In these difficult times, this year’s honorees inspire us with their accomplishments and remind us of the great potential of the Lebanese people.
To honor some of these successes and recap the year 2021, LebNet virtually hosted its annual holiday on December 15th where it announced the winners of LebNet’s third Bireme award for the following categories: Executive of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Technologist of the Year and Philanthropists of the Year.
The event also featured the amazing story of Naji and Jill Boutros, the owners of Chateau Belle-Vue winery in Bhamdoun, Lebanon. Being the proud Lebanese that he is, Naji Boutros came back to his beloved home country and hometown with his wife Jill to achieve his dream of buying back Bhamdoun’s lands and restoring the wine-making heritage of the region. Through this effort, the couple has also endeavored to preserve Bhamdoun’s pristine nature. Watch them in the video below tell their inspiring story, from how they met to leaving a job in Europe and moving to Lebanon to start over. Naji and Jill have built one of the most successful, internationally renowned wineries in Lebanon.
The second part of the event was dedicated to the Bireme award ceremony. Below are the winners from each category and some inspiring parts from their speech. You can listen to their entire acceptance speech in the video below.
Executive of the Year: Rola Dagher, Global Channel Chief at Dell Technologies
This award recognizes a Tech executive with leadership skills in mid to large size companies who delivered benefits to shareholders and had a positive impact on company culture. This year’s winner, Rola Dagher, exemplifies these characteristics and went on to give a powerful acceptance speech. The following is an excerpt from her remarks: “ No one achieves success and greatness on their own. I am as good as my family, my community and my team. No matter how big your title is or what you chase in life, what I’ve learned in the last 14 months of my illness (dealing with long COVID) is that no one will remember you by your car, house, or bank account, but everyone will remember you by your kindness and how you make them feel or inspire them.”
Technologist of the Year: Shadi Dayeh, Professor at University of California San Diego PI of the Integrated Electronics and Biointerfaces Lab
This award recognizes exceptional technical accomplishments with tangible impact on the advancement of technology/science. Professor Dayeh is well deserving of this honor with his work on improving epilepsy treatment. Professor Dayeh graced us with a touching poem that he had written before leaving Lebanon to go to the United States to pursue his masters and PhD. He also added, “We [the Lebanese diaspora] are a community that is defined by grit, our accomplishments are not shaped by our circumstances and we push ourselves beyond the limitations of our fear or ability in order to deliver.”
Entrepreneur of the Year: Karim Atiyeh, Co-Founder, CTO at Ramp
This award recognizes an entrepreneur who is a part of the leadership team of a startup, reaching a major milestone (post series A) that puts the company on the radar screen of the US investor community. Karim Atiyeh as the co-founder of one of New York City’s fastest growing startups, valued at $ 3.9B was most deserving of this award. Karim remarked on the power of the diaspora in the US in his acceptance speech, “It’s very nice to know that almost wherever you are in the US, there’s always a successful Lebanese person who left Lebanon when they were younger and shaped the terrain to help all of us succeed and I hope I'd be able to do the same thing for the next generation.”
Philanthropists of the Year: Yalda Aoukar, Roy Baladi, and Neal ElJor Taouk, Co-Founders Jobs for Lebanon
This award recognizes individuals who are active in service to Lebanon either through their efforts or donations. This year, we are excited to award this honor to three co-founders of Jobs for Lebanon who have built an amazing job platform to connect those in Lebanon with opportunities across the world. Roy credited this award to the entire team, “We have 40 volunteers. They stuck around for a year and a half to create jobs for Lebanese, it’s heartwarming. This award is for them. Today, we have 60,000 expats from 188 countries from New Zealand to Canada who have logged on to the site and created 3500 jobs in all industries. We have 100,000 Lebanese who logged on to the site, 15,000 who applied and 350 have landed jobs. Right now, one person a day on average is landing a job.”
In her remarks, Neal reminded us of the power of collective effort. “When entire communities come together to bring a sustainable solution to what seems to be an impossible problem, that’s considered a movement. We all love our country and very deep down we do believe there’s something we can do to change the course of its destiny. This victory won’t be led by a single individual, there won’t be one single hero.”
It was truly an honor to count all of these amazing individuals as members of the Lebanese diaspora. You give us great hope that with you as her children, Lebanon’s light will soon shine bright again.