Women in Sustainability series: Meet Salma El Dafrawy

Salma El Dafrawy is a governance and communications specialist based in Egypt. On the governance side, she manages the delivery of Vodafone Foundation’s work in Egypt, ensuring that the charitable funds invested provide maximum impact to beneficiaries. From a communications perspective, her role involves spreading the word about the programmes the Foundation invests in, to ensure they are reaching as many beneficiaries as possible and creating an ecosystem that enables Vodafone volunteers to give back to the community.

She is also Country Programme Manager for Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network Schools programme in Egypt, which is delivered in partnership with UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, to connect 500,000 refugee students and host communities to a quality digital education.

I'm motivated by empowering the communities around me

I've always been passionate about social development and creating shared value for the communities around me. After studying International Relations at Trinity College, Connecticut, I wanted to return to Egypt to work in an organisation that empowers communities while creating a more sustainable future. My role is all about creating a more equal society through Vodafone Foundation’s projects. We do this by giving more people access to quality education and giving communities the tools they need to be more sustainable.

Sustainability is no longer a choice – it's a necessity

My career has taught me that there’s no “one-size-fits-all" definition for sustainability; in today’s interconnected world, it touches so many different areas.

Over the past few years, sustainability has gone from being a competitive advantage to being a pivotal factor in any organisation’s future. And that encompasses so many things, from their impact on the planet to their finances and the way they treat their people.

My job has changed my perspective on the world

My role has given me the tools to take a new perspective on the world. At Vodafone, I've learned the value of giving back to the community by focusing on scalability through technology, rather than on-the-spot impact.

It's all about using digital solutions to create sustainable models that have a longer-term impact and achieve bigger results.

Stay confident, trust yourself and adapt to your surroundings

One of the biggest career challenges I’ve faced is starting a new job during a pandemic. It was difficult to get to grips with a new organisation without meeting colleagues in person. I’d advise others in a similar situation to make an extra effort to build relationships and adapt to the workplace they’re in, no matter what the circumstances are - because the world of work is constantly changing.

I took on leadership responsibilities at a young age through the Instant Network Schools programme. It was a fantastic opportunity – but it was also incredibly challenging. My advice to others managing big roles at a young age is to trust themselves and be confident. Never say “no” to a role because it intimidates you.

Success is meeting yourself where you are

I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, because they made me realise that success is not defined by reaching the top of the ladder; it’s about having a purposeful journey that allows me to touch the lives of others.

By continuing to learn, develop and grow, you are already walking the path that’s right for you. So, my top piece of advice is this: walking your own path means you are already successful - so keep walking!

Salma El Dafrawy about women in sustainability.