Mouna Balghouthi
IT sector – Data scientist
Software Engineer with 3 years for an ecommerce and wholesale company after graduation from a Computer Science university. Interested in machine learning applications in deep learning and conversational AI trying to figure out if we can make machines more human with Emotional Intelligence and serve tech for social good.
Tell us about your career path.
Why did you choose a STEM profession?
Was your interest in STEM encouraged?

During my childhood, I wanted to be an engineer like my father. He is an electrical engineer. My mother was a Physics highschool teacher. So physics and maths were no brainer for me. My parents encouraged me a lot. My mom would take me to science museums and exhibitions. My father would sign me and my siblings into school field trips to visit power plants and wind farms. I am very grateful to them for planting the seeds of love of science in us at an early stage. By the time I reached highschool, I knew I wanted engineering schools but didn’t know what speciality. I heard about computer science. I wasn’t into “video games” or hacking movies like the other guys in highschool. There was that idea, that those profiles chose IT. Friends and relatives saying “but I don’t see you as an IT engineer”, “Why don’t you go for medicine?”, “You could be a university professor because it’s a good balance for mothers for your future family life”.
However, I wanted to be an engineer and I knew the IT sector was a developing field and there would be many job opportunities out there. I chose a computer science engineering university path. I did my graduation internship thesis in Japan. After which, I was recruited by the same company and started my career in Japan. Now, I am starting a new job with a German consulting firm as a Data Scientist.

Implement the change you want to see in the world.

How was your educational/university experience? Do you have any memorable experiences to share?

I studied CS engineering for 5 years in Tunisia. The first 2 years were great. The following 3 years were not great in terms of course content. But I got more time to be active in volunteering work like launching the Computer 4 Everyone project where we collected old computers and fixed them in order to donate them to under-priviliged children in rural areas.

Showing one of the kids the basics of using a desktop computer on one of our projects trips

Where do you work?
What would you do during a typical day at work? What do you enjoy most about your job?

I work at foobar agency GmbH, a Software engineering & consulting firm.
The day will be a mix between planning meetings, technical discussions and programming.
I enjoy working on real data to understand customers behaviours (in ecommerce for example).

What are your plans and aspirations for the future?

I would like to work for a United Nations entity or the ICRC, organizations of the humanitarian sector.

What do you like to do outside of work? What are your passions and hobbies?

I like being outdoors in nature, whether it’s hiking in the mountains or walking by the seaside. Yes, not all techies are introverts and hooked on coffee. I am a herbal tea person and I’d say quite extroverted.

What advice would you give to other young girls and women who plan to pursue a STEM career?

Don’t be intimidated. There is no specific profile you have to fit in. I remember at my first professional experience, I was trying not to look too “girly” and join the cool conversations, but after a while I realized I didn’t need to and was just being me. We are breaking stereotypes.
STEM is an ocean. Just board the ship, you may plan for a destination but then fall in love with another island.