Thought Leadership

Thought leaders are trusted sources who inspire people with innovative ideas. They are characterised by proven expertise and experience that they are willing to share with the world without compensation being a driving motivation. This is how I aspire to position myself alongside informed opinion leaders. My contributions in the technology and smart cities landscape enabled me to be included by Thinkers360 in the list of Top 50 Global Thought Leaders on Smart Cities in February 2021 together with inspiring leaders from across the globe.

Some my thoughts and contributions

Most popular articles on business, technology and sustainability 2021

Thinkers360 picked out the year’s most popular articles on business, technology and sustainability from Thinkers360 thought leaders. My article "The role of patient-centricity in health care innovation" is featured as one of the year’s most popular articles. Thank you so much! The role of patient-centricity in health care innovation: Despite considerable progress in digital transformation, health care still is a digital dinosaur. The future of health care consists in laying today the foundation for a just, patient-centric and smart health system.

The Reality of Cybercrime: Fact vs. Fiction

Grateful for the opportunity to speak at this year's AIBC Summit with inspiring experts like Steven Walbroehl from Halborn and Digital Strategist Kate Baucherel. With all the excitement technology brings into our lives, we should be mindful about the fact that the rate of cybercrimes has grown exponentially and is consistent with the growth of technology. That's exactly what we discussed during our panel "The Reality of Cybercrime: Fact vs. Fiction". Thanks a lot AIBC Summit and SiGMA - World's Gaming Festival for having us and special thanks to Steven and Kate for an insightful panel discussion!

Being a mentor is a reward in itself

Being a mentor is a reward in itself. This is something I always experience and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to advise and learn from bright entrepreneurs from all over the world, be it through incubators such as SINGA Switzerland, accelerators, hackathons etc. While I feel honoured to be judging for the second year in a row some of many promising startups at MassChallenge Switzerland, I learned something important about myself as a professional. For long time, I've been wondering what makes me different compared to other marketing specialists. Recently, I was called an all-rounder. For me this term means everything and nothing at the same time, hence a reason to be worried! Last year, I've seen Marc Lanz very happy realising that he's a Gig Economy Specialist. I really admire people who can clearly say what their professional purpose is and I try to learn a lot through #networking, but also through #mentoring. This why I say that mentoring is a reward in itself. Today, I finally found out that I'm a Growth Marketer thoroughly and this is what I'm passionate about and also the reason why I enjoy working with #startups and helping them grow!

الطلب المتزايد من الأخصائيين الاجتماعيين في عالم الشركات

شكر خاص لأسماء على كتابتها معي هذا المقال حول الطلب المتزايد من الأخصائيين الاجتماعيين في عالم الشركات

لا يمكن أتمام مهمة سهلة لأصحاب العمل الذين يهتمون بالمهارات الاجتماعية وتتوقع شركة ماكينزي الاستشارية أن المهارات الاجتماعية والعاطفية في المستقبل ستكون مطلوبة. لا يمكن أن يكون التوقيت في عالم الشركات الذي ابتليت به الفضائح والوعي المتزايد بالتحرش في مكان العمل أفضل

Asma Balfaqih Mao

I am speaking at AIBC Europe 16-18 November 2021

Two years after I first attended the AIBC Summit Europe in Malta, I'm honoured to announce that I'll be speaking at this year's summit in November and that I'll be part of the jury team of the highly anticipated The AIBC Awards distinguishing exciting tech projects and personalities for their contributions in challenging the conventional role of technology. The AIBC Summit is the world's premier event for emerging tech and brings together thousands of investors and innovators in Blockchain, Fintech, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Technology, Big Data
and the Internet of Things.

As if the pandemic's negative impact on many businesses wasn't enough, global losses from cybercrime skyrocketed to nearly $1 trillion in 2020 according to several reports. The coronavirus pandemic provided new opportunities for hackers. Unsurprisingly, cybercrime costs are expected to grow by 15 percent per year over the next five years. Consequently, internal demands on risk management and internal control system are growing steadily. However, misconceptions of cybercrime are numerous.

During a panel discussion with several experts from across the globe, I'm excited to discuss facts and fictions on cybercrime and to share my viewpoints. The latters are inspired by my experiences from the IT sector and the health care sector.

More on the summit's agenda: 

Alumni story with Yahya Mohammed Mao | Master EMI class of 2015

This month's newsletter of the Faculté des Sciences Economiques et de Gestion de Strasbourg (FSEG) covers latest news, meetings and exchanges, such as "Rencontre RH - Etudiant(e)s de Master 2". During an hour and a half of exchanges in the presence of many future and young graduates, I had the pleasure to discuss with Muriel Desbrosses, Déborah Schwartz, Sylvie Schneider Maas and Philippe ZECH the situation of the job market and its evolutions, as well as recruiters' expectations and the recruitment process. For the first time, I'm featured in this newsletter with an interview done by Mélanie Amann-Weber and I truly embarked on a journey back in time to my days as a student, from registration day struggling with my basic level of French over my stay in Brighton at the University of Sussex until completing my time at the University of Strasbourg.

More about this interview:

Top 50 Global Thought Leaders on Smart Cities (February 2021)

It's with an indescribable feeling of gratitude, humility and pride that I discovered today that Thinkers360 included me in the list of Top 50 Global Thought Leaders on Smart Cities! Just a couple of months ago I was discussing with Melissa Gianni about the difference between being an influencer and being a thought leader. Never did I imagine that my contributions in the technology and smart cities landscape would be appreciated to an extent that I find myself among inspiring leaders from across the globe such as Irene Lyakovetsky, Kai Grunwitz, Phil Brunkard, Nicolas Babin, Allen Sulgrove, Johannes Drooghaag and many more.

The idea behind smart cities always had an everlasting impact on me. The first time I heard about intelligent cities was at school in Germany where we discussed the aspirations of the city of Freiburg to become a smart and green city. I was inspired by Amit Ray's definition: "A smart city is an intelligent town that provides enormous possibilities for human growth through art, culture, social, architectural, economic, political, environmental, and scientific flowering with the optimal mix of nature, technology, humanity, and arts."

The most dangerous phrase in the language is "we've always done it this way." (European Leadership)

This is exactly the reason why I didn't feel comfortable working in the public sector in the beginning of my career right after graduating from university. With my innovation and progress driven mindset, I got into trouble from the first day on and I've been given to understand that I'm not in a position to make any suggestions, simply because things have gone well for the last years and who am I after all to think I knew better. It was for me a decisive moment in my career that I didn't expect to experience in such an early stage. However, it helped me a lot to understand where I was going to feel most comfortable.

I literally fled from the public sector and found my true vocation in the tech-driven sectors with startups as innovation drivers in an ecosystem that brings together all kinds of actors in the pursuit of pushing ahead the digital transformation of health care, working on future-oriented and environment-friendly smartcity concepts, improving and automating the delivery and use of the financial services sector with fintech, delivering computing services over the Internet with cloud computing and many more!

My passion for mentoring Startups at Masschallenge Switzerland

Mentoring is in my opinion an essential factor in entrepreneurial success because mentors can help entrepreneurs with specific skills and experience that are needed in the early stages of entrepreneurial ventures. I'm very grateful that MassChallenge Switzerland and its team led by Matthew Lashmar provide a platform that fosters not only world-class innovation but also a way of enabling entrepreneurs and mentors to communicate, learn from each other and grow together. I'm also grateful for the chance of mentoring Hi-D Imaging, an innovative ETH Spin-off that aims to transform heart failure into heart success. It's been such a huge pleasure for me to speak with passionate and inspiring founders like Utku Gülan and Özge Karakas. I'm humbled to receive this certificate and would like to express my gratitude to everyone at MassChallenge Switzerland who, despite these difficult months that took away the implictiness of physical meetings, made possible a wonderful MassChallenge Switzerland Program 2020 with amazing startups and founders. I'm looking forward to the next year!

Digital transformation in Health Care

It might sound weird but Switzerland is a digital developing country! In an analysis of the degree of maturity of digitization in health care by Bertelsmann Foundation in 2019, Switzerland came in 14th out of 17 countries examined. In yesterday's Blick article on technological change in the healthcare sector, Professor Andrea Belliger states that there's a lot to catch up on digitally for Switzerland. Challenges occur in the integration of technology in the treatment of patients, data collection, document management etc. However, according to the Swiss eHealth Barometer, 72 percent of citizens surveyed seem to be open towards digital health care.

Generally, technology in healthcare doesn't seem to make anything easier currently, but way more complicated. In one of my articles (, I highlighted the importance of involving patients and considering their needs to make possible to steer healthcare towards a successful, modern and patient-centric future.

As Professor Belliger points out, "patients are absolute experts at being sick. They know their disease history better than anyone else." Hence, let's involve them in digital transformation !

Working from home due to COVID-19

Does location matter when it comes to getting work done? I personally am very picky and need a quite and visually stimulating environment, as well as enabling me to be creative and innovative. This is how I set up my office at home and I actually learned to feel comfortable working from home, also because the pandemic somehow forced me to. I learned to appreciate the numerous advantages digitalisation has brought into our lives in shaping the future of work in a positive way. A year ago, I would have gone on the warpath just by the simple idea of having to work from home.

However, I believe that a well-balanced mixture of working from home and working from an office environment suits me best. Face-to-face interactions still have an unmatched value that virtual meetings cannot replace entirely.

Where are you most productive? Share your thoughts.

Speaking in front of students of the University of Strasbourg

It's such a great pleasure for me to be given the opportunity to give something back to the University of Strasbourg during a virual meeting on February 12 alongside Thomas Amstoutz organised by Réseau Alumni Université de Strasbourg. The University of Strasbourg and the Faculté des Sciences Economiques et de Gestion de Strasbourg (FSEG) are institutions to which I'll always be grateful for providing me with an excellent university education that turned out to be crucial for my career today and surely in the future.

An intresting anecdote that I'll present in detail during the virtual meeting is that after two weeks in Strasbourg, I actually wanted to drop out and felt that my level in French wasn't good enough. The fact that I didn't quit and decided to accept the challenge of learning a new language and culture as something enriching, made me fearless and taught me open-mindedness, as well as cosmopolitanism. Consequently, looking back at my education path, my most beautiful memories definitely revolve around my time in Strasbourg.

The value of education

Education is an expression of hope and an attitude of iron will that sees the light at the end of the tunnel, a better tomorrow and a peaceful future of opportunities. As Nelson Mandela said, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." America and the world are currently celebrating Kamala Harris. Her role as VP is considered the key to eliminating societal inequality. Today, I celebrate these students of the war-torn city of Taiz in my home country Yemen. Despite an ongoing multi-sided conflict since 2014 and a school building resembling rather a ruin, these 700 young students insist on education while we complain about having to wear a mask at school these days.

Speaking at Migration Conference 2020 "Migration and Covid-19. We are all in this together."

 I'm super excited to be speaking at this year's Online Migration Conference "Migration and Covid-19. We are all in this together." co-hosted by Migration Jam with the inspring Amal Jibril and Project Phoenix . We are now witnessing the highest levels of movement on record and I myself am one of 266 million people living outside their country of birth. However and sadly enough, over the last three decades, far-right parties in Europe have tripled their vote share and attitude towards immigration has become increasingly negative. I'm glad that the #Migration Conference makes possible a positive dialogue about migration and I feel honoured to be able to share my personal story and my experience in the EUvsVirus Hackathon as a mentor. With people participating from across the globe and international journalists from BBC, Aljazeera, Financial Times and AFP, the setting of the conference couldn't be better. Thank you Amal Jibril and everyone involved for making this possible!

Visit the website for more details on speakers

What it means to be a Marketing Leader nowadays

The Marketing Management + Strategy Survey 2019 by CoSchedule has had an enormous impact on how I approach my tasks and responsibilities as a Marketing Leader.

"Top marketers are organized. The most organized marketers are 397% more likely to report success" is one of the key findings that I took to heart, as well as "Top marketers document their strategy. Marketers with a documented strategy are 313% more likely to report success". For this reason, I have found for myself a habit to reread and challenge quarterly my marketing strategy, with Sunday afternoon as my favourite day to do so.

The value of a having a Marketing Strategy lies in building and planning a long-term and forward-looking approach to achieve higher sales, awareness, retaining the loyal base of present customers and attracting new customers etc.. However, gaining a competitive advantage is a continous process. As a result, the marketing strategy has to be challenged regularly. Are we still on track? Which campaigns were successful and why? Do we have the right balance between Digital and Traditional Marketing? How is our audience evolving over time? Is our online presence still good enough? These are just a few of many questions that should marketers ask to have an effective marketing strategy.

Racism is still real and we should not underestimate it

Until the age of seven, I didn't even know that there are white and black people. I'll never forget how racism hit me right in the face at the age of seven. It was my first year of school in Germany when one of my schoolmates shared a drink with some of us. When it was my turn to drink from the same bottle, that schoolmate made clear, that I'm not allowed to. Honestly, I didn't want anyway and found it disgusting to drink from the same bottle. What really hurt me was the fact that everyone started looking and laughing at me as if I had a disease or something. Growing up, I started realizing that my skin colour plays a role in the opportunities I get. I also learned that I had to do more, learn more and work more. It's a sad fact but imagine being still asked sometimes "so you have all these skills and you know these languages? Not bad for...I mean well done".

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

— Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Dealing with a crisis - my role as a Mentor at the EUvsVirus Hackathon 2020

There are two ways of dealing with a crisis. Either we wait and hope that others somehow get it fixed or we actively engage in initiatives like the EUvsVirus Hackathon. Despite sleepless nights and a weekend busier than a usual work week, I decided to be part of this Hackathon because the financial crisis in 2008 made me realise how helpless I actually was. Many people and even close friends and family members lost their jobs and found themselves in financial problems. Somehow we managed to overcome the crisis and until today I can only tell what I have heard or read in the news.

This is exactly what I don't want to experience again. I don't want to wait until someone else comes up with solutions and if they come up with solutions I don't want to be sitting around and watching them but I want to contribute actively, I want to help them with my skills and encourage them. The outbreak of COVID-19 forced us to accept social distancing but at the same time it taught us the value of togetherness.

My personal key takeways of 2020

As we reach the end of the year, I would like to share with you my personal key takeways of 2020.

  • I've experienced the outbreak of COVID-19 during my holidays in KSA and I remember that the Milan Malpensa Airport Police laughed at me because I was wearing a mask. If only they knew how hard Europe was going to be hit.
  • COVID is real and so are COVID deniers
  • Yes, we can Home Office and we can EUvsVirus
  • The victory of Biden felt like a huge relief and at the same time I was devastated to see that many people still voted for Trump
  • Racism is real and the #BlackLivesMatter movement showed that equal rights are still not self-evident. See my own experience here
  • While we complain about lockdowns, homeschooling, empty shelves or closed borders, let's take a deep breath and be thankful for living in a peaceful, stable, rightful and privileged environment. Read more of what I'm trying to say
  • Last but not least, you can't imagine how proud I felt when I heard that the COVID vaccine is made in Germany!

I wish you all wonderful holidays and many reasons to be cheerful for in 2021.

The value of University degrees

Degrees are indeed just a piece of paper. A key that enables us to open doors. But what happens behind the door is entirely up to us. Even without a degree, becoming very successful is not impossible. Without a degree we might have rather to knock at the door than getting a bit more easily the key to open it. But the fact that we take that important step to knock at the door allows us to reach goals as high as someone with a degree. But then even with a degree it's still needed to take steps to realize our goals.

In my opinion it's a question of attitude, having the right mindset, a certain level of maturity in the way we act and behave. What are your thoughts?

My thoughts on Marketing

My #fridaythoughts of today are all about marketing. When I'm asked what my profession is, obviously I answer that I'm a marketing professional. "So you do advertising" is what I often hear. Well, that's just a part of the whole story. I consider marketing as an entirety with channels available internally and externally. I like the word Holistic Marketing here. Important for me is:

  • Customer Relationship because we rely on a good relationship with our existing customers, right?
  • Internal Marketing because everyone in a company is there to sell a product or a service and present the company positively to the customer. We want to give the customer the feeling that he is in good hands with us!
  • Integrated Marketing and Branding, because it's important for a company and its employees to speak one language, the company's language. A strong corporate design and branding contribute to this common language.
  • Socially responsible marketing, because sustainability is cucial and we should feel responsible for our planet. Promote this within the company and beyond!
  • Digital Marketing and Engagement Marketing, because customers spend a lot of time on the Internet and are active on Social Media.

Follow me on Social Media!

LinkedIn @yahyamohamedmao

Twitter @YIbnM

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