How to support a future tech role model
EQUALS Her Digital Skills e-Mentoring 2022 Interview with Sanjai Mehta & Zamina Fatima
Sanjai Mehta is a Sales Coach at Verizon based in the UK, and his mentee Zamina Fatima is an SEO content writer from Pakistan. They participated in the 2022 EQUALS Her Digital Skills e-Mentoring Programme, and reflected on the experience.
EQUALS: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Mentor - Sanjai Mehta: I live in the UK and work for a global telecommunications company supporting the sales teams through training, coaching and consulting. I have over 30 years of business experience and have worked for finance companies, start ups and alongside founders. I'm passionate about helping others and provide coaching and mentoring to many people.
Mentee - Zamina Fatima: I am Zamina Fatima, from Pakistan, and I have been working as a content writer for more than 4 years. I am the first woman in my family to have finished a Master’s degree and work full-time to be self-reliant.
My parents, in-laws, and husband have been incredibly supportive of all my endeavors. It gives me immense pleasure to belong to a family that motivates you to do more and never shackles you from pursuing your goals.
EQUALS: Did you know what you wanted to do in the future when you were in school?
Mentor - Sanjai Mehta: No. I thought I wanted to be a doctor or dentist but in reality I had no clue about what I wanted. School age is one of discovery and we often expect our children to have clarity at such a young age. They are also very vulnerable and lean on their elders for advice which is often given through the lens of the elder which tends to be biased. My advice to anyone who asks me what to do is to go with your passion - if money were no object and you could do anything in the world, what would that be?
"I took the decision to become an ally for women who are looking to change their world and work with a number of groups to help women advance."
EQUALS: What motivated you to participate in the Her Digital Skills e-Mentoring Programme?
Mentee - Zamina Fatima: I wanted to improve my soft skills and work on my shortcomings. The programme looked promising to provide ample learning opportunities, identify my strengths and weaknesses, and enhance the other necessary soft skills.
I am glad I participated and learned from my mentor’s superior knowledge and experience. Furthermore, I could easily ask questions from my mentor, who always gave me informative and insightful answers.
"I loved addressing my views and concerns with my mentor, who always presented me with a feasible solution to overcome my problems."
Mentor - Sanjai Mehta: We live in a world where the odds are stacked against women and yet women are the backbone and bedrock of our families and communities. I didn't fully appreciate this until my daughter was born and I started to see the world through my growing daughter's eyes. I took the decision to become an ally for women who are looking to change their world and work with a number of groups to help women advance. When the opportunity arose to join this programme, I jumped at it!
EQUALS: Did you learn or improve any soft skills during the e-Mentoring Programme? What are they?
Mentee - Zamina Fatima: Teamwork and time management are two of the most important things I learned from this programme. I was more of a loner when it came to working.
Delegating tasks or accepting help was off the table for me. I discussed this problem with my mentor and he offered a few solutions to overcome it. Delegating tasks or outsourcing a writer doesn’t look daunting to me now. All thanks to this programme and my mentor.
EQUALS: What did you enjoy most during the e-Mentoring Programme?
Mentee - Zamina Fatima: I enjoyed the easy and comfortable communication with the mentor via letters. It was easy to express my views and ask questions by writing letters. I was more comfortable and expressed myself better.
EQUALS: What was/were the most memorable moment(s) of the e-Mentoring Programme for you?
Mentor - Sanjai Mehta: I really enjoyed the programme, my mentee was very engaging and we built some great rapport even though it was all by e-mail. There are two sides to my experiences with mentoring. The first is that whenever I mentor, it always holds up a mirror to me - am I doing what I'm suggesting my mentee does. The second, which is more important, is the joy I get in seeing the mentee's ideas develop and come to life.
EQUALS: How has the Her Digital Skills e-Mentoring Programme contributed to your personal and/or professional development?
Mentee - Zamina Fatima: The programme has been really fruitful for my professional development. I have worked on my confidence and time management issues. Most importantly, I do not hesitate to lead the group when a situation demands it.
EQUALS: What are your goals and dreams for your future?
Mentee - Zamina Fatima: I want to teach young girls in my family the importance of becoming self-reliant and pursuing their passions.
While growing up and entering the professional world, I had no woman role model to look up to. I want to change this for my younger sister and cousins. I want to be there to help and lift them in their journey toward their dreams.
EQUALS: Is/are there (a) woman/women role model(s) you admire? What do you admire about her/them?
Mentor - Sanjai Mehta: Yes, quite a few! If I had to pick one, it would be Michelle Obama. She's her own woman yet her partnership with Barack appears to be truly that, one of equals and partners. Despite all of the advances in equal rights, we know that there's still many challenges for women and particularly for women of colour. She worked to support the underrepresented and underprivileged in her early career and has continued to do so as the former First Lady. Despite all of the comments, barbs and people out to get her, she conducts herself with dignity and, as she says, "when they go low, we (she) go high".
Mentee - Zamina Fatima: Yes, there are many women I look up to and aspire to be like them. One common thing I like about all these women is their humility, ability to maintain a work-life balance, and staying away from drama or stuff that drains their energy.
"While growing up and entering the professional world, I had no woman role model to look up to. I want to change this for my younger sister and cousins. I want to be there to help and lift them in their journey toward their dreams."
EQUALS: Would you encourage other professionals to take part in the Her Digital Skills e-Mentoring Programme?
Mentor - Sanjai Mehta: Yes! It's a great programme and I would recommend it to all.
EQUALS: How about you, Zamina? Would you encourage other girls and women to take part in the Her Digital Skills e-Mentoring Programme?
Mentee - Zamina Fatima: Of course! I loved addressing my views and concerns with my mentor, who always presented me with a feasible solution to overcome my problems. I will encourage girls and women who are passionate about learning from a great mentor to join this programme.
EQUALS: Would you like to add anything?
Mentor - Sanjai Mehta: I've enjoyed it so much that I straight away signed up for the next available mentoring programme.
Mentee - Zamina Fatima: I’d like to thank the CodeGirls and EQUALS Team for giving me the chance to be a part of this programme. I had a wonderful learning time.
For more information on EQUALS Her Digital Skills visit: www.equalsintech.org/her-digital-skills
EQUALS Her Digital Skills is generously supported by Verizon