Fauzia Idrees Abro

PhD in Information Security Engineering, 2018

Fauzia is the CEO of Cynosure Technologies, a tech venture providing IT, data analytics, cyber security solutions, training and consultancy to Government, military, educational and banking sectors.

Even though cyber security is a relatively new field in Pakistan, it continues to be dominated by men similarly to most Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries. Fauzia believes one of the reasons for the disparity is the domestic commitments and social constraints in Pakistani society. She says “work-life balance is critical for women in our society yet the majority of organisations do not cater for it. For example, a member of my cohort was an outstanding programmer but upon gaining a qualification, she remained a housewife for almost a decade. I know it is not possible for me to change mind sets in a short period of time, but I can begin to change the landscape”.

Hence Fauzia has two fights on her hands: challenging the perception of cyber security in Pakistan and fostering an environment that welcomes more women. However, in a short period of time, Cynosure Technologies has taken strides in securing international partners while creating a platform where women can concurrently assume dual responsibilities of profession and domesticity.

Fauzia remembers that it was not always easy. “It was difficult to find investors due to concerns around security and economic uncertainties. There are also social and cultural challenges that obstruct women entrepreneurship” she says. Fauzia has thankfully overcome the challenges and today, Cynosure Technologies is a key player in the field of cyber security working with the likes of JAVA, Oracle Applications and PeopleSoft.

Speaking about her time at City, Fauzia says: “Meeting people from diverse backgrounds widened my horizon and has transformed me into an open-minded person. City has globalised my thinking canvas and now when I work for communities, I do not take into consideration the geographical borders that separate us.”

Alongside her tech start-up, Fauzia is also the founding President of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (WiSTEM), a not-for-profit organisation offering women and girls opportunities to develop skills in STEM. Looking to the future, Fauzia is seeking partnerships that will support her vision to empower more women in Pakistan. “I am a strong believer that women can be equally outstanding in STEM professions and hence concerted efforts must be put in place to create conducive environment for them” she says.

Gwendolyn Myers

MA International Politics and Human Rights, 2019

In 2019, TIME recognised Gwendolyn Myers as a one of the Top Eight Young Reformers Across the Globe Shaping the World. This is because Gwendolyn has been supporting peace-building missions in her home country, Liberia, for over 10 years.

She set up Messengers of Peace Liberia, a not-for-profit organisation dealing with conflict resolution, in 2008. The organisation has over 1,500 young people working as volunteers to engage the community in issues that are important to them such as the Ebola crisis. Gwendolyn grew up in a post-war Liberia and she understands first-hand what it feels like to live without peace.  She says “I have seen children given guns to inflict destruction and that is why I know if young people can be used for violence, they can also be used for peace.”

Gwendolyn first undertook a degree in biology and chemistry at Stella Maris University in Liberia before studying social sciences, which she believes would have been her calling had she not given in to familial and cultural expectations. Today she says “Young people need respectfully to decline emphasis on respect, recommendation and expectations. They need to be able to say, ‘hey, this is my journey’”.

When it came to choosing a place to study her postgraduate degree, Gwendolyn sought City because she was confident it would elevate her career to the next level. It is at City where she learned to unpack the politics that underpin her advocacy work. She says “You cannot talk about sustainable peace from a global perspective and not understand what political implications may be hindering it”.

Gwendolyn was able to study at City with a Chevening Scholarship, which is funded by the UK Government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office with the aim of developing global leaders. She was already applying the lessons she learned at City prior to completing her course. She had the opportunity to meet Liberia’s Foreign Minister and discuss foreign policies and agendas to help create global peace. “The discussions on human rights issues, especially regarding migration and open borders,  grew to become a great interest of mine during my time at City. I am now trying to advocate the same mindset of thinking globally and acting locally, which was a big part of the course” Gwendolyn says.

Even though funding has been tight with Gwendolyn having to pay out of her pocket, she is still committed to her #byfaithsheleads movement, because she believes that the type of work she does simply cannot be done without faith.

Rami Aboul Naga

MSc Finance, 2007

Rami Aboul Naga is the Deputy Governor for Monetary Stability at the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). He oversees the markets and foreign relations sectors, monetary policy, economic research, banking operations, information technology and payment systems. He was drawn to the CBE because he wanted to be in a position where he could enact true, meaningful change for the greater good of his country.

Now 15 years in, he is proud to have built a world class team that singlehandedly carried the Egyptian economy forward during its darkest and most perilous hours, first during the Global Financial Crisis of 2007, then through the political revolutions of 2011 and 2013.

Rami has spearheaded efforts to construct Egypt’s Homegrown Reform Program, designed to address the structural macroeconomic imbalances in the country’s economy. When he started, he was working with a frail external balance, a weak fiscal position and deteriorating macroeconomic fundamentals. The programme he built is comprehensive and ambitious and one that is citizen-centric, by placing emphasis on the social fabric and economic granularities of the local environment.

At the epicentre of the reform programme was CBE’s liberalisation of Egypt’s foreign exchange regime. The hard-earned results of the programme were characterised by a recovery in domestic and international confidence, strengthened macroeconomic indicators and a vastly improved risk profile. This led to credit rating agencies upgrading Egypt with the country being one of the International Monetary Fund’s greatest success stories.

Rami believes studying at City in the heart of London, one of the world’s most diverse financial hubs, has helped him widen his perspective on the larger picture of general financial applications. He says, “the main concept that I took away from City was the ability to accept and whole-heartedly embrace diversity”.

This was a pivotal lesson for Rami to learn because he began to believe in the importance of empowering women. “Women in the work place are truly a force to be reckoned with” he says, “when supported and given the platform, they become indomitable.

“I speak from experience because my department is composed mostly of women. While this was not an intentional decision, it came from my ability to look past the stigma of hiring women in a field dominated by men.”

Maria Mavroudi

MSc Shipping Trade & Finance, 2007 and LLM Maritime Law, 2016

Maria Mavroudi is a Marine Insurance Broker at Triple A Marine Risks Ltd as well as the General Manager at Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel on the Greek island of Astypalea, where she grew up. To Maria, pursuing a career in shipping came naturally. “It is said that if you come from an island then the sea is in your blood,” she says and has been working in the industry for over 15 years.

She opened Kallichoron Art Boutique Hotel to set down roots in her homeland but having two jobs across two demanding sectors is not without its challenges. “I love the blank canvas that you can develop when starting a business from the ground up. There is no satisfaction quite like it, taking an idea and bringing it to life. Of course, the challenge is the risk you take. No one promises you it will pay off but if you do not believe in magic, then you will never find it”, she says.

Maria believes success and failure go hand in hand. That one needs to taste failure in order to understand how to succeed. The people she has worked with, whether past or present, have also shaped the person she is today. Whether supportive or challenging, they all had a unique lesson to teach her.

City has played a crucial role in Maria’s career development too, especially in the aspect of critical thinking. The courses she undertook prepared her for managing challenges and establishing a strong sense of self in the business arena. She says “the in-depth understanding of the financial aspects of an organisation, the leadership principles and strong business ethics acquired at City along with the guidance of academics and support of the alumni network have been essential in building my business and climbing the corporate ladder”.

Even though she is juggling two projects, Maria is not one to run out of ideas. “I like facing new challenges, taking risks and pushing boundaries. As a rule, it is the only way to discover new angles of my personality. I am excited about the projects I am involved with and my number one goal is to see them succeed. However, if I accomplish this, then it will be time to set new goals,” she says.

Marina Guimaraes

BSc Mental Health Nursing, 2019

Marina is a nurse working for the Coborn Centre for Adolescent Mental Health. She embarked upon a career in mental health nursing because she wanted to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental illness. “Working with adolescents is important to me because throughout my placements during my time at City, almost every service user I came into contact with had an adverse childhood experience that directly impacted their mental health as an adult”, she says.

“The earlier we can provide help to those who need it, the better prepared they will be to deal with adverse experiences in their adult lives.”

Marina has also been keeping up with changes to services during the Covid-19 pandemic, amid uncertainty and anxiety about the future. “We are seeing teams of units come together in ways that I have never seen before and it is wonderful to see everyone working together” she says.

She looks back fondly at her time at City. It is not only where she gained her qualification to register as a nurse, but she is grateful for her three-year placement at East London NHS Foundation Trust, which is also where she started her career.

In January this year, she was asked to speak at City’s graduation ceremonies. “I was very nervous about being the student speaker” she says “but it was a great honour and I am so thankful to everyone that I have met both on my course and sports teams”.

Even though it is difficult to plan ahead while in a pandemic, Marina hopes to undertake a Masters in public health in the near future.