Fareeha Habib, an HR consultant from Pakistan, tells us about her business journey, and how being a mentor for our Mentoring Women in Business programme allowed her to take her career to the next level.

“The cruise ship was sailing smoothly over tranquil waters into the night sky. People were enjoying their voyage, partying all around, making new friends and relishing their sumptuous food. Then slowly, the decks started becoming empty as people retired into their rooms for the night.  Suddenly, the crew found that the ship had started to sink! Now, there was only one option left: take life rings and jump into the vast, vast sea, and wait for help to arrive. Believing that you could resist the cold waters before help arrived; believing that help would arrive, was the only option left.

Such was my situation back in 2011 and 2012. I had trusted my skills and was wading in vast waters hoping for support… And my rescue ship was destined to be Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

It all started when I did my double masters in English Literature and in Educational Planning & Management. I had been associated first with high school and college level teaching, and then with university teaching. This was followed by my entering the HR field. I first used my entrepreneurial skills setting up an HR department for a corporate organization from scratch. I compiled their HR Manual, hired and fired on a large scale, and conducted HR training workshops for the employees.

In October 2010, I started thinking along the lines of actually becoming an entrepreneur. My outside-the-box thinking and my belief in my skills and capabilities led to the formation of a single-member company, The Optimizers, a HR consultancy company, in December 2010. I spent 2011 busily forming professional contacts through the use of LinkedIn, and was able to conduct my first workshop in August 2011 through the use of the same platform. However, I was still looking for a certain forward push.

It was in 2012 that an acquaintance mentioned the Foundation to me and I joined its Mentoring Women in Business programme as a professional mentor, meaning that I supported a fellow woman entrepreneur as a mentee, helping her develop her business skills. As well as supporting a fellow entrepreneur, being a mentor meant I was able to boost my leadership and public speaking skills, building my confidence by helping me to feel like the knowledgeable and well-informed consultant I am. The addition of ‘mentor’ to my title on LinkedIn also  boosted my number of contacts and clients. I became renowned and organizations started contacting me to join them on their seminars and literary functions as a guest speaker or a judge. I was and will always be thankful to the Foundation for this upward kick that the programme afforded me.

My professional journey, however, ground to a halt after I got married in 2015. My sabbatical was further prolonged due to the birth of two daughters and then the onslaught of COVID-19.  I started to feel like I was becoming stale and worthless due to this long break.

Thus, I decided to launch my YouTube channel, “Life Themes with Fareeha Habib”, again based on my HR skills coupled with my cooking skills this time. I have decided to help people all over the world in these COVID-19 times by producing free online HR workshops as well as cooking ideas for business and home. I also plan to conduct these workshops in live stream sessions on YouTube.

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The skills I developed by become a mentor with the Foundation really inspired me to continue with professionally training and supporting others, and to know that my entrepreneurial skills were valuable to other people. I’m so pleased to be able to keep sharing them in this way and to once again grow in confidence, as I did by taking part in the Mentoring Women in Business programme.”

100,000 Women Animation

Like Fareeha, many woman entrepreneurs have had to adapt their businesses in order to bounce back after the economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

Applications for the May intake are now closed, but will open for the August intake on 14 June. Sign up to our e-newsletter to be notified of when they open!

This remote, virtual model stands as a bold example of how women business owners can be supported during the current crisis, and how supporting women entrepreneurs can be centred in a post-pandemic economic re-build. Find out more and apply to be a mentor now!

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