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 Nadia Khan. 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 an adult educator, a college/online instructor, and a professional development coach with more than fifteen years of experience working at post-secondary institutions in Pakistan, Canada, and the USA.
I have a Masters degree in Applied Linguistics from Kinnaird College, Lahore, an M.Phil. In Applied Linguistics from the University of Management and Technology, Lahore, TESOL certification from Mount Royal University, Canada, and Intercultural Competencies for Leaders certificate from Bow Valley College, Canada.
I was born and brought up in Lahore, Pakistan; however, belonging to a military family meant living at several places all over Pakistan. When I was young, my parents decided to bring us up in Lahore, and I went to school at the Convent of Jesus and Mary, Lahore, and the rest of the education at Kinnaird College. I then went on to teach at Kinnaird College, Lahore, as a member of the English department and the Applied Linguistics department before I moved to Canada. In Canada, I taught at the University of Calgary’s Continuing Education department and the School of Global Access, Bow Valley College, Calgary. In the U.S, I teach at MiraCosta College, San Diego County, California.
So to sum up, I have extensive experience teaching Linguistics, Applied Linguistics, English Language Learning, and TESL courses. Along with this, I am an instructional designer, curriculum developer, and teacher trainer. I also actively volunteer to mentor and support immigrants, working professionals, and aspiring teachers or educators.
What are your plans/aspirations? What impact will it have on the community/society/your team/your project?
After working in the higher education sector for more than a decade, I certainly want to continue working in the same field, but I would like to move to management or administrative roles. I’d also like to use my extensive experience in course & curriculum development to partner with institutions and organizations to design and develop courses, training sessions, and professional development sessions related to their organizational needs.
Please brag about your career accomplishments, what are the things you are proud of?
I will try to talk about my accomplishments even though I feel that I still have so much to do and accomplish. My most significant achievement is to make a place for myself in the higher education sector in Pakistan, Canada, and the USA.
Some of the specific accomplishments and proud moments are as follows:
- Featured Instructor- School of Global Access, Bow Valley College- 2020 view book;
- Subject Matter Expert, Course, and Content Developer for an online Post-TESL course for ELL instructors. The course is called Inclusive Teaching Practices;
- Bow Valley College’s Academic Council Chair;
- Presenter at MiraCosta College’s 2020 Remote Instruction professional development week;
- World Café facilitator for Methods for Change 2019 workshop-Research and Innovation, Bow Valley College;
- IELTS examiner for writing and speaking;
- Chaired numerous conference planning sub-committees for the ATESL and TESL Canada Conferences;
- Invited speaker at the ATESL 2017 conference- Session: Making Language Learning Accessible;
- Invited speaker at the (IRCC’s) Government of Canada’s 2018 Western Canada Language Training and Learning Event- Building Bridges and Making Connections- Creating Indigenous Awareness in English Language Learning. This session was on decolonizing the English Language Learning curriculum;
- Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language (ATESL) Calgary local Co-chair 15-17;
- Master of Ceremony of the 2012 Kinnaird College Annual Convocation; and
- Recipient of the Patron’s Gold Medal for topping my M.Phil. Class.
What has been your best education/career decision, and why?
Working at an inclusive, open, and welcoming organization has always been my preference. That is why, on two occasions, I picked the workplace environment over salary. Once when I transitioned to teaching at Kinnaird College, and the other time when I opted to work at Bow Valley College instead of at the University of Calgary. Both these moves proved to be beneficial for me both professionally and personally. I was able to learn new skills and grow. The salary part was taken care of on its own, and in hindsight, what I gained in terms of expertise, knowledge, and skills is far greater than the monetary reward.
What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
In today’s ever-changing world, flexibility and adaptability are vital qualities that will take you a long way. Be willing to change to grow. Other than this, knowing your weakness is your biggest strength- I often say this to my students, this means that self-evaluation can help you focus on your areas that require growth and improvement.
Which woman inspires you and why?
Dr. Sabiha Khuram, a global product manager for IELTS Canada and a former faculty member at Kinnaird College, Lahore, is my role model. She is a highly qualified and distinguished professional, but some of the things about her that inspires me are her willingness to share her experiences, her commitment to supporting other professionals, and her honest, straightforward approach towards life.
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?
I genuinely believe that Pakistan, as a society, has come a long way in creating pathways for women. A short while ago, only a few careers were open to women, in terms of inclusion and acceptability. There is still a lot more that needs to be done.
We need to start by providing equitable avenues to women. An essential step in this is to acknowledge our privilege and recognize how we have been helped because of this. This will also help companies and institutions come up with practices that promote inclusion and equity. This also requires a change in the mindset of our society as a whole where we can set an example by raising our children (boys and girls) to be understanding, empathetic, and supportive adults in the future.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
As more and more women join the professional world, the main thing to remember is that we need to provide a supportive network for each other. Generations upon generations of Pakistani women and their allies (many men) have worked hard to provide opportunities, fight stigma and stereotypes, and support the notion of women working. Working in isolation, thinking of ourselves as different or isolated from other working women (who may belong to any social strata or field) could be a challenge that can be overcome by taking the ‘we’ not ‘me’ approach. Other than this, maintaining a balance between professional and home life may be another challenge, but again, this can be countered by being supportive and inclusive.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry/business, what would it be?
I would make hiring and advancement procedures transparent and merit-based, not connection or relationship-based. Many times, when all candidates have equal experience and education, it often comes down to how well a candidate is connected to members of the hiring committee, or a team. I think companies and groups should develop such a vigorous hiring and onboarding system that any employee coming in should be able to navigate their way within the organization efficiently.
How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
There’s great potential in us women supporting each other. We can leverage our expertise, skills, and experience to help cross-industry training. In a lot of ways, institutional or organizational support and backing play an essential part in highlighting an individual’s accomplishments. WomenInTechPK can be a platform that provides support to individuals and connects them to individuals in related fields. I think WomenInTechPK can help us come out of our silos and work together to celebrate and promote professional Pakistani women.
You can follow Nadia Khan using her profiles below, and please do not hesitate in hiring her for your next project.
ProWomen Profile: https://www.prowomen.pk/nadia-khan