Guest post by Zainab Saleem, 2017 fellow of Pakistan
“This is just the beginning. Receive with ease and give onwards with ease,” wrote one of my impact coaches, Irum Aftab Musharraf, Director of Impact and Analytics at PayActiv Inc. These words echo in my head often, for sometimes you hear certain things that fill in a void like a missing piece of a mosaic that fits in to suddenly complete the picture.
We are all taught to give as a responsibility. However, to receive with ease is something I could never do. I was burdened by the obligation I felt to return the favor immediately. But truth be told, here’s the thing about not learning to receive easily, you can never, with complete openness, give as well.
I have always wondered, and still do, how a shepherd manages to bring all of his or her flock home. The sheep all have a mind of their own; some walk fast while others might not move an inch. Some might find the grass in the valley appealing while others prefer to wander to the hill top. Some might get stuck in the hedges while others still swerve to a different route entirely. But the shepherd somehow manages to bring them back, every single day.
During the TechWomen program, I had three impact coaches, Bharathy Srinivasan, Global Leader of Asset Management Services at OpenText, Shalini Agarwal, Director of Engineering and Product at LinkedIn, and Irum. These three remarkable women volunteered to guide me and my country cohort through the pitch process. They were generous with their time, patient with our conflicts and gentle with our mistakes. Despite having their own personal and professional responsibilities, they held multiple meetings with us including daily Skype calls that often lasted until 1:00 AM, bringing us together as a team, uniting our ideas and helping us work together to represent Pakistan at the TechWomen Pitch Day in Silicon Valley where we won a seed grant for our project, “Closing the Gender Gap in STEM”.
This project was the first time anyone on our team had won a pitch, and today we formally began implementing “Closing the Gender Gap in STEM”, whose success we owe to our impact coaches and the entire TechWomen team.
About the author
Zainab Saleem is a 2017 fellow of Pakistan. She is an engineer by profession and her field of expertise is astronautics and space robotics. She is currently employed at the Institute of Space Technology, Pakistan where she is involved in teaching, research and product design and development in the field of aerospace engineering. She is also working on her startup, which is a design and development company for autonomous systems with robotics and aerospace applications.