In our latest series of articles, we want to highlight the wonderful women from Pakistan who are the movers and shakers of their tech scene. Pakistan is a country which earns a reputation for all the wrong reasons. However, it is full of amazing and talented people. In this article, we focus on Shamim Rajani of Genetech Solutions. Read more about her below.
Tell us a little about yourself, your background, your work and your motivations.
Well, to begin with, I ended up where am today unintentionally just with hard work, perseverance and a will to do something that I can be proud of. Right out of school my dad wanted me to study but had to bow down to family pressure and got me engaged, and I was a mother at 18. Luckily my husband made sure I completed college. Then I had the opportunity to join a 2 years Diploma program in Computer Science and I jumped at it. One thing after another, my Dad retired and decided to open up an IT training and consultancy firm in 1998 and I joined him as his lead trainer. In 2004, we started GenetechSolutions as a Web Development company and some of our first projects were off Freelancing websites. I hardly had any idea where we’re headed, just the drive kept me going. Eventually, we gained popularity and starting retaining customers and acquiring new ones from referrals. That is when we knew that we were on the right track and we made Customer Success our motto. Now GenetechSolutions is a 50 people company and we cater to Business Application and Automation needs for our global customers over Mobile and Web platforms. AI, Gamification and projects related to Hardware Interfacing are just some of the new areas that we’re exploring and that excites us. My motivation comes from various factors but mostly from within. I like to challenge myself so falling down and getting back on my feet is the norm. Perseverance is my keyword.
Do you think Pakistan has changed as a society, in terms of letting women take on jobs?
I think what we’re still seeing is a very small fraction of the women work force from what is actually out there. We were the lucky ones to be exposed, but I see many talented women around me who can bring in such a big change in society but I don’t see the will in them. It feels like they don’t think they can or they don’t think it’s their job. They think that their duty is only to their home and it is their husband’s duty to be the bread earner. I feel that it’s the mindset that needs to change right from the time when we’re growing up our children, to treat them as equals and assign them all sorts of chores.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Pakistan is still majorly a male-dominated society. That in itself is the most significant barrier. We still think women are weaker, which I by the way absolutely refute. The sad part is, many women think alike.
What is the best and worst decision you’ve ever made?
The best decision I ever made was when I decided that I will give my daughter the same opportunities that I’d give my son. This has done wonders for her personal and professional growth. The worst decision may be is that for the last 12 years, I worked tirelessly for the company forgetting to brush up on my own professional and social growth. In the last one year, I have picked up to polishing my skills again and getting a few good international certifications. I think it is important to always keep learning and adding to your skill set.
What woman inspires you and why?
Oprah Winfrey inspires me – from slums to the Hollywood Hall of Fame, as much as I’ve read her traits like perseverance, challenging herself and being honest to herself and to others is her ladder to stardom. Working my way through it 😉
Do we have any role models for women? If not, what can we do to create them in Pakistan?
Jehan Ara is a role model in the tech industry in Pakistan who has not only inspired me and many other women in the tech sector but also guided and trained them to open their startups. We need more Jehan Aras and I can see more in the making as well due to her efforts.
Is there a neutral platform or forum for women to discuss their career needs?
I for one am an active member of a facebook group called #WomeninTechPK. It is a community for Pakistani Women in Technology where they can seek advice, share job opportunities, scholarships and fellowships etc. Faiza Yousuf started this group over a year ago and it has now grown to a community of over 3000 like-minded women from all over Pakistan and from around the globe. Another mention would be The Women4Women group moderated by Maria Dawson, a Nixor Grad. The aim of the group is to create a positive space online for our fellow women to share their daily struggles and experiences, views about anything and everything from housework to career.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
I think the biggest challenge for any working woman today or tomorrow is how she creates a balance between home and work. Raising children to become positive members of society is a huge responsibility and a successful woman is one who understands and achieves that along with her professional goals.
What needs to change to help more women come forward?
Stop treating them like they’re made of glass and start challenging their abilities and strengths. You will be surprised.
If you could change one thing, what would it be?
Early age marriages. They do more harm than good.
How can OxGadgets and its readers help you and other women of the industry?
By creating awareness. Men are not responsible for everything that goes wrong in a woman’s life, she is equally responsible to not look after her rights. She might not know what her rights are so creating awareness will help. In the tech industry, women like comfortable roles like documentation, Design, and Quality Assurance. If they come out of their comfort zone, they can be amazing developers as well. It’s all about challenging yourself.
You can find out more about Shamim by visiting her professional and social profiles: