Women in Tech Leadership: Zahra Apert

Gain valuable insights and tips from Zahra Apert, a tech leader at Air Liquide paving the way for a more inclusive future

Women in Tech Leadership: Zahra Apert of Air Liquide


Technology is constantly evolving and shaping our world, and the importance of having strong female leaders cannot be understated. As part of our #MetaWomenInTech initiative, we sought out influential women who are making a significant impact in the industry, and with this in mind, we bring you an exclusive and insightful Women in Tech interview with Zahra Apert. Zahra has held a number of senior leadership roles at Air Liquide, a global leader in over 72 countries, providing gases, technologies, and services for various industries and health. Her roles included:

  • Head of Americas Hub Data & Business Intelligence
  • Business Information Systems in Europe, in charge of Smart Innovative Operations and Optimization Platform for Large Industries
  • Head of Instrumentation and Control Systems & LEAN Change Agent in Engineering and Construction France

Zahra shares her journey and insights, along with the challenges and rewards of her career in technology, and we hope to inspire future generations of Women in Tech who wish to follow.

Meta IT Women in Tech Zahra Apert Air Liquide

Embarking on the Journey as a Woman in Tech Leadership with Zahra Apert 

Zahra, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronics and Electrical Engineering from Azad University, a Master’s Degree in Physics from UBO (Université de Bretagne Occidentale), and a certification in Business Strategy and Corporate Strategy from HEC Paris, credits her education as a major influence on her career path. Emphasizing its importance, she notes: “Your education serves as a stepping stone and facilitator for entering your chosen field. It equips you with a structure, a way of thinking, and the ability to approach problems systematically, which benefits you throughout your professional life.”


Early Challenges and Learning

During her Engineering studies, Zahra was one of only four women in a class of 200, a potentially intimidating experience. However, she persevered and gained valuable lessons from her first internship in the oil and gas industry. This experience instilled in her the importance of continuous learning, curiosity, inventiveness, ambitious thinking, maintaining high standards, and fostering a sense of ownership and customer focus.


Shifting Focus and Bridging the Gap

Zahra’s career took a significant turn when she recognized the need to bridge the gap between business needs and technology solutions: “I transitioned from understanding the business side and the importance of IT systems, to working in IT itself,” she explains. “This role allowed me to leverage my Engineering background to translate business requirements into clear instructions for the IT team, eliminating the need for a separate ‘translator’ role and providing me with valuable learning experiences in bridging the business-technology divide.”


When asked about her rise to leadership, Zahra emphasized four key points:

  1. Overcome indirect discrimination: “A lot of job postings for senior IT Leadership positions require more than 10 years of similar Leadership positions in technology fields. Knowing that less than 1% of women in technical fields are promoted to senior leadership and C-Level positions, it is pretty much impossible for women to access those roles. So, don’t let the job description intimidate you. Apply for those senior leadership positions even if you don’t meet all the requirements.”
  2. Navigate male-dominated environments: Acknowledge the challenges and draw inspiration from studies showing the benefits of diversity, such as increased productivity and innovation. “I later came to the same conclusion as these scientific studies,” she recalls.
  3. Learn the Soft skills: “The higher you go in the Leadership positions, the better you must know how to build trust, how to deliver, how to seek results, and how to persuade people to listen. Learn how to communicate properly and choose your words depending on different situations.”
  4. Learn the Hard skills: “Understanding the financials of the company, how finance works, strategy, both business and corporate, are all elements of Leadership that you must educate yourself on. Seek education according to how you need to enhance your capabilities.”


Zahra’s Advice for Young Women in Tech

Zahra offered valuable advice for those aspiring to leadership roles:

  • Be proactive with your career: “Don’t think that you can just work hard, and someone is going to promote you or give you equal pay as a male peer. Voice your ambitions to your Leadership and to your HR,” she advises.
  • Foster collaboration: “Bring everybody together and make sure everyone works together.”
  • Foster a help network: “Some male colleagues are really open-minded, and they want equal pay for everybody, so they will be able to share their salary with you and you can also ask for equal pay. Also, make sure that, if you get a place at the decision-making table, you foster equality of opportunities in promotions and equality of salary.”


The Importance of Diversity

Backed by studies that prove positive impacts on employees, brand, reputation, employee engagement, and productivity, Zahra implements diversity by integrating individuals from all cultures and backgrounds directly into her team, which creates:

  • Increased collaboration and innovation: “It is giving everybody the opportunity to perform to their fullest, but also having that diversity in place so that everybody can benefit from it.”
  • Better and more efficient problem-solving: “It’s like a puzzle, right? We can put the images that we are seeing together and build the 360 on a project or on any challenge that any organization is facing.”
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction: “Cohesion and the 360-degree view we want.”


Furthermore, growing up in the Middle East, and then moving to Europe, and now living in the Americas, Zahra has had an extensive journey across cultures where she had to learn to adapt. With that, she recommends the book “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer: “It is one of the well-known books on the market with regards to different cultural dimensions that you have to take into account when you start working with a specific culture.”


Balancing Professional and Personal Life as a Woman in Tech

In her journey, Zahra placed a strong emphasis on discipline, especially for those in Leadership positions:

  • Disconnect after work: “Being disciplined in disconnecting is one of the main Ground Rules we have within the team, starting with myself.”
  • Time management: “Knowing how to define if something is a priority or can wait until the next day is important… Time management becomes of utmost importance too.”


Zahra Apert’s Final Message for Women in Tech

“Dare to be an inspiring woman.
Dare to be a “Woman in Tech”.
Dare to be yourself, to be authentic, and to deliver value.
Dare to acknowledge your differences and embrace differences.
Dare to draw your path and know where you want to get to.
Dare to take a chance on yourself, explore the opportunities that you are passionate about, and don’t wait.
Dare to be a change-maker.
Dare to have it all; nothing should stop you.”


Check out more of Meta IT’s interviews with Women in Tech Leadership

Natalie DeFrank at Kraft Heinz

Nyla Beth Gawel at Women in Tech Org


Meta IT’s #MetaWomenInTech Initiative

At Meta IT, we believe in an innovative, inclusive, and diverse future. In 2021, we launched #MetaWomenInTech to empower women on their professional journeys. We’re proud that women make up over 35% of our workforce, significantly exceeding the industry average, and we continually strive to grow this statistic even more.

Women also hold 30% of Leadership positions and make up 50% of the Board of Directors at Meta IT, demonstrating our commitment to fostering an inclusive and diverse Leadership team. At WOMEN IN TECH ®- Global Movement, our CDO, Simone Lettieri, was honored with the Global Leadership category award. This prestigious recognition celebrates her outstanding leadership, transformative initiatives, and global influence, underscoring Meta IT’s significant contributions to digital transformation on a global scale. Simone also won the prestigious third place in the WomenTech Network Awards for Digital Transformation Leader of the Year 2023 and Meta IT was a finalist as the Best Workplace for Women in Tech 2023.

We have organized training sessions featuring both internal and external speakers, and hosted specific webinars, such as Meta Trends, Meta Growth, and Meta Cast, aimed to inspire and encourage female entrepreneurship and career growth opportunities. We also established a dedicated networking platform to facilitate connections and further empower participants.

Since 2022, our Corporate Venture Capital arm, Meta Ventures, has furthered this goal through two editions of The Next Gen: Women in Tech – a startup competition whose goal is to accelerate women entrepreneurship across SaaS and B2B/B2B2C markets. In total, we have invested over US$200,000 in women-led startups.

Join us in making tech more inclusive for women!


Meta IT is a company with over 30 years in the market that opened its operations in North America in 2020. It offers digital transformation consulting and services, implementing technology solutions that accelerate results for large and mid-sized companies globally and supporting organizations and enterprises to rethink and update their business models. The company plans and executes projects that simplify the end-to-end digital transformation journey through strategic consulting, software development, application sustainment, SAP technologies, automation, also known as RPA, staff augmentation, and agile squads.