Romanian Agriculture Leadership Forum 2020

OPEN Silicon Women Leadership Forum 2020

Beyoncé said it best when she sang, “Who run the world? Girls.” Women increasingly inhabit top-ranking roles in traditionally male-dominated industries and advance the conversations on topics like wage equality. And yet multiples researchers have found that when women exhibit character traits typically associated with male leadership — traits like decisiveness, authority or assertion — they are likely to be viewed as pushy or too aggressive, and some people reel at their behavior.

The OPEN Women Leadership Forum 2020 provided a professional platform for Silicon Valley natives to help connect and empower both men and women. The conference was attended at the Netflix HQ in Los Gatos by a big audience and included a plethora of seasoned successful entrepreneurs and leaders from various companies in the Bay Area.

The forum kicked off with a scrumptious breakfast, included a career round-table of mentors and advisers and had a yummilicious lunch composed of samosas, sandwiches, chaat and typical Pakistani duudh-patti chai.

Let us look into what each panelist brought to the table

Panel 1: Journey of successful entrepreneurs

Zareen Khan of Zareens Restaurant and Malika Juna >Aifra Ahmed (Kaiser Permanente), the session highlighted how tough it was for each woman to balance her work and life, raise kids, persevere through negative feedback from peers and hustle to carve a niche. Zareen reminisced about making $30 only at the start of her career courtesy cooking classes and kebab business. Persistent support from her husband Umair overcame the lack of mentors. Architect Malika advised the audience to be truthful and not copy others, to support others around and never be content with status quo, and to always push for changes in domains of life one has control over. Both the women stressed on the importance of being open to feedback and reflecting on suggestions.

Panel 2: Navigating the corporate landscape, common questions, common mistakes

Shahla Aly, a senior exec at Google, moderated this session with a charismatic flare. The panelists emphasized the need to understand where influence comes from beyond the official chart at a workplace. Sheeba Malik from Apple shared how she struggled with navigating through tough conversations and overtime realized the need to be assertive was a key to wading out of such scenarios. Her powerful narration of her escape from a satta watta marriage had the audience moved.

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Asma Khokar from Google talked about how indiv >Zainab Mahar who supports global payment at Netflix, discussed how women in general are afraid of negotiating on salaries and let the employers decide for themselves. She reiterated the need for having a growth mindset and always following through on constructive feedback.

In a session moderated by Natasha Khan from Avionte, the panelists talked about their success stories coupled with highs and lows. Joya Nandy Kazi, a creative director described how she got inspired by dancers whilst attending a Bollywood show which had Shahrukh khan and Aishwariya Rai. At age 16, with support from her mom (who would drive her to dances classes, 4 hrs back and forth), she started building her business. Her relatives would shame her mom for allowing her daughter to be associated with an industry deemed inadequate for desi households in the US, but undeterred she carved her path.

Kaval Sultana, the founder of Omri, a match-making app for Muslims, always wanted to be a leader. She jokingly recalls bossing her cousins around as a k >Hafsa Khan always wanted to be an athlete. Growing up, she watched Olympics religiously at home with her family. At age 4, she learned to play tennis and golf and joined the boys’ golf team at school since there was none for girls. Maturing into her golfing career, she wished for brown female representation on a professional level.

Panel 4: Jackson Heights — A Fireside chat with Mehreen Jabbar

Mehreen Jabbar, Pakistani film and television director and producer based in New York City, emphasized on the need to invest in quality cinema. She elaborated how the cinema back home is not sustainable because of most movies being released on Eid. Taking the audience through her fears, Mehreen talked of how she’s afraid of being not relevant. She advised the crowd to watch ‘Game Changers’ and observed that the Pakistani media needs to work more on their softer side; she’s heartened to see Kumail Nanjiani, Hasan Minhaj highlight desi culture and irks in mainstream media. Mehreen wants to work for Hollywood at sometime (but not have a desi South Asian story). She lamented Jackson Heights didn’t get much commercial success because the audience couldn’t relate with it. She rues about actors and actresses being regularly late for shooting. As her last note, she suggested that the industry should make passion driven, realism-based stories that depict the culture and brings forth the county on the global map.

Panel 5 — Challenges women face raising capital

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