5 Days Of Career Talk – Day 1: Women At Work (Morning Edition)

5 Days Of Career Talk – Day 1: Women At Work (Morning Edition)

Kicking off 5 Days of Career Talk with the first segment called Women At Work. Women At Work will introduce us to two fantastic working women everyday through the entire week (except today we’ll meet four). All these women work in different industries, have varied work arrangements and are at different points in their career. They’re unrelated on a micro level but overall they all have one thing in common – they’re doing something meaningful with their lives.

With this series, I hope to break the perception of one-dimensional success in a career. All work when done meaningfully is incredible. If you’re working in a fast-paced environment and moving up the ranks like a ninja, I respect you. If you’re working on a tiny little scale for yourself, I respect you. If you’re unsure about everything but getting started on something, I respect you. All work is noble and no work is less than another.
These women have solid work advice to offer, tips to share from their personal experience, and their own viewpoint on how to manage a career. You’ll relate to some of the thoughts, you’ll have a different perspective on some. I hope we can respect all points of view and I hope you’ll join me in not just encouraging each of these women for where they are in life but also be able to get inspiration if you’re feeling stuck.
 
Let’s get started?

 

 



Meet awesome babe no. 1 for Women At Work: Amber Naushahi


 

 


 

 


 


 


Type of work: My company primarily caters to entrepreneurs who wish to establish or grow their businesses, along with SMEs seeking advisory services for expansion, process improvement and transaction advisory. As an advisory manager, my work includes making financial models, business plans, feasibilities and projects like due diligence and valuations.
Work schedule: It’s a full-time job with flexi-hours so I work from home and manage my time. I do, however, go for client meetings and review meetings in the office and sometimes even work from office if need be. 
Family Situation:
Married for over seven years, no kids yet. Mother-in-law and sister-in-law live with me. No full-time maid, part time help a couple of times a week. So obviously, the flexible hours makes it much easier to manage running the house as well.

How did you get into this line of work? And how long have you been doing this?

I’ve always been in the same field since graduating in 2007. Initially I was working full-time from a typical office, with a Dubai based management consultancy. I worked with them for over 5 years, learnt a lot. But eventually I felt that I hadn’t been growing – personally or professionally and wanted to take a break. When I started looking around for work again after a brief gap, I came across this current position – it started as freelance consultancy on a project to project basis but eventually the managing partner liked me enough and wanted to bring me on board full time – albeit flexible work hours. I thought it was a great opportunity since in the time off in between the two jobs, I got too comfortable being home and this arrangement seemed to be a perfect fit for me.

Tips for someone looking to do the same? How does one become a ‘consultant’?

Consulting is a very broad term – it can encompass management consultancy, HR, training, legal, finance, health and nutrition etc. Regardless of the field, one key element in consulting is being familiar with the industry that you are focusing on and knowing your target market, and the best way to do that is to get some practical experience first. For fresh graduates, this can be done with an entry level position in a consulting firm (my opinion and experience has been that smaller, boutique firms offer a better learning curve because of a variety of projects and industries – the larger the firm, the more specialized department you may be assigned to). Alternatively, one can gain several years of experience in their relevant field (such as sales or HR) and then enter the consulting field.
Tips for someone looking to work from home in general – how do you get started?
1. Understand your requirements (do you want full-time or part-time?) and reasons for working from home – is it to be your own boss and run your own little practice or to have flexibility and/or fewer work hours. This will give you clarity on what exactly you need to start with.
2. Believe in networking. If you are a freelance consultant, the key to securing projects will be networking – whether this is friends, ex-colleagues or ex-employers. Anyone looking to outsource a project will look for consultants they know or through their contacts.
3. Check out external resources that can help place you. A few resources have come up recently in the UAE, especially for new mums who are seeking contractual or part-time work. These include Mums at Work and Hopscotch Middle East.
Tips for actual working from home
Working from home requires a lot of self-discipline, organization and focus since it is easy to get distracted – you might want to do the laundry or cook or attend to guests. Two things that really work for me:
1) It is best to have a dedicated work space or home office – this can even be a small area in the living room or bedroom – wherever you will have the least amount of disturbance
2) Chalking up a weekly plan – you can include home chores/personal tasks in this as well, however you want to plan your day- but STICK TO IT!

Do you think you can continue to do this in the long-term?

Yes! Yes! Yes! I love this arrangement because it gives me a lot of flexibility vis-à-vis some exams that I’m giving, and managing the house. Moreover, I feel that it can get exhausting for mums to work full time, and manage the home and kids as well, and then keep up with social engagements on top. Insha-Allah, when I have children, I would want a flexible work arrangement such as this one and this seems like a sustainable model without burning out.
I did not start this as a fully thought out career plan but it seemed like an appealing option at the time and I took it up for a while until something better came along. However, with time, I have realized that it is a good fit for my personality and lifestyle.

 

 



Next, someone who’s actually my cousin and one of the coolest girls I know: Abeer Mahar. So many girls asked me about film & media studies in general, so I immediately asked Abeer to get on board, thankfully she agreed (cool people can have attitude problems, you know).
 

 

 


 


Work schedule: Full time. To be specific, it’s from 9:30 – 6:30. Initially it sounded so dreadful when I was about to join, because I have major commitment issues. But slowly I came to terms with it only because my boss is super cool and my department is as lame as me.

Family Situation: My parents are very chill. When I was in university and had really late night shoots (often overnight shoots) they would understand and give me permission (as long as I told them where and who I was with). But they made it very clear that this cannot become a lifestyle where I don’t have fixed work hours, which I agreed with because I need some sort of routine as well. But other than that they become really excited when they see my name come on TV. And I still remember when my first show was coming on air they Whatsapp’ed and texted their entire contact list (embarrassing but sweet). Other than that my sisters watch and give me very constructive (pseudo intellectual) advice which is great because I sometimes get major writing blocks; they very graciously (zaleel ker ke) remove. They’re great I love them.

How did you get into this line of work? 

I never planned to write for television. It just happened. I was taking a creative writing class in university and when it finished this junior of mine asked me if I would be interested in applying to a production house. I was a little skeptical because production houses can sometimes be very shady. So I did a small background check on my then-boss and went for the interview. Best decision I took because it was a solid learning experience. My boss, Mohammad Ahmed sahab, is a TV and film veteran and he taught me the ropes of how to write for TV because it’s SO different from film. I left
13 months later, to freelance because I felt like I needed to explore all my options and see if I was missing out on working on my own. I did that for about 7 months – there were times when I had work and there were times when I didn’t. But that’s partly on me because I wasn’t very organized. I was freelance writing a film for Hum TV when I got the job offer to work for Hum TV and I really likes the environment so I went for it.

 

Do you have any tips for someone looking to do the same? How does one write for TV or film?
You need to start somewhere. If you want to become a writer for TV or film start with applying to every production house and TV channel out there. Meet people and share your ideas – nothing is too small. I have written scripts for which I didn’t get any credit and there have been times when I was paid peanuts. But in your initial days when you’re still trying to make it, don’t be a prude; take the job and gain the experience. I have seen so many people walk away from opportunities because they felt like they won’t get credit for it or that it wasn’t significant enough, I know it sucks but at that point you’re not in a position to do so many nakhras. Put yourself out there. Networking is key. If you’ve actually got it people will recognize it.

Tips for someone looking to start a career like yours – how do you get started?Start making short films. If you don’t have access to equipment and are technically challenged, then write a solid script and work with people looking for a good story. There are quite a few film schools in Pakistan now, and where there is a film school there is a group of lost students looking for a story. Offer your script to them as long as they guarantee to put your name in the credits. Go to the shoot, watch it happen. If it turns out decent (don’t underestimate awkward student films) take it with you when you go for an interview, upload it and attach the link to your CV. Also if you feel like you need polishing on your writing skills, attend workshops. There are plenty screen writing related workshops happening now. Do some back ground research and sign up for one. This way you can meet like-minded people and maybe work on something with them.

 

Do you think you can continue to do this in the long-term?
Writing for sure. I get bored very easily but I know I want to keep writing, so that changes form (TV, film, theatre, maybe books?). I just get excited because there is a wider margin for what I can do. Sometimes I feel like I should shake things up and do my masters in something completely unrelated to the media (still working on that random thought) – the point is I just don’t want to get bored and I quit the moment I feel like monotony is creeping up on me. I’d never be able to do the same job, at the same company all my life. If things become stagnant and I feel stupidly bored and unimpressed with my life, I’ll leave. I like editing scripts for now because it gives me a monthly pay-cheque. Also reading really empowers you and reading is like 70% of my job description.

Do you have tips for someone who has a gap in their career and wants to get back into the game?

I took about 7 months off to figure out what I wanted to do but I didn’t stop working entirely. My advice will be don’t stop freelancing. It will can keep you connected and take give you a reality check as to if you still like what you’re doing.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like (and drop a comment if you really feel generous). I am so grateful to these girls for sharing this information so candidly and I’d love it if you’d give them a high-five (I really want them to feel appreciated #please).

AND, look out for two more of these awesome working women today, will be sharing their stories in the evening.


Disclaimer: All opinions expressed in this post are in the interviewee’s own personal capacity and do not reflect those of her employer (where applicable).

15 Comments

  1. These women are BOSS! writing for TV and entreprenuership – two of my loves- cant wait for the rest of the posts in this series 😀

  2. I am already loving this series. I think its a great idea. Its great to see woman doing so much and they aren't neglecting their families which is great. Thumbs up to these ladies. Hope I can learn something from it.

  3. Please do cover someone with kids also…..it would be of great help because mom's even when the kids are school going start getting afterthoughts. …

  4. Love, love, love this!

    – Mahnoor

    1. Author

      Thank you! I'm feeling extra love for this because these girls are so great <3

  5. Any moms working in dubai? Would love to know how they got a job and manage house n kids together? 🙂

  6. Beautiful initiative. More power to girlss yayyy

  7. Amazingg start to help out an ordinary girl in a town! in loveeeee with it shehzeenn!!!

  8. Absolutely love the post! Good to know these amazing girls belonging from different careers having one thing in common, hard work, sincerity and determination towards their work.
    And the best part is that they seem happy and contented.

  9. Loved it! this give me so much hope for my future career and gives you the strength to look at things positively! thankyou shehzeen and to the amazing women sharing their experiences <3

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