabi Education Council and private companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Airbus Middle East and the Manufacturing Institute to stage hands-on workshops and competitions in schools that introduce pupils to fundamental science and engineering concepts and design challenges.
A select number of engineering students have also had the opportunity to spend 18 weeks as interns in aerospace firms in the UAE and overseas. Even early career professionals benefited from Mubadala’s education and training programmes. Generation Space, in partnership with the UAE Space Agency and Lockheed Martin, offered young Emiratis the opportunity to travel to the United States to shadow American engineers and tour satellite production facilities.
“Our main mission here in Mubadala, we need to make sure that we have a sufficient number of high-quality talent to supply our industries,” says Ms Al Marzouqi. “I need to make sure that we have the right recruits in the pipeline ready to join this workforce.”
After graduating from high school, Ms Al Marzouqi chose to enter the information technology programme at the Higher Colleges of Technology. The academic options at the time were “limited”, and career counselling was lacking, she says.
“There was no guidance, there was no one to tell us what are the career options when you go to each of these majors. I chose IT just without any reason. At that time, it was one of the difficult majors so I thought, OK, I like to be challenged so I will go and join this major.”
Early in her career, Ms Al Marzouqi faced some resistance from her parents, who expressed concern that their first-born daughter and eldest of seven children was working long hours and may have been compromising her family life and traditions.
“I had to have a lot of discussions with my father to convince him,” says the 34-year-old. Determined to show her father the value of her job and the positive impact it had on her intellectual and personal growth, she invited him to join her on a few business trips.
“After almost two years with this life experience, my father noticed how I was progressing,” says Ms Al Marzouqi. “He’s now proud of me. He always says, ‘I’m proud of my daughter, you always make me happy when I see you progressing and achieving and being a successful contributor to this country’.”
As she comes across other promising young Emirati women who struggle to gain family support for pursuing academic or professional careers, Ms Al Marzouqi draws on her personal experience. She will invite the parents to information sessions and offer fathers the chance to join their daughters on excursions.
“Working with the parents and the kids, I really feel good that I can help raise awareness of the importance of these careers for the country,” she says. “I feel I’m making a difference in those people’s lives. I get my energy when I have these discussions with the parents and the kids.”
Name: Fatima Al Marzouqi
Title: Head of Mubadala’s education and training division
Goal: “To have a positive impact. I really want to change people’s lives. This is something I will do all my life.”
Advice to young professionals: “Regardless of anything that might be a factor that could push you back from reaching what you really want to do or contribute to this country, you have to fight for your ambition.”