Awaisha Inayat

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 Awaisha Inayat. Read on to know more about her work and get inspired.

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1. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your education, and your work.

I am Awaisha Inayat, a psychology graduate from the University of Karachi. After passing out in 2015, I got involved with 02 leading schools of Karachi as their student counsellor where I also looked after their policy making and implementation. It gives me great pride to say that the successful inculcation and implementation of ‘Anti-Corporal Punishment’ is probably the star highlight that I achieved so early in my career. I have also served as visiting faculty at UoK, IU and IoBM. I then ventured into the field of Human Resources where I acquired a diverse experience working in business development, KPI management, talent acquisition, communication etc. I also got a chance to become the first female Manager of Men’s Cricket Team during the first edition of KPL. That to me, is probably the proudest I’ve felt in my entire career.

While I was working, I decided to pursue an M.Phil degree with a focus on Cognitive Behavior Therapy. I have also received certifications from Beck Institute, Philadelphia for CBT in anxiety, depression and personality disorders. I have recently founded an online platform ‘Rahnuma’, with the sole-purpose of providing online counselling, therapy, coaching and mentoring so that mental health support is made more accessible and pocket-friendly.

And when I find some time away from all of this, I like to sit with a cup of chai/coffee in my hand and read some good old fiction and play with my cat.

2. What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact will it have on the community/society/your team/your project?

As far as future plans go, my head is always buzzing with ideas on how to improve quality of life in terms of mental health. Realistically speaking, I believe counselling and therapy have the potential to transform our society only if approached with an open mind. Currently, I feel there are so many unwarranted stigmas attached to therapy that they make it almost impossible to navigate. In fact, it is not so much about lack of quality mental support available, but more about the inability to access it due to preconceived societal notions.

This is one of the primary reasons I launched Rahnuma – a digital platform providing online counselling, therapy and mentoring services so that anyone can access it anywhere without having to deal with the inevitable societal expectations. ‘Rahnuma’ is my attempt at de-stigmatizing mental health as well as making it accessible for every single individual out there. Through it, I hope to build a sustainable approach towards mental health in all facets of society; be it in academia, at workplaces or the community at large.

3. Please brag about your career accomplishments. What are the things you are really proud of?

  • I have two published papers in HEC recognized journals of Pakistan on the topics of portrayed mental disability in media / literature and curiosity and explanation in teenagers and young adults.
  • I have worked on the development and implementation of ‘Anti-Corporal Punishment Policy’ in schools.
  • I have been the first female team manager in men’s cricket ever for ‘Bagh Stallions’ in Kashmir Premier League.
  • I have presented a paper on ‘Efficacy of Internet Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Managing Post-Marital Anxiety’ at a conference by USAID on women’s mental health in Pakistan. It was based on my first successful test case through Rahnuma

4. What has been your best education/career decision, and why?

I can say without a shred of doubt that choosing psychology as a field of study has been the best decision of my life. It has allowed me to work with a hands-on approach and interact with people on a daily basis which suits the kind of person I am.

For the last 6 years, my work has mainly been about negotiating tough decisions, managing relationships, taking stock of employee satisfaction, seeking out underlying problems and taking rigorous follow-ups on them. And my background in psychology has helped make it all easy every time.

From a purely psychological perspective, being certified as a Cognitive Behavior Therapist from Beck Institute has turned out to be quite fruitful. It not only trained me in the art of empowering my clients but has given me a broader expertise in the ‘techniques’ of coping with mental health problems. The training I received in anxiety management, depression and personality disorders with a global community has expanded my horizons and given me a chance to be groomed under the watch of leading mental health practitioners in the world to value compassion, persistence, and patience in working towards change.

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5. What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?

‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way’ – especially when you think there isn’t and you’ve lost hope.

6. Which woman inspires you and why?

My late mother. She continued to live in truth and never let fear dictate her future. She would always find peace within herself and used to preach that “God’s got your back”. She was a living example of courage and bravery and was a guiding light to so many people in her life. It’s her legacy that I want to live by and take forward. She was an epitome of creativity, an avid-reader and a selfless person who always stood for her principles.

7. 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?

Being a keen observer of changing societies, I do believe that a consistent number of women have been successfully making waves in the professional sector and society has reluctantly given way in some form or another. However, a lot still needs to change and a lot still needs to be done in order to bring about that change. In order for women to fully enjoy being career-oriented and not be made to feel guilty for it, all of society needs to come together for their economic and social development. There are several areas that need attention: rampant violence against women in the country, role of family in providing education and financial independence, role of corporate in providing equal opportunity employment, strict laws against sexual harassment etc.

8. What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

Work-life balance: Already women are paying a much higher price than men for their participation in a work culture that is fueled by stress, sleep deprivation and burnout. Add this to the stress that comes along with looking after family, child-bearing and parenting. This is the fundamental reason behind so many talented women, with impressive degrees working in high-powered jobs, end up abandoning their careers when they can afford to.

9. If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?

I believe it cannot be stressed enough but inclusion of women and women representation in the tech business in Pakistan is extremely vital and will prove to be a game changer. The sooner we are able to curb the gap between growth opportunities for men and women and address the lack of female role models/ mentors in the industry, the sooner we would see the tech world really take flight in its truest sense.

10. How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?

It is definitely a platform that provides women in the tech industry, a chance to build their career with a supportive network in Pakistan. This platform has massive potential in educating women about the challenges they may face in industry and help them be prepared.

You can follow Awaisha Inayat using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.

Rahnuma’s Web: www.rahnumapak.com

Rahnuma’s Facebook: facebook.com/rahnumapak

Rahnuma’s Instagram: instagram.com/rahnumapak

Awaisha’s Instagram: instagram.com/awaisha.inayat

Awaisha’s Twitter: twitter.com/rahnumapak

Awaisha’s Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/awaishainayat/