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 Saima Karim. 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 brought up in the touristy place of Pakistan i.e. Gilgit. Back then, there was no university in Gilgit Baltistan so since childhood, we knew that someday, we had to leave home for higher education. Back then, we used to have dialup connections for the internet. I used to get an hourly card which was hardly enough to get a phone number of universities to ask them about admission dates. When I was in grade 12, I used to call different universities and ask them about their admission procedures. Then, I had to request any of my relatives (who were in Islamabad, Lahore or Karachi) to pick admission form from university and send it to me. Honestly, it was a long procedure and the struggle was real.
In 2008, I moved to Karachi and studied BS (Computer Science) from FAST University. Luckily, I got a job there right after my graduation so instead of going back to Gilgit, I started a teaching career. Whereas, I started my professional career at Folio3 Inc. Karachi.
Later on, I moved to Islamabad where I continued working with software houses including a startup and did freelancing at different stages. Currently, I am associated with Fortune 500 Company i.e. S&P Global as a Senior Business Analyst.
What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact it will have on the community/society/your team/your project?
I have worked in the IT industry for around 7 years. I think this is the most suitable time for me to work on my plans to be part of academia. I feel that there is a big hiatus between industry & academia which can only be lessened if industry professionals join in hands with academia to be part of course planning, student projects advisory and various academic training programs. This can help in preparing undergrad students for industry real quick. To do so, I am planning to complete my Master’s degree program.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
My biggest career accomplishment is working with a startup from a very basic level. I joined it as one of the initial members of the team. We were able to develop a task management application from scratch, deploy it on production and on-board around 50k users. Designing an application on paper to getting it deployed for users is surely an amazing feeling with me being one of the core members of the team.
I have recently attained two certifications. The first one is “Professional Scrum Master” and the second one is “AWS Certified Cloud Practioner” for which I am really happy.
One more thing, I would really like to add it here is that 2 days back, I received a message on LinkedIn from a girl that she has been promoted to QA lead and she thought of sending message to her first mentor. These are moments to cherish and be proud of.
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
Moving from Gilgit to Karachi which has completely different dynamics from the place where I was brought up, was certainly one of the best decisions. Not only this but moving to different cities for my professional career has helped me in knowing so many different yet amazing people. This experience has given me an opportunity to work on various software solutions in diverse environments.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
The meaning of success is not getting to the top position where you can sit and enjoy ice cream for the rest of your life. No one has ever got that kind of top position. Life is a constant struggle for every single person in this world but it’s important to have hope as a reminder for yourself so you can nail it.
Which woman inspires you and why?
I have always loved sports. So, Sania Mirza and Serena Williams have inspired me a lot. Both women had to face harsh situations due to their color and faith. But, both showed amazing resilience through their hard work.
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 has not completely changed as a society in terms of accepting career-oriented women but it has surely improved a lot than the past. Social media has played a vital role in this improvement and I feel that it’s improving at a faster pace. Groups like WomenInTechPK, Femprow, Soul sister Pakistan are giving a place to women where they can talk about common issues and find solutions through women helping hands. When you find such solutions through women like yourself, it gives you confidence that you can work too and empower yourself. You can be a career-oriented woman too.
Also, there are organizations like S&P Global which are working on diversity and inclusion as part of their corporate responsibility programs. They are providing a strong platform for women to take an active part in strengthening organizations. In fact, I am taking part in #ChangePays campaign at S&P Global. This exciting campaign illuminates the power of essential intelligence to increase awareness and advance the discussion around the benefits of more inclusive workforces. How cool is that! It’s an equally educating, exciting and empowering campaign for all the employees. There is a need to have more such local initiatives in communities and organizations.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
The biggest challenge for the generation of women is to keep illuminating and strengthening the on-going forces, communities, and campaigns related to women empowerment. It’s not a one-person job. It’s a mindset to be developed and that can only be done if we keep the voices raised related to women empowerment.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
Gender inclusiveness. I wish, the tech industry would understand that gender inclusiveness is going to add economic value to the industry.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
WomenInTechPK can help women in providing a free and safe space to talk about technology and careers. It has been doing that already and I hope it continues to do so. I wish them all the very best.
You can follow Saima Karim using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.