To celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD), we’re featuring some of the inspiring female innovators whom ATI2 have had the privilege to work with, whether they have shared their knowledge with our community, have spoken at our events or have been supported by our project.
These women are changing the world in their own unique way and improving it for the better. Here is our spotlight on women in innovation.
IWD SPOTLIGHT: Michelle Medhat
Director of Operations and Strategic Development at the Institute of Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (IKE)
“International Women’s Day for me is a stand. It is a stand that essentially says it is important to recognise women because we have a role to play in every part of society. We are economic drivers. We are compassionate. We are artistic. We are brave. Obviously innovative. And we have a sense of purpose from the very moment we cry”
– Michelle Medhat, Director of Operations & Strategic Development at IKE
For the last three decades, Michelle Medhat has lived and breathed science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). She started out reading business finance and business law at university, which gave her a “firm grounding” she says, but neither of these fields satisfied her natural curiosity. It wasn’t until she began working within a small spin-out at a university, that was all around cutting-edge microelectronics technology, that Michelle found her love for all things innovation.
From programming chips for different bleeding edge applications, establishing and running technology software companies, developing programmes to bring science and technology closer to the public, and being heavily involved in the early 90’s in bringing to the UK the first notion of technologies we now take for granted, such as film-on-demand (hello Netflix and Prime Video!), pause and rewinding live tv, virtual reality and sensor applications (now known as the Internet of Things).
Michelle has been working within the male-dominated realms of STEM since before many of the initiatives looking to drive women into these highly skilled and paid roles existed, and although she has noticed some change, she says that there’s more to be done:
“It’s unfortunate to say, but I still go into meetings and find that I’m the only person who’s female. Which is a bit depressing, really, especially after all the WIS (Women in STEM) stuff. And the drive to get women into engineering and women into science and that kind of thing. And yet I can still walk into a room and I will be the only woman in the room”.
However, Michelle is in that room and she is a force to be reckoned with. She highlights the unique skills of women and how these strengthen businesses, ideas and enrich the diverse thinking of the board:
“A woman will bring in the emotional context, the societal context and the technological context. Lots of different elements. They will see connections. And I think International Women’s Day is all about a celebration of the value and the power that women make to society, as I say, whether it’s being a worker, a businesswoman, a leader, an influencer, a mother, a daughter, a sister, whatever”.
Michelle also recognises the important role that men have to play in supporting women throughout their careers, helping them to achieve their ambitions and potential. “I’ve been working alongside my husband for virtually all my life. Professor Sam Medhat has been a guiding light for me. I can’t say that all the successes that I’ve had have been just down to myself because I have learned along the way, a lot from him, which is natural” she says.
Together, Michelle and her husband Co-Founded Dubai University and the Institute of Knowledge Exchange, the UK’s professional body for Innovation. Having lived and worked all over the world, she now resides in the UK and advises government, business and industry and academia on how to improve their innovation capabilities. Over the years, the IKE’s Foundation has donated millions of pounds to the science, engineering and technology education sector, and has helped to improve the lives of over 700,000 people by providing educational opportunities.
In her spare time, Michelle also enjoys writing. In fact, she is a USA Today Best-Selling Author and writes fast-moving, ruthless political spy thrillers blended with thought-provoking sci-fi. Her unique professional background ensures her books are loaded with incredible technologies, but in every case, are grounded in real science.
In her role with IKE, Michelle has supported the Acceleration Through Innovation project in several ways since its inception six years ago, from training and accrediting our innovation specialists; to collaborating on the development of our innovation workshops and digital platform, ‘The Innovation Studio’, as well as generously sharing her knowledge and expertise with our clients. Her passion and commitment to educating and advocating the tools to help others innovate and succeed are unrivalled – which is why she features as one of our inspiring women in innovation this International Women’s Day.