Today on Tech Sisters Stories we’re excited to have Shaheen Sultana
Shaheen is a QA Analyst at Aventum Group. She loves to speak at various conferences and blogs to share knowledge and connect with more people in the community.
Listen to Shaheen’s Story
Key Lessons From This Episode
- Once you have knowledge, you can demand what you’re worth (10:10)
- The more you do wrong, the more you learn (17:33)
- Don’t limit yourself by only asking for feedback and guidance from only your field (19:00)
This transcript was auto-generated by Descript and is not 100% accurate
[00:00:00] Grace Witter: As Salaam-Alaikum, you’re listening to tech sisters stories. tech sisters is a community that connects you with other sisters who share your story experiences and goals. So you no longer have to feel like the only one like you on your team. My name is grace and I get to interview the amazing women in our community, share their stories and the lessons they learned.
[00:00:22] Grace: Today on tech sisters stories. We are very excited to have Shaheen Sultana. Shaheen is a QA analyst at event TM Group. She loved to speak at various conferences and blogs to share knowledge and connect with more people in the community.
She has become a very engaged Tech Sisters member and I’m very, very excited to have her on here. Welcome, Shaheen.
[00:00:44] Shaheen: Thank you so much for that. Such a lovely intro and yes, I do love to be like, I really enjoy being a member of Tech Sisters. It’s like really inspiring and being motivated. It’s really nice to be here.
[00:00:57] Grace: I’m so glad that you found us and that we’re here alhamdulillah, and so let’s start. How did you first get into Tech Shaheen?
[00:01:04] Shaheen: Basically tech was never my first choice. I never even thought of it. My first thing used to be like, when, whenever I used to speak about computers or anything. I mean, like, those are, those are the stuff for geek people, not for me. I’m not the one. But then I, I basically we had a perception that, you know, tech means like it or anything that comes into mind.
We usually picture men, not female, but again, when I was doing, in my initial days, I started my career as my HR human resource. I was a recruiter. I was doing fine, but I just wanted to try my hands on and my business. Where I wanted to improve start up my own business, start working on it. So I have a, I’m a certified baker.
I used to bake, but when I was baking and everything, I was doing fine. but I was, I was missing out something that is, without studies, what am I doing? I wanna learn something. I want to educate people. I’m doing this for a passion, but I want to do something else. I want to learn, I want to grow.
How can I do that? So, I don’t know how I started having my interest in to tech, I started reading what is manual testing, what is testing, what is bug and everything? And then I don’t know how, where, when it started, but as, as soon as I started learning and studying, I became more into it. I started enjoying it. I started love.
Listening to more of it. Like nowadays, we are very fortunate generation that we are able to get various benefits of like online platform, for example, YouTube podcasts. So I have heard so many people being inspired. I thought, okay, people are doing jumping their career or shifting their career in their nineties or eighties.
Why can’t I? So that is how I came quite a upside down journey. But yeah, that is how my journey started with.
[00:02:53] Grace: So I just had to laugh while you’re describing that you went from baking cakes to solving bugs. What, what algorithm took?
[00:03:05] Shaheen: It’s like I have learned, I mean, I, I could definitely say one thing. I have learned from three different professions that it’s like from recruiting, from my baking business, from being in hr, one thing I have kept constant is passionate about what you are doing. You should love what you are doing.
When you love, it doesn’t feel like, okay, it’s not anything unpleasant or burdening. You feel you really enjoy what you are doing. So I, I, I compared everything. Okay. Why did I enjoy human resource? Because I was enjoying it during that time. And why? Why did I join baking? I was enjoying, I like, I really love cooking.
I really love baking things. I, it, it all, it makes people smile whenever you bake something special like, Cakes are for celebrations. So whenever you do celebrate it, you celebrate it with cake. There is no celebrations or no occasions without cake.
[00:03:58] Grace: Not a fun one anyway,
[00:04:00] Shaheen: So yeah, that’s why. And then when you come to testing without QA-ing, without having bugs or anything, you know, you cannot move further.
Even, even when there is a developer, he needs bugs, right? But like to
[00:04:13] Grace: Yeah. You have to break it. Yeah. To
[00:04:15] Shaheen: work into the software. So yes, that is the reason why. I mean, one thing most constant is passion. Love what you’re doing.
[00:04:24] Grace: So actually I also tried doing a baking business, but I was not successful .
Um. When I when I was first going into tech, I was trying to explore a couple different ideas of how to work from home. Tech was one of the things that I was learning in parallel with a couple of other things. So one was child mining as a certified child.
Minder did, did not go without and.
[00:04:49] Shaheen: lots of patience for that.
[00:04:50] Grace: Yeah, exactly. It’s, it’s very different when it’s not your own kids. And then cake baking. My cakes are very tasty, but they’re not very aesthetic, so it didn’t really go very far.
[00:05:02] Shaheen: Keep in mind. My first cake was a disaster. You don’t believe I, I, I didn’t give up after that because when I first, my first cake was I added way too much of sugar. I didn’t knew, I didn’t measure it. I added sugar the twice amount. I was like, okay, if. I mean, I could have stopped there then and there and I would never become what I was, but no, let me try one more Okay. From there there is, there was like no turning back and wherever I go, if I eat anything, I really want to recreate it in my own way.
[00:05:38] Grace: Mm. mashAllah. That’s really good. Oh, that’s lovely. So let’s go back to qa since this is the tech show, not the baking show so you’re learning and you’re really passionate about qa, you’re learning why is it so important? How did you go from learning about it to getting your first job?
[00:05:52] Shaheen: My first job was quite very difficult, but I was like really, really, really fortunate that when I was learning my manual testing, my friend, like family friend, they had their own startup company back in India. So I approached them, can I work there as an intern , but, and the, like I said, I don’t wanna get paid or anything.
I just wanted to be in tech and see, what I have learned, how can I implement, how can I grow from there? And alhamdulillah, that was like really breakthrough opportunity for me. They hired me as intern. I didn’t want to get paid or anything like that, but alhamdulillah. But when I joined there, they really liked my work.
They really admired the way I was working and I was learning, I was new. So they, put my role, like a permanent candidate rather than the intern. And then we continued from there. And for also like when I was doing my manual qa, I got an opportunity to learn even automation there. I was, I was given opportunity because there were a few projects which were coming for automation.
I wanted to work even on that. So I choose to learn automation then and there. But unfortunately, before I could start working on it, due to pandemic and everything, the product got shut down and we couldn’t work anymore. But again, after coming to uk, I have to start everything from scratch.
But here, the journey was quite interesting because here are the people, whenever I was interviewing, I felt really nice that they ask about , what you have done in your previous work, how did you get through? What is this? What is that? Rather than going. In depth into the subject. Like when I used to give interviews back then in India, it was like very subjective, like whatever I have read, it should be bookish knowledge kind of thing.
But and there was one more major. advantage of me that when I came here in UK I have engaged myself in various tech communities like Slack channels, various Slack channels like women in tech, tech sisters, Muslim, Muslim in tech, these kind of thing where I have gone through each and everyone’s inspirations or like blogs or any everything where I have gained so much of knowledge.
I have learned so much from the various communities. I cannot justify one because I have learned from among various communities. So that is the reason why I want to, even what I have learned, I want to give the same or like even more to the community. That was my first thought
[00:08:20] Grace: aw mashAllah
[00:08:21] Shaheen: it was my journey.
[00:08:23] Grace: So there’s three bits there that really stood out to me. So first, once you have your knowledge and you are passionate about this, you’re confident that this is where you wanna go. then you Asked for help, right? You were talking to your, your family connection and they gave you an internship. So that’s being able to get experience.
And that’s working for free. So some people don’t have that option of doing that, but , you are able to, and this is something that we get a lot of questions on, it’s how do I build up experience before getting my first job? This is one of the ways to do that.
[00:08:55] Shaheen: That that really, really makes huge difference because it’s not only for my breakthrough. Even my, when my husband started his career in here in uk, he started as a financial internship and luckily even , his work was admired and he was really fortunate that he was even got in full, full-time position, like permanent role there.
[00:09:18] Grace: Yes. Also, the way that you are asking for it is another thing to call out, because a lot of times these internships, especially at very smaller companies, aren’t really advertised or they’re advertised like internally, or it’s hard to find if you’re just an entry level person. So ask, use your network talk to people, and you don’t really know who’s, who’s gonna be hiring.
Sometimes someone they’re,
[00:09:38] Shaheen: You should always ask. Reach out to the person. You never know who’s gonna help you. I mean, for me, it was like out of Blue Moon, the person who helped me, I never even thought of that person in the first place. He would be, or she would be benefiting me or why, what? What was the point of me asking?
But it was a general conversation where I reached out, okay, I was looking out for these opportunities. They were like, yes, we do have, you can like, you can have a look around. So I was like very genuine that anything should be fine as long as I’m learning. I didn’t look for money because I wanted to gain experience.
Once you have knowledge, you can demand what you are worth. But one until, and unless you don’t know what exactly your worth is, you know how much you know or you, how much you have learned, you cannot justify. So that was my first thing.
[00:10:24] Grace: Yes, but I also wanna qualify that by, it is important to set boundaries around what you’re willing to work for free around, because sometimes you can go in working for knowledge with that objective, but then the other company takes advantage of you and you find that and it happens, and then you find that you’re working way too hard, for
[00:10:44] Shaheen: Oh yes, that does happen sometimes.
[00:10:48] Grace: Yeah, so alhamdulillah, it’s good. It comes back to what is your objective for this role? If your objective is to get experience over getting paid, then alhamdulillah set your boundary around that and you know it’s good alhamdulillah, get that out of it. You never know where your risk is gonna come from, right? So you always have to make dua to Allah.
You have to have good expectations and just try use your network, ask around and, and be open to opportunities when they come and you don’t know what the next thing is going to lead.
[00:11:15] Shaheen: Yes, of course. Definitely trust Allah
[00:11:17] Grace: Mm-hmm. And then the other thing that jumped out to me was you were saying that the interview styles are different. So you said that for Indian companies it’s more subjective much more technical knowledge. And UK companies, it’s a lot more about your experience and being able to craft this narrative around what you’re able to, to do.
So, I think a lot of tech sisters are coming in, and first, the interview itself is kind of overwhelming for a lot of our members, and they’re interviewing at places that have very different interviewing styles. The way to find out the interviewing style is to go and interview, right? So do lots and lots of interviews, figure out what they’re looking for, and then kind of craft your approach, right?
What do you think?
[00:12:01] Shaheen: And also one thing I would like to add is the interviews here in UK are more conversational. They are not like question based. They won’t ask you question and they expect you an answer. It’s like more over like conversation. You never feel like you are in interview until it’s done. It’s like you have any questions like, okay, I was an interview. for majority of them. I won’t say everyone has the same interview based, but yes, majority of them are scenario based or situation based. We have, I, I usually have conversations during my interviews
[00:12:34] Grace: As someone who has been on both sides, I think those are the best interviews is when you’re able to have a conversation. It tells the interviewer a lot more about the interviewee when you’re able to kind of go both ways and, and have a much more rich discussion.
[00:12:48] Shaheen: Yes. And also it, it would be more like we, we would able to understand the company’s, not standards, not the correct word, but yes, kind of the culture and how they are being treated. How the questions themselves, you know, when I was initially interviewing, I didn’t realize, but now when I look back and see the way they ask you questions exactly, depends on how the company treats them.
[00:13:12] Grace: Mm-hmm.
[00:13:13] Shaheen: Majority of them are like that.
[00:13:15] Grace: Yeah. And the third thing that I wanted to highlight from what you said before was that you leaned into communities. So you searched for communities, you got support and for inspiration from communities, and now you’re giving back to communities. And of course, you know, this is tech sisters, all in favor of that.
But that’s something that is like, it’s such a key part, and a lot of people don’t realize this. It can be very difficult navigating. On your own especially you, you’re going from different countries in the middle of a pandemic. That’s very difficult and you’re able to go through this with your passion and, and having support from communities to sustain you.
[00:13:52] Shaheen: Yes. And also one thing is it’s not necessary that you have to join each and every community and then sit silently and listen to what people are talking or discussing about you should have courage to ask them questions. What you don’t know answers for, it’s fine. You know, no one is there for question you, but if you ask, maybe someone is there who might help you, it might be nothing for them, but it would be everything for you.
[00:14:17] Grace: Yes, absolutely. This is one of the things that I tell everyone who joins. I see all the membership forms that come in for tech sisters. There’s every single person, says that the reason for joining is sisterhood. Everybody wants to contribute to tech Sisters to help their sisters in Islam. If you ask a question, you are going to get a helpful response.
So this is a community where you are safe to ask any question, the beginner questions, complicated questions. This is the place
[00:14:46] Shaheen: Totally.
[00:14:49] Grace: Shaheen, what would you like to do next? So, what’s your aspirations in your career?
[00:14:55] Shaheen: my aspirations is now I am completely into manual testing, which I really love. And I don’t wanna go completely into automation as well. But yes, just to be updated with the market, I want to be updated with the applications or the softwares which people use. So I always want to keep on track what are the latest trends. No matter that I want to learn everything, but yes, I want to have a knowledge of everything so that I be like when, whenever we are going in a room where people are discussing, because I am a person who always loves to engage in many communities and go to many conferences, so they do talk about various things.
So I don’t wanna be a person where like, okay, I don’t know this, I don’t know that, and, and I don’t wanna keep my mouth shut and sit in the corner. That without knowing anything, even though if I don’t know, I would love to go and ask them, what is it about? What are you, what are your latest tools in technologies?
Because I love to say I’m an accidental tester, and I’m really proud of it. I never feel ashamed of it because I am here to learn no matter what. From now I would like to see myself going is wanna be where people recognize me. alhamdulillah, that okay being from non-it, she’s there.
She has reached so much of height and also be a well-known person in communities, in blogs where I could help people. Maybe I would be someone. Career path where I could navigate someone. I would be so fortunate if I would do that. So that is my goal. Every goal is that
[00:16:35] Grace: I love, make it easy for you and enable you to do everything that you’re hoping to do in Shala. Oh, that would be really lovely. I can see you really with the energy that you have and the passion that you have for helping others. I can really see this happening for you in Shala. Okay.
[00:16:49] Shaheen: the reason why I have the passion to help others is for myself because I have seen many people who has really good knowledge, who has really good experience, but they didn’t help me. I didn’t feel bad for that because, because of them I am here. I learned everything from myself.
I digged everything from scratch. I got to learn so much just because they couldn’t help me. If they would’ve helped me, I would have not known all these things. So and again, I want to give them an experience that, okay, you can learn from this, this point of view, or you can choose these options.
This is what I did, so maybe you could benefit from. I feel whenever you share your knowledge, it’s never gonna reduce it
[00:17:33] Grace: Absolutely. What advice do you have for somebody who’s new to qa? And wants to get started
[00:17:39] Shaheen: a really good piece of advice. Not only new to qa, but for any career path. Never be afraid of what you are doing because you know, whenever you are doing. . Even a child, when he starts to walk, he will fall until and unless he fall, he will not learn. So you will learn from your failures. Never, be afraid or, , be ashamed of what you have done anything wrong.
Because the more you do wrong, the more you learn. , if you get it correct in the first place, you will never gonna learn it. How? What are the various ways you can fail with? So that is what would be my career advice. Never feel happy whenever you go wrong or like whenever you are down, whenever people correct you, because that is where you’ll learn.
You learn from your mistakes.
[00:18:22] Grace: Related to that, what is something in your career journey that you regret or you wish you had done differently?
[00:18:29] Shaheen: One thing I really regret is I shouldn’t have how can I phrase it properly, you know, rather than depending on people who. in my own community that is like in my own QA people rather than asking help for who are into testing or anything like that, I, if I would have approached people because I have, in my recent career, previously, whenever I wanted to ask someone about help, how can I reach this?
What can I do differently to get recognition in my job? Or like, people, good people can call me. For interviews and many, many other things. There were many people who I have reached are, qa, QA stream, or like are senior software testers who are testers. But I made a mistake of not asking like developers or product owner because everyone is, what can I say, everyone?
For me, you know, there are many people who helped me with developers or product owners, not the qa. So because they were, they were the person who used to work closely with qa. So I never think of asking. Only in your stream, try to ask anyone around you because you know, you never know who, who’s gonna help you or who has certain knowledge about what you are expect.
[00:19:47] Grace: This is actually a very good point. I think it’s a very interest very important thing to highlight. When you are working on a team and you have experience, you’re not just working with qa, you are also interacting with your developers and the product owners and any other stakeholders that are relevant to the work that you’re doing.
It is very important to get into the habit of. Having that cross team communication, being able to understand what are the problems that the other stakeholders are, are having, what they need to for success, what kind of metrics they need to see, how you can really communicate in a way that’s most beneficial for both of you.
So getting into that habit early is, is very good. The insights that they have onto what they need from you are gonna be so helpful. MashAllah, so I think that’s a really great.
[00:20:32] Shaheen: You actually phrased it really correct. I didn’t knew how to answer it, but yes, that is what I
[00:20:38] Grace: We work together. It’s a collaborative effort.
[00:20:42] Shaheen: Yes, absolutely.
we always trying to depend on the same stream, which we are working. We never want to approach someone outside the team, but you should.
[00:20:51] Grace: Yeah. Shaheen, what is something that you are most proud of? So like maybe a project or something that you accomplished in your career that’s really dear to your heart.
[00:21:01] Shaheen: Like for every specific thing I have really one thing for every specific career I have been through. There is one special thing which I have done. Like when I
[00:21:11] Grace: Oh, a special cake.
[00:21:13] Shaheen: when my years, when I was my hr, I really admire my work. I really used to love because people used to appreciate me. They used to think like, for every question they used to come to us, which I used to feel very pleasant, happy that, okay, I am the one per go-to person for them, for solving each and every solutions or questions they have.
It may be across recruitment process, it may be across the pay slips or everything. We were the go-to person for them, and we know everyone in the team. Not in the company, not team, because we, we used to hire everyone, so that used to feel very proud and very ch. I used to cherish that. When, when there were some people who are on the same team and they don’t know anyone outside the team, but we used to know everyone.
So that was one thing. And coming to my baking business I really love, initially I couldn’t do anything perfectly, but when I did perfect, people used to like, how can you do it? I was like, just like that.
[00:22:08] Grace: My God,
[00:22:10] Shaheen: It takes lots of, lots and lots and lots of practice, but cause I know the pain, I used to sit just like that.
[00:22:18] Grace: Oh.
[00:22:20] Shaheen: When it comes to qa it’s really, people assume it very small. You know, you’re testing only software, you’re clicking only one thing, you’re, you’re just scrolling around different aspects or you’re drafting test cases.
It’s not only. These things, we do way more different things apart from that, which I really share with them. I could, I was able to share only because I started my career in qa. I experienced everything. I have seen a journey, with not being in the qa. , I have seen outside the QA and I have seen inside the tech and outside the tech, so I know what people think outside of the tech and I can totally relate to it and I can think what people think inside the tech and I can totally relate to it.
And that is where I am breaking the. Bubble between non-tech and tech and taking that advantage because I have one and expressing that via my talks or via my blog, which is really nice. So that that this part I really love the current one.
[00:23:22] Grace: Yes, I can definitely see that. And Shaheen, this is the last question I have for you tonight, but what is something or someone that you’re most grateful for in your career journey?
[00:23:33] Shaheen: I am really, really grateful for my father. He has been always, always, always my role model because since childhood, he has taught us never give up, whatever I am here today. I’m just because of him, the way he brought us up, the way he. Taught me values. The way he appreciates, my father used to celebrate the smallest achievement of us, which used to make us feel so precious and so happy, so accomplished, I could properly say so, yes, because of those small achievements, those small celebrations, we are able to achieve big things and celebrate big, big things.
[00:24:11] Grace: I reward him do you have anything else that you’d like to add, Shaheen? Any last thoughts?
[00:24:15] Shaheen: Yes, I would definitely want to add one. One thing I have really, really, really benefited so much from Tech Sisters because you know, Tech SIsters is not just to help you. Groom yourself. It’s also, you know, I really love enjoying to people in tech sisters. It’s a way of communicating, you know, I have missed something of speaking to Muslim and speaking to my community, people I have spoke, I have gone through each and every person’s profile.
I mean, Just have a look around and they are from different countries, but one thing is United is Muslims no matter what language we speak, but we speak, these are similar. This is something which connects us and I really cherish this thing and I’m really, really happy to be a part of Tech Sisters and learn so much, engage, so much learn and you know able to inspire.
[00:25:11] Grace: Oh, we’re very lucky to have you alhamdulillah. I think you did identify something that’s a real strength of Texas Sisters is we are very diverse. It’s something like, I think 24 different countries are represented.
Something like 17 different ethnicities. It’s, it’s a lot . Our community health report is coming out, we’re currently doing the survey for it, and when this interview gets published, the report itself will go live. So then whoever’s listening to this and is interested in reading about the demographics of tech sisters, you can go to our website and look at the report in Shala.
But yeah, we’re a very, very diverse group. Different ethnicities. Different career paths. So we have a really diverse mix between developers product managers, design, ux, ui, qa, all across the board, alhamdulillah, different range of seniority mothers, wives, unmarried students, everything but like we said, what unites us is we are Muslim, and Sisters of Islam.
[00:26:12] Shaheen: It feels so back to home kind of connection for me.
[00:26:16] Grace: I’m glad you feel that.
[00:26:18] Shaheen: Yeah. And also like as you mentioned, there are various different groups like product, like different streams, no matter they are in or anything. I have like when recently when we had a mentors match, we were three different people who are from three different stream, but we had a same motive that is we were missing speaking or connection with a Muslim member who are into tech.
So this unites.
[00:26:43] Grace: Yes,
[00:26:44] Shaheen: really fortunate.
[00:26:47] Grace: and I think this is another thing is. it’s hard to articulate how difficult it is to be without that connection until you kind of see it again and then you realize, oh, I’ve been really missing this. Right. Which is something that we see on the interviews when we start talking about somebody’s work and we’re saying to describe a work situation and you’re not used to using to describe your work situation.
Right. But it feels so really nice. It’s this u unification of our different identities, our work selves, and our, our true selves, our team
[00:27:24] Shaheen: Yeah. Next home. That’s what I meant. Like we, we speak this kind of words when we are with family, we feel so relief. We, we feel so open. We just, we just speak about everything and anything that is what tech sisters is about.
[00:27:37] Grace: Ah, that’s wonderful. Well, thank you so much again, Shaheen, for everything, for joining and for having such a great interview tonight. It’s been really lovely talking to you.
[00:27:48] Shaheen: It was really pleasure being here and hope everyone enjoys it too.
[00:27:53] Grace Witter: And as always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen today. If you liked it and you like what we’re doing at Tech Sisters consider following us, leaving a review, sharing this episode with any friends or even supporting us on Patrion. All of those really help us a lot. This is a completely non-profit organization. We’re just doing this for.
Sadaqua , so anything that helps more Muslim women find us and discover us and hear the stories is immensely helpful. And if you are a Muslim woman in tech, please go ahead and check out our community. It is completely free and fun and very supportive. You can join by going to our website tech-sisters.com and filling out the membership form, and you will get a link right away into our slack. So it’s really, really easy.
And that is all for me. And I’ll see you next week. As Salaam alaikum.