The engineering degree was my passion and the MBA was sheer luck – Hira Wajahat
Hira Wajahat, Pakistan National Lead at ClimateLaunchpad Pakistan and Project Manager at Stimulus speak about ClimateLaunchpad Pakistan and the challenges she overcame to become a success in this exclusive interview.
1. As the Pakistan National Lead at ClimateLaunchpad Pakistan, what responsibilities do you pursue?
As the Pakistan National Lead for ClimateLaunchpad, I am responsible for the execution of the ClimateLaunchpad Competition in Pakistan. Broadly speaking, this encompasses three major roles as follows: Organizing ClimateLaunchpad activities in Pakistan, Communication and Outreach and Developing partnerships with relevant stakeholders. These are further explained below:
a. Organizing ClimateLaunchpad activities in Pakistan:
i. Recruiting participants
ii. Shortlisting participants to participate in a 2-day training boot camp
iii. Organizing the boot camp
iv. Establishing a network of coaches
v. Organizing follow-up coaching sessions for boot camp participants
vi. Establishing a Pakistan jury
vii. Organizing a final competition for Pakistan
viii. Ensuring top two winners of Pakistan final represent Pakistan at the Global Finals
b. Communication and Outreach: Getting the word out for ClimateLaunchpad so that we can have maximum participation in the competition from Pakistan. One part of this was reaching out to all universities across Pakistan – engaging our network of communication and outreach partners was critical in this. We developed partnerships with organizations like Women Engineers Pakistan, Impact Network & City FM 89 to enable us to get the word across to other potential applicants outside of universities.
c. Developing partnerships with relevant stakeholders.
There are two types of partnerships:
1) Technical partnerships with organizations/individuals who will contribute to our pool of knowledge resources and support us as coaches for the program – in this regard we got great feedback from independent journalists, Sustainable Development Policy Institute and Habib University
2) Financial partnerships with organizations/individuals who will support the cause and enable us to execute our activities in the best possible manner. Some of our supporters in this cause are Lucky Cement, Shell Pakistan and Dalda Foods.
2. What is the mission of ClimateLaunchpad Pakistan?
The mission of ClimateLaunchpad is to fix climate change one start-up at a time. What that means is that we want to move beyond discussions and take action to develop those products and services that will have a positive climate impact and are viable for a more environmentally friendly future.
3. How did working for Stimulus Pvt. Ltd. help you in developing your personality and career?
Stimulus exposed a world of challenges and experiences for me – this included meetings with potential corporate clients in fancy offices as well as field work with project stakeholders and beneficiaries in remote locations such as Masho Gagar (KP), Mehmood Kot (Punjab), Mithi & Chachro (Sindh). As a result, I have become comfortable with working in all situations with all kinds of people. Also, the various projects at Stimulus that I have engaged on have made it mandatory for me to read. As a result of so much reading, I feel that my world view to many things has improved. I don’t get shocked when I experience something new and accepting change is comfortable. What I have also realized is that I have opinions on certain matters and there is nothing wrong with thinking in a particular way. However, it is equally important to hear out other people and respect their opinions and values without judging them – at the end of the day, your values and beliefs remain with you.
4. You completed your bachelors from NED in Engineering and Telecommunications and later did MBA, Marketing from LUMS. Two big universities, two diverse degree programs. What made you pursue these two degrees?
The engineering degree was my passion and the MBA was sheer luck – I don’t think I really thought about my career as much as I should have – but rather I kept following what I felt like doing and ultimately, different paths opened up and things just happened. I believe this is destiny and Allah’s blessings because none of my achievements would have been possible without that. However, education is important and we must ensure that we complete what we start and not leave any tasks unfinished whether it is academic or any other.
5. Since how long have you been a public speaker and what topics have you spoken on?
I have only recently started doing some public speaking since 2010, speaking on topics such as entrepreneurship, corporate social responsibility, volunteerism, sustainable development goals and more recently, on climate change mitigation.
6. What were some of the challenges in life that you faced and how did you resolve them?
I have faced several challenges during my various experiences – for being shy, for being a girl, for being overweight, etc. I have been bullied, I have not been taken seriously for my ideas, at some important points, I was too scared to speak up for what was right and what should have been said. What has gotten me through is the belief that every day I wake up, it is Allah’s way of giving me a new chance to do something better, to improve myself and to prove myself to the world. While my self-belief makes me resilient to a variety of challenges, having and honing a support system, in your parents, in your siblings, in your friends is very important. I wouldn’t have been able to get through several of my challenges without my parents’ support for which I am eternally grateful.
7. Your message for the youth of Pakistan?
Believe in yourself and complete what you begin. When you start leaving things unfinished, you start doubting yourself and your ability and that is when you begin to lose confidence. Trust that you have the power to do great things – when you put your mind and heart together, magic happens.
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