Canadian – Lebanese, raised in Saudi Arabia, Tatiana Gholmie is an engineer turned micro-influencer.
She started out on Instagram whilst feeling uninspired in her daily working life, and followed up by blogging about fashion, beauty and travel, after feeling that the world of engineering lacked any style or creativity. Being a proud engineer, after following in her father’s footsteps, her blog reveals her multifaceted personality as a fashionista, adventurer and travel junkie.
Living and working in Beirut, Tatiana speaks to AboutHer.com and shares her story and strategies for success; from where she attained her degree, moving from Saudi to London, working in a male dominated industry and how it influenced her to use her own creativity and proves that nothing can stop her from achieving her goals. Hoping to one day become a prominent advocate of female empowerment, her life’s motto is “you make your own luck in life”, and Tatiana explains how…
Tell us about yourself. Who is Tatiana Gholmie? What should people know?
I have always strived to do my best, ever since I was a child. My aim, back then, was to obtain a high level of education at the most reputable institutions for engineering. As well as managing to do that, I was able to work and succeed in an industry that is male oriented and dominated. I graduated from McGill University with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and then did my masters at Imperial College London; I then worked for one of the biggest engineering firm in the MENA region. I am a proud civil engineer, a girl who followed her fathers' footsteps, a man considered a titan of the industry. However, civil engineering lacked the artistic and creative touch that I've always treasured in me. Moreover, it lacked style and fashion, two of my greatest passions in life. This has led me to starting my personal blog, which portrays my unique characteristics from travel and lifestyle, as well as my engineering tendencies. I hope to one day to be as successful in blogging as I have been as an engineer.
What was growing up in Saudi Arabia like for you as a female?
Growing up in Saudi Arabia was not easy for me as a woman. As you may know, Saudi Arabia is a country where women do not have the same rights they may have elsewhere. Fortunately for me, my parents enrolled me in an international school, where I managed to break the boundaries and cultural barriers and have made cherished friendships over the years with individuals of different and diverse backgrounds. These friends I hold close to my heart and I think of them as family. It is great having family members from countries all over the world and I was lucky enough to be able to do so. Saudi Arabia is in a way my home; it still and will always have a special place in my heart.
You studied in London and pursued a career in engineering; did you experience any sort of culture shock when you moved from Saudi Arabia to London?
Saudi Arabia was a unique experience that I was lucky to take part of; and if I had to go back in time, I would not replace it. I lived in Canada for four years before moving to London and I did not experience any cultural shock in either environment. On the contrary, the social barriers were easier to break in a western environment and as a social and active person, I managed to do so more freely there. I was also lucky to expand on my social background and managed to enlarge my multi and cross-continental family.
Saudi Arabia has been going through some major changes lately, especially when it comes to women's rights and gender equality. What are you hoping to see for the future of Saudi women?
Saudi Arabia has vastly improved and moved forward with regards to gender equality. In fact, Riyadh, the country's capital held Saudi Arabia's first event fashion week earlier on this year. Many social woman influencers have started coming out from Saudi Arabia and that marks a foundation being built for further progress in the future. I do not expect anything from Saudi Arabia as I believe each country has its own set of rules, customs and traditions. However, the way I see it, the country is heading towards further change and I aim to become one of its first foreign woman influencers.
Engineering can be quite a male dominated industry, how do you assert yourself and make yourself heard in an environment like that?
There is a motto that I cherish and that I try to live by which is: "You make your own luck in life". Life will come at us with all sorts of difficulties and obstacles but it is up to us to work hard to overcome them and that is basically what I did in the engineering industry. I worked hard and relied on my talents and educational background and I managed to assert myself and make my presence noticed in the job that I occupied at the firm that I worked for.
What made you turn to blogging and using social media as a platform to share your lifestyle?
I have always had a sense for blogging. I am a social person, one that has lived in various countries throughout the years, I have a real passion for style and I have always been thought of as a creative individual. I believe that I can offer advice on topics such as fashion, travel, lifestyle, sports and even careers; advice that I would have loved to receive at a certain point during my life. I also believe that I can target a broad range of audience and would enjoy doing so as that is the main reason behind me blogging.
What do you love most about blogging and do you envision it being a permanent career move for you?
I love and enjoy being able to offer advice and help people out, especially young women that are at a crossroad in their lives. I am very grateful for all the opportunities and vast journey that I have gone through over the years and would like to share them, along with new ones, with people from all over the world. I do envision coupling blogging with engineering and future degrees and career paths that I might pass through, and making a successful career out of it.
Growing up, who are the women that inspired you and why?
I am surrounded by many women in my close circle that have played a key role in turning me into the person that I am today. But the main person that did so is my mother; she has never left our side and made sure that a balance of education and activities was always a priority in our lives. She wanted us to always be the best at everything or at least aim for the best! I remember coming back home and telling her that I got 17/20 on an exam during my high school tenure, her answer was how many people did better than that. This kept us always going and not just settle for the ordinary. I know it might sound cliché but today my mother still plays a big role in my life. She is my go to person when in trouble or when in need for advice on any topic from fashion to work to other topics- and I must add that I take my sense in fashion from her.
What do you find most challenging about being a social media influencer/blogger and what do you do to keep yourself motivated?
There is vast competition in the industry and many people are trying to become social media influencers. However, I believe that I possess unique characteristics and experiences that set me apart. Another challenge social media influencers face is that sometimes we fall victim of harsh criticism and personal attacks that might be hurtful on some occasions. I keep motivated by engaging in new activities and setting up constant goals and targets for myself. I also try to partake in new challenges and experiences in the sports, travel and lifestyle domains to stay motivated and focused on my media blog.
Being an influencer, it's common that you may come across trolls on social media and some negative feedback, how do you combat that?
It is normal that being a social media influencer might make me liable to trolls and negative attacks on my blog and my posts and that is something that needs to be accepted in order to combat it. The best way to do so is by ignoring these comments and by thinking of them as messages of empowerment. Also, the best way to fight something is to prove it wrong and strip the truth out of it, and that is what I will aim to do in case I become a victim of trolling. I would like to prove these people wrong and show them that my posts and my blog are making a difference for different people and audiences and that one-day it might make a difference for them as well.
How do you use your social media presence to empower other women and is it something you consider when posting?
One of the main reasons I started my blog is to stand for women empowerment and I hope that I can one day become an advocate for that cause. Through my posts, I show that women are able to do all of the things that men are doing, from partaking in adventurous sports such as skiing to having successful careers in the most complicated industries. I consider woman empowerment in many of my posts as I try to show the unique values of women and why they are as important and sometimes more important than men themselves. I try to deliver messages of empowerment by portraying the women that have delivered these messages to me, whether it's family members that I look up to or if it is renowned icons of gender equality and woman empowerment from all over the world.
What empowers you?
The definition of the word empowerment differs from one person to another. As for me, the word is directly linked to how strong and confident I am in my day to day life, how well I control the ups and downs in my life and to how I always try to claim my rights. Empowering yourself is a daily process that changes according to what your next goal in life is and according to what you would like to achieve. I think what mostly empowers me is to always be on top of things, especially with the things that matter to me the most such as my blog.
Lastly, what strategies for success would you share with other women who aspire to start up their own blog and become a social media influencer?
There are many strategies for success that other women could follow to start up their own blog and become a social media influencer. I think the most important one is patience because as we know "Rome wasn't built in a day" and the blog is the same; you need to invest your time in it, whether by picking the mood for your pictures that reflects you the most and mirrors a neat look for your Instagram page, or by thinking about good captions for your pictures that will push people even more to interact with your page and feed. And the second most important thing is to be who you are in every post and not to imitate other influencers out there. We each portray different personalities and that personality needs to be demonstrated in every post. When someone talks about me for example I would like them to think about simplicity. I initially thought that blogging is easy but it definitely isn't; you need to keep up with the trends, with the constant technological updates, and with the social circle. Engage with other people on social media so that people start to know you.