Gabriel Garcia Leyva

Bursting the Saadiyat Bubble: Networking and Mentorship in the UAE

By Youssef Azzam

Gabriel Garcia Leyva from the Class of 2020 graduated with a degree in Computer Science. Setting a clear goal early on, in addition to understanding the value of networking and mentorship, gave him access to the professional community in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and now globally. Leyva co-led NYUAD's Mentorship Program and is now a Business Analyst at Accenture Ventures.

Understanding early on that he wanted to stay in the UAE, Gabriel Garcia Leyva started getting involved with the wider community in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. "Ever since I came to NYUAD, I have seen the UAE as a place that is very welcoming for non-nationals where you can really get your career off the ground.” Gabriel Garcia Leyva described the UAE market as “a rapidly developing, yet structured market, so you have a lot of opportunities to do things in different ways.” 

With that in mind, Gabriel Garcia Leyva made sure to take advantage of the services NYUAD has to offer. He helped launch and co-led NYUAD Mentorship program with the support of the Women’s Mentoring Program and the Career Development Center (CDC). The program gave him exposure to the professional community in the UAE. "It put me out there forcing me to engage with people that were much more senior than me, and so, I had to act professional, look professional, and just do a lot of things that I wasn't necessarily ready for.

I have seen the UAE as a place that is very welcoming for non-nationals where you can really get your career off the ground.

Gabriel Garcia Leyva, Class of 2020


Through the program, Garcia Leyva was able to get advice from people who have been through several experiences similar to what he was going through in college and eventually in the workplace. “I understood that it was never actually about getting the job, it's about building relationships, how you relate to their experiences and understanding what your strengths are." 

Upon graduation, Garcia Leyva landed a job as a Business Analyst at Accenture Ventures. He now has access to people not only in the UAE but also the US and Europe. "If you develop a relationship with your managers, that network opens up to you and develops into referrals. I'm very keen on mentorship and I think that in a place like the UAE I would be able to get very good mentorship at a very early stage of my career."

If there's one thing he feels grateful to have done during his time at NYUAD, it would be getting out and experiencing the rest of the UAE. "Get to know the city more, physically leave campus whenever you can, and reach out to as many people as you can. You will be here for four years so get to know the UAE, try to interact with the people that live in the UAE and understand the different reasons that brought them to where they are today. Bottom line, don't forget to have fun."