In this latest series of articles, we are publishing interviews of some incredible women who are part of the tech industry or the broader STEM fields.
In these interviews, you will find women working on solving real-world problems, breaking stereotypes and creating the next big impact on the 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 Hafsa Naseem. Read on to know more about her work and get inspired.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your education, and your work.
I got married at the age of 15 and I didn’t let it end my story nor my goals in life. People take it as a source of wonderment and feel perhaps it was something that would end my existence as an individual but I took it as a part of my life, in this part of the world.
The official journey started in 2009 when I started to develop content for clients and businesses in the UK, and Australia. During the year 2015-2017, the E-commerce industry grew and digitalization took hold in Pakistan. It was the time I realized the only valuable source of communication is written communication.
The increasing impact of digitalization has created a need to get good at written communication skills. As the internet flood with content, I realized that content creation and marketing skills should be imparted. Hence, CareeHer became a product of passion and need. I worked as a full-time writer till 2016. In 2017, I started online training for women to start a freelancing career. In 2018, I extended the training by supporting women in business with content marketing, consultancy, creating opportunities, and mentor them in digital media marketing to scale up their online business and introduced CareerHer.
What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact it will have on the community/society/your team/your project?
When I started this journey, little did I know, 10 years ahead, I would be making ways for women when I felt completely lost. I aspire to support not only women entrepreneurs running their digital businesses but also those stay-at-home women struggling with decision making when it comes to doing something for themselves and being independent. I feel every woman can be independent and confident, just that at times we need someone to hold our hand and take baby steps with us. I want to be that hand, that support that makes them what they always dreamt of. I aim to achieve this with my personal consulting and mentoring sessions for women who need assistance with running their digital business, and group courses that help them kick-start their freelancing career. So in all, CareeHer aims to build skilled and financially independent women who can rise with confidence.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
I am a certified trainer from Torque and have had a chance to speak at some recognized events as a content marketer and freelancing trainer. I am proud of running a Facebook Group which creates valuable content and brings together women from all walks of life to seek professional assistance. The group has been privileged enough to broadcast Facebook LIVE Sessions by Global Mentors like Chantal Gerardy (Award-winning Facebook Strategist from Australia) and Rujoota Lalani from SalesForce (USA).
My greatest achievement comes from seeing those fantastic women accelerate in their career and business who have been a part of CareeHer training.
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
Writing has always been my passion. Till date, I have spent 10 years of my life writing content for businesses globally. The best decision of my life was to stick and be consistent in what I do regardless of the criticism I faced. Extending my freelance career to the making of CareeHer has been the best decision I made so far. This provided me an opportunity to be a source of guidance for women who are confined to their homes for whatsoever ever reason and the remarkable talent they possess go unnoticed or is curbed by society. I feel CareeHer has helped them to learn, grow and equip with the same skillset and confidence that is channeled towards women who go out for work.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
Try and be consistent always pay off, is my mantra. You do not fail UNTIL you give up. Remember there is ALWAYS a way to do things, you might just not KNOW the way it is done, but it is always achievable, maybe after years. I would not repeat the cliché: Nothing is impossible, but I do have a firm believe that TRYING really makes a difference.
Another hard-learned lesson that I have had stick to my mind is to be patient and LISTEN. I feel being emotionally intelligent and actually pausing to think before we react or respond is crucial to professional success.
At last, I would say, DREAM BIG and be optimistic in your mind and on your tongue. It puts you in a success mindset where everything then falls into place and you are able to achieve great things. Don’t stop dreaming. Appreciate and validate your accomplishments, sometimes aloud. It helps!
Which woman inspires you and why?
There are many women I have met on this journey who I secretly admire and they have inspired me. One such colleague is Iqra Hamid. She has been a source of inspiration for me from day one. Her struggle and her success will always be an example to me and a push that never let me quit. I have acquired hard work, honesty, critical thinking, and some other notable skills from her. She is an iron lady whom I have seen standing tall and strong in the worst of circumstance. In short, she is a real fearless lady.
Some others worth mentioning are Faiza Yousuf, for her commendable contributions for women in the tech world, Umme-Azaan and Tehmina Chaudhry for their selfless efforts for the women community in Pakistan.
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 have definitely witnessed it changed over the past years. We are fortunately moving towards a more “accepting” society. But still, we need inclusion of women specially in technology where the industry is not as populated. The primary reason, which I feel is the mindset built by and “cultural conditioning” of women that prevents them from entering into the field of technology right at the beginning of their education and career. They are seen as less competent and their career is doubted.
I think overall the challenge to include more women in the workforce can be dealt with by providing more mentorship programs for their career so they are able to acquire more leadership positions and come forward. This will not only help them come forward but give them the power to bargain for better monetary and non-monetary benefits like men. This can be achieved through competency development and mentoring programs.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
The speed at which I see the digital world evolve and technology bring in new products and techniques every day, I feel the risk of being “outdated” is pretty serious! This is one of the biggest challenges I see women of the generation behind us will face and might need to struggle within the professional world in the future. Such an environment calls a need for continuous learning, development, and training to survive in the technology driven digital world. I would advise them to stay in the loop to reduce the struggle and plan ahead.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
As I said, the mindset, I would work to shift the mindset. The cultural mindset associated with the entry of women in the tech has been conditioned over the years. The problem is self-perpetuating. Over a quarter of women students say that they have been put off a career in technology because they view it as too male dominated. We urgently need talented women role models in tech to challenge this perception. There needs to be systematic and sustained efforts, from schools to universities and workplaces, to encourage women into technology careers. This needs to start early.
Research into over 2,000 school and university students shows the gender gap in technology starts at school and carries on through every stage of women’s lives. Girls are less likely to study STEM subjects at school, and this gap goes through to university. This leaky pipeline leads to a dearth of women pursuing tech careers. Today’s generation of tech leaders needs to invest, create new opportunities and think critically about how to fundamentally change this culture.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
WomenInTechPK is great initiative that already doing a remarkable job. I feel it can extend help through education that builds mindsets as I described above. Providing skills and training that helps them embrace new changes in the work climate will greatly help more women to survive in this industry.
You can follow Hafsa Naseem using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.
ProWomen Profile: https://www.prowomen.pk/hafsa-naseem