woman @ work
Mahwish Syed is a trainer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur and a social activist. She is the CEO of Unicorn Consultants (Pvt) Ltd. which is a business consultancy firm. Mahwish is a business graduate with 20 years of experience under her belt in serving local and multinational organisations. She has a passion for training and skill development and has trained various people in different organisations. She is the founder and president of ‘Panache Women Global’, a global women empowerment platform. Mahwish is also an active member of FPCCI and other business networks. In an exclusive interview with You! she shares with our readers about her work and achievements…
You! Tell us a little bit about your educational and professional background.
Mahwish Syed: I am a business graduate with a few international certifications in entrepreneurship, communication and social emotional intelligence. I am an entrepreneur, public speaker, soft skills trainer, and a social activist with a working experience spanning over two decades with local and international organisations.
You! What are you working on currently?
MS: I co-founded a knowledge society couple of years back by the name of ‘Emerge Forward’, where we are working on some very exciting projects. Some of them are aiming at women and youth development, empowering mind-sets and gender equality for peaceful co-existence in societies.
You! Tell us about some of your most defining projects?
MS: One of the initiatives I am very proud of is ‘Panache Women’. It is a women empowerment platform which was launched around 8 years ago. This platform has helped many women by providing them with knowledge, support and different skillset to improve their businesses and personal lives.
You! Can you tell our readers about some of your programmes that have helped people?
MS: There are many programmes that have helped people in different ways, however, my soft skills training for Sindh Police (that aims at improving police-public relationship) and Women and youth empowerment programme (that aims at personal and economic growth) are few of the ones that I am very passionate about.
You! What do you like most about your work?
MS: Meeting people from different walks of life and getting to learn something new from each one of them.
You! Being a woman, what kinds of challenges do you encounter?
MS: I believe challenges are merely stepping stones for success. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by a very supportive family and friend circle. But, sometimes, I feel some people still attribute a woman’s success to her gender instead of her merit and hard work which can be a little demotivating.
You! What are the main issues, in your eyes, faced by Pakistani women today?
MS: Gender biasness, domestic violence, harassment, lower pay scale and little or no support for working mothers are some of the issues that are needed to be addressed.
You! What are the positive points of being economically independent?
MS: Financial independence gives self-confidence and a sense of freedom that allows anyone to earn a respectable status in society.
You! What is the most important advice you can give to our readers?
MS: Understand that no one is responsible for your well-being and happiness except yourself, you are stronger than you think you are! Believe in yourself and never give up on your dreams.
You! What is the most important relationship lesson you have learnt so far?
MS: We should always keep our expectations low from people, for if they are not met, it leads to unnecessary sense of disappointment, frustration and anger.
You! Do you think the general mindset of our society is changing?
MS: Yes, but at a very slow pace, there is a long way to go.
You! What is a typical day for you?
MS: Just like any working mother, my day starts with waking up earlier than I ever want to! I get kids ready for school, drop them and then get some time for myself before heading to work. During that time, I check my calendar and plan the day while having my breakfast. My day usually ends by unwinding and spending time with family and reading or writing anything that requires peace and focus.
You! How do you strike a balance between family and work?
MS: Finding balance at home and work is an art, which requires constant reflection on what your work demands, and what works for your family. With time I have learned to set priorities and manage time. There are days when work and deadlines take away a bit of my family time and when the work is light, I spend more time with my family.
You! Your philosophy of life:
MS: Live and let live.
You! How do you unwind?
MS: After a long day, some quality time with my children and a cup of coffee.
You! What is your most treasured possession?
MS: My positivity and faith in God, believing there is always a light at the end of every tunnel.
You! What did you like to read when you were a little girl?
MS: So many books from different authors, but ‘Matilda’, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, and ‘The Witches’ are some of the novels from Roald Dahl which remain my favourite.
You! What is your passion or goal?
MS: To bring a positive change around me in whichever capacity I can.
You! What are your future plans in terms of expansion of your work?
MS: To reach out to people globally through our videos and training programmes.
You! Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
MS: Something that I learnt some time back, I read a very famous quote by Viktor Frankl who is an Austrian psychiatrist, neurologist and holocaust survivor, he says; “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
This taught me, no matter what situation I find myself in, my attitude towards the situation is always in my control and this gives me an immense sense of freedom.