Name: Aqsa ZubairProgram: Arts and Business Co-op, Digital Arts SpecializationYear: 4
This week, powerhouse Aqsa Zubair sparks fire as our last campus celebrity of the year! Aqsa is the perfect example of what a hardworking, passionate student is. She is taking her coop program by storm at Deloitte, crushing her academics with her strong studying skills, as well as being an overall stellar person. Here’s what she had to say:
Why did you choose the arts and business program?
Arts and Business was the only program that allowed me to explore a wide range of academics and have a uniquely tailored degree to fit my liking. It allowed me the flexibility to explore different disciplines under one umbrella and remain focused.
Was Waterloo your first choice?
Waterloo was definitely my first choice. Go Warriors!
You’ve had some amazing coop experience. Can you tell me about your role at Deloitte? I’ve worked in two different areas at Deloitte – Deloitte Management Services (DMS) and Deloitte Consulting. In DMS, I was an IT Analyst. In this role, my manager and I took ownership of the videoconferencing service in Canada and served as global representatives of videoconferencing for the Canadian office, internationally. I had the opportunity to speak to and work with Deloitte offices in Milan, New York, Tennessee, India, and more! In Deloitte Consulting, I was a Business Technology Analyst in Technology Strategy and Architecture Consulting. In this role, I had the opportunity to work on one of the largest strategic engagements in Canada. In this project, I was an integral member of the Architecture team whilst providing support to both Infrastructure and DevOps. I worked on status reports and data flows that depicted integrations across the systems and had the opportunity on numerous occasions to present these to executives, including the CIO of the client!
What has your experience been as a woman in an office setting?
I always considered myself a leader first, and a woman or consultant second. My goals were aligned with learning as knowledge is ultimately power, making significant contributions, and inciting change regardless of how minimal it may be. I found that the technical nature of my role enveloped me in an environment that was predominantly male, however, this provided me with a unique opportunity to stand out and have my ideas heard. I found that because my intention was to provide value and learn, my co-workers were more than willing to provide me with advice, coaching, and opportunities for growth.
How did you implement a women in technology initiative in your workplace?
When I was with Deloitte Consulting, my project consisted of both Deloitte and Client and was quite large, however, I noticed that it had fewer women than men. I found that the project could benefit from a women’s network that would allow us to socialize outside of the workplace and have an open channel of communication to discuss important issues dealing with women in the business and technology world. My goal was to develop a sense of camaraderie within the women’s group to promote workplace cohesion and mentorship. This was the first Deloitte-Client project women’s initiative in Canada and was a huge success!
How do you manage your time between school and your extra cirriculars? I find it useful to use a Kanban Board which I believe is a great tool for workflow/task visualization, and when utilized effectively, can optimize the flow of my work. I use this tool to organize and prioritize my key deliverables – whether it be academic or extracurricular and move items across the board as they are progressing.
Do you face any challenges as a woman in business?
In addition to business, I think there are challenges for women in technology just due to the fact that there aren’t many women in the field. Because of this, I find that it becomes more likely for men to be making important decisions, have leadership roles, and ultimately have a seat at the table. However, I believe that it is how you deal with these challenges that can allow you to make significant contributions and stand out. In my case, I developed a women’s network, demonstrated interest and passion in all of my tasks regardless of how significant they were, had a positive attitude which made me approachable for new tasks, and networked across different departments to understand the larger goals of the project at hand and how each team fits in. This approach helped to distinguish me as a leader among my peers and earned me a spot at the table.
What other things have you been involved with?For the past 2.5 years, I have been serving as the Chief Legal Officer of uIntution Inc. which is a local to Waterloo start-up focused on connecting student talent with employers. This start-up forced me to develop and entrepreneurial mindset, step outside of my comfort zone, and be comfortable with rapid change. Due to the founding team consisting of 4 individuals, including myself, my co-founders and I had to wear multiple hats to ensure successful operations. I dabbled in finance, operations management, recruitment, marketing, and testing alongside drafting all the legal documents and preparing for any legal risk.
I have also served as a Campus Ambassador for uWaterloo in the Campus Ambassador Leadership Program, hosted by Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business (HUWIB). This program provided me the opportunity to not only serve as a representative of my school and country, but allowed me to collaborate with women in leadership across the world to assist in organizing and planning the Intercollegiate Business Convention to be hosted in Boston, MA.
Can you provide some advice for young girls who are looking to be in your position one day?
Pursue what you’re passionate about. Chances are that this passion will ignite a fire within you and develop a determination that will become evident in all the work you produce and help you to stand out in an increasingly competitive world.