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 Hira Ali. 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 am a career coach & mentor, author and leadership trainer. I am originally from Pakistan where I started my career. My family moved to Dubai 10 years ago. In Dubai, I started my own training and consultancy firm. After working for 7 years in Dubai, we moved to London three years ago. I have done my Masters in Human Resources and I am an associate certified coach accredited by International Coach Federation as well as licensed NLP Practitioner and an associate member of ANLP.
What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact it will have on the community/society/your team/your project?
I am very keen on empowering women and ethnic minorities and many of my future projects are a result of this passion. Through my online women leadership Career Excel and my book-Her Way to the Top– I am supporting women to become fearless leaders and smash the ceiling. Through IWEE, I hope to support Asian women in the corporate and business sector through personal and educational empowerment which will, in turn, lead to economic, social and political empowerment. And via The Grey Area, my hope is to decode inclusion and give a voice to ethnic minorities in the UK.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
From publishing my first book which has received accolades and reviews from global influencers and which has it made it to London news and Europe breaking news to winning several awards, from being published and featured in global publications to being invited for keynote speeches and talks by the key player in the market- Alhamdulillah there are a plethora of accomplishments that I am very grateful for. Recently, my quotes were featured in a book Girls Who Do You Want to be for middle school girls published in the U.S. alongside global role models like Arianna Huffington, Reshma Shujani, Sallie Krawcheck, Claire Shipman and others and I am really humbled by that achievement. I also feel very lucky and excited to have women all the world from various ethnicities tell me that I inspire them!
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
Starting my own business has been my best career decision because it has taken my career to new heights and given me a lot of flexibility. I am also able to impact people globally which is my greatest motivation.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
Quite a few actually but the top ones would be: Stepping up and not shying away from opportunities, reframing failure, learning to be comfortable with saying and hearing No and not letting off any opportunity to self-advocate which women often find difficult to do.
Which woman inspires you and why?
I am inspired by every single woman who is attempting to create an impact on society in every little way they can!
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?
Pakistan may have come forward comparatively but we still have a long way to go! Social and cultural conditioning as well as gender stereotyping all needs to change in a big way. But to be honest, it’s not just Pakistan-globally we need a paradigm shift. In order to encourage women to move forward and excel in their careers, we need to address both the internal and external challenges holding them back. In Pakistan, external challenges are far greater-these challenges include misogynist male-dominated work environments, workplace harassment and lack of provisions/infrastructure for working mothers. Internal challenges include FOMO, Impostor syndrome, Perfectionism, Inability to Self-promote or be vulnerable to name a few as identified by my survey and research.
In order to progress we need to elicit support from male allies who can champion the cause. Public sector, private sector, government, NGOs all need to work collectively. Talks shows, awareness sessions, purpose-driven campaigns, mentoring, communities like women in tech-all can play a pivotal role too in bringing about a change.
It’s also important to realize that women across the globe are in this together and we, therefore, need to work together on a global level and support each other to make it to the top.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
To continue fighting for the cause and not give in to people who give feminism a bad name! Many women have fought to secure what we enjoy today as basic rights. Our next-generation needs to continue raising their voice, call out inequality and not be silenced into oblivion. Even small acts of resistance can make a difference. We have to make people understand that we can be great wives, daughters, and moms AND be successful and independent women. It is possible for all this to co-exist without blatantly violating cultural and societal boundaries imposed on eastern women.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
I think in Asia, people still don’t avail the benefit of online programs as they do in the west. I would really like to see a change in that and encourage more men and women to increasingly opt for e-learning and take it seriously. It’s convenient, hassle-free and can offer lots of benefits.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
Getting the women to the top will require effort from all sides. It takes two to tango. Once we have mastered our internal challenges, organizations need to deploy systems and policies to facilitate us in navigating a system designed for men. And for that, we will need to raise our concerns and ensure they are being addressed. WomenInTechPK can play an important role in this by aligning with women networks and affinity groups that can push for such changes.
Author, Executive Career Coach, Leadership Trainer, Motivational Speaker,
Podcaster, & NLP Practitioner
Chief Executive Officer Advancing Your Potential
Founding Director The Career Excel For Trailblazing Women
Managing Director International Women Empowerment Events
Co-Founder The Grey Area
Read Hira’s article on Impostor Syndrome shared by Arianna Huffington
* Recipient Of Lift Effects Award for Top 100 Women, Finalist for Entrepreneur Of The Year- Batons Awards & Winner of Highly Recommend Woman in Media-Wintrade Awards
You can follow Hira Ali using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.
ProWomen Profile: https://www.prowomen.pk/hira-ali