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 Shanza Khan Shahani. 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 graduated from Jinnah University for Women with a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering. Always billed among the high achievers, I remember to have not found the cliched image very pleasing since I had my own distinctive ideas that barely knew any bounds. Quality health, education, and gender equality are among one of the most crucial developmental goals for the century. Therefore, I started Bolotech where we are working to provide accessible health care and quality education facilities to the poor and marginalized section of society. We are capable of extraordinary acts of goodwill and sacrifice. And this sacrifice sometimes extends all the way to self-sacrifice, which is the base on which my whole initiative stands upon.
What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact it will have on the community/society/your team/your project?
Bolotech is primarily for speech therapy. However, I plan to cater to all types of disabilities using the world’s most phenomenal asset i.e. technology. I plan to make digital platforms so that every differently-abled person faces no problem in daily tasks and routine.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
Being a software engineer, what makes me proud is when I take an initiative that somehow contributes towards the betterment of society or optimization of the current trends. I was the most honored when a Girl was able to speak for the first time through my software named BoloTech. Furthermore, I represented Pakistan as Asia’s Regional Finalist in Commonwealth of Nations and I was invited as a speaker at Stanford AMENDS conference this year in Tunisia, making me the only Pakistani invited so. The journey of developing products for humanity didn’t stop here, due to which I was named in “Top 25 under 25 Leaders” by TechJuice Asia.
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
My best decision is taking my Final Year Project to The Nest I/O. Before Jan 2017, I didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship or about how to run a startup, after joining The Nest IO. I got a deep understanding of entrepreneurship and startup’s life, it fascinates me how my product could help in resolving people’s issues. As I am running a social startup so when we test our product with kids (with disabilities), their reactions and excitement towards the product boost our motivation to further invest ourselves into purpose-driven work. I learned that it is really important to connect with people before we can create solutions for them. And that the product should be centered around its beneficiaries to make the most impact in their lives. As I am the only daughter of my parents, so they pampered me a lot because of which I was not aware of the outside world.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
When I started working on my startup, I got the pressure of running a company and managing things. Then I got to know that living with your passion and purpose is not a piece of cake it takes lots of time, patience, and hard work to achieve what you desired. Lots of people will motivate you whereas lots of individuals will be a hurdle for you, the same happened to me. But overcoming all those issues and becoming what I am today was all worth it, I am still learning something new every day.
Stepping out in the world for me was like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. Faced lots of challenges from the family too like you are a girl why do you need to do this, they tried to stop me, but the motivation and my will inside me never let me stop from what I am doing. The will to bring change in society always motivated me and because of which I convinced my family too and now they realize and support my work.
Which woman inspires you and why?
There are two women in my life whom I admired the most, My Mother and My Mother-in-Law. My mother is a business woman and my mother-in-law is an associate professor, both are working in fields and have beautifully managed both their personal and professional lives. They have maintained a proper balance which inspires me that I could also follow my dreams and nothing can stop me until or unless I wanted to. Most of the girls say that after getting married, it is not possible for you to pursue your career whereas it’s not true, my mother started working after getting married. The way they treat every situation. I am highly impressed by them.
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, Allhamdulliah Pakistan has changed a lot, but still, there are few mindsets of investors in our society that needs to be changed, this was one of the major problems that I faced as a girl. Having, meeting with an investor or someone from an administrator-level never take us seriously as we were girls. Most people commented that you should have a male CEO in your team so that people could take your product seriously whereas why do we do that. These are the mindsets that need to be changed i think it will as time passes. Girls are proving them hardworking and more dedicated to their work.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
They will face challenges if they won’t commit to their work. We need to prove ourselves from time to time, for that we need dedication.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
I will change the way in which industry treat a startup. A successful startup can manage themselves on their own. Whereas the industry needs to support people who are struggling into the market. On the contrary, they keep on bragging and showing only successful startups. The industry should facilitate startups who need help or in their early stage. This will improve their survival rate.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
WomenInTechPK helps everyone by connecting us with the relevant people, creating opportunities for us to showcase ourselves, get mentorship, and other opportunities.
You can follow Shanza Khan Shahani using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.
ProWomen Profile: https://www.prowomen.pk/shanza-khan