KARACHI: For the influential and successful women speaking at the International Women Leaders Summit’s second session, family and work go hand-in-hand.
Take Sherry Rehman, for example, who supervises dinners at home even when she is miles away in another country. “We use technology to bridge gaps,” she said at the conference being held at the Movenpick Hotel on Tuesday. “We have a family BBM group to keep in touch with each other and to know who needs chicken soup.” Economist Dr Akbar Zaidi moderated the session titled ‘High powered couple: finding work-life balance’, where the politician and her husband Nadeem Hussain, who is a banker, talked about how they manage their personal lives and relationship.
“Time is the real currency. In the morning, my schedule is shared with Hussain. And his…wait, I don’t get your schedule,” she joked with her husband.
The two said they are not happy when they are separated from each other, and with the public spotlight firmly on Rehman, she says that her husband is a secure man who supports her rather than being jealous of her success.
“We don’t compete, we support. When I switched banks and invested all my life savings in the new company, she supported me. Your spouse is a bigger icon than you are,” said Nadeem.
However, Rehman’s public life has impacted her family life. “When the blasphemy bill issue was raised, it was scary. Nadeem took the brunt of it and went to court, since I was in Washington. He had never seen a police station and nine years ago, he came to one in Lahore to get me out.”
Rehman plans to retire when her husband does.”We are workaholics and have been working since we were young. However, in the future we want to travel and do some non-profit work.”
Later on in the conference, Turkish engineer Devrim Gursel, who now heads an electronic and trading company, said that the key to her success is that she has always taken care of her family’s needs along with her career.
“I had just finished doing the laundry before I left for Pakistan,” she revealed. “I believe in doing everything for my family. I love to cook for them.”
Gursel shared her story of leaving her lucrative government engineering job for a company that organises exhibitions and trade fairs, saying that she followed her heart and believed in herself.
“I joined a trade fair company for one-fifth of my salary and in two years became its assistant general manager,” she said. “Trust yourself, and success will follow. Even though Turkey is doing better than Pakistan economically, it is not so different from Pakistan in terms of gender gap. 26 per cent of Turkey’s workforce is female while in Pakistan the number is 15.57 per cent. These numbers should be closer to 50 per cent.”
Hair stylist Nabila Maqsood said that for her, ‘it all started off with bad haircuts.’When she was in her early twenties – married and with two kids – a waxing lady in Parsi Colony advised her of doing a styling course.
“That was the start of my career 27 years ago. After completing the course from the United Kingdom, I opened a makeshift salon in my servant quarter and charged Rs30 for my first haircut, which I gave to the servant for cleaning the room.”
From being one the most affordable at Rs30, she is now Pakistan’s most expensive stylist and plans to launch her own range of products.