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 Mehreen Farhan. 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 would like to introduce myself as someone who is evolving. I will probably say the same if you approach me two years later. I belong to a middle-class family of Lahore. My mother was a working woman, so we had a different set up than most of the households from where my friends belonged. I have seen a very supportive system in my own home since the start. I think that defined a lot of professional and financial values in me.
I’ve worked with two prominent software houses in Lahore. My first ever job was that of a Software Quality Assurance Engineer. I think the work experience that I got from my first company was highly useful.
While I was away from Pakistan, I continued doing QA off and on via freelancing projects. Later on, I started my community that intended to gather and offer support to the budding bloggers of Pakistan.
Currently, I work with a renowned private software house in Lahore as a Senior Training Development Specialist. I enjoy Moodle (a learning platform). Additionally, I’m an aspiring e-learning content creator and have been involved in many decisive projects for my department. I couldn’t be happier with the immense learning I have had.
What are your future plans/aspirations? What impact it will have on the community/society/your team/your project?
When I got a job offer from my current employer, I couldn’t have been happier. It was my dream to work with them but with a gap of 7 years, it seemed unlikely. As I said, I run a blogger’s support group in my personal capacity. When there is a support group, there is lots of guidance and mentoring.
Working as a Training Development Specialist meant that I will have a chance to work with the best and learn from the best. Understanding end to end e-learning flow, setting up LMS like Moodle, hands-on tools like Articulate, and also having a brief experience with leading classroom training are just some of the things I learned in this work tenure. My skills now go hand in hand: serving blogger’s community in better ways and community work that enables me to understand my corporate training work better. It has opened up ways for me to come up with a different medium of learning and understanding the needs of my audience.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are really proud of?
- Being an A-grader for most of my educational life.
- Getting a chance to work with the best people in the corporate world.
- Getting a good work relationship with some of the most constructive change-makers of the social media world through my bloggers’ support group.
- Being nominated for Facebook’s #SheMeansBusiness communities when we were a very small community of hardly 1k bloggers.
- Coming back to the corporate world after a gap of 7 years and making it worth it!
- Starting studies again and currently learning a new language.
What has been your best education/career decision and why?
I’m glad that I never gave up. I stayed connected to my field one way or the other. It all paid off. My current employer saw potential and discipline in the work which I was doing in my personal capacity. I got into their processes quite easily. Joining back the company after 7 years where I only dreamed to work has given me a confidence boost.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
- The best lesson learned would be this: taking the first step. That’s the only step which is the hardest. Trust me, it gets easy afterward.
- Pick up the phone and make a pitch. Be honest with yourself and your clients. It pays off in the long run.
- Attempt. Take a chance. How bad can it be? Yes, you can fail. But what if they say yes? What if it works out?
- Listen. Be a good listener. Listen to perspectives. Listen to schools of thought. Understand where they’re coming from.
- And learn. Always keep learning and growing. That’s the only way you run at a pace with the world.
Which woman inspires you and why?
Every woman is resilient in her way. I’m proud of my gender when I see how each women has had the odds against them and that hardly deterred them from their mission.
If I go on to say my mother inspires me. My mother worked at bank for 32 years while managing a special needs child. I’ve watched her closely all those years and she is indeed an example of how women can manage work and home life and still come out stronger. So yeah, she has to be my favorite.
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?
Definitely yes. More and more households now accept the idea of working women and the biasness has come down considerably. I come from a family where my mother and all her sisters were working women so this openness came naturally to me. When I stepped into my married life, I experienced the same openness and understanding. So I chalk it down to have educated women in the family. Educated families with educated women have now made their homes open to accept career-oriented bahus to come in. We cannot emphasize enough on the importance of education when we discuss any issue at all. Education brings openness and acceptance that our society needs right now to make Pakistan a better place for working women.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Finding the balance between work and family life. Knowing how far they can reach and how much of it is good for their personal life, health, and family.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
There should be a way to know just how much technology is good for us. For example, the lockdown situation throughout the world has been a catalyst for businesses going digital at a faster pace. Everything is digital now. And with it, has come a storm of digital marketing. We are now connected online more than ever. Personally, this has been an exhausting experience for me. There have been days where I needed to tune out from social media. No great thing has ever achieved with a fast and reckless pace. I know we will eventually find discipline if the lockdown situation becomes a norm. But let’s just preserve our sanity till then, shall we?
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
WomenInTechPK is nothing short of a mentor to me. When I joined it, I instantly clicked with it, seeing the way this community is helping all its members. When I intended to start my bloggers’ community, I reached out to Faiza and discussed my idea. So to say that my bloggers’ community is inspired by the model WomenInTechPK works on, won’t be wrong by any stretch.
Initiatives by WomenInTechPK aim at women inclusion in the tech industry, bringing awareness campaigns, educating women, and most importantly, having their back when they need support. Thank you for creating this space for women in the tech industry of Pakistan. I would love to have the WomenInTechPK team come to Lahore post-COVID, and you guys will find me as an ardent supporter.
You can follow Mehreen Farhan using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.
Bio: Blogger. Technology Enthusiast. Community Builder.#TeamWordpress. Aspiring Moodler. Storyliner