I’m a Muslim, British Pakistani, from a working-class background and I don’t shy away from my identity.
At school I was the kid that was always involved in something extra. If I wasn’t running the school council, I was fundraising. I always had a way of bringing people together. I wasn’t in the gifted or talented cohort but nor did I need special attention and it was only once I had finished university did I discover I had a glitch in my brain and had a learning disability called dysgraphia.
Outside of school and university I was always involved in community projects. In my youth I sat on the board for the London Development Corporation making sure young people’s voices were part of the regeneration of East London post 2012 olympics. I also volunteered during the Olympics and have been a trustee for a youth charity, Spark+Mettle. I was born and bred in East London and went to a state school. Life has taken me on an insane journey and I’ve found myself in many rooms that I could never dream of ever being.
I was on the first pilot youth coaching programme run by Spark+Mettle that led me to co-found Discoverables, a website that helps young people find and develop their key skills and strengths. Co-founding the platform led me to secure investment of £65k from Big issue invest and Wayra UnLtd where I started my #startupkid journey and worked on a project called Up: a skills development and feedback tool for businesses and youth organisations.
The startup didn’t work out so I then moved to heading up the marketing for Makers Academy, a 12 week coding bootcamp. While I was at Makers Academy, I reduced customer acquisition cost and doubled website traffic as well as managed partnerships with the likes of Amazon, ThoughtWorks and Digital Gurus. I became so passionate about the promotion and influence of the progression of minorities in the technology sector that I helped achieve a 51% female cohort (smashing the 13% industry average), and created a women in tech scholarship with Thoughtworks. I also succeeded in creating a scholarship specifically for refugees. I was heavily involved in HR, making sure to recruit candidates from a diverse background. I also worked on creating an inclusive workplace by creating a paternity policy and making sure there were non alcoholic drinks and a prayer space, for example.
I set up a community for Muslims who work in technology called Muslamic Makers back in 2016. Muslamic Makers went from a monthly meetup bringing Muslim and non-Muslim makers together to discuss, pitch and share ideas to now a global community of muslim changemakers. We’ve hosted over 25 events on a range of different topics and have been sponsored by tech companies such as Transferwise, ThoughtWorks and UsTwo. We have a community of over 1,500 people. I was featured as part of a Trailblazing Muslim Women Campaign as part of International Women’s Day and have also been selected as a London Tech Week Changemaker.
I am also a 2017 fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and was awarded a prestigious fellowship exploring how we can get more minorities and Muslims into the technology scene in the UK. I never saw myself reflected back in the industry I worked in. Through my travels I captured stories around Muslim Women in Technology and I explored best practices in approaches to diversity, technology and entrepreneurship in general. I spent time in the UAE, USA and Pakistan. I visited different technology businesses, universities, incubators, and third sector organisations to learn best practices from them. I’ve been creating a series of vlogs and videos to share my learnings through my travels.
After my fellowship, I came back and did some consultancy. I now work in Government where I initially managed an internal community of 1,500+ product and delivery managers across the UK Government. Currently I lead the No.10 Innovation Fellowship Programme, a newly designed prestigious and innovative programme to attract the top digital and tech talent from across the UK and overseas in partnership with the Prime Minister’s office, Number 10.
I’m also an Angel Investor in startups as part of the Ada Angels programme. This programme aims to encourage investment activity at the grassroots, particularly for overlooked founders and markets. We’ve been given access to both capital (£50,000) and support to help us find and invest in talent from our communities.
As you can see, I’m a proud multipotentialite and I’ve been very fortunate to have a varied experience that has given me a very unique insight. Regardless of whatever I do, I always see it through the lens of community. I am a collaborator who loves connecting unique ideas to create one big vision that will impact the world in a positive way, especially through micro actions.
Get in touch and let’s find a way to work together.
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