Marium Abid – Don’t worry about perfection. Do a little bit, but make sure it’s good

tech sisters podcast episode art featuring marium abid

Today on Tech Sisters Stories we’re excited to have Marium Abid

Marium is a senior technology consultant Digital Analyst at EY. She’s an active Tech Sisters member and was the recipient of last season’s scholarship from Product Guru.

Listen To Marium’s Story

Key Lessons from this Episode

  • Marium’s experience getting into tech through an apprenticeship (5:22)
  • Winning the Product Guru scholarship and her experiences (8:00)
  • How Marium prioritises what to learn (27:30)

Transcript

Marium Abid

[00:00:38] Grace: Today on Tech sister stories, we are super excited to have Marium Abid. Marium is a senior technology consultant at EY, and she is an active Tech sisters member. And she is the recipient of last season scholarship from product Guru. Thank you so much for talking to us today, Marium.

[00:00:54] Marium: It’s lovely being here and speaking to you, grace. and for the opportunity that you gave us, as tech, sisters, and the opportunity through product school, I think work that platform tech sister is doing is amazing.

[00:01:07] Grace: Hond oh, good way to get started. Hond. , so how about you tell us your story. Marium. How’d you get into tech.

[00:01:16] Marium: So mine is a very interesting one, actually. So I started working in tech, five years ago and how it all started is, , so originally I’m from Pakistan and I come from a south Asian background and I went to study in the us for two years for English literature and political science.

[00:01:31] Grace: Mm-hmm

[00:01:32] Marium: was what I wanted to do.

I still, , write sometimes on the side, that’s my side. I said, I’m a writer as well. But, , what happened was when I came back to Pakistan. Signed for holidays. I got married and I moved to UK. , so I’m very ambitious and wanted to make sure that I study, finished my education and everything.

And at that time I came across something called apprenticeships. It was very new, but, big companies are hiring people for apprenticeships and these can be digital business apprenticeships, et cetera. So I was like, oh, let me give it a try.

Because obviously university is very expensive for someone who’s just come to the UK. So I was like, oh, let me give it a try. And I tried out and I applied for several apprenticeship, a mixture of digital business and all of that. And I did several interviews and alhamdulillah I I got into EY. I was very happy that, I got into EY, but to be honest, I didn’t know anything about tech at that point I did my research and everything, but I wouldn’t say I was very tech centric at that time. I knew the basic things. Obviously I used my phone. I used social media apps and everything, but I didn’t know what technology itself was like, what the deeper meaning meant. But throughout the five years alhamdulillah, I think you, you can ask me any hard stuff about technology and I should be able to answer you because, these are the things I’ve learned, , from experience and, , from my colleagues and all the projects I’ve worked on. So throughout my apprenticeship, I did three years, , of university and work. So I did a BSE in digital innovation and technological institutions through my apprenticeships team. Did a , software engineering apprenticeships, like level six, level four, et cetera. And here I am now I’m finally technology, proper tech consulting. I found myself just tech consulting, like not senior technology consultant, just technology consultant after all this hustle. So, , and I’ve enjoyed it , to be honest, I didn’t know. I had that flare the tech flare in me that I could learn. So, these things, but I’m, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. Like I’ve spent time learning, coding, cloud, et cetera. And I think I enjoy it.

[00:03:26] Grace: So, this is really something that you fell into.

[00:03:29] Marium: Yes. Yeah. It just came on my doorstep and I was like, let me take the, take up the opportunity.

[00:03:34] Grace: It’s kind of similar with me. I was just looking around for different ways to work from home because I really wanted to do that when my, was a baby tech was one of the things on the list it just so happened. That was the one that stuck.

[00:03:48] Marium: That it’s so amazing. I, I, I that’s is actually one of the perks of working in tech. I have so many friends who are like now looking to get into tech because of the flexibility it provides. You can work from anywhere in the world and you just, it’s very output driven as well. So like, you just have to provide that output, have those conversations and, , just works out.

[00:04:06] Grace: Yeah, that’s it alhamdulillah. but I have to comment. I really love how you just skipped right. Over a major life thing. Like, oh yeah. I was in university, went home for a break, got married and then.

[00:04:18] Marium: I don’t dive into

[00:04:24] Grace: It just happens to

[00:04:26] Marium: the details because it’s a topic for debate. I interestingly, I, I was a very rebellious child, so I always, uh, said no on everything. My parents said, which is very bad. Don’t whoever is listening to this, shouldn’t learn this from me. But, uh, I fought a lot to go to university that, to abroad. So I was from

[00:04:43] Grace: up yeah.

[00:04:44] Marium: and went to the us to study, which was like a major milestone.

And then I came back and I was very guilty of not listening to my parents. And when they said, oh, uh, this there’s a good proposal. And we think you should get married. I was like, okay, let’s do it. Just to make you happy, like pleasure, but alhamdulillah things have worked out well.

[00:05:01] Grace: That’s the most important thing. I mean, you got your, your year studying, so that’s out of your system anyway.

so that’s great. So now like you said, you know it all, now, anyone can throw a tough question at you and you should be able to answer it,

[00:05:20] Marium: Yes,

don’t test me though.

[00:05:20] Grace: really cool that you came from so far.

So how do you feel the apprenticeship. Compares over if you had done like a computer science degree in university, like just doing that instead an apprenticeship.

[00:05:32] Marium: Firstly it also depends on countries. So for example, like I’m in the us right now, and I can see that my sisters are going through the route of like doing university and then jobs and other relatives as well, because this is the norm here.

But, , alhamdulillah UK is, , amazing with these opportunities. And I feel like, , Because I obviously started my apprenticeship when I was 21 and I had missed out on those years, which I should have done university. And obviously age is just, , a phenomena, which we have in our mind.

But, , this thing was always in my head that I wanted to finish my university and education by 24 and all that. So this really helped me, , get into that flow. Like I was studying, working, et cetera. , I think for people like me, who just. Who obviously the university builds in everything. I’m not saying they don’t do university.

I just feel like sometimes it’s a financial burden as well. And I think that with apprenticeships, you become very independent. You start getting into the flow of work because obviously after your three years of university, you have to get into work anyway. So the transition becomes very easy . And at work, they treat us the same.

So like, we’ll be treated as any graduates. After three years, we were treated as graduates. They didn’t make any difference among that. Oh, they’re apprentice. They have been at the firm for very long, but this has turned out to be an advantage for us because we’ve been in the farm for so long now that we know everything.

[00:06:46] Grace: Mm-hmm

[00:06:46] Marium: know, work experience counts a lot. So like, even when I’m speaking to I’m telling that, oh, I’ve worked for five years now rather than saying three years or like than three years. So I think the experience which has come from apprenticeship is very grand and, it, it just makes things easier for you because if you want to do a corporate job and if you want to stay in the tech world, I think this just makes things easier.

[00:07:05] Grace: Yeah, definitely. That is one of the hardest things that we hear from people who are graduating, especially when they’re finishing a bootcamp. It’s just getting that first job is so hard. So having something where you already have a little bit of industry experience, that makes a huge difference

upon, well,

[00:07:20] Marium: these, , boot camps are doing very well, now, like collaborating with workplaces. For example, I, , teach for code first girls, their Python classes and they, their nano degrees in everything they transition, like they’re making things easier for people because they know the best.

And from my experience, honestly, the best learning you can do is.

on the job training. , and once you start getting rid the flow, you learn very well. So even right now, like you’ll see people, myself include, we are always on this learning journey. So the learning part never stops. But once you get into work, you. I think you get into that flow and ethic as well. You become more disciplined, like, , even on holidays, I’m waking up at 7:00 AM, which is ridiculous, but that’s how, that’s how you become disciplined. I believe.

[00:07:59] Grace: You’re talking about that learning journey. So that’s a really good transition into product guru.

[00:08:03] Marium: Yeah.

[00:08:04] Grace: So what, inspired you? what made you want to get into product more about that?

[00:08:09] Marium: So the terminology, product management and product owners, product manage, et cetera, has been in the industry, like I think has come to the limelight I think in the past four, four or three years. At work, there were certain instances where we were on projects, where we were like, oh, we need product managers. But at that stage, we didn’t have product managers because people were still getting used to that terminology, still getting used to the idea of having product managers. So I would see people trying to be product managers, but not actually be product managers.

You need, I wouldn’t say you need a special skill set, but you need to understand how things work as a pro, like your thinking as a product manager, how that needs to work. So, , , over these couple of years, I noticed that there seems to be a lack of this product management skill and lots of people are trying to learn and transition into that field.

So as project managers you’ll see like lots of project managers are trying to become product managers by learning these things. So I think, That inspired me actually to apply for the product group scholarship is because I felt like, , I do know some stuff about product management, but I don’t actually, , actually know everything.

So I know it from what I’ve seen people do, but I think learning the framework, learning everything would eventually help me. that was the reason why I applied for the product grew scholarship. My idea is to transition as a technical product manager.

So I think this would help me in, , going through that career path. .

[00:09:27] Grace: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I really like what you’re saying, . There’s such a wealth of information online. There’s so many YouTube videos about product and project management. , there’s so many articles and books that you can read, I feel like people who are interested in it it’s very easy to get bits and pieces,

[00:09:42] Marium: can be physio.

[00:09:43] Grace: very hard to get that big picture, which I think is really the essence of product is really understanding how all these different parts are fitting together and really asking those very tough questions in the beginning.

And if you don’t have that holistic understanding, then everything’s not quite

[00:09:58] Marium: Gets started. Yeah.

I agree. Yeah. And because all projects are different, like you’ll never be on the same project, but as long as you have those, that holistic understanding, like you said, I think that really helps in you thinking as a product manager. I think the product guru , the structure and the individual training they did. One on one was really helpful because it was not very theoretical. They actually put you in the shoes of a product manager where you were able to about your own product and think about how you would go about it as a product manager. And thanks to them. I have my own startup idea now.

So

[00:10:30] Grace: Oh, okay. mashAllah. Yeah, let’s talk about that. But first let’s just talk about how that’s structured, because that is one of the unique things about product gurus. They have the one to one lessons. And you were saying before with the apprenticeship, having that, , hands on experience and really the practical knowledge makes a big difference.

So do you wanna talk a little bit more about, about that?

[00:10:49] Marium: Yes. So I’m a firm believer, like I said, on the hands on training, and

[00:10:52] Grace: Mm.

[00:10:53] Marium: with product guru like the first day, I, I, it’s very funny, like the first, , session I went into, I was like, oh, are we waiting for someone? Because I didn’t know it was a one-on-one session. And the instructor of respond was like, no, This

is a one- one session.

So I was, and I wasn’t dressed, , as well for a video call because it was 7:00 AM in the morning. I was like, oh, I’m not. I’m not dressed properly to go on video call and I don’t have my scarf next to me. I’m a hijabi. So I think we’ll just do video next. it

was really hilarious and I was feeling very awkward, but that’s how our first session started. Yeah.

[00:11:29] Grace: Uh, mashAllah it’s real. It’s real. it’s just real stories. Yeah.

[00:11:35] Marium: But, um, the sessions itself were very, , informative in the sense that you could actually get the essence of being a product manager because, , they went into details of the framework, but that was just for the first session in the next session, they were like, oh, , you have to come in, , by thinking of your, your product idea.

And there were lots of templates, which you. You had to do them in the session with the instructor, or you would spend time doing that and, , learning about different tools. Like there are some tools I didn’t know about, like, for example, one of those tools where you do like prototyping, et cetera. So I think just the idea that you are able to do something as a product manager, even for a couple of days, like five days was really helpful because I have that mindset now. So even when I’m going into work, I can think from that point of view that, oh, if I, if I’m launching a feature, for example, this is what I have to think about.

[00:12:23] Grace: Mm. Mm.

[00:12:25] Marium: And that really helped. I, I, I think, once you’re in the shoes of a product manager really helped because you could translate your thoughts. and there’s no right or wrong answer as a product manager, but just having that guidance from Usman and the product guru team was really helpful.

[00:12:39] Grace: That’s great. So tell us more about your startup idea then

[00:12:43] Marium: I’m not sure if I should be sharing it

[00:12:47] Grace: okay.

[00:12:47] Marium: oh, but, but I will, I, I think I’ll find some great help from tech sisters. So my first idea, which, we came across and then I did some research because I, we were doing some competitor research and I did my research as part of product gurur’s, uh, some homework.

And we realized that these, this idea has lots of competitors and there’s already something similar in the market. So I. the idea that a new mom, I think it’s, uh, finding, returning to work. I wouldn’t say very difficult, but I feel like there’s a lot of information, but all of it is not in one place.

And obviously as a mom, you can, maybe you can, agree with that. But, so I felt like there was things like shared job or like pay, share. It’s, it’s lots. of stuff,

[00:13:24] Grace: His lots. Yeah.

[00:13:26] Marium: And I joined work and that’s how I got to know. So one of my first idea was that, maybe we should have something women, especially returning mom.

So returning moms can find everything in one platform,

[00:13:37] Grace: Mm.

[00:13:38] Marium: we did some research and we found out that a peanuts is one of the apps, which does this stuff like, , helping new moms or pregnant moms or women in all stages of their life. So even infertility , , menopause and all of that.

We had to rethink my idea a bit, so I did a lot of research and then , I realized that there’s nothing for dads. So as a father, you go through the same journey with your wife, but you don’t know the actual things that are happening to her.

Like obviously you have those conversations, et cetera, but fathers and partners go through like those. , it is a big transition for them having an additional family member or if your wife is going through infertility or even if the issue is in the, in the partner. So what, what is the avenue for fathers basically, or partners?

So we thought about that idea and we did main features and we thought about how we develop it. So the idea is maybe we’ll develop a website where we have all the content and support for fathers and then go forward from.

[00:14:32] Grace: That’s super exciting I’m so happy that you’re including that in there because it’s so difficult. You mentioned infertility and a couple experiencing miscarriage is a very difficult experience for both sides, because there’s a lot of hope that, and, and dreams that get crushed through that.

And so the it’s hard enough for the woman to get time off to grieve, but the man won’t have anything.

[00:14:53] Marium: I mean think, yeah, they don’t have any avenues. I feel like with women, like people and I, I I’m all for like supporting women because I know how difficult like the journey is like from getting pregnant to like, even I, my, my, my little one’s 16 months old now I’m still struggling to certain stuff, but I feel like.

With the partners because they don’t carry a baby in their, in their womb or they don’t have like those physical changes, but that doesn’t mean they , don’t go through the mental changes. There’s a funny phrase that the husband gains as much weight as the wife, because they both eat together all the time or something like, but , um, I think, we need to recognize that men also go through the, these mental transitions and they need support as well.

And I, I, as, as a south Asian, I know men don’t. Don’t acknowledge this fact a lot, but it, it is very important. Then they acknowledge it and they, they ask for help.

[00:15:46] Grace: Mm.

[00:15:46] Marium: someone’s not verbal and they don’t want to ask for help, then at least there’s a platform which gives them at least written help or something like that.

[00:15:52] Grace: Absolutely. Absolutely alhamdulillah. Um, I just wanna share from one of my colleagues has really inspired me, when he and his wife had a baby recently, so he took his paternity time off. But then when he came back, um, He, he shifted down to three days a week from full time he went down so that could share equally, especially once she started going back to work.

So they both, you know, share the week a hon. And it’s just really nice to see that. And it’s, it’s so nice that. As a couple, they’re doing that and he’s really stepping up and he’s doing half of the load, half of it, he’s really engaged in raising their son. And it’s also really nice that this workplace is accommodating of

[00:16:34] Marium: Yeah.

[00:16:35] Grace: tech you can have a flexible schedule and work, something like that with both partners working and having a fulfilling career, possible,

[00:16:43] Marium: I agree. And I, I feel like, , sometimes I don’t recognize it, but alhamdulillah I feel so blessed to have entered into tech because of the flexibility. Like even, , now people have started going to work and all of that, but I, I still told my workplace that I, I don’t think I’ll coming into work much.

Cuz I have my little one at home. So this flexibility and this recognition that we have lives outside of work and the support, , they provide is amazing. And I have to be honest, I have to commend my workplace because, , my return to work was so smooth because they always kept checking on me that, are you ready?

Do you feel like you are ready to take projects? Do you feel like you should be working or if you need any more support, like they were always available. The recognition that women go through this transition. And of course, for men as well is very important and people are changing.

So a very happy about that.

[00:17:32] Grace: alhamdulillah that’s wonderful. mashAllah sounds like you’ve had such a great experience at EY. They’ve supported you so much.

[00:17:39] Marium: Yes. I used to think I have a love, hate relationship because obviously your experience can not be great at all times, but alhamdulillah the culture, , whenever I’m thinking about, maybe I want to make a transition to another workplace, another job or anything, but I, I. I just, , I just can’t because the culture and the people and , the support EY provides me at every stage Of my life, like the provided me support at every stage is just amazing.

And I, I feel like, , it’s just one of the factors that makes people stay with them. It’s amazing.

[00:18:07] Grace: Yeah, that that’s it. That’s what makes people say. So that’s one of the questions people, you know, there’s this great resignation people are, are leaving their jobs. They’re choosing things that are better. A lot of company are like, oh, why are they leaving? We want cultures like that

[00:18:19] Marium: Yeah.

[00:18:20] Grace: who are letting us be flexible, who are letting us live our whole lives.

Who are supporting us when we’re just learning, you know, so many companies want you to come in with so much experience, but when a company supports your learning and development from the very beginning, that makes a huge

[00:18:33] Marium: huge difference. Definitely. And I agree. And I think, , for me it has made such a huge impact.

cause I was just someone who didn’t even know what EY is or the corporate world. And I think I check all the minority boxes. Like I’m a person of color. I wear a hijab. I’m a Muslim cetera.

So I was extremely, extremely hesitant to go into to work. And the first day I felt. Like, I just don’t belong because nobody looks like me basically. But then eventually As I started to know people and they were so welcoming and there were instances, like they used to have Friday drinks.

And I wouldn’t show up feeling hesitant because I don’t drink. But then I. Started going. And they were so accommodated. And like, even if I’m having a diet Coke or they would change the location and there has been an instance. And I, I remember it so clearly because one of my colleagues was so nice and she’s like, I’ve got your a non-alcoholic bear.

So at least you can feel like, and even though the taste was terrible, I did tell her that it tastes terrible, but I love the gesture.

[00:19:32] Grace: As a, I can say you really have to work yourself up

[00:19:37] Marium: But it’s, she did say that to me that you have to

[00:19:48] Grace: to the taste of these things. That’s quite sweet. That’s well, that’s

[00:19:49] Marium: but.

[00:19:49] Grace: that’s, that’s inclusive that’s what inclusive looks like.

[00:19:53] Marium: It’s funny. I was telling, , someone that this is the first time I took off for Eid. Otherwise I would always go into work and celebrate with my colleagues because they were more celebratory that, oh, you can finally eat. And they would like, I would take cakes and we would just have a nice lunch because I could finally eat after a month.

Yes.

[00:20:06] Grace: my God. Can you imagine having more fun, celebrating Eid with your colleagues?

[00:20:10] Marium: Yes. I’ve I’ve had so much fun celebrating either with my colleagues. Honestly.

[00:20:15] Grace: uh, that’s so fun. So.

[00:20:17] Marium: And I feel like I’ve been very lucky in regards to teams and just meeting the right people.

[00:20:22] Grace: Yeah, well, that, that’s another part. It really depends on the team that you’re in and the people you that you’re with.

Yeah.

[00:20:27] Marium: definitely am. What

[00:20:29] Grace: mm. So Marium, what is something that you’re most proud of over your career so far? It can be tech wise or it can be like your life. However you wanna answer it.

[00:20:38] Marium: am I most proud of? I thinking, Mm.

I think the way I’ve adjusted. has not been very easy, I feel like the way I have adjusted and have been very flexible about different things like meeting different people, like even actually having those conversations.

If you would’ve spoken to me five years, Ago. I would be very hesitant because I, I am a prime example of imposter syndrome and I would like, I don’t know anything. I can’t speak about product manager and I can’t speak about anything basically, but I think the way I have adjusted and have stood my ground on certain things.

So for example, my religion is obviously very important to me. So making sure. People understand that and setting those boundaries, like making sure that I’m wearing my hijab and people accept that. Or if I’m going to the pub, I’m drinking diet Coke and people acknowledge that that, oh, she doesn’t drink or they change location.

So being very strict about those boundaries and making sure that these things don’t impact me as a person. Like they’re obviously difficult because you, at the end of the day, you’re still, uh, an outsider. You feel like an outsider. But being very strict about that has really, like, I think I’m very proud of that.

And one of the things which I did and which makes me very proud is, , we had two different buildings at work and one of the buildings didn’t have a prayer room. So what I used to do is I used to pray in the bathrooms or on the balcony, et cetera,. And I did that for six months. And I was like, I can’t do that anymore.

And I was so scared of speaking up because I was like, oh, nobody has spoken up. There are no Muslims in the building. They’ll say that she, maybe she should, shouldn’t be in this building, et cetera. alhamdulillah, I spoke up, I spoke to the partner from our EY Muslim community they encouraged me to speak up and alhamdulillah we got a prayer room, I feel like that’s my biggest achievement.

it has probably helped so many other Muslims who were hesitant to come in and pray, they have this opportunity. And I think that sure that I stay true to myself and also work and become a career woman, just balancing all those things has been my greatest achievement.

and now I have a toddler I’m I guess I’m struggling a lot, but I’m the little love we’re managing. Well,

[00:22:40] Grace: mashAllah you just keep on achieving! subhanAllah can you imagine the barrakah that you’re getting, because you opened up that space for prayers? Every time someone does salah in there, you’re getting a little of the barrakah, subhanAllah it’s amazing.

[00:22:52] Marium: Yeah. I think it just, just need the courage, like, um, I’ve encouraged is enough to speak about it. So I hope people learn from that and be courage just because I meet , other Muslim women who were like me,. can see myself in them five years ago, but I, I, I tell them that it will get better in Shala.

Once you get into the flow of things and you start having those conversations, it gets better.

[00:23:14] Grace: Yeah, that’s it. So do you feel like once you have boundaries and you’re talking about them, is it easier afterwards? because we have so much fear about setting up boundaries.

[00:23:24] Marium: Yeah.

[00:23:24] Grace: it actually hard as we imagined or does it

[00:23:27] Marium: I

[00:23:27] Grace: things easier?

[00:23:27] Marium: Think, , it’s about mindset. we can take this, , conversation as an example, like in my mind, I’ve set certain boundaries and I probably crossed them there because I’ve just been,

we,

yes. But generally what I’m saying is it’s the mindset if I’m, , entering into place.

And I feel like nobody’s going to listen to me or I shouldn’t be having those boundaries. I think that’s wrong. Like you should have , that mindset and then be very clear about it. And people, these days are extremely, extremely open to those boundaries. Like if you have a certain boundary for, and this is a very basic boundary that I’ll start working at 9:00 AM and finish at 5:00 PM.

I won’t work till 6:00 PM or I won’t work or late at nights. I think those boundaries are very important for your own wellbeing. Because as a person, I can tell that If I do something which I shouldn’t be doing, this is a very simple thing, like missing prayer, I would be feeling guilty throughout my day.

And I, and that impacts my productivity that impacts my work. And I don’t want to do that. So having that mindset that I have to do this, and people will understand it. Is something to start with. And to be honest, there will be people who won’t understand it at all. Like there will be instances that some people would wouldn’t understand it.

So for example, in winter, I have instances where people think that, oh, why am I taking so many breaks? Like why I’m going to pray? Just taking breaks every, , two hours or so, but. Having those conversations that, oh, I have to pray. And the prayer timing’s dependent on, this or that really helps.

So the bottom line is, have that mindset and enter any experience or any learning journey, workplace conversations, et cetera, with that mindset. Because if it is clear in your head, I think you can articulate it better to someone else as.

[00:25:01] Grace: Yeah, that’s it. I think. Less about thinking of the boundaries as like this baggage that we have. And it is just who we are. So when you’re hiring me, you’re also hiring this person who prays five times a day. This is what comes with me.

[00:25:16] Marium: exactly. Yeah, but it’s a package.

[00:25:18] Grace: it’s the package. Yeah, subhanAllah.

And Marium, what is something that you regret or maybe something that you wish you did differently?

[00:25:32] Marium: I wouldn’t say I have lots of regrets, but I think what I would have done differently is. Focused more on, , developing one particular skill. Like I mentioned, I want to be a technical product manager, so I’m focusing more on that now.

But, , one of the things which I’ve done in my past five working years is trying to be the best at everything. So I’d be like, oh, let me learn that. Let me learn that as well. Let me learn that as well. So for example, at one point I just wanted to be a data scientist. I was like, oh, let me learn Python.

And let me learn R let me all do all of that. But eventually after not being able to achieve all of that and feeling, , disappointed in my myself, I realized that I cannot be a perfectionist and I cannot learn everything. So then prioritizing and identifying which learnings would support me in my journey, , in my career.

So. I think the regret has been that the past , four years I’ve tried to be a perfectionist, but I would’ve, wasn’t able to achieve anything with that. So now I’ve tried to be like, do little, but make sure it’s good. Like nothing has to be perfect, but do little and do something like don’t just sit and be disappointed because I have self a lot with myself and have had lots of like comfort food, et cetera, because I wasn’t able to do one learning or two learnings.

And I, I felt like this career isn’t for me. So there have been instances where I, I. I haven’t. , so for example, I wasn’t able to learn Java properly. Like Java is a language, which I cannot like, it was my first language, which I learned and I found coding difficult. I was like, I can never learn coding.

This career is not for me. I cannot become a software engineer, but, realizing that you cannot do everything and don’t have to be a perfectionist is something, , which I’ve learned throughout my journey and is my regret. Because the past four years I’ve tried to be a perfectionist.

[00:27:14] Grace: That’s a very important lesson. It’s something that a lot of tech sisters struggle with. So we hear this a lot, especially, wanting to learn everything

[00:27:22] Marium: Exactly.

[00:27:23] Grace: not knowing what to focus on. , so you mentioned that you’re prioritizing and you’re, , trying to focus on things that would help you in your journey.

So how did you do that?

[00:27:31] Marium: , lots of research and speaking to people. For example, , when I started learning coding, I realized that, , I wouldn’t have the proper projects at work to implement it. And then I’ll have to spend so much more time by myself to do something like to make my portfolio.

So then I was like, oh, do I need to learn this? Or maybe ask the right people if they can give me like Python projects or data science projects. So how I learned that is actually having lots of conversations. And I learned this in five years, like this year is when I learned that. So takes time.

You are also exploring a lot. So I was exploring a lot seeing what, I enjoyed doing the most, what I didn’t enjoy and , career pathway would open, would be broader spectrum for me to learn, , more stuff going forward. So how I did it is I actually have a book where I have like, curriculums of all like these learning journeys.

So like I have data science it and list product managers and with these curriculums. And then I went through all of these and, figured out which one would be most appropriate to my job and then have had conversations with the right people. Like my colleagues, my manager, my counselor, et cetera, just to see if my company would support me in those journeys.

Yeah.

[00:28:39] Grace: think a really good, important part that you highlight there is those conversations with real people. Because, , I think, especially when we’re in the pattern of just doing self learning, we excited about something. We see a YouTube video and that person is advising us to do something different.

And then we like throw everything out because of this

[00:28:55] Marium: Yeah.

[00:28:57] Grace: my idea, this to, you know, everyone does this, um, It makes a huge difference when you’re talking to a real person ,

[00:29:04] Marium: yeah.

[00:29:04] Grace: out to somebody who knows you, somebody who’s already working in the field that you’re thinking about doing so they can give you a lot of advice.

you know, they can help you out well. , so even though I think it feels scary, , especially when you’re at that learning stage to ask for help. , oh, save so much time.

[00:29:22] Marium: It does like having those conversations. I agree, like, , having those conversations is just monumental to your growth, as a person, because you learn those skills,. You might be learning something, but you’ll never get a chance to apply at work because those are not the things your company does.

So understanding what your company does and how you will provide value to those projects is very important. One of the things that I tell people who are junior to me, is set those expectations and understand from that as well, that what they expect from you to bring to the table.

And what do you, what do you think you’ll bring to the table? Because. You guys might be thinking in completely different directions. And then there would be very unhappy people, like you’ll be unhappy. Your manager will be unhappy and things wouldn’t work out.

[00:30:01] Grace: Definitely. Definitely. subhanAllah.

Okay. So the last question I have for you tonight is what is something that you’re most grateful for? Marium

[00:30:09] Marium: Everything I would, everything alhamdulillah. This, opportunity, which EY has provided me the apprenticeship I had, I didn’t even imagine, I was on this very focused part with it. I want to come to the UK, finish my education and become a writer.

And now I’m a tech consultant. So alhamdulillah this transition and making sure that I make the most of this opportunity. I’m very grateful for it because there have been days where I’m just not in the mood to do anything. And I feel like, oh, I shouldn’t be doing this.

I should be a writer instead. Or just stay at home. That’s what I think all the time. But. But, uh, alhamdulillah I think this opportunity has opened lots of doors for me and has, has made me, a better person and who I am today. I feel like I’m becoming good road model for my daughter and for my, , sisters as well, because, because.

I come from a background or basically my culture is a women should be a housewife or just mother. And I think the idea that a women can do all these three things and have a career as well, and be an independent person as well is, um, didn’t think I would be one of those. So alhamdulillah very, very grateful for that.

[00:31:16] Grace: I, such a deep feeling thinking about how, mother our daughters, are gonna be looking at us.

[00:31:22] Marium: Yeah.

[00:31:22] Grace: you know, our sons too. Recently, we had a tech sisters’ meetup and I took my kids there and it was just such a profoundly thing for me to feel like they’re observing their mom in this situation, also seeing all these other Muslim women who are doing so many cool things with their careers and the hijabis niqabis who are not cut and the co are not covered.

[00:31:45] Marium: I

[00:31:45] Grace: oh, it’s really beautiful. subhanAllah

[00:31:48] Marium: Yes. I

[00:31:49] Grace: really.

[00:31:50] Marium: If You think in hindsight, , wouldn’t have thought about , even this conversation, meeting people, , from text sisters as well. I think I was, , I was a mentor last in

[00:31:58] Grace: You were mm-hmm

[00:31:59] Marium: and I spoke to a lady and just connecting with those people and like, having those conversations and making those connections, it’s very amazing.

Especially , as Muslim women and lots of us from backgrounds, which never see Muslim women making such progress in their careers, et cetera. I think this is very profound and, , definitely an example for our children.

[00:32:18] Grace: Exactly. subhanAllah that’s one we have Tech sisters is you were mentioning before how we tick, like every minority box. Like so many of us in the group are so many layers of the only, right?

[00:32:29] Marium: Yes.

[00:32:30] Grace: And so this is a place where we get it. You can have a mentor, mentee relationship,

[00:32:36] Marium: Mm-hmm

[00:32:37] Grace: your mentoring partner also understands.

What’s like being the only person covered at work,

[00:32:42] Marium: Yeah.

[00:32:43] Grace: uh, and having that profound understanding and that realization, there’s a deep bond, right?

[00:32:51] Marium: I agree. Yes. And just the platform itself, it’s the idea that there are other women in the same boat, like you said, , and the, that bond is very important, having. Just in the back of my mind, having the idea that, oh, I have a community, which I can rely on. If I’m stuck somewhere is amazing.

I think, uh, and we, even though we, we, we try to be as brave and as, trailblazers for everything. But at the end of the day, we need to have that community, which we can rely on.

[00:33:17] Grace: Yeah, that’s it. it’s a problem.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add or anything that we haven’t quite covered or final words of advice?

[00:33:26] Marium: No, I think I’ve spoken a lot.

[00:33:30] Grace: you did great.

[00:33:31] Marium: thank you. But, but you’ll have to do lots of editing because of all the jokes I’ve made.

[00:33:39] Grace: We’re keeping the

[00:33:41] Marium: but that’s reality is in it. Nobody’s perfect. So, yeah. End on a very funny note I used to, , go into work and everyone would ask, oh, how was your weekend? Because their weekends would be amazing. Like someone would be traveling to Italy or

who would be dealing with. Yeah.

they would be doing cool things. And at first I used to feel so shy and I used to make up things like, oh, I went to the south end beach or I went here or I didn’t do any of these things. I was at home cooking food or cleaning, et cetera. And then I started accepting that and I, and I told the truth that, oh, on weekends I do this or I do that.

Or I just sleep because that’s what I enjoy the most. And I realize people are okay with it. Nobody cares if I sleep or do laundry on the weekend. And , as long as I had a good weekend, every everyone’s happy.

[00:34:22] Grace: Honestly, most people aren’t even listening to what you done the weekend. They’re just waiting to say what they did.

[00:34:27] Marium: Yes. Yes. I agree.

yes.

[00:34:32] Grace: the

dirty secret. Yeah.

[00:34:34] Marium: the

[00:34:35] Grace: Amazing. Amazing. So, well, thank you so much, Marium, for coming on and for not lying about anything and for being, showing us

[00:34:44] Marium: weekend. Thank you. thank you for the opportunity. And, uh, honestly, honestly, I know I’m not very active and I don’t say it enough, but you are doing an amazing work

[00:34:56] Grace: whole truth about your story. um,

[00:34:56] Marium: tech sisters. And I do hope

I can help you as much as I can because you’re doing an amazing job. Uh, connecting us all women.

[00:35:02] Grace: Oh, thank you very much. Maryam. May Allah reward you

[00:35:05] Marium: Okay.

[00:35:05] Grace: comment. Thank you so much.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Marium. Jazakallahu Khair! You can connect with Marium and follow her on LinkedIn.

If you liked this story, be sure to check our other Tech Sisters Stories and get to know the amazing talent we have in our community.

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