Your introduction please.
I began my career as a teacher at Lahore Grammar School. I opted for teaching so I could be home when my kids came back from school. My grandfather had a very progressive approach and he was the one who forced me to get employed. So, while I was teaching, I met a person named Azfar Hassan at a friend’s get together. He asked me to join him and work for Levi’s and so I joined his team and I learned a lot during that time.
Later, I left Levi’s and my husband and I started our own knitwear factory. We ran it successfully for ten years and I was responsible for taking care of marketing and sales.
Later on, I met Salman Taseer at a dinner and he asked me to run a kids channel that was soon to be launched. I was honest enough to tell him that I had no prior experience but he encouraged me that I could do it. So I went ahead with the idea and launched “Wikkid” in a record time of 10 months.
After a year the management wanted me to shift the team to Karachi from Lahore but due to my kids I declined the offer and left the job. Then I joined Wateen and to date I’m looking after the Multimedia Division that includes in-house channels and cable distribution.
What are some of the biggest roadblocks you’ve hit in your professional life?
I believe that hurdles do not exist, unless or until you think they do. Everyone’s life is full of challenges and how you find the solution to resolve it is what matters. If you consider a roadblock a hurdle then you cannot make a difference.
In your opinion what stops women from going to work? How can this issue be solved in your opinion?
In a society like Pakistan, women face social pressures and inadequate family support when they want to pursue their careers. Therefore, the solution is to not give up but find alternate work solutions like working from home or utilizing skills that they have. Since women make up more than 50% of the society, they owe it to the country to contribute in any way possible.
How difficult is it for a woman to work in Pakistan?
I am fortunate that I have not faced any difficulties so far. Remember that if you carry yourself with grace and practice and have an appropriate yet balanced behavior at your work place, you will never face any problems. Other than that, if someone has any issues, the person can easily use the Work Harassment Bill for their safety which has been passed by the parliament.
We believe a woman should not make jewelry in the kitchen if she has a professional degree. What can we do together to stop this brain-drain?
It is important to encourage them that they should contribute to the society and act wisely to run their own families. Look at the rate of inflation in our country, it is impossible now that one person earns and rest of the family eats. So what’s the use of the education they acquired? Most of the time, young girls top their exams and get seats at renowned medical or engineering institutes. Therefore, they should work and encourage other women around them too.
How do you balance professional and personal life?
Energy is the secret of my success. Women should be conscious about their physical and mental health. Eat right, meditate, exercise and offer your prayers. Time management is the key to the perfect work life balance formula.
What or who has been the greatest influence in your professional life and why?
Well, I have been extremely lucky that I had two wonderful men in my life. One is Azfar Hassan and the other is Salaman Taseer. Without their encouragement, life would not have been successful the way it is now.
What’s the last book you read?
It was “40 Rules of Love” by Elif Shafak. In the novel, the author unfolds two tantalizing parallel narratives – one contemporary and the other set in the thirteenth century. The other book is “Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle where the author traces out various consequences of having self-awareness (an ego) which is identified with the thinking mind.
Where and how do you see yourself five or ten years from now?
After five years I would like to retire and would like to spend time with my grandchildren.
Your advice to the talented women in Pakistan.
The only ‘limit’ is the one you create in your mind, otherwise it does not exist. Women have got the power to do what they think they can do. So use that power and contribute to the society.
Your thoughts about HerCareer.pk
No doubt, it is a good initiative. Since you are offering on-site as well as work from home facility, women would be encouraged to work.