Profiles of the Diaspora: Selma Turki


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There are approximately 20 million citizens of the Middle East and North Africa region living abroad. For their countries of origin and the region as a whole, they represent a potential goldmine of knowledge, skills and business networks that remain largely untapped. A new World Bank report Mobilizing the Middle East and North Africa Diaspora for Economic Integration and Entrepreneurship makes the case for regional governments to partner with their diaspora as they can be a source of much more than remittances alone. This blog series aims to introduce readers to individual members of the diaspora, to put a human face on the vast potential they represent. 
Selma Turki
“I firmly believe in Tunisia and in her human potential.”

Born in Tunisia, Selma Turki left her native country for France when she was two. She returned to Tunisia for high school and to pass her Baccalaureate. She studied architecture for two years at the Paris Ecole des Beaux Arts before moving to Canada to pursue her studies in computer science. She also accomplished leadership and management education at Henley Business School (UK) and Berkeley (US).
After completing her studies, she stayed on in Canada and went to work for IBM. After only three years and already on a management track, IBM transferred her to Belgium where she was asked to help expand the IBM footprint in the Service management arena. Between 2000 and 2009 Selma took several World-Wide as well European business and leadership positions driving services and or alliances for IBM.
In 2009, when IBM shifted its focus on growth markets, based upon her skills and background, she was asked to also shift her focus to regional growth markets developing in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) service offerings for IBM Global Technology Services (GTS). She led a team that developed, enabled and deployed key focused offerings and assets. Most recently, and after the ‘Arab Spring’, Turki was assigned to head the IBM IT Services Business unit for the North West Africa region where she also helped build a strong business case for the setup and deployment of regional services in business continuity and resiliency. By accepting that challenge, she helped open the doors for IBM as a key vendor for the deployment of asset based offerings and solutions. One of her missions was to build and manage a multidisciplinary and multicultural team of IT sales and consulting professionals to support an IBM presence in such key areas as cloud computing, data security and mobility and datacentre and IT service management and also to help develop a strong ecosystem in the services arena. In this context, she was instrumental in helping IBM win several major tenders for key global and regional clients. She has attended a number of global events and conferences as a guest and keynote speaker.
Turki has participated in numerous seminars and conferences in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco on technology transfer, the development of the cloud computing ecosystem, security issues for Africa and the critical aspects of datacentre resiliency. Beyond her professional commitment as an interdisciplinary team leader, Turki is the cultural diversity leader for the Benelux region. For four years consecutively, she has been successful in developing activities within IBM as well as sponsoring non-profit organizations supporting youth education and mentoring. She is a volunteer coach for young professionals of diverse cultural backgrounds both within and outside her organization. In addition, Turki volunteers time to work on computer literacy with recent immigrants as a member of the IBM on-demand community, Global Initiative.
Selma Turki strongly believes in Tunisia and in the country’s human potential in the IT sector in general where she believes Tunisia could become a major actor not only in Africa but also potentially in the Mediterranean Basin as well.

Join the Conversation

Batshur Gootiiz
April 10, 2017

This is a great article! I do believe diaspora can support the prosperity of the developing countries. In fact they are large resources to tap in for investments, knowledge transfer and technical skills. But for many developing countries, it is true that governments have not yet utilized their diaspora resources fully! Is the World Bank helping governments to set up a good partnership model or policy? Examples would be great!

M. Malouche
April 11, 2017

Thank you for your valuable feedback. Yes, the World Bank does engage with governments, often at their request and for specific and varied actions such as setting up a diaspora bond in selected African countries, an angel investors platform for the Caribbean countries, a research exchange program in Poland, a funding mechanism for early seed finance in Morocco, etc. In MENA, the World Bank will initiate a dialogue with interested governments to see how to better mobilize their diaspora.