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 Sadia Jaffery. 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’ve lived half of my life in England, half in Pakistan. I’ve scuba dived, walked a rope, and done a bungee jump. I’ve traveled to 20+ countries. As a child, I was obsessed with Michael Jackson. I can play a bit of Nirvana’s ‘Come as you are’ on a guitar. I can read Arabic, speak fluent Urdu and I make the best lamb biryani.
I was born in Manchester, went to school in Islamabad, and graduated from Manchester, with a degree in Computer Science.
After a short stint in writing software, I decided it would be more fun to sell software services instead. Selling software services involved traveling to different countries meeting with clients and doing deals worth millions of pounds. Despite enjoying my job, in 2019, I wanted to find something even more fulfilling. After 2 months of soul searching, I decided to become a full-time coach. Now I finally feel aligned, I am living my purpose.
What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact it will have on the community/society/your team/your project?
My aspiration is to leave a legacy that I can be proud of. As morbid as it sounds, when I’m on my deathbed, I want to look back and think of all the people I helped.
That’s why I coach. It’s very rewarding to see my clients transform their lives. Now my aim is to take things to the next level.
I want groups of people, organizations, communities to transform themselves. Realize their potential, focus on what’s possible, and grow. Sometimes all we need is a single powerful insight to change our life.
Please brag about your accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
I am incredibly proud of being able to juggle several balls at once. The very demanding mum ball, equally demanding business owner ball, wife ball, friend ball, community volunteer ball, daughter and daughter-in-law ball. Sometimes all my balls end up on the floor, but most days I’m able to juggle quite well.
I’m proud of changing careers, twice! I was scared, but I took a leap of faith. It paid off.
I’m VERY proud of all my clients who have transformed their lives by taking action.
I’m proud of being a South Asian woman who enjoyed a successful career in the west. To minority communities who believe it’s not possible, IT IS. But we must learn to adapt and integrate.
I’m proud of the life I have created for myself and my family.
Also…I was the president of the debating society at university. I topped in 3 Computer Science modules. I often won prizes in debate and sports competitions in school. I still have some of my trophies!
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
Leaving programming lol.
I stumbled into Computer Science by accident. Going from programming to sales was a good decision. Going from sales to coaching was an even better decision. You should always do something you’re passionate about, something you enjoy.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
Not to judge. Sometimes people are dealing with things they’ve not told anyone about. If they hurt you, it’s probably because they’re hurting too. Show empathy. Come from a place of love. Be kind.
Which woman inspires you and why?
My mum. She raised us to believe we could do anything. At age 10 when I told her I was going to be an astronaut, she said “Ok, you can.” Whatever you believe as a child tends to stay with you as an adult. I believed I could do anything.
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?
Yes, things are better now. And in order to get more women to come forward, we need to educate our girls. Encourage them to go to school and open their minds to all the wonderful things that are possible. Have BIG dreams. They can become doctors, teachers, lawyers, astronauts, journalists, whatever they want. Yes, it might not be easy but it’s possible. Knowing it’s possible is the first step.
This is why I am incredibly proud of being a PAGE ambassador. Our aim is to get more girls into schools.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
The new generation has more social media in their lives than we ever did. They need to stop comparing themselves to others. Feel pride in who they are, what makes them different. Don’t be someone else, be you. And once you’ve mastered you, help others. Remember- the girl standing next to you is not your competition…she is your sister.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
When I joined the tech industry 15 years ago, I was mostly the only female in meetings and almost always the only Asian female. Things are a lot better now. It would be good to see more women, especially more women of color in the tech industry.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
Show them role models, share real-life stories, have volunteers who are willing to share experiences, and mentor young women. I didn’t have female role models growing up. As a young girl when you see women succeed, you get inspired. You start believing in yourself. I feel strongly about this and am happy to help in any way I can.
You can follow Sadia Jaffery using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.