Rida, 23, and Sana, 22, are two Pakistani-American sisters who want to spread awareness about two things: 1) To show that not every women in Pakistan is deprived of education, and 2) to push women to get into competitive careers so they can show the world that a women can do both than just stay home and raise kids.
They even do weekly podcasts and have a blog both called ‘TheZPod2’.
- Please begin with telling us something about yourselves — your education, upbringing and where you grew up?
Sana and I were born in Pakistan and raised in New York City. We grew up in a very traditional Pakistani household. I have my Bachelor’s in Psychology but ended up pursuing a career in consulting and in real estate while Sana has her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Accounting and is currently an auditor for an accounting firm.
- What made you both want to highlight the societal issues that South Asian women face?
We wanted to highlight societal issues because we want to strive for equality for women in our culture, to ensure that women in our community are aware that they also have capability, and provide them with motivation to achieve their goals in life. We also wanted to highlight the fact that a lot of women in our culture do choose to pursue their careers and get higher education, which allows them to get into competitive industries and excel in their careers.
- You both have started a podcast to influence and motivate women and aim to put forward Pakistani culture in the best light. How do you plan on doing this and what topics will you cover?
We plan to discuss topics that are taboo in our culture and are seldom spoken about. We want to spread awareness on education and careers amongst women. We believe women from our culture are no less than any men and are great leaders in business. We want to shed light on the fact that our culture does not stop women from being educated, instead encourages education to the highest level so they can become knowledgeable in their trade and educate their future generation. I think there is a really negative image amongst people in the west regarding our culture. We sometimes get asked ‘How did you manage to get your masters’ or ‘I am surprised your parents didn’t get you married off by now’, this always makes us laugh because our parents have made sure education and career has been our priority . We sometimes have to convince others that girls from Pakistan are not prohibited from going to school.
- According to you what challenges do career-oriented and ambitious South Asian women have to encounter to get on with a path-breaking career?
I think the biggest challenge comes from the society itself. There is constant pressure to pick between career or family. A lot of times women are psychologically made to believe that their priority should be taking care of their husband or kids which leads them into making emotional decisions. In business, because of this pressure, most executive positions are held by men.
- To date, as influencers what stereotypes have you shattered in achieving your goals?
When Sana was about to graduate high school (Grade 12), she spoke to a few members from our Pakistani society who happened to be men regarding the Public Accounting field and she was straight up told that this is not a field for women as it’s ‘male dominated’ and requires a lot of travel and can become a problem when she gets married. Today, Sana is a skilled Accountant working in many industries (Mashallah).
Like Sana, when I started taking upon consulting projects while studying Psychology and hoping to get into medical school, I was told that consulting has no scope, requires a lot of travel and is not a stable career. I was always told the constant travel in this field was going to look very bad with distant relatives but here I am today. I dropped the medical school dream and became a full-time consultant. Now I am now running my own firm with a very stable career (Alhumdulillah).
- What word of advice would you give to young South Asian women, who are currently struggling to pave a way out for their desired career?
We would tell them to keep your head up and focus on the end goal. Nothing comes easy in life and as women we can do anything we put our heart and brain into. Ignore the negatives around you and that there is no set timeline for anything. Do what makes you happy no matter how long it takes or how hard the path may be!
- Since you both are sisters and work closely with each other, do you ever face any conflict or misunderstanding?
II think as sisters it is very normal to have minor conflicts, but Sana and I are very professional when it comes to work. We keep our sibling relationship separate and focus on our work when we need to. Our minor conflicts are mostly around the way we want to address some topics and the content we want to present. I am very candid when I speak, and Sana likes to be more careful in her choice of words.
- Three goals you both want to achieve by the end of 2020?
Rida: 2020 has been a very challenging year for all of us, but the three goals I would like to accomplish would be to become a homeowner, have a good work/life balance, and be free of my college debt!
Sana: I want to start my own business, get my non-for-profit organization started and get more certifications in my field.
- Share with us a career-defining highlight or moment to inspire your readers.
Rida: For me the day I started my own consulting firm. After many years of hard work, struggle and constantly proving my career choice was the best-suited for me, I was able to achieve my goals! I always write down my goals and remind myself of them everyday. Running my own firm was one of my five-year goals which I brought to life. Seeing my name as a CEO and being able to have my own clients has been nothing short of a dream.
Sana: During my last year in college when I had to apply for my full-time job. I applied to eight different top accounting firms and was hoping that I would get an offer from at least one, given they were so competitive. However, I ended up receiving offers from all eight firms I have applied to! I was lucky enough to be one of the few graduating students who had so many offers and was able to pick the firm that was the best fit for me!