In this latest series of articles, we are publishing interviews of women who are working as a professional or a student in the technology sector. The objective is to highlight their work and contribution to the industry as well as to the community.
In these interviews, you will find women working in technology to solve real-world problems, to break stereotypes and to create the next big impact on the tech industry. This series of interviews shows that even with the lowest rate of women participation in the labor market in Pakistan, there are still lots of smart women who are creating and using technology to work wonders.
Today, we are featuring Asra Nadeem. Read on to know more about her work and get inspired.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your education, and your work.
Hi, my name is Asra Nadeem and I currently work at Venture Capital. A huge part of my job is to figure out how we can build strategic relations internationally to promote entrepreneurship and early-stage investments. I studied economics in college and then I dropped out of business school to study film, TV, theatre. Later, I figured out it doesn’t make much money and I started working at a start-up. I worked in various roles in product management, business development, and channel management. What I love the most is figuring out talking to customers, figuring out where the problem areas are, and then building technologies to solve that.
Please brag about your accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
I’ve done a lot of different things in my career but one thing that I am extremely proud of is the fact that I’ve taken a lot of leap of faith. Every single time I’ve tried something that was outside my comfort zone but it felt right and even though I knew nothing about how to do it. I’ve just always stepped up and said to my self, I can do it. I knew nothing about product management but I knew that the product we were building was not what the customers wanted and I figured out how to build a better product. I didn’t know how to sell anything but I went out and heard what the customers were saying and through that process, I learn how to sell to customers. I have no idea about venture capital when I started but I have learned about value chains, predicting the future, and investing capital to maximize returns for both our limited partners and myself. So I think the fact that I’ve always done what felt right and never let the fact that I don’t know how to do it stop me. This is something that I’m extremely proud of.
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
I think my best education decision was dropping out of what I was doing at business school and finding a job at a start-up because anything that you learned in college is obsolete by the time you’re done. So I think the best way to learn anything is to really learn by doing and it is a socratic model of learning that I really really believe in. Setting a lot of my educational decisions have always been based on that. I did not follow very traditional education path I think a lot of that has to do with just learning by doing so that’s what I’m. That’s some of my best education decision then career decision follow the same path.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
The best lesson I’ve learned is that just because you don’t know something doesn’t mean that you’re not the right person for it. There are not a lot of people in the world that can acquire new skills and learn how to learn. So I think the biggest skill I have or the biggest accomplishment that I have is something that I’ve learned is how to learn and how to then utilize that in whatever career or life choices that I’ve made. I think that’s one of the best lessons I’ve learned is that you have to always be ready to learn something new, not to be scared of it and that’s okay if you feel like. There is no way that you’re going to be successful at anything and just being comfortable with failing but also learning from it and iterating and getting better at it; that’s been a major lesson for me.
Which woman inspires you and why?
There are so many women who inspire me. My grandmother because she raised four kids on her own and never took a penny from anyone. My mother because she fought for every single move for my freedom of education of choice.
I love Ayesha who has been amazing friend and she inspired like she left everything that she knew for a vague idea of what she believed in and has followed her passion. So there’s a lot of women, artists women who create movies, women who write, I think they’re all inspirations to me at different points in my life.
Do you think Pakistan has changed as a society, in terms of accepting career-oriented women? What needs to change to help more women come forward?
I would like to think that Pakistan has changed but then every time I look at Instagram comments or talk to female entrepreneurs I see that nothing has changed and that just saddens me so much and I think it’s extremely hard to be an entrepreneur. It’s extremely hard to get out of your house every single day and group work environment that’s very conducive. That’s not very productive and it’s hard for you to scale where sexual harassment is extremely common, emotional abuse is extremely common and women are not given enough leadership opportunities so I think Pakistan has not changed much but one of the things that I think and that’s kind of leads to the next question.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
I think the challenge is taking over leadership responsibilities and just going out to your manager and saying you know what I can do it and it’s sad that you would have to work twice as hard as anybody else but you can do it just take over more leadership responsibilities and get out of this mindset of the firm that you need help or you don’t know something you have all the resources. Internet is a great resource you can learn anything. I think getting over that challenge is not extremely easy but it’s not impossible either. So I believe the biggest challenge is the lack of leadership opportunities available and the way to go about it is just taking it over.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
I think one of the things that I would change about the tech industry or the business as a whole is again give more leadership opportunities to women, give them the opportunity to fail just like we give that opportunity to our men, invest in more technical businesses being built by women because they solve a lot of problems for women which is a huge target demographic and put capital behind women, be that leadership training, venture capital, or resource training. I think if we put capital behind training women for all these different roles we’re going to be a lot better.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
I think one of the things that you guys are doing great is highlighting accomplishments and voices of women in technology. If you keep doing that there will be a lot more opportunities you will create in the market.
You can follow Asra Nadeem using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.