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MENA Career Event

Last November YAAA hosted it’s second MENA Career Event to connect job seekers and employers in the Middle East and North Africa region. There was a diverse range of industries participating: startups & venture capital, financial services, NGOs/public sector and journalism/media. We heard from 4 inspirational speakers who were all either Yale alumni or previous Yale World Fellows: Aahan Bhojan (Founder & CEO,Silkhaus), Lina Najem (Researcher, Barker Langham), William Martin (Investment Professional, Mubadala) and Sally Abi Khalil (MENA Director, Oxfam). Read our speaker bios below:

Aahan Bhojani

Aahan Bhojani is the CEO and Founder of Silkhaus, a proptech startup on a mission to power short-term rentals across Asia. He leads Silkhaus’ diverse team of technologists, operators, and business builders, and has raised seed funding / one of the MENA’s largest seed rounds from leading global venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.

Prior to Silkhaus, Aahan led Product at, an enterprise SaaS travel technology startup based in Boston. His earlier career experiences span management consulting with Bain & Company (Dubai), technology investment banking (M&A) with Barclays (New York), and an advisorship with the UAE Prime Minister’s Office.

Aahan is also deeply passionate about education, and has previously founded an international school based in Dubai. Aahan is an Indian citizen, born and raised in the UAE. He is passionate about the intersection of travel, real estate, and technology, and is excited to leverage his experiences to build a company that disrupts one of the world’s largest asset classes in the emerging markets.

Aahan holds an undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science (Honors) from Yale University, and a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He was born and raised in Dubai, and is a graduate of Dubai International Academy.

Lina Najem

Based in Dubai, Lina Najem is a researcher at Barker Langham, a cultural consultancy specializing in the visioning, strategic planning and development of cultural heritage projects across the globe. She was previously a Middle East and North Africa breaking news correspondent at Reuters, a producer at the Brooklyn-based film and TV production company The Othrs, and a production assistant on several PBS Frontline documentaries. She graduated from Yale University in 2018 with a B.A. in History and holds an M.A. from Columbia University in Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies.

William Martin

William is a Vice President within the Growth & Value Creation unit of Mubadala’s UAE Investments Platform.

Growth & Value Creation contributes towards identifying new sectors, provides a centralized M&A and capital markets advisory practice, driving its monetization and divestment activities and ensuring seamless execution of all major transactions across the UAE Investments Platform. This is implemented whilst developing and cultivating relationships with the broader financial investor community that can stand as Partnership Capital to some of our existing assets or new ventures and transactions.

William has c. 12 years of private equity and investment banking experience across a diverse set of sectors, asset classes and fast-growing economies. William joined Mubadala in 2019 and has been involved in the screening and execution of investment and monetisation opportunities in Healthcare, Real Estate and Technology. Prior to joining Mubadala, William worked for Amanat Holdings (a DFM-listed Healthcare and Education investment company), Delta Partners Capital (a TMT-sector focused growth capital investor) and HSBC in the MENA M&A group.

William holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in New Haven, USA.

Sally Abi Khalil

Sally Abi Khalil is a humanitarian and development practitioner with twenty years of experience in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria. She is currently Middle East and North Africa Director of Oxfam International and has served as chair of the Lebanon Humanitarian INGO Forum. As the first Lebanese woman to run a major international NGO within the Syria Response in Lebanon, she has led humanitarian response programming, programs supporting youth and women with social innovation and social entrepreneurship initiatives, promoted the right to decent work, worked for the establishment of civil society networks, and promoted feminist approaches towards leadership and collective action.

Sally’s career has followed the trajectory of civil unrest in the Arab region where she played various roles in shaping civil society development and organizational leadership. She began her career at UNDP in Lebanon and went on to co-direct the Tharwa Project, an independent initiative launched in Syria to foster new avenues for communication and activism in the Arab region. Following the Cedar Revolution of 2005, Sally joined the National Democracy Institute (NDI), where she managed Citizen Lebanon, a nation-wide civic education and advocacy program. During the Arab Spring she worked on the Maghreb Youth Political Party Leadership Program in Tunisia and in the region and then went on to lead NDI’s Syria country program focusing on youth political leadership development and political party development.

Sally is a Chevening Scholar and holds a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics, and a Master’s degree in Political Science from the American University in Beirut. She was a Yale World Fellow in 2020

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