On January 31st, The LebNet San Diego community hosted a talk and a panel on career development in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math).

The event was held at Apollonia Greek Bistro in San Diego and attended by 26 people. Jeanine Akiki, ASIC Design Services Director at IBM/ Globalfoundries, kicked off the evening by walking the audience through her career journey spanning over 30 years.  

[Check the full event gallery here]

Born in Beirut, Akiki left Lebanon after high school to study electrical engineering at Western New England University of Vermont. She joined IBM in 1988 as a design engineer and was recognized with an IBM Division Award for Management Excellence. In 2015, IBM sold its microelectronics business to Globalfoundries where she became Director of ASIC design services. She retired from the semiconductor industry in August 2018 and is now searching for her next passion. She has become involved with LebNet and leading the launch of its internship program. You can find more information about it here.

Following her talk, Akiki welcomed the panelists – Ghina Yamout-Jomaa, PhD, Director of Business Development and Senior Consultant, Alta Environmental; Marie Huff, Software Engineer and Systems Applications Specialist, Sharp Rehabilitation Center; Nathalie Gholmieh, Manager, Data and Integration Services at University of California, San Diego (UCSD); and Shadi Dayeh, PhD, Professor and Principal Investigator, Integrated Electronics and Bio-interfaces Laboratory, UCSD – who discussed career development challenges, lessons learned, and tips on work life integration.  

Jeanine Akiki giving a brief presentation about herself before introducing the panelists. (Images via LebNet)

25 percent of U.S. companies host peer-mentoring programs

Panelists agreed that mentorship is a strategic tool that can attract and retain high-potential talent and accelerate leadership development and readiness. In fact, 25 percent of U.S. companies now host peer-mentoring programs, which is considered a significant increase from since 2007, when only 4 to 5 percent of U.S. companies reported sponsoring mentorship programs.

Education is a continuous effort

Speakers also focused on the important role of ongoing education, which includes webinars, degree advancement, attending conferences, reading, online tutorials and other skill training programs. Some fields like information technology (IT) require workers to regularly invest in new skills, according to Nathalie Gholmieh, otherwise they will become obsolete. Affinity groups are another mean that can help workers network, give back, learn and share best practices.More women engineers are leaving the engineering profession

At the end of the day, panelists talked about work/life integration in demanding STEM fields and how many women today are not capable of maintaining a healthy balance due to the work/family conflict and occupational commitment. They also spoke about burnout, which is correlated with the inability to find time to juggle between work and family. Marie Huff is working part-time and Gholmieh believes having a supporting partner is crucial.

The LebNet San Diego community is organizing two more events this year so if you’re in that area, feel free to join the following events:

1- Panel on ‘Demystifying Climbing Up the Corporate Ladder’ from Experts in High-Tech and Bio-Tech (Date TBD)

2- Event on Work- Life Integration & Overcoming Barriers for Females in STEM Fields ( (Date TBD)