In this latest series of articles, we are publishing interviews of women working as a professional or a student in the technology sector. The objective is to highlight their work and contribution to the industry and the community.
In these interviews, you will find women working in technology to solve real-world problems, break stereotypes, and 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 many smart women who are creating and using technology to work wonders.
Today, we are featuring Samana Hassan. Read on to learn more about her work and get inspired.
1. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your education, and your work.
I hold a B.E. in Computer and Information Systems Engineering from N.E.D. University of Engineering and Technology. After graduating in 2014, I worked as a research proposal and grants writer and documentation professional at Integrated Dynamics (the company which has the credit of being the pioneer in drone technology in Pakistan). My then-CEO could see that I had an interest in and potential to structure and develop educational programs in the tech domain. There, I designed several training modules and remained involved in the strategic planning, business development, financials, marketing plans, and organizational policies for the Integrated Dynamics educational vertical.
This got me to realize that I have a thing for administration and management, and my niche should be the educational sector. After working for 3 years at Integrated Dynamics and a sabbatical to accommodate getting married and prioritizing family for a bit, I got back to focusing on my career back in 2020. I’m enrolled in the last term of my MBA Executive program from IBA. And I have been serving as the Program Manager for the previous 2.5 years for Consulnet Corporation. We work to provide sponsored tech training for upskilling youth to improve employability.
2. What are your future plans/aspirations? How will it impact the community/society/your team/your project?
Alongside completing my credit hours and thesis for the MBA Executive program, I aim to do certifications in Quality Management/Organizational Excellence, Data Science, and Educational Leadership. After that, maybe towards the end of 2024, I plan on undertaking the Directors’ Training Program. More women must be on the board of directors for organizations, especially educational programs and institutes. The organizational policies and work culture can only shift to being more women-friendly when there are more women in leading roles and a substantial number of women across the organization.
My current role revolves around bridging the gap between academia and the tech industry and creating more opportunities for women. In the future, being in a senior management/leadership/director-level position will, of course, allow me to voice the concerns of the women workforce and put their ideas forward, as well as be a mentor for them in the organization.
3. Please brag about your career accomplishments. What are the things you are proud of?
Leading a vertical in training services where programs change every 3-4 months is one of the most dynamic job profiles that you can have, and I am sometimes required to wear multiple hats a day. From ensuring performance audits to compliance with policies, identifying areas for curriculum upgrades, managing and leading the continuous need for content development, and facilitating to resolve organizational bottlenecks all fall under my job profile.
Alongside the 9 permanent team members whom I directly steer, on average, in a quarter, there are over 100 participants, 8-9 different training programs, and 30 different part-timers who work as trainers. Planning for perfection, engaging with individuals on a personal level to keep them motivated, and being the role model for professionalism and integrity that I can, in turn, expect all the team members to show is a demanding job.
When you are the manager of a program that has over 110 collaborators and over 1000 alumni, and you lead events that each has over 50 stakeholders, your vertical relies on you to make effective communication, form strong PR, and not miss opportunities for brand enrichment and growth. As an introvert, delivering in this role has been my biggest accomplishment.
4. What has been your best education/career decision, and why?
My best decision was to get back to work and education in 2020 despite the ongoing debate in my close circle regarding my choices.
5. What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
Personally, as well as professionally, always remember; nobody is ever going to face the dilemmas of your life for you.
Be the alpha woman, and make choices with full ownership. It takes strength of character and great EQ to take a stand and make the choices against the tide without compromising your value system or relationships. Other lessons I value are: An egoistic attitude kills all chances of learning, growth, and long-lasting relationships. Learning should never stop.
6. Which woman inspires you and why?
Ms. Tahira Fazli is a religious scholar whom I greatly admire. She has been a religious scholar and professor all her life while also nurturing her family and providing mentorship to 100s of women around her. 100s of students know and remember her for not giving up on them when the world failed them. A few minutes in her company are enough for me to get back on track to seek self-actualization in life.
7. 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?
Pakistani society has become relatively more receptive toward working women over the last few years, but that’s only due to the access to remote working options and the financial downturn, which has made running a household on one person’s income almost impossible.
The women in control of their careers and working in impactful roles must help/ mentor/ support at least one woman who needs it to break the barriers to becoming a strong professional. Young professionals often get lost in all the noise that is around. Having the right role model can make all the difference.
I feel that the terms feminism and liberalism have been exploited by various segments so often that our society fails to understand that working women are not a threat. This will change only with more women making it to working as consistent professionals. The organizational policies and work culture can only shift to being more women-friendly when there are more women in leading roles and a substantial number of women across the organization.
8. What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
I still see that women’s empowerment is considered a threat to the continuation of male dominance and the patriarchal family system. It is to some extent also because women’s empowerment has been exploited so vastly that people tend to believe that every career-oriented woman would be Westernized in her approach.
We, as in our generation of women, must be very careful in our conduct, our attitudes, the way we raise our children, and what agendas we support and harbor in our lives so that we set positive examples for people to encourage more women to come into the workforce without being skeptical about it.
9. What would it be if you could change one thing about the tech industry/business?
There are 2. A lot of times, tech folks lack appreciation for the managerial team and vice versa. Second, is the need for more research data and stats to find out about industry-wide standards especially pertaining to pay scales.
10. How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
I get inspired and feel more motivated when I get to learn about all the women who are making a difference. WomenInTechPK has been monumental in bridging the gap between women in tech and information about opportunities, mentorship, and over all resources. It should continue doing that.
You can follow Samana Hassan using her profile(s) below, and please do not hesitate to hire her for your next project.