Brainchild Communications, one of Pakistan’s leading full-service digital agencies, has paid tribute to its ‘wonder women’ who are standing at the helm of affairs at the agency, shoulder-to-shoulder with their male counterparts. Despite odds and individual challenges of their own, these brave and resilient women are giving their best as much to their work as to their families.
Although associated with Brainchild Communications, these wonder women represent all working women of Pakistan, as they broadly share similar challenges. They need constant support both at home and work, but not all of them are lucky to have it. Yet, they somehow power through the societal roadblocks and move on to become active and powerful members of the community.
Such are the women that Brainchild Communications is paying tribute to. Here are some of them.
Benish Irshad – COO Starcom
“I have been lucky to be part of organizations where individuals are valued for their work regardless of gender. I was raised by my parents to be fiercely independent & always encouraged to go after what I want, it propelled me to do more!
I got married end of 2007, 1 year into P&G .. there was an immense support from my husband and in-laws, and my company also knew it was a big milestone in my life, my P&G bosses, who are my mentors to-date, allowed me the flexibility to settle in the new roles at my personal end. My peers became my support group! I did try to become more disciplined about my time, failed quite a lot.
It helped me to get brutally honest about my priories both at work and home. My darling better half is from media and he understands what it takes to have dreams and aspirations. Being a brother of 3 accomplished sisters, he turned out to be my strength! We made it a rule to never bring work home unless it was absolutely necessary and took time to understand each other.
I admit, finding the balance is not easy. But as I often joke that it was all fun & games until I became a mother! That was the first time I was extremely vulnerable & nervous. It was an uncharted territory for me. Yet I found my family and my Work family behind me through thick and thin! I utilized offsite daycare support, took flexible hours at work, and my mother’s help shamelessly who became my elder son’s guardian, and is currently running after my 2nd one .. thank you, mom!
I say, it takes a community to support a working mother and it does start at home. The response to this question may be long but I really think I should lay out some of the things I have learned in the past 14 years and stuck by them.
Men and women both face challenges at different stages of their career. There are always a few people at the workplace with snide comments, but we also set high unrealistic expectations for ourselves. I am going to tell you to inhale deeply and ‘let it go. Be realistic and pragmatic. Only the expectations you set for yourself define if you can have it all or not!’
This is my advice to all the wonderful women who work at BCP or any other organization:
Build a support group and ask for help. Also, be the first to offer help to fellow females! It goes a long way. Find your tribe.
- Please don’t be afraid to say no. If it’s pushing your boundaries, whether it’s late hours or redundant tasks, or meetings where your presence is good to have but not a must-have. Decline. Establish boundaries. People will respect you for it.
- Do not let the important balls drop: as fiction writer Nora Roberts puts a spin on juggling work and family responsibilities; by classifying tasks as plastic or glass balls. This one is the closest to my heart! We put a lot of onus on the companies we work for to have inclusive policies, but you must know your own priorities, let what you define as a plastic ball drop from time to time, it will bounce right back!
- Become your own cheerleader! I am pushed to do more because whenever I struggle, I repeat my mantra ‘ I can do it!.. and a few other things along the way’. Women are the best multitaskers yet sanity first.
- Lastly, never ever accept any sort of harassment, speak up! Take charge, reach out to your support group. You’ll be surprised how many others you’d find to help you. Never compromise on your values!
At Brainchild, our female diversity is more than 50% in the top management – it’s so rewarding to boast of this rare ratio in Pakistan. I want to invite fresh graduates aspiring to be marketers to come and interview with us. Join our meticulously designed MT program, work on real projects that have a consumer impact.
Become a part of a Global Network. We offer a lot of support and flexibility to young mothers and have the cutest daycare on site! Starcom recruiting its first female COO in Pakistan sets a big precedence and I see more happening in the future!”
Urooj Hussain – Head of Mediavest
“I started my career with brainchild when it was Mediacom back in 2009. I have been associated with the organization for over 12 years. This was my first job, and I joined as a Management Trainee. It was very intimidating and exciting at first and I think the best part about this organization is that it always gives you room to learn, grow, and trusts you at what you want to do.
The reason I stayed for so long is that it always lets you evolve. I started off as a planner, then I went on as a buyer for 2 years. Then I left for a very short while, I came back, and I was heading planning for P&G. I was also doing digital and ecommerce before finally coming to Mediavest. I am now heading the Mediavest business.
I think the best thing about an organization that you build your long-term career with is that as you evolve and grow as a person, the organization lets you take those chances and gives you the opportunity to learn.
I am very thankful to Raihan Merchant and the management who has always trusted me and given me the chance to grow. To me, this place is like home because I have been here throughout my career and Inshallah I will continue to be here in the long run.”
Sehrish Anees – Head of Legal & Corporate Affairs
“I learnt from a very young age to be responsible, diligent and I always knew that the key to achieving anything in life is hard work and determination.
I lost my father when I was 7, from then on, my mother has been my biggest support and role model. She started working full time at a bank, which meant by the time she would come home she would only be able to give me and my sister 2 hours. There was nobody to supervise our school work or even insist on us to study. We realised very young that we had to have a proper education and build our own careers.
I decided to do LLB, which was a tough decision, as I am the only lawyer in my family and to understand the dynamics of my career I did not have anyone to look upto. So I knew I was on my own and I had to carve my own path and stand on my own.
I applied to various law firms and got accepted by one, I started my career by learning on the job and putting in extra hours. I pushed my own boundaries and at one point in life I was studying, teaching (LLB 3rd year) and working all at the same time.
A shift came in life 6 years ago when I was diagnosed with panic & anxiety disorder, it took a toll on me and my mental health suffered significantly. I would have an attack every day, which would leave my body numb. I slowly had to give up on teaching and studying as I could not cope up.
But I continued working, my career was like a baby to me, I had worked so hard to build it, nurture it and be where I was and the thought of giving that up was impossible. So even with anxiety shooting through the roof, always feeling like a ticking time bomb or not having the energy to get out of bed, I continued my work.
In my journey here at Z2C, I initially joined as the Assistant Manager Legal and in a span of less than 3.5 years I have become the Head of Legal & Corporate Affairs. All because of my hard work and support of my mentors, especially Taqui sb.
Nevertheless, I must say it would not have been possible without the immense support from my family, especially my mother who is my pillar and my husband who has always been very encouraging and supportive.”
Anum Matri – Associate Director
Starcom trains you to constantly step out of your comfort zone and discover what you can achieve. In this process, you learn that giving up on something you strongly believe in is never an option!
Fatima Hyder – Chief Strategy Officer
I’ve worked across Toronto, Dubai, and Pakistan and having to restart life each time has been a struggle to say the least, but I’ve been lucky both in terms of the people I’ve surrounded myself with and with my own determination to succeed, both of which have helped me find my own space in each of these places.
When I moved to Pakistan, having never lived or worked here, the team and Brainchild made the transition the smoothest possible. The drive and passion the team here has to consistently challenge themselves and improve on the work they do helped me to connect with people on a professional level and build personal relationships from that.
Seeing the women of Brainchild succeed both within and outside of our organization makes me so proud!
PS: Just remember – there’s no such thing as a Boss Lady or Boss woman – just Boss!