Sanaa Siddiqui – Creative Roles Are Part Of Tech Too

podcast episode art featuring sanaa siddiqui

Three months into her first job after university, Sanna Siddiqui’s manager left, leaving all of the company’s PR and communications work to fall on Sanaa alone.

In today’s episode, Sanaa tells us how she handled that sudden change, learned to advocate for herself, and how she’s dealt with always being the first Muslim woman in her role at the companies she joins.

Listen to Sanaa’s Story

Key lessons from this episode

  1. The benefits of having a manager who supports your professional growth (18:30)
  2. Creative roles are part of tech too (23:00)
  3. Sanaa’s experiences always being the first Muslim woman in her role (25:00)


This transcript was auto-generated by Descript and is not 100% accurate

Sanaa Siddiqui

[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: as salaamu alikum today on tech sisters Stories. We are very excited to have sanaa siddiqui. sanaa is a content writer at juro, a legal tech company. Her love of writing goes way back and she has experienced blogging, reporting, and freelancing for many companies, including the National zakat Foundation.

Sanaa is also a former teacher, current movie Geek, and loves to travel, so I’m so happy to have you on here, sanaa.

[00:00:46] Sanaa: Yeah, happy to.

[00:00:48] Grace: So let’s start, how’d you first get into this?

[00:00:52] Sanaa: In tech generally.

[00:00:53] Grace: Into tech generally?

[00:00:54] Sanaa: Generally. Okay. The big wide world of tech. So it was right out of uni and I kind of didn’t really know what I want to go into. I think my degree itself was quite broad for that exact reason because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and Yeah, I, I came across a Cleantech startup and a PR and communications role at that startup, and decided to apply because I enjoyed writing.

I didn’t really know the startup route was a viable one at this stage. I don’t think it’s marketed as often as like working for a big, well-known company or you know firm or an agency, but for example, so I wasn’t really aware of what it would entail, but um, yeah, that’s how I got into tech.

[00:01:37] Grace: What stage was that startup at? Was it just the beginning or was it a scale up?

[00:01:42] Sanaa: So I think it was post series A. It had been around for about five years at that stage.

[00:01:50] Grace: sure. The reason I ask is that really affects the experience that you have . The energy and the demands are really intense, but at, in different ways at that different stages of startups. So how did you deal with that? And I’m guessing that was a pretty small team when you joined, as.

[00:02:08] Sanaa: Yeah, it was pretty small and I think joining as someone with no experience was both a blessing and a curse um, because. I got thrown in. Exactly. I joined and within like the first three months of me being in this PR and communications role, the manager who I was reporting to got another job and left.

So it was just me. So I was the PR and communications team with three

[00:02:37] Grace: seniority of three months?

[00:02:38] Sanaa: Yeah, exactly. Very, very long tenure before they decided to promote me in that role. Yeah, so I guess on the one hand as having that as your first job is very rewarding because you pick up so many skills and so quickly, and you are, you’re kind of expected to learn on the job and try new things, and failure isn’t seen as like a.

You know, taboo subject. It’s very much like part of a startup culture to be like, okay, so if you failed from this, what have you learned? Let’s try and move on, like, do something else with this strategy. So that all really worked, I think, in my favor and really help me understand what I actually enjoy doing, which is writing.

So yeah, it, I think it was, it was a great first step.

[00:03:20] Grace: That’s good. Yeah, that is. That is the thing that we tell people about startups versus larger companies. You know, it, it is different environments for different people and different appetites, but the advantage of the startup is it is very intense, but you will come away learning so much stuff and you will have a very broad amount of experience because you have to wear so many different hats. one question though, when you, you were saying this was your first job out of uni how did you find applying for that job? Cuz usually it’s a little, it can be hard to get into startups straight out because they’re looking for someone who has a little bit more of experience.

[00:03:58] Sanaa: So I think that it worked in my favor because they were looking for someone junior and the startup was expecting that person to develop with the company. Otherwise, you’re absolutely right. If they didn’t have that leadership team like already in there they wouldn’t have considered my application because that’s what they would be looking for, like seasoned pros coming in to actually help them understand what to do with those, with those different teams.

But yeah, they already had a leader there. Granted, she left three months later, but , she was there. She was there. And so they wanted someone who could support her on like the, I guess more of the admin tasks like filling things in, in a spreadsheet and Yeah.

All sorts

[00:04:49] Grace: someone has to do it.

[00:04:50] Sanaa: has to do it. Yeah.

[00:04:51] Grace: might as well be the junior

[00:04:53] Sanaa: that’ll be me. I’ll do it. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

[00:04:56] Grace: So what was the next up? How did you transition away from that company

[00:04:59] Sanaa: Yeah, I took a bit of a left turn at that stage. So I’d been with that company for about two years and I felt like partly through my own, my own fault because I grew comfortable with what I was doing, but also their fault because I wasn’t given any kind of developmental, like career path. I wasn’t. Challenged and I wasn’t encouraged to try beyond what I knew I could do. I boxed myself in, so I ended up doing pretty much the same thing every single day. It felt like such a grind at this point. Yeah, it was frustrating for me, but also it was the result of my own decisions as well, so it was kind.

[00:05:48] Grace: Hmm.

[00:05:50] Sanaa: Yeah, it, I, like, I could, I can see how I ended up there. And I can blame, you know, the company and like the lack of management I had at that point, but it was also partly on me. So yeah, I think at that stage I wanted to do something completely different and I saw a job with Disney and they had this side project side arm.

China in Shanghai where they used Disney characters and Disney songs and Disney assets to teach little children English and I, yeah. So I decided to apply for that and somehow got the job. Went through a pretty interesting interview process. And then, yeah, I left for, I left for China for about a year and a half.

So that was, that was my next step.

[00:06:40] Grace: Small steps. Small steps.

[00:06:42] Sanaa: Small steps, yeah.

[00:06:46] Grace: Well that’s really exciting. So that is really telling me that you as a person, , you just go for things. If it looks like it’s gonna be interesting for you, then you’ll go for it.

[00:06:57] Sanaa: I think at the time as well. I mean, my current environment definitely encouraged me to do that, to take that step out. But I think. I remember looking at that role and being like, I could never do it, and being like the thought of going to a country where I don’t speak the language to do something, which I can do, I’ve taught before, but something which I wouldn’t say I’m excellent at, just terrified me and so.

To combat it. I was almost like, well now you have to do it. Like you have to apply. At the very least, you have to see what happens. No way. Like you, no way. You’re gonna get it. And then I got it and I was like, okay, this is happening. So it was very much a case of almost challenging myself as well, which is the thing I enjoy doing is, yeah.

[00:07:41] Grace: All right. So there’s this theme where if you feel that like inner voicing mm-hmm. No, not for me. Or I’m scared without like a valid reason for that feeling, then you’ll try go up against it.

[00:07:54] Sanaa: Yeah, I mean, it’s also why I agreed to a podcast as well, because the

speaking doesn’t come to speaking doesn’t come naturally to me. So I was like, maybe it’s best to just try and do it, you know?

[00:08:07] Grace: Yeah. Yeah. No, but I would like to think I’m a lot less scary

[00:08:11] Sanaa: You are. You’re very chill. I’m enjoying this. Yeah, yeah, yeah. don’t worry.

[00:08:17] Grace: does. Good feedback. Yeah. How did your parents react to that? Because that is a big change.

[00:08:23] Sanaa: Yeah. Yeah. I remember having that discussion with my parents being like, great news. I got a new job. And they were like, that’s amazing. Who’s it with? It’s with Disney. That’s amazing. It’s in Shanghai. Ah, okay. I think it was a shock to start off with, but Alah, they were so supportive and they were like, if this is what you want to do, then, then go for it.

And like, really? Pray on it and really hope that it’s a good decision for you because it’s a big change. You, you know, I can’t just be going to Shanghai and then a month later be like, I changed my mind, I

[00:08:58] Grace: It’s not

[00:08:59] Sanaa: That’s just not gonna work. Yeah, exactly. So yeah, but they were very supportive of

[00:09:04] Grace: i also think , it’s interesting that you were saying, when you were describing getting stuck in that rut at the startup, you said that was mostly you not pushing back and not advocating for yourself enough. This is really an example of you doing that. You are taking control of your direction,

[00:09:22] Sanaa: Trying to

Yeah, trying to,

doing the best I can. Yeah.

[00:09:26] Grace: how did it go?

So you’re going over in Shanghai, and how was that experience?

[00:09:31] Sanaa: I mean, I, I, to this day, it feels surreal. Like I think back and I’m like, was I really there? Like I was there for a

[00:09:38] Grace: long was it? A year and a half.

[00:09:39] Sanaa: Yeah. Yeah. A year and a half. And then I’d say about like, Yeah, yeah, I think it was about a year and a half. So I had like a contract and then three months extra on top of that just to sort of travel around and spend time with the friends I’d made and so on.

But yeah, it was just such a surreal experience. It was amazing. And I learned a lot about myself. I learned about, you know, how I deal with stressful situations, how I deal with adapting to a new environment that’s completely different to what you’re used to. Learning new languages, teaching little children.

English was just, I mean, a challenge and a half, but it was so rewarding as well when they finally, when the, the moment something clicks in their head and they can respond to you in English to a question you’ve asked. It’s like an incredible feeling. It was so much fun. Yeah. Yeah. It was yeah. I don’t have the words to describe it.

It was great. It was so good.

[00:10:31] Grace: I feel like for you being a writer, to not have the words to describe something, it’s truly remarkable.

[00:10:38] Sanaa: True. True. Yeah.

[00:10:40] Grace: Are there any cute stories of the kids you’re teaching? Through the Disney songs and characters,

[00:10:46] Sanaa: Any cute stories? There’s this one kid who, he was one of my favorites, so the youngest class I had was about. Three years old. I mean like tiny, tiny little babies learning English is just adorable. And this one kid, his name, his English name was Zach. And um, he was so naughty. He was such a naughty child.

He was just always running about and just sort of yeah, just very disruptive. When I took over that class, he was very naughty, and by the end of it, he was so well behaved, but he’d often anticipate when he was going to get told off or when he’d done something wrong. So this one time all the kids were dancing and jumping around and he pushed a little girl over

and. Then went by himself to sit on the naughty step. And I didn’t see him push the little girl over, but I was like, why are you, why, why is he sat there? What’s going on? And I went over and he was like, I pushed a little girl over. It’s unacceptable . I was like, it’s so adorable. And he, he really went from being like a disruptive child to almost at times, Being like an old man trapped in a three-year-old’s body.

Like it was very, at some, there was a point, there was another song playing and all the kids are jumping around and he was stood amongst them, just shaking his head And I remember being like, why, why? Why are you shaking his head? Why are you shaking your head? What’s going on? And he was like, it’s too loud.

It’s just not a, it is not appropriate . He was like, it’s just too loud. Someone’s going to get hurt. He was like, lighten up Zack. Come on. Everything’s just, he’s so cute. mashAllah, he was adorable and really intelligent as well. mashAllah, he was he was great.

[00:12:22] Grace: mashAllah that sounds so much fun. So, so, so cute. And you were saying that you got to travel around after your contract and you’re saying in your bio that you love traveling. Is this where it started or had you done that before?

[00:12:34] Sanaa: I’ve always traveled a lot with my family, alhamdulillah They love to travel and I think that’s played a big role in why I’m. Always itching for another place to go to and keeping a list of places I want to visit and so on. Definitely came from an early age of having family in different countries, but also wanting to explore as well.

[00:12:54] Grace: Definitely.

[00:12:54] Sanaa: Yeah,

[00:12:55] Grace: After your contract, I’m guessing you came back to the uk.

[00:13:00] Sanaa: it did.

[00:13:01] Grace: And then got out a real job,

[00:13:04] Sanaa: Yeah. So I got back and I freelanced for a bit as a writer, and that was mainly because I wanted to see how far I could take it. Having no real sort of writing experience, but also because I think in the first six months or so, I just kind of, I, I wanted to re acclimatize myself and just spend time with family and friends.

I haven’t seen them in so long, I just wanted. Settle down into it. And then, yeah, after that I I applied for a role with juro, which is a company I’m at now. And it was a content writer role. And it was another startup, it was a tech startup. I had experience with tech startups and I really wanted something that had writer in the title, so I could officially call myself a writer instead of it being part of a job.

I did it being actually the job

I did. Exactly. Yeah. So, yeah, and thankfully they, they offered me the job and here I am,

[00:14:01] Grace: Well, and how’s this at juro compared to the earlier startup?

[00:14:05] Sanaa: I think coming into Juro, I was apprehensive because the earlier startup was by comparison, chaotic. And there was a lack of like management I felt

[00:14:17] Grace: Well, it’s that beginning stage.

[00:14:19] Sanaa: beginning stage. Yeah, absolutely. But I also do think it’s It’s a product of the leadership and the experience those people have. Because Juro was even earlier stage and I, it was so well organized and so considerate and so much more mature than it was at that time that I was, I was just incredibly impressed and I think that definitely tipped the scales and jurors favor when I was thinking of whether I wanted to go back into a startup or not.

[00:14:48] Grace: Okay. This is a, this is a really good point. So were you able to get that feeling that this is more mature, that these, that j has processes, actual processes in place, the management. So were you able to get that feeling very soon after joining from the interview process? How soon were you able to verify that this is how their culture actually is?

Cuz it’s hard with a startup sometimes.

[00:15:12] Sanaa: It is difficult. I think I got the impression very clearly from the CEO and co-founder Richard, who he interviewed me at one stage and. Open up the floor to, for me to ask questions and was just very transparent and honest about where the company was at what we still needed to do, strengths, weaknesses, and so on, which I thought was really admirable.

And then I guess on top of that, it really sealed the deal. When I, when I actually joined in my first week, they sent me an onboarding schedule

and it was like, here is everything. Here’s a day-to-day every day. This is what your first, you know, first we’re going to get you on all the systems that we’re using every day.

The next day you are going for coffee with the head of sales, for example, and you are then learning all about why we do what we do kind of thing. So it was very broken down. It was very organized. Yeah, just, I was so impressed just by that because it was very much a case of getting me up to speed as quickly as possible, but in a way that still respected my time and didn’t just bombard me with information.

It was, yeah, it was really, it was really great. And I think at that, at that point in the London office, we had nine people, so it wasn’t a massive company, but it was nice to know that they already had those habits in place. Because building, building on them later is really difficult, so yeah.

[00:16:42] Grace: Yeah,

Well, I’m really happy that you had that experience coming back and that must have been a big relief for you,

[00:16:50] Sanaa: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, it was good. It’s still good.

[00:16:53] Grace: It’s still good. Yeah. So it’s been. How many has it been? Two years now at juro?

[00:16:59] Sanaa: It’ll be four years in

May in

[00:17:01] Grace: years. Oh, so you really like it

[00:17:05] Sanaa: Yeah. Yeah. It’s been, it’s been a good while. Yeah. It’s it’s crazy how quickly it’s gone by, but yeah. It’s four years now.

[00:17:12] Grace: And how are you feeling with your content writer role? How has that evolved since when you’ve started?

[00:17:18] Sanaa: So when I started, it was responsibility for a few channels. So I was responsible for newsletters, I was responsible for blogs and for socials. And since then I’ve been promoted to content editor and I’ve taken on still a wide variety, but my feel like my role has. Has grown a lot more. We established a community for our ideal customers, like in house lawyers which initially before we hired a community and events manager was my responsibility as well, just event management, community management, which I had no experience in, but I loved.

[00:17:56] Grace: write stuff. You can handle it.

[00:17:58] Sanaa: I got this, I got this. But it was, it was so rewarding and so enjoyable that there were points where I was like, I don’t wanna give this up. I, I wanna keep it. It’s, it’s mine now. We’d, I’d rather, I’d rather keep it with me. So there was that. And then a lot of project management, which I took on as well, so it wasn’t just newsletters, socials, and blogs with was eBooks and reports and Yeah, like quarterly publications that we’re doing and yeah.

All sorts of other content as well that yeah, I’ve really enjoyed.

[00:18:27] Grace: That’s great. So you’re able to use the advantage of the startup and having lots of different peripheral roles, but to an advantage for yourself and not something that’s like oppressive. Cuz before you were saying that you didn’t feel challenged enough in your other role, that you were getting stuck in a rut.

And here it sounds like you’re really able to flex around and pick the things that are of interest.

[00:18:48] Sanaa: Yeah, it’s very much, yeah, that’s very much the case. And also I have a manager who supports me in that, which I think is definitely make or break. Like at

the first startup, I didn’t, didn’t leave still here. Yeah. First startup. It was very much me doing things on my own and which would’ve been fine if I had any kind of

[00:19:06] Grace: She had any idea what you were doing?

[00:19:08] Sanaa: yeah.

But I did not. So yeah, it’s really great to have a manager who’s in your corner. He’s very much yeah, he’s very much in tune with what I want to do and how to make sure that I’m, I’m doing what I’m best at, basically, which is great.

[00:19:24] Grace: Yeah, I think. Until you experience that having a manager who supports you and who listens to you and who’s advocating for you, it’s hard to really appreciate what a good manager looks like. Um, When you’re, when your whole work experience has been average or below average manager experiences and then you get that one that actually listens.

It’s, it’s such a revelation.

[00:19:47] Sanaa: it is, right? And then there’s so many things which you think are just. Managers being extra nice, but it’s how managers should

[00:19:54] Grace: It’s what their job is. yeah, I

[00:19:56] Sanaa: they’re like, wait a minute, you’re managing me. Okay. No.

Okay, good. I

[00:20:01] Grace: what? This is like. Oh. Learning and development goals,

[00:20:04] Sanaa: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. No, it’s been, yeah, it’s been great alhamdulillah and when I joined the company, we were pre-series A and now we’re, we completed our series B exactly a year ago.

So, Yeah, it’s been really nice seeing the company change as well and how my role has changed in that and everything.

[00:20:24] Grace: And how is legal tech uh, compared to your other experience in Green Tech? Just maybe the different vibes of of the two.

[00:20:34] Sanaa: I think they’re both quite similar in that people. Typically when you say legal tech or clean tech, think they’re incredibly boring. Because they’re both such traditional industries. Like even clean tech is like, you know about solar and you know about wind, you know about hydropower and that’s it.

And aside from that, you’re like, well, what else? What else is, what else is there? And then legal tech, you just think of like, I dunno what people think of when they think of legal tech, but all that comes to my mind now is contract. It’s all I see now. you whispered it. There’s a, there’s a little voice in my head that was just like contracts.

[00:21:18] Grace: haunting you.

[00:21:19] Sanaa: It’s forever. It will. Yeah, exactly. But it’s

[00:21:23] Grace: Why else would you need a legal startup? Because contracts

[00:21:27] Sanaa: Exactly. So they’re quite similar in that sense. And I quite enjoyed and still enjoy being part of a company that’s changing that narrative around that.


[00:21:36] Grace: Hmm.

[00:21:38] Sanaa: changing the way people look at legal tech or the, the way people look at clean energy and the different solutions there. And also taking that audience away from being you know. Old, old men essentially to an audience that’s much more diverse and open-minded and progressive, which I think is very similar amongst both industries as well.

[00:22:02] Grace: Mm. Yeah, that’s true. So those are some assumptions about the industries. What do you feel are some assumptions that people have for you or maybe your role specifically?

[00:22:15] Sanaa: For me, I think if you tell anyone that I am a Pakistani Muslim in tech, They just assume I’m a software developer. Like I think the creative roles get kind of lost in that, in that narrative. I don’t think people think of creative roles when they think of anyone doing anything really

[00:22:36] Grace: that’s why we have this podcast.

[00:22:38] Sanaa: that’s why we’re here. Yeah. Yeah. It’s very much if you are in tech, you are a software developer and that’s it. And it’s nice to be able to challenge that and say, well, you can be in tech and you can be in so many different roles. Even like, you know, people roles, you have sales, you have marketing so much you can go into that doesn’t involve just having like that technical brain.

You can be creative. Yeah, I think that’s probably one of the biggest assumptions.

[00:23:02] Grace: That is a big assumption. That’s why at Tech Sisters, it’s already such a small niche. We don’t need to make it smaller by only doing Muslim women who code

[00:23:12] Sanaa: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:23:13] Grace: alhamdulillah. We have a very broad definition of what counts as Muslim women in tech. basically if you see yourself as being in tech and you see yourself as a Muslim woman, you’re

a tech. That’s it. You’re done

[00:23:26] Sanaa: Love it.

[00:23:28] Grace: But the reasons why we do that is because we see that the value of working in tech is more than learning how to code or using that tech brain. Like you were saying, that very logical side, it’s the freedom and flexibility that comes from working at jobs in this industry. Cuz a lot of our members, when they’re going to work, they wanna be able to work from home.

They wanna have flexibility around, you know, , if they have kids, if they can do that, they wanna work for companies that have a purpose. They’re doing tech for good. They wanna work at places that are maybe more diverse, that are challenging. Status quos, like you were saying, not just for old white men. And this is where the energy is, you know, in startups and in companies in tech.

So it’s not, you can find your place in this area cuz it’s so broad.

[00:24:20] Sanaa: yeah. And like, don’t get me wrong, like I. Software developers are great but I think limiting what people can do in that sense is just, it kind of doesn’t help with the representation we want to see across different industries, especially when it comes to Muslim women. Like I, I still, I don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere in marketing where I’m not the first Muslim woman and.

It’s, it’s great in some ways, but also a bit isolating in others because you’re like, well, do people not know that this is an option? Open to them kind of thing. Yeah, I just, yeah, I think it’s just maybe the way we were raised or, or it’s just like you have to be a lawyer, an engineer, a doctor, or a software developer.

These are your.

[00:25:13] Grace: that counts engineer. That’s a subcategory


[00:25:15] Sanaa: Oh yeah. True, true. Smart

[00:25:19] Grace: It’s that logical brain Yeah. Okay. So we can probably dig into that a little bit more. You’re saying that you’ve never been in a role where you haven’t been the first Muslim in that team. How has that been for you? Is it something that is, you know, challenging? Is it something that’s draining or is it positive sometimes?

[00:25:41] Sanaa: I think both. I think at times it can feel isolating because it’s always nice to have a group of people you can share that with and they. Yeah, I mean, they don’t have to be working at the same company, which is why Tech Sisters is so great, because it’s nice to know that there’s other Muslim women working in tech who you can bounce ideas off of and you can share your experiences with and so on.

So it can be isolating, but there’s also something quite rewarding about it in the sense that. I can build up from scratch how people see me and what they understand of Muslims because all they know is what they’ve read in the media . So I can change that and I can challenge that by being like, well, this is what any regular.

Working Muslim woman is like, and she’s like, all of you, , there are, here are some things you might not know about Islam that I’m going to educate you on just by being myself almost. Which I think is really cool. There’s something very rewarding about it. Like last year I opened up.

My experience with the Ramadan to the business. So I had them all participate and

go to iftars with me and things like that. And it was just, it was so nice. It was so nice to see the support and genuine interest, it also allowed me to disprove any kind of misconceptions that they would’ve heard about it.

Just by. The first Muslim that doing this and being able to share it with them.

[00:27:15] Grace: MashAllah, I’m so happy that you had that experience with your company and your colleagues. I think this is another thing that really distinguishes these small startup companies. When you are the person, th there’s this genuine interest in wanting to know you and wanting to learn more about you, to understand and empathize with what you’re going through.

So I think sometimes when we When we’re faced with the role of being the only person, the only ex at work and Muslim women, we have multiple, multiple layers of the only, right? So sometimes that can feel like everyone is looking at you extra closely, like cuz you don’t fit in. But Usually everyone is just really friendly.

You, they’re treating you kindly. They’re judging you based on the quality of your work and not what you’re wearing on your head. Yeah. So I, I think it is generally a positive thing, but again, every company is different and if you are not getting those positive vibes, you have options. , you don’t have to

[00:28:12] Sanaa: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s really unfortunate that every company’s not the same, but alhamdulillah I think I lucked out with the one I’m at. Yeah, it’s, it’s sad to hear that other people can’t do the same at like bigger companies. Maybe you are just like other places, but yeah.

[00:28:28] Grace: It is what is. But alhamdulillah, I think this is kind of this is why it’s so important to have groups like this where you can talk to other Muslim women and you can get a sense of Whether something that you’re going through is just like a bad work environment, just because maybe they don’t have processes or because something is just not right at work or because it’s because of bias,

you know?

[00:28:52] Sanaa: absolutely.

[00:28:53] Grace: Because it can be very difficult to tell the difference when you’re in the middle of it.

[00:28:58] Sanaa: Yeah.

[00:29:00] Grace: What is something that you are most proud of in your career so far?

[00:29:05] Sanaa: Trying to think of an example that we haven’t covered already. Like I think going to Shanghai was something that I was incredibly proud of.

[00:29:12] Grace: I was expecting you to say that


[00:29:15] Sanaa: I wasn’t a, I, yeah, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it and I did. Which, you know, sets aside a lot of affirmations for me as well. And I guess even just like opening ramada to the business is something that I was really proud of because it was such a personal thing and I was again, terrified of doing it.

I decide to just go through it, I guess work-wise. Hmm. Workwise. I’m proud of everything I do. um, uh, Workwise. Sorry, that’s a joke. No, I’m not.

[00:29:41] Grace: I was gonna say, as a writer, I’m sure that you have frequent edits of like everything that you’ve done before.

[00:29:48] Sanaa: yeah, yeah, there’s, there’s,


[00:29:49] Grace: brain, right?

[00:29:51] Sanaa: creative brain. I would say I’m proud of the, the community that we’ve built because. It started off as a gamble and it’s now where like there’s 900 in-house lawyers and they’re over 900 and I know so many of them, so it’s a great opportunity for me from a learning and development perspective.

If I ever have any questions about the legal industry or anything, I know I could just DM them and get that information, which is like,

How often? Yeah. How often can you say that you are getting, you know, the senior legal council at Monzo to help you out with something? And even in terms of the skills I learned from it, like event management and community management was just, were just things I never considered never considered part of my, my skillset. And it was something which I had to develop, but it was so much fun.

and then obviously it’s had an impact on the business as well, like commercial growth and everything, which is the biggest point of all of it. And yeah, it’s, it’s really satisfying to see how it’s all played out and that, like I have had a significant part play in that.

[00:31:04] Grace: That is very satisfying.

What is something that you regret or you wish you might have done differently?

[00:31:12] Sanaa: I think I wish I, I wish I was a bit more assertive with, with vocalizing what I want from my job, especially in the earlier days where I, if I wasn’t satisfied, I wish I expressed this and. Asked for a promotion or asked for a sideways step into a different role, or ask for something that would challenge me instead of sitting in that, in that role.

I think now I’m reaching a point where I’m a little bit more vocal, but it still doesn’t come naturally to me. But I’m lucky because I have a manager who looks out for me. But if you don’t have that, You need to make things happen for yourself. And I don’t think that comes very easily to me. So yeah, I think I regret not having spoken to someone who could have helped me out there or not just, biting the bullet and going for it and just asking for what I wanted.

[00:32:17] Grace: What do you think would be some ways maybe for you or just some advice generally for somebody who doesn’t have a manager who’s looking out for them how and how they can help to advocate for themselves or get used to the idea of doing that?

[00:32:33] Sanaa: I think having a mentor is just so, so, so important. I mean, I’ve. I’m so fortunate, alhamdulillah, I’ve had several and they’ve all been, whether official or unofficial, they might not even know that they’re my mentors. But I’ve had several people who I felt like at any point I could reach out to them and be like, this is what I’m struggling with.

What do you think I should do? And I think that’s so, it’s so important because they can really arm you with the best skills you need to, to make a. To make a stand for yourself, I suppose. And yeah, I just, I just think having some sort of official, unofficial mentorship is, is so important.

[00:33:13] Grace: Yes, I definitely agree. I think the, the best gift of the mentor is having, The wisdom of experience from somebody who’s just a little bit further ahead from you who, where they, they know what you’re going through because they fairly recently went through it and they know where you need to be. And so you, they can give you that guidance, that light to help you figure out where your next steps are.

but yeah, it is, it is something that is super, super invaluable.

[00:33:43] Sanaa: Yeah, I agree.

[00:33:44] Grace: Something or someone that you’re most grateful for? Sanaa?.

[00:33:48] Sanaa: I mean, I could just, again, say all the mentors I’ve had, but to list one in particular at my first role at the Cleantech Company after I was done sort of In that we had limbo of managing myself as a one person team. We brought in another manager to take over PR and comms, which was great. And I learned a lot from her.

And she then I left to go to Shanghai. She eventually left to start her own PR company, which I, I mean, I still to this day think is amazing. Like she does just so much work and she has so much energy and I dunno where she gets it from, but Anytime I need any kind of help, she’s always there. And anytime I need advice, I can reach out to her.

And She’ll, despite being the founder of her own company and jet setting between several locations, will make time for me. And yeah, I just, I feel like I’m very, very grateful for her. For sure. I’ll probably drop her a message after this to let her know that I’m hyping her up.

[00:34:46] Grace: Yeah. mashallah, those are the nicest messages, especially when they come from out of the blue. any final words of advice or last thoughts that you wanna have?

[00:34:59] Sanaa: Am I in a position to be giving anyone advice,

[00:35:02] Grace: I mean, this is Okay. Maybe advice you, yourself,

[00:35:05] Sanaa: advice to myself, Oh, am I in a position to be

[00:35:11] Grace: Oh, come on,

[00:35:14] Sanaa: Um,

Okay. All right. Right. I think if you find someone who. Really looks out for you and it’s open to helping out. Like do what you can to keep them in your life , because they are very important and they will continue to be important.

Having that connection and having someone you can turn to is just, it’s very important, especially if you are if you’re a minority in, in an industry that’s typically full of old white men,

[00:35:39] Grace: thank you very much, sanaa. This was really good having you, and I’m so happy that you sharing all this.

Thank you.

[00:35:45] Sanaa: Thank you for having me. It’s been fun.

[00:35:48] 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 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.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Sanaa. Jazakallahu Khair! You can connect with Sanna Siddiqui 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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