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 Mubashra Yaqoob 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 was born and raised in Karachi. I have changed schools quite frequently but did my Intermediate studies at PECHS Govt College and my engineering from NED in Computer & Information Systems. I have 4 years of working experience as a technical writer and for the last two years, I am working as a product manager which was my ultimate goal, so 6 years of total tech industry exposure so far.
What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact it will have on the community/society/your team/your project?
Well, I read this quote somewhere that the greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. My dreams and goals in life are to be where I can inspire the future generations of women in our society to be more resilient, to not be afraid of being passionate & career-oriented, and to have that fire in you that nobody dares to harm you in any way.
I aspire to see myself as the CEO of a company where I establish a team of such women who are not only leaders but inspirations. I want to create opportunities for women who want to have an identity for themselves but have no means to accomplish that dream. Every woman who is associated with the tech industry in Pakistan knows how hard it is to create a place for herself. You have to work extra hard to be recognized as much as your male counterparts and I want to end this culture.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
I would love to brag about how I got to where I am right now because it makes me feel proud to call myself self-made and a non-quitter.
When I was in the final semester, I applied for a job in Suparco’s IT team and I was in the top & only 8 who passed their entry test. I went through their entire interview process and was rejected in the end because I was still studying but I see it as a great learning experience even before I graduated.
I had a very bumpy start to my career because my GPA was low. For the first 6 months after graduation, I had no job. Some 20-25 companies rejected me, but somehow I got my first offer and ever since I haven’t stopped.
I worked as a technical writer for the first 4 years. Having a CS degree and doing the job of a technical writer is somehow seen as something inferior around us. That’s a stereotype that will take ages to break but my four years in technical writing have been nothing but great to me. I was paid as much as any software engineer (even more sometimes). I had the opportunity to write research articles for Business Recorder and Pakistan & Gulf Economist. There was one time I met someone for the first time and they recognized me because of those articles and I was told how my paper on eCommerce helped them in their startup plan.
Recently, I led in organizing an online summit for my department in Folio3 and it was a huge success. I had no such experience before but I am really proud I pulled it off with the help of my team and seniors.
I have worked with all the big names in the past 6 years in the Payments, AI, EdTech, and Animal Care domains. You name it, I’ve done it!
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
I am a person who doesn’t regret her decisions because, for me, every decision is a learning experience. I was pretty stable as a technical writer but I took the risk to jump into product management with a company that had no presence in Pakistan and was a startup in the US. Not gonna lie, I was pretty scared but it turned out well in my favor and I finally got the chance to progress my career as a product manager.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
Throughout this journey, I have learned that its okay to be opinionated, its okay to take calculated risks, its okay to sometimes heed what your heart says, its okay to fail sometimes because that makes you more resilient than you can imagine, its okay to think big – to have bigger dreams than the rest of the world. In short, its okay to be different both career-wise and personality-wise. Just do what you think is right for you and then never stop!
Which woman inspires you and why?
Hazrat Khadija Bint Khuwaylid (RA) has been my role model for years to come. I have read two books on her life and to me, she was a perfect woman. She was a tactful businesswoman who managed a huge business while working from home. She had been an exemplary wife to our Prophet (PBUH) who didn’t leave him even in the toughest times. She was called Tahirah and sayyidat nisa’ Quraish (the highest among the ladies of Quraish) for her noble character and social status.
I think Allah has made her an example for Muslim women around the world that a woman can do anything she sets her mind to. You can be career-oriented while being a dutiful wife and mother. You can be social. You can be as awesome as you want to be within the prescribed limits!
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?
Honestly, I am a big critic of our society and the cultural norms when it comes to treating women equally but what I have seen as a child and what I am seeing now as a grown woman, I would say some part of the society has become accepting but we still need decades & decades to win this battle.
The thing that needs to change is the mindset of our women themselves. They need to be more considerate of their fellow women and teach their sons to treat women equally and not like mere commodities. If you are a mother, you need to empower your daughter. From adolescence, we teach our daughters one thing and that’s ‘Shaadi’. The entire lives of our women revolve around this one phenomenon. The emphasis should be on education as it is the necessity of the times we are living in. Likewise, the girls themselves need to realize that a degree is not just a piece of paper to attract good proposals. This whole mindset of a woman’s only place is in the kitchen needs to change and it can be changed by women alone if they put effort into it.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
The same challenge we are facing – to be recognized as an individual with an identity of her own rather than someone’s daughter, wife, or mother. I am not very hopeful for any good change in our society any time soon.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
Work/life balance. Working 8-9 hours written in your contract is just a myth in the tech industry.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
I think its a platform that can give women in the tech industry a chance to network more and know the industry more. I am not on Facebook so I don’t have much idea about your group there but having events where women can meet each other in person, present their business ideas, network with the investors, participate in competitions, or even travel together, it’s going to help us a lot.