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 Hareem Sumbul. 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 finance professional by qualification and have been associated with the corporate sector for a little less than two decades now. Born and grew up in Lahore, I’ve lived in London and Karachi over the past decade and a few.
Mostly focusing on Finance, Accounting & ERP Software and Control Environment I slowly evolved into a leader at local Corporates and MNCs, working on change management, developing processes and surrounding controls.
I transformed over the years into a Consultant on Business Accounting Strategy, Business growth and Scaling & Accounting and Operational Software evaluation. I also serve as a Startup Business Mentor, Professional and Personal development catalyst, Team Building Ninja and a Motivational Speaker.
What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact it will have on the community/society/your team/your project?
I am currently in the phase of slightly pivoting Ánesi and launching our bespoke gift curation studio which has been functioning under the radar for over a year now and we are finally gearing up to officially launch it. Primarily a brand about calm and relaxation we are now bringing in the concept of sharing. The love and Calm with those who matter.
On the other hand, Dotte is a brand that runs around the idea of self-care for women who usually make it last to their own priority lists. We started off with Surprise Periods Comfort Subscription Boxes that run around a new theme every month and are now helping young women with puberty and their first periods’ easy by way of our Menarche starter kit and gift boxes. We believe in supporting and helping women love themselves through difficult times in life, so we have different boxes available like Miscarriage Comfort Boxes, Menopausal Comfort Boxes, Pregnancy Trimester Boxes, etc.
We are working on information regarding puberty, their accessibility to everyone. We also initiated a group by the name of “The Red Tent” earlier this year, forming self-sufficient cohorts discussing and taking only the role of support groups for women regarding matters intrinsically feminine in nature.
I want all Pakistani women to own the ground they walk on. That’s pretty much it.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
I hate picking favorites but some of the ones I am exceptionally proud of were to help post-implementation support for SAP R/3 back in the day at Packages Limited (this was the early 2000s and my first encounter with Software). I also helped DKT International set up their Pakistan Subsidiary as their director finance and served on their Board of Directors before I turned 30. I built their processes and control environment from scratch, right up to implementing SAP Business One successfully as a Power User, we were the sixth country in the DKT world to have implemented SAP and the first one to have done it since the very beginning. I set up the entire finance, logistics (supply chain), procurement and legal department for them and took care of all of these areas. In light of my experience with the software throughout my career, I then joined Fintech and was heading their Business Testing teams in Pakistan for implementation. With around 20 people reporting to me directly/indirectly I achieved some unforeseen milestones when it came to team building. My greatest achievement here was to bring together an incredibly diverse, unique and intelligent team working on their personal development as well as kicking off building an entire knowledge platform. I was the only woman on their executive/management committee.
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
Best education and career decision? I think I am not there yet. I’ll let you know when I get there.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
Pay it forward. I am but a sum total of the giants whose shoulders carried me. My seniors taught me everything I know. Every time I witness a junior colleague or a team member go through a light bulb moment, I ask them to pay it forward. Teach someone else. Hold someone else’s hand through strife.
Competition is a farce. If you believe in your cause you will always find a place for collaboration where others would see competition.
Human is higher than a system. Not only do we hold within an incomparable and inimitable genius, but we are also more important than any amount of process we lay down. This can swing both ways, mostly it is perceived as a threat and we are trained to tighten controls to keep the human mind out of access to sensitive information because sky is truly the limit if someone gets access to confidential information but looking at it from the other angle, the genius of a human mind is all we keep striving to mimic as process, software, and automation initiatives. I think this is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned which has brought me to respect the human brain a lot more than I ever did.
Which woman inspires you and why?
Oh, there are so many. There is so much to learn from so many incredible women who have walked the earth before us and take their purpose forward, I could write a book! From history, there’s Rani Jindan (Jind Kaur) youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh and grandmother of Princess Sophia, a leading suffragist. There’s Manikarnika (Rani of Jhansi) and Princess Noor (the descendant of Tipu Sultan and a spy during World War). Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst, Frida Kahlo, Coco Chanel, Millicent Fawcett so many women really, inspiration just never ends.
In modern times there is Brené Brown who I listen to and look towards for inspiration and my late aunt, Razia Bhatti whose courage knew no bounds.
To be honest I find the modern woman inspiring in her entirety. I will draw strength and a full-throttle ahead from the unlikeliest of place. It could be anyone and at any time.
The one thing common between all of these women is integrity and gusto. The courage to know their mind and act on it or the gut to explore the human brain and find its red power button, using it wisely.
Perseverance and Doers. That will inspire me in any woman for it has taken centuries of deep-set patriarchy to break our spirits and whosoever still has it intact, is truly inspirational and constantly fighting against genetically embedded behavior.
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?
My great grandmother hailed from Tashkent and was the first Woman Medical Doctor of the subcontinent. Through generations, we have been at the forefront of the entire hoopla that is the society in the face of a career woman. Thankfully, we have only seen the atrocities outside of our immediate circle never within.
It has indeed changed drastically over the years. Where just the question of a woman working was considered disrespectful, the options of a woman’s career has gone way beyond being an educator. Nothing to regard it as a lesser choice but the reasons to accede to it have always been that of awarding less value to a woman’s capability. The fact is, there are still such households across the nation where girls having a career other than a clothes boutique or teaching is not even a question. We have matured as a nation but we haven’t quite broken out of the shackles. Our issues have matured with us. We will allow women on the board but listening to what she has to say is still a struggle for many. We are way ahead of where we were but there is still a long journey ahead than we think.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Succeeding to achieve the highest heights in their career without falling into the trap of internalized misogyny and patriarchy that other women unleash on them. We have successfully figured out ways to meander through the maze that is men at work while we put our foot down. If there’s anyone that can pull the plug on a woman’s success, it is only another woman. For women to learn to work together while they build each other, no exceptions is perhaps the biggest challenge I foresee for them.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
The foresight into the learning the rest of the industries in the world come to eventually, after years and something they’re lacking so far; the acceptance of women not just for flaunting diversity and inclusion but for the incredible strength a woman brings to the table with her exceptional Emotional Quotient as well as tenacity to work through everything technical while she manages twenty other things. The magic that’s multitasking without dropping a single ball.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
- Educate us.
- Share Career paths of successful women in tech around the world and even hypothetical pathways.
- Share the difficulties for women in the workforce and how they surmounted them.
- Share Career development plans and the qualifications in local and global contexts needed to adopt certain pathways.
- Guide them through their career to be their best self and eventually the best candidate for that corner office.
- Urge women to earn their place on that table and keep it as they keep their individuality untarnished not allowing them to become jaded because the struggles a woman sees on her way up the ladder is difficult to say the least.
You can follow Hareem Sumbul using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.
ProWomen Profile: https://www.prowomen.pk/hareem-sumbul