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 Anna Naveed. 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 am a humble human being with simple origins, my hometown is Hyderabad Sindh, did my O levels, MBBS and then transitioned into becoming one of the Founders of the company called WebHR along with my husband. The company began working from a little office connected to home, then moved out of the home to a new location within Hyderabad and then moved the headquarters to Silicon Valley in California, which is where I am now based at.
What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact it will have on the community/society/your team/your project?
I believe in working in the present and not in the future, I aspire to make WebHR one of the leading HR company on the globe but that doesn’t drive me away from working harder and taking care of the day to day tasks. WebHR is the only HR company coming out of Pakistan that has been ranked as one of the leaders in the HR world, entering into the league of HR giants like ADP, Workday, Oracle etc When we started a SaaS-based HR solution in Pakistan, it was unheard of, we were the pioneers of the concept and were crazy enough to venture into something that was unpopular. Back then legacy systems, which were old and took months to years for implementation were pretty popular. We broke the cycle and were trend-setters for newer more advanced technology.
I believe in change and innovation and hope that other young aspiring entrepreneurs will try to follow the footsteps of WebHR and try to build something that will highlight the capabilities of our younger generation and benefit the industry in general, instead of producing copy-cat versions of startups in the Silicon Valley. My message to everyone for achieving success is that there will be failures again and again but that would only eliminate all the mistakes that you make along the way, clearing for you a path, that is vivid and a thought process that is rational and deep-rooted for success in the longer run. There are not short cuts to success, you need to understand that a startup is not something you do on the side, it should be your passion and the “only objective” in mind. If you are not cut for it, don’t delve into it.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
I do not talk enough about my accomplishments. When I began my career as one of the founders of the company, I wore many hats in the company and built the grounds for many departments from scratch and was encouraged by our CEO, who happens to be my husband at every step of my life. Marrying someone who works and believes in similar mantras as you, is a blessing and I can’t God enough for it. I have been named as one of the top HR influencers globally multiple times, have been the center of Ph.D. studies by students as successful women founder of an HR company in the valley, took WebHR to become a top company in many startup challenges globally and am publishing a book with Forbes at the moment that has more details about what we have achieved so far.
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
Believing in a company that started off as a project for non-profit organizations was the biggest and the best risk I took, from then on, I’d no chance to look back. There are such moments in life, where you do not weigh the pros and cons and take a leap of faith. It could be the most difficult decisions but faith resolves that issue. Hence, my faith in God has helped me to take those steps. I have learned that respect is a reward bestowed upon us by Allah and our patience, modesty, and hard work never goes unnoticed.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way is that a transitioning company can only blossom if the employees are on the same page with you. There cannot be two different paces in an organization that grows fast. Although, hiring is a tricky business but always identify the talent in its infancy and try to support and nourish it, so those people can grow into the leaders you will need later on. Identifying the right kind of leadership in a company whose growth spurt is at a jet speed, can become difficult at a later stage and if this bit is done properly, you will succeed beyond the scopes of anyone. Also, it is imperative to understand that sometimes, we have to let go, there are people who may have been with you when you were starting a company and it is fine to let them move on. Our CEO Mr. Naveed Memon has taught us that, if someone wants to move on, please equip them enough, so that they may become better employees, It doesn’t matter even if they are not working with your company anymore. So, we have to learn to let go. Also, in a world full of gender bias, shatter the ceiling and make your mark. Don’t believe in the definitions put forth by people, re-define yourself and always make room for improvement, since perfection is for God.
Which woman inspires you and why?
I think Hazarat Khadija is a perfect example for all Muslim women in businesses worldwide. She traded with men in the times when it wasn’t heard of, she had fair dealings and was a woman of knowledge and respect in a man’s society. She chose her own partner and lived life on her own terms. These are the things which we need to discuss at grass-root levels, in schools and colleges. Everyone should learn entrepreneurship, irrespective of age and gender.
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 come a long way, there is a wider acceptability of women at workplaces in recent years. There are working women, who give up careers due to unfortunate circumstances and feeling insecure. There is an increase in incidents related to sexual assaults outside of the office and harassment at workplaces. I hope we overcome these challenges and catch up with the pace that the rest of the world is working at.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
The biggest challenge for the generation of like-minded women would be, work-life balance. Being a mother of three, there is a lot of time juggling involved in my life. My youngest is a four-month-old infant whom I intend on breast-feeding for the first six months. My schedules are divided into a tiny slot of time, that I have to carefully design in a way that nothing is disturbed. All those who think a working woman’s life is easy are wrong. A working woman has to work a hundred times more than normal. Women in Pakistan give up their careers, as soon as a baby comes in their lives, objection being that a baby cannot accompany a woman to her work. Most offices in Pakistan have no daycare facility onsite or nursing rooms for women. Here is Silicon Valley, big companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft have ensured that their offices are equipped with these facilities so that precious time is not lost for women to get back on track after the birth of a child. I see Pakistan catching up with these practices soon
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
If I could change one thing about the tech industry, it would be the business mixers and huge conferences which are more of an advertisement than actual discussions and ideas to be shared. We live in a fast-paced world of social media and video content. These things should be as virtual as possible, so precious time is not lost over snacks, meals, rents for large spaces and hours spent on beautification of events that people forget within a day. I believe in cost-efficient, real work time, that produces results. Tech world needs to get rid of such practices for better optimization of the workforce, time and energy.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
WomenInTechPK needs to work on supporting more women in technology, as we know how hard it is for women to make it to a place of recognition. WomenInTechPK should welcome newcomers with open arms and provide them all the necessary help.
I would happily extend my help as a mentor to any woman, who has taken a step to formulating a startup, as this journey alone can be overwhelming, especially for women entrepreneurs. I would love to assist teams of women, in the process of building a Go-to-Market Strategy and financial structures. All new businesses need help in understanding, how to earn a steady stream of revenue and keep investing those funds within the organization and learn the tactics of how a bootstrapped company works.
You can follow Anna Naveed using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.
ProWomen Profile: https://www.prowomen.pk/anna-naveed