DUBAI: Aalya Albeeshi, a speech and hearing sciences graduate of King Saud University, is on a mission to help people with auditory disabilities express themselves through technological innovation — a contribution she may not have made were it not for the Qimam Fellowship.
Now in its fourth year, the highly sought-after scheme selects just 50 students through a rigorous evaluation process from an annual pool of more than 15,000 applicants to participate in an intensive 12-day program.
Fellows are offered one-on-one mentorship from senior public- and private-sector leaders, leadership training by industry experts and professionals, and visits to the Saudi offices of top national and international companies.
Founded by McKinsey & Company and Dr. Annas Abedin, a McKinsey alumnus and entrepreneur, the scheme is designed to help talented undergraduates and postgraduates in Saudi Arabia fulfil their potential.
Born and raised in Riyadh, 22-year-old Albeeshi discovered the Qimam Fellowship in her final year of university in 2019. Although she had already learnt a lot from her course, the fellowship provided real-world applications for her studies and a clear career path.
“I had heard about the program and I knew they offered many things, like mentorship and company visits,” Albeeshi told Arab News. “At that point, I really liked what I was doing but I wanted to see if there was a way I could do more.
“I was thinking of options beyond graduation and to find out about more opportunities for me out there, so I thought it was a really good opportunity for me to learn more.”
The experience proved transformative. “One of the key takeaways was being a part of the community, and the fellows I connected with,” she said. “You have people from all over the country studying very different things and people studying abroad who came for the program, with very unique skill sets.”
Since its inception in 2018, the fellowship program has seen tremendous growth, receiving 13,000 applicants in its first year and 18,000 in 2019. Fellows are selected based on their academic achievements, levels of initiative shown outside the classroom, and their efforts or ideas related to social responsibility.
To date, the Qimam Fellowship has inducted 150 fellows — 55 percent of them women — from many different backgrounds, including business, medicine, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Its graduates originate from more than 30 universities across the Kingdom, and many others from abroad. Selected candidates gain exclusive membership to the Qimam Alumni Network and attend a high-profile awards ceremony on completion of the program.
“Given the vast pool of intellectually curious, emerging talent in Saudi Arabia, the country’s youth have immense potential to have a direct impact on the transformations underway,” said Abdullah Saidan, an associate partner at McKinsey Middle East, promoting the scheme.
“Strategic initiatives like the Qimam Fellowship have highlighted the many reasons the nation should be optimistic for its future, as the program has gone from strength to strength. Nurturing young talent in the Kingdom is an obligation we take to heart.”
Successful applicants are provided with in-person leadership training by executives and accomplished professionals from leading companies, as well as workshops on how to build a successful career in the area of their choice.
They also take part in one-on-one sessions with leading executives to receive…