21 Apr Speaker Spotlight-Naheed Afzal
Naheed Afzal has been a leader in the diversity and inclusion movement within the tech industry for almost two decades. In 1999 she co-founded Contracts-IT, a specialist technology recruitment agency offering a unique and integrated approach to IT staffing for the corporate and public sector around the globe. Fairness, equality and social innovation have been fundamental to her personal values and she has found a way to extend these values into her business.She has been fortunate to have forged a successful career doing something which she enjoys and where she feels that she can make a real difference. Having a mission driven purpose in business allows her to satisfy her wider goals of fairness, social innovation, and long term change. A keen supporter of gender diversity and in empowering women. She is actively involved in forums, debates, thought leadership and presents on matters relating to IT recruitment, D&I.Naheeds personal mission is: “To make a difference in the world of technology recruitment and to drive innovation by promoting diversity of thought.”Along with Contracts IT, Naheed also works with Wonder Women Tech, serving on the advisory board and helping to produce WWT London. On behalf of the entire WWT Team, we appreciate Naheed for her generous support, and we are thrilled to have a #Changemaker like her speaking at our upcoming conference in London.
Wonder Women Tech (WWT): What inspired you to launch your company?
Naheed Afzal (NA): A desire to create an environment within tech workforce planning & consulting which reflected personal values and a workspace that respected and valued its employees. I wanted to create a space that I as well as others would enjoy being a part of.
WWT: In what ways does your professional and/or personal mission align with the mission of Wonder Women Tech to highlight women and diversity in STEAM industries?
NA: It’s a double hit professionally and personally! I love the fact that at the heart of WWT is the desire to create a global, social and economic shift among women and the underrepresented. That the mission is not exclusive to women but embraces diversity in its many shapes and form to include diversity of thought. As someone who has supported social inclusion in my personal journey WWT struck a chord with me. I wanted to learn more about the work that WWT were doing in the US as it fed into my interest of promoting girls and women in STEAM. I was inspired by the wonderful work that Miss Lisa Mae has been doing with government, state organisations and policy makers. We linked up and an intention to create #WWT2017 in London was born!
WWT: Why did you choose to participate in the WWT London Conference and what sort of impact do you hope to have?
NA: My company Contracts IT recruitment consulting is engaged in linking some fantastic technologists with the most innovative companies in the world – where inclusive recruitment drives the way in which we operate and bring about successful outcomes for our clients. By supporting our candidates from diverse backgrounds, which include Women in Tech, we demonstrate the tangible benefits of tech workforce diversity and support with cultural transformation in organisations. WWT is also operating in a way to bring about real benefits to segments of society and in particular to women and the under represented. The societal impact and the focus on tech is something that we share.
WWT: Why do you feel people should attend the WWT London Conference?
NA: It’s a tech fest for all but with some very important messages being delivered by government , international thought leaders and experts in diverse industries . It will showcase role models, men and women who are leading the charge and creating a path for our youth and for tomorrows leaders. It will highlight the versatility and the many applications of STEAM, how it touches everyone’s lives and will become an even bigger part of a digitally enabled future . The future can only be enriched by the strides made in STEAM and if properly managed, can benefit all.
It will contain powerful talks and discussions demonstrating how technology is changing the way we live , the advances that have been made in eg. in health, transport, education and finance and how it has been a crucial enabler in the areas of accessibility and in supporting the marginalized in our communities.
The conference will have dynamic programming across both days to ignite, to empower and to educate across all ages and groups of women. We’ll be speaking to different thought leaders across several disciplines and discussing how diversity is key to solving some of our global and societal problems and how crucial it is to our global economy.
WWT: What advice do you have for women looking to get into STEAM industries?
Keep an open mind and don’t pigeonhole roles, skills or your own ability. Our world is changing as is the way we operate in it. The diversity within STEAM is ever expanding with a spectrum of truly wonderful opportunities available in every sphere of commerce. We are the largest digital economy in Europe but we need more women building our tech products and services to avoid a digital skills gap.
Most of all go and seek out a role model or mentor and bug them with as many questions that you can think of.