I am a woman and a mother – I never thought I’d actually be able to build my career in tech and love every second of it.
It’s never too late to follow your dream
I’ve always loved tech and product design but always doubted that it could be an actual career path for me. As the saying goes, those who can’t do it, teach.
Although I enjoy mentoring new talent and lecturing on what I am passionate about, I couldn’t ignore my gut feeling that I should pursue my dream of being a product and user experience (UX) designer, one in which I would be able to influence both physical and digital products while ensuring synergy between all the relevant touchpoints.
To make the career change, I knew I had to go back to school to sharpen my skills, which was something that I was not only willing to do but also excited about!
When you’re a woman with a family and two children to care for, it’s not always easy to make a sudden change like that without endless worry and consideration. After all, what happens if you decide to leave your job and pursue something new, only to find out that it doesn’t work out?
The biggest challenge of my career and the biggest highlight of my life
After a lot of soul-searching and with the support of my family, I decided to go for it. It took me two years to convince myself to leave a comfortable, stable job and pursue something I am passionate about. I finally leaped and made the career switch.
I put my all into it, and the teacher finally became the student. I went back to school to sharpen my user experience skills after over a decade of being a lecturer. While losing financial freedom was tough initially, reskilling was definitely a worthwhile investment.
Five tips for growing your career as a woman in tech
I’ve been working as a UX designer for over three years now, and I’d like to share some tips with other women who are considering pursuing and growing their own careers in tech:
Never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone to unlearn and relearn
Reskilling and upskilling require humility and determination. In fact, when I decided to pursue a career in UX, I faced rejection many times. It was emotionally painful to go through, but I had to persist in the face of self-doubt.
I kept reminding myself of my end goal: To grow my own career as a UX designer. Following your dream is not an easy journey, but it is definitely worth it when you’re able to do what you love every day. Therefore I have to constantly remind myself to be adaptable to our ever-changing industry needs.
My learning process is ongoing to this day. Currently, I am working on uncovering the data space to immerse myself in more data-driven projects. It is wonderful to work in Thoughtworks because we can attend training sessions run by fellow Thoughtworkers who are experts in various fields. Hence, the learnings we learn from it become more relevant and valuable.
Find a balance between professional growth and personal happiness
I have recently grown my family and am a very proud mother of three amazing children. I am so thankful that I was able to pursue my dream while also finding time to grow my personal happiness. To that, work-life balance is key.
With hybrid working and great work culture, I am able to approach work differently depending on the nature of my tasks (e.g. team brainstorming vs planning and writing), so I split my time between the office and home.
Your biggest insecurity might just be your biggest advantage
I grew up in an environment where I was a minority. When following my passion in tech, I found myself in classes where I was the only woman or where I was the only one wearing a hijab – but that did not stop me from topping it.
Being a minority has never stopped me from excelling or pursuing what I have always wanted to do. On top of that, it gave me that added energy and rigour that I always brought throughout my journey. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Inspire and mentor others
I still enjoy mentoring. I am still lecturing part-time, which keeps me engaged with the youth and able to continue nurturing them to become bright prospects who are equipped with industry-relevant skills. I’m always happy to share what I have learned throughout my journey and career and impart my knowledge to the curious and eager minds of our future generations.
Learning in this instance is mutual, as I have learnt a great deal working with these great young minds who are very digitally savvy and resourceful, like how they are very adept at harnessing the power of social media to get their work done efficiently, for example.
Champion causes that matter to you
Women in tech face challenges that are quite unique to us – from having the confidence and resources to step into the industry to navigating and growing our careers within this male-dominated playing field.
Therefore, as a woman in tech myself, I get it, and I would do anything I can to uplift and support fellow like-minded and strong women. I am humbled to have been able to share my journey into tech and the importance of adaptability to technology’s ever-changing industry needs.
The most important work you do is the work you do on yourself. With that, I champion continual and lifelong learning and strongly believe that women can and should follow their dreams. Additionally, I am privileged to have worked on social sector projects in Thoughtworks.
I believe we can greatly leverage data and tech to shape more predictive initiatives and policy decisions to help identify potential issues before they become entangled in larger social issues that require more attention and resolution. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, ‘an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure’.
Today is the day to define your own success story
I used to think that success was just showing up and doing your job well. But what I’ve learned over the years is that success is not just about being good at what you do — it’s also about being able to find happiness while doing it.
The best part of this job is that I get to do something that not only makes me happy every day but also very meaningful — and to me, that is the most important aspect of my career in tech.