#HERpower with Sherene from Exalate

#HERpower with Sherene from Exalate

Over the next few weeks and months, we’re proud to be celebrating some of the incredible women who make up an integral part of Exalate with our Women in Tech series.

Today, we’re championing our very own certified office queen, none other than Sherene.

Her journey, both personally and professionally, starts in Lebanon and lands us in Belgium.

She’s as inspiring as she is switched on, so take a look!


Beginning her journey in the diamond industry, Sherene El-Binni, of Lebanese, Canadian, and Belgian origin, transitioned into tech, initially serving as an Office Manager at Exalate before advancing to the role of HR People Partner. 

Now, she merges her expertise with innovation in tech, all while indulging her passion for cooking and travel.

The Conversation

Question: Can you please introduce yourself and your role at Exalate?

Sherene: My name is Sherene, and I oversee all aspects of office management at Exalate. This includes taking care of employee needs and office-related issues, handling purchases such as office supplies and food, organizing events, managing travel arrangements, including visa applications, and overall ensuring the smooth functioning of the office. I have a little bit of everything on my plate, and I think it’s very fun and challenging.

Question: Going into the fun and challenging, what do you like most about that entire spectrum of tasks?

Sherene: It’s very versatile. My day never goes as planned—I might have a to-do list, but I’m always ready for surprises.I love to work, problem solving is one of my biggest traits. When I walk into the office and new challenges come flying at me, especially on days when I’m feeling upbeat, it’s invigorating. We all have those days, right?

Usually, I have the sign on my desk that says please DO disturb, so I'm really open to people coming and asking questions and the fun that comes with it. Every day is another day, I'm not a person who likes to have repetitive work.

Question: In all the things that you’ve done here, is there one that sticks out that you are particularly proud of? 

Sherene: The incentive travel to Turkey is the one that sticks out for me because I love planning events. I love the meticulousness and all the little details that come into play. 

I always think about how to make things better and how I can make it fun for everyone. At the end of the day, if I can contribute even more to people being happy and enjoying themselves, then I think my job is done.

Question: Now we’ve been talking about your job. Let’s maybe take a step back and discuss how you got into the job. How did you land your role as office manager at Exalate? 

Sherene: It started when I was very young. I loved to take on all kinds of tasks from a young age. I had to take care of my brother because my mom was sick. So, having responsibilities was very common for me. 

Then I went to school and studied secretarial languages, so anything that had to do with administration and languages was up my alley. Then, from time to time, my family members would ask me, Sherene, can you help us book our flight tickets? Can you help us take care of this, can you read this document? So I was becoming more and more knowledgeable and got more into the admin type of stuff. I did have a passion for cooking, so I tried to go that route, but I went back to admin because I just loved doing it. 

Question: What did you do before Exalate?

Sherene: I worked for 10 years for a diamond company.

Question: So now you’re with Exalate, in the tech industry. Is there any specific challenge that you think,  as a woman in tech, you didn’t have before that just emerged here? 

Sherene: In my first month, I was so surprised by how many tools a person can use and how many tools are out there. In my previous job, we would only use very old-school Microsoft Office. When I arrived at Exalate, I got to know all these tools that can really help, make your job even easier, and allow you to plan more and have everything work efficiently. So at a certain point, I was being submerged in tech. 

I’m quite tech savvy so it was like a door opening for me, and I was like, wow, okay, this is a whole new world, and I’m really excited to see what it has in store. 

Question: Would you say that being tech-savvy is one of your top strengths, or are there other superhero skills that you think make you stand out in your role?

Sherene: Tech savvy is one of them. Like I previously said, I’m a problem solver, so anything you throw at me, I will try to solve it. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s work, if it’s people, or if it’s taking care of someone. I think just having a big heart is one of my top qualities.

I had this thing yesterday where I felt like I'm Mother Teresa; I get so invested in everything, and I give it my all.

Question: You say you have a big heart, and you give it your all. How does that affect your work-life balance? 

Sherene: Sometimes I do have to get reeled back by my husband when I give my all corporately, and then I wouldn’t say that my personal life suffers, but sometimes I lose balance. So it’s difficult, especially being a mother, being a woman in tech, and being someone who puts more pressure on herself than my environment asks. It’s challenging, but I think if you keep in mind what your goals are, you can make it work.

Question: Are there also people that you look to as mentors?

Sherene: My mentor is my mother, of course. She didn’t have all the chances in life, and at a very young age, she got multiple sclerosis. So I tried to grab each and every chance that I had to make her proud. Everything that she couldn’t do, I was trying to make possible for myself, so at least she could enjoy seeing her children thrive in life. When I look into Tech, I think it’s probably very cliche, but I think every woman who’s working in this company is somebody that I look up to. Everyone has a specialty in their field when it comes to a brand or marketing. 

Then again, our CFO Hilde: I think she's a badass woman, she really sets the bar for women in tech, to be honest.

Question: Talking about women in tech, is there anything you’ve seen that could change for the better, to improve diversity and inclusion in our field?

Sherene: Of course, it’s a male-driven world, still to this day, but I think we are making our mark. We’re taking our position in this type of field. To be honest, I don’t think there’s anything else or more that we can do. I think, just be our awesome selves, show them that we have the capabilities and the possibilities and that it’s not gender driven: it’s skill driven. 

Question: Talking about tech, it’s also an industry that moves so fast, it’s this today, and it’s something else tomorrow. So how do you stay motivated to keep up with the changing pace of tech? 

Sherene: I’m not a developer, I’m not into the software itself, so in my position, I’m not struggling that much when it comes to it. But I think if I chose any other job in tech, it could be challenging, but as long as you have the passion and the drive and are willing to open yourself up to learn more, I think it’s perfectly possible.

Being a woman in tech right now it's one of the killer titles you can have.

Question: Bringing it back to Exalate specifically, has this company somewhat changed you?

Sherene: I don’t think I changed, but it’s giving me the chance to be my full self. Before that, in the companies I’ve worked for, I was a version of myself that was reeled back. Here you can unapologetically be who you are, and that’s what I love. Even though I have my quirky personality traits, and I’m super straightforward, there is such an openness where people can be like, Sherene, listen, we’re cool with your openness but sometimes watch it, or they would just accept me with open arms. And that’s what I love: I can just be me.

Question: What if you could be someone else? If you could swap places with one person in Exalate for one day, who would it be and why?

Sherene: For one day, I think I would like to be Francis, just to see how things would be as a CEO, and just like in his head.

Question: Somewhere along the same road, if you could catapult yourself back to the start of your career, what advice would you give yourself?

Sherene: I think I would tell myself to set my boundaries and to be able to listen to myself and my body because I have reached the point where I have crossed my limits and to be honest, it’s not worth it. Work-life balance is important, so I would just tell myself again to be cautious. 

Question: If you could pitch working in tech to someone else, how would you do it? What are your favorite aspects of the industry? 

Sherene: Flexibility. I don’t know if it’s in all tech companies, but the awesomeness of all the weirdos running around, the quirkiness of the people here, the level of innovation. Ideas are being shot at each other here. It’s one open space, and everybody counts. I would say that if you really want to be somewhere where you can be yourself and thrive, go into tech. 

I'm a Melting Pot of the whole world

Question: Exalate is known to have a lot of diverse people on board. What can you tell us about your specific background that you may have brought with you here? 

Sherene: I think that everybody already knows me, but the diversity that I bring is my culture. I’m Lebanese, my bloodline is almost fully Lebanese. I was born in Canada, raised there, and then moved to Belgium. I’m a Melting Pot of the whole world. I don’t really identify as a specific race, because I feel like I’m home everywhere. I think that’s very neat, and it’s a nice mix of Arabic temperament but with a big heart. That’s what really describes who I am.

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