We are currently releasing a series of articles containing interviews with Pakistani women who are employed in the technology industry, either locally or globally. Our aim is to showcase their accomplishments and contributions to both the industry and their communities.
These remarkable women are tackling actual problems, defying stereotypes, and making significant advancements in the tech field. The interview series highlights the fact that despite Pakistan having one of the lowest rates of female participation in the job market, there is still a wealth of talented women who are utilizing technology to achieve remarkable outcomes.
Today, we are featuring Neelam Raheel. Read on to learn more about her work and get inspired.
1. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your education, and your work.
I pursued my BS in Software Engineering from Bahria University, Karachi, and then started my career in the tech field back in 2005. Though my matriculation was in Biology but when I did some summer courses in computers after matric, I could see my growing interest in that field and it was then that I decided to continue my higher education in Computer Sciences. After my graduation, I worked as a software developer at Genetech Solutions for more than three years and was then promoted to project manager. I am currently a senior project manager with over a decade of experience and leading a team of 10-12 people. My portfolio includes web and mobile apps, both with traditional technologies as well as in emerging tech, and I have worked closely in multiple industries, such as eCommerce, hospitality, logistics, ed-tech, and health tech.
2. What are your future plans/aspirations? How will it impact the community/society/your team/your project?
Career aspirations are fueled by a variety of factors. I personally think I should excel in what I am currently good at, and that’s Project Management. I am planning to get myself certified in PMP (Project Management Professional). This is directly relevant to the field that I am practicing and would significantly impact the team around me. I want to be a Leader and not a Boss! Good leaders motivate people in a variety of ways. They regularly involve people in deciding how to achieve the organization’s vision.
I also love to mentor young girls who are just about to start their journey and are still determining what path and direction to take. My experience has taught me a lot, and I can be a practical example for them.
3. Please brag about your career accomplishments. What are the things you are proud of?
As a mother of a growing teen, balancing the family and work life is hard. I am proud that I am doing both responsibilities in the right way, obviously with the support of my immediate family and management. I have been a founder member of Genetech and strongly bonded with the company. I love taking the initiative, and It’s a pride for me that I laid the foundation of the first AI-focused project developed at my company. The project had a learning curve with hard deadlines, and I had a lot of pressure as a team lead. With all the hard work and strong motivation, we successfully delivered it. This led to retaining a customer. Also, driving the company to work on High Availability and Disaster recovery plans is a significant accomplishment.
4. What has been your best education/career decision, and why?
Switching from medicine to computers was a big decision at a young age. My elder brother is totally focused on the business administration side stuff, and he pursued studies in the same field. I was the first in my entire family to get my higher education in computers, and I am happy I took that move. My success and love for IT gave a path to my younger sister, and then the other girls in the family chose IT as their field of education. IT jobs are fast-paced and offer several opportunities to learn new skills. You keep growing, and It has typically well-paying roles and will likely remain in demand as more companies adopt new software systems.
5. What’re the best lessons you’ve learned?
My experiences and achievements have taught me to endure perseverance and respect diversity. Good things don’t come easy. One should always work hard and then trust yourself. Never fail to try more. I have also always believed that “Everyone is unique as their thumbprint.” Trust your talent, and don’t compare yourself with others. Let others do their work, wish them luck & focus on your ambitions.
6. Which woman inspires you and why?
I am generally inspired by the women who are successful against the odds. I have some excellent examples within my family, including my sister. People may not know her as a “Tech Woman.” She’s a teacher by profession with qualities like hard-working nature, discipline, sacrifice, and compassion that inspire me a lot. I have learned from her to find solutions to problems and, above all, how to balance a healthy work-life balance.
7. 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 changed a lot, but there are still more room and a lot to do. Our girls still don’t feel very confident working in a male-dominated society. They have fears of workplace harassment. This needs to be changed. When the girls step out to work, their families and the office culture should support them so that they feel comfortable. We should also promote higher education for girls. This gives them self-confidence, and they become self-sustainable and can support their families.
8. What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
The biggest challenge I still see is the “Access to equal opportunity.” Both in the private and public sectors, women are still paid lower than men within the same Job roles because of the male-dominated stereotype society that will still take time to change.
9. What would it be if you could change one thing about the tech industry/business?
If I could, I’ll try to bridge the gap between academia and industry. Right now, the four years of study stills require you to get industry experience because fresh graduates are not well-trained based on the industry requirements. The hiring processes should also be well defined so that individuals know what are key points based on which they’ll be hired.
10. How can WomenInTechPK help you and other women?
WomenInTechPK is a wonderful platform that has united many women in tech under one umbrella. This gives them more opportunities to network, connect and then work together. Young girls are finding great mentors through this platform, and I am proud to be a part of this community.
You can follow Neelam Raheel using her profile(s) below, and please do not hesitate to hire her for your next project.