Mahrukh Qadeer – Championing Mahirs Online
Have you ever wondered what the future of AI would look like with a Lahori backdrop? So have we. Luckily, Mahrukh Qadeer, a leading woman in this new world of entrepreneurial technology can help steer our thoughts in the right direction. But first, let’s talk about Mahrukh before I try to convince you that it will not turn out like I, Robot. She is the founder and CEO of Mahir.Online and can be called a GIANT in the online biz, black-sheep-of-the-family, BS Degree in Computer Sciences and then some, an eager student and early starter. With more than nine years of work experience in game development and app monetization she has worked alongside teams from all over the globe including the United States, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and her own hometown!
“I am a technologist and as a woman I believe societies grow when women grow.”
But what everyone wants to know is how she got to be where she is and why she chose this particular career path for herself. She already had a steady job at an institution where there were more than 60 employees working under her supervision. This was her climax but there was something missing, an emptiness that wouldn’t go away, the realization of a higher purpose,
“There was something in me that wouldn’t rest – a thirst for excellence, to do something extraordinary and most of all, to contribute to society.”
Following this epiphany, she resigned from her job to explore options that would satisfy the longing for this purpose.
All it took was a talented handyman to inspire her to give people like him a voice, “I wondered how these skilled people remained unheard of,” because voices are powerful, they can move mountains, they can embolden the silent. Most of all, it can bring people together. Unite them, connect them, maybe even both.
Mahir.Online was born as a conduit for the voices of the unheard. It was essentially an employment scheme that connected service providers with their clients. It was brilliant! Silicon Valley TVLP applauded it and so began Mahrukh’s business in 2016,
“I knew it was the moment and have never looked back since.”
As one of the few women participating in the technology sector, Mahrukh did observe herself as the only female member when carrying out various projects with her predominantly male coworkers. When talking about it now she says,
“Since men do not like taking instructions from a woman, I had to put it a lot of effort to create and maintain my writ.”
In November 2016, Mahrukh was invited to speak at the “Anticipating the Future” symposium in Berlin. The event was part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Among the 100+ entrepreneurs at the event, Mahrukh was the only Pakistani. Not only is she a tech pro but she ended up breaking the glass ceiling for female Pakistani entrepreneurs and proved that they are equal to those of other countries.
A first-of-its-kind portal that lists reviews for all types of local businesses, Mahir.Online is a one-stop solution that connects people with credible service providers. It aims to give an online presence to small or medium scale local businesses to assert their significance in the market. It started with the food industry of Lahore but is now expanding to various professional services.
Mahrukh makes it clear that in her field of work, solid working hours don’t exist as they do for other professions that have 9-5 jobs. It is a rather common generalization that women are the first to leave the workplace for home, usually at 6 p.m. Not for Mahrukh who had to pull an all-nighter more than a couple of times. The expansion of her team resulted in more female members which led Mahrukh to ensure equality in the workplace as she led her team with an even hand irrespective of gender. She facilitated them by enabling them to work from home, allowing them to meet the demands their profession required of them,
“I broke the stereotype of women being unable to fulfill professional requirements after office hours.”
Mahrukh’s story is truly inspiring and the best part is it’s only just begun,
“Work hard, believe in yourself, do not undermine yourself. While you are climbing the ladder of success, be sure to pull other women up with you.”
Written by Manal Mohsin