The ‘Extraordinary Women’ programme is designed to inspire the next generation of female talent from the fields of technology, engineering, design and business and encourage young females to consider careers in STEM and automotive. Building upon the success of the inaugural edition, the 2023 programme has brought together eight students and eight mentors from Saudi Arabia and the UK.
After undergoing a thorough selection process earlier this year in collaboration with Bentley's partner universities, the chosen students were then assigned a specially chosen mentor, known as a Bentley Pioneer, for regular engagements ahead of the visit to Bentley’s facilities. While at the brand’s headquarters, they went behind the scenes of Bentley’s manufacturing operations, meet with senior automotive leaders and pitch ideas to a panel of Bentley experts.
The Saudi Pioneers, who were introduced to their mentees in May during an intimate luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton Jeddah, were represented by: Mishaal Ashemimry, aerospace engineer and founder of MISHAAL Aerospace; Noha Zagzoug, A member of the Women in Leadership Deliver (WILD) Network; and Nicola Gough from Bentley Motor’s product strategy team.
The four Dar al-Hekma University students involved were: Nada Ayman Alzahrani, majoring in Computer Science and mentored by Mishaal Ashemimry; Sarah Nahill Alrawi, majoring in Finance and mentored by Noha Zagzoug; and Reem Mohammed Alsamkari, majoring in Cyber Security and mentored by Nicola Gough.
Commenting on her role as one of the Pioneers, Noha Zagzoug said: “I am truly grateful to be a part of a programme that aims to inspire and develop the next generation of young female leaders. Not only does it provide exceptional guidance and mentorship, but it offers students the chance to explore and learn before they embark on their new path. This programme is instrumental in helping them develop the necessary skills to succeed on both their professional and personal journeys.”
Nada Alzahrani, who is studying at Dar Al-Hekma University, said: "Participating in Bentley's Extraordinary Women programme has been a life-changing opportunity. I am so grateful for the mentorship and guidance provided by the many experts I have met, and for the truly unique opportunity to visit the company's headquarters. This experience has really ignited my passion for STEM and automotive, and has shown me the limitless possibilities that lie ahead."
Member of the Board for Human Resources, Dr Karen Lange, explained: “This is the second edition of the ‘Extraordinary Women’ programme, and we are delighted to welcome even more inspirational young women to our head office this year. I’m particularly pleased to welcome our first group of students from Saudi Arabia. Empowering the future generation of female leaders is a key focus for us, and aligns with the stated vision for the future of the Kingdom under Vision 2030.”
The ‘Extraordinary Women’ programme is an ongoing initiative from Bentley that forms part of the British brand’s wider Diversity and Inclusion commitment under its Beyond100 strategy, which it aims to inspire and educate young women across the globe and help equip them to take up leadership positions in their chosen professional fields.