Q1: When did you experience your ‘eureka’ moment (moment you knew you wanted to go into the STEM* field)?
Muniza: I am, who I am today because of my father, who is an engineer. I used to go to his office occasionally when I was a kid. I simply adored the fact that he was always capable of fixing machines at work. Since then, I knew that I wanted to be an engineer like him. Being a friend and mentor, he is a big supporter and a source of inspiration to me.
Q2: What did you study?
Muniza: After completing high school, pursuing a degree in engineering was the only thing in my mind. I choose to study information technology. After graduation I took a MSc, majoring in telecommunication.
Q3: What were some of the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you navigate through them?
Muniza: The biggest challenge was proving to others that women can have a career in technology. I preferred to go to engineering school knowing that getting a job afterwards wouldn’t be an easy task. At the time, employers were not confident in hiring female engineers, but eventually I managed to convince a Mobile Operator Hiring Manager that I can work in technology. The struggles didn’t stop there. Although I was hired, the perception that females can’t do hardcore technical work prevailed in this company.
Luckily, this was around the time when the government of Pakistan introduced a Deregulation Policy for the Telecommunication Sector. This encouraged many foreign companies to invest in Pakistani telecommunication market and Telenor was among them. I decided to pursue my career with Telenor mainly due to the fact that the company’s origins was from a country that is more accepting of woman in STEM. I was hired by them, however not knowing that I was the first & only female engineer in the technology division of Telenor Pakistan.
I changed the typical mindset of people in technology, by challenging their biases about female engineers. I didn’t give up -I drove tests on roads for hours, went on site surveys in dense, congested areas and engaged in technical analysis along with troubleshooting.
Soon Management started to trust my capabilities which helped me progress in the organization. I have not only worked in Telenor Pakistan but I have also worked in Telenor Norway for a couple of years.
In a nutshell, this journey has been tough with many ‘breaking points’, but support from my parents has helped me prevail.
Q4: What is your current role?
Muniza: Today I am managing the radio frequency optimization team in the north region. My team is responsible for maintaining and improving the service quality of the radio access network. This includes seamless mobile data and voice coverage to our customers and optimization of the radio network to improve the user experiences on various mobile services.
Q5: How do you help enable women to find their ‘eureka’ moment?
Muniza: As someone said and I quote “Amazing things happen when one woman help others“. For my part, I participate in seminars arranged by various colleges and universities. These are good platforms to interact with students and youth. I enjoy sharing with them my experiences and helping them on their career path. At work, many female co-workers come to me for advice or help to cope in any situation which they face in their professional life.
*STEM: Science, technology, engineering and mathematics