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Inspirational Woman: Farzana Haque | TCS Europe Telecom Head

Farzana Haque_pic 1Tell us about yourself

Ms. Farzana Haque is the Global Head of Europe Telecom Business Unit and the Global Head for Strategic Group Accounts at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). Prior to her current role, Ms. Haque was Global Head of Large Accounts SBU. TCS is a leading global information technology company with over US$12 Billion in revenues. TCS is India’s most valued company with the country’s highest market capitalisation. Forbes magazine recently voted TCS as the most admired company in India. Farzana began her career with the TATA Group in Mumbai as a management trainee and has worked there ever since. She has been based in New York and has recently moved to TCS’ headquarters in Mumbai with her current role.

In recognition of her leadership at TCS, Farzana was nominated to the World Economic Forum as a ‘Young Global Leader’. The Young Global Leader recognises the top 250 young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments, their commitment to society and their potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.

Farzana has been profiled and featured by leading Indian and international media on her work, both for her organisation and for the development work that she does in India. A Charter member of TiE, Farzana is also the recipient of the “INDIRA” Super Achiever Award 2008.

Farzana is a frequent speaker at business schools around the globe and India on topics covering leadership, building global brands, and innovation. She is passionate about social development in India and works with NGOs and foundations in order to further their causes, in addition to on the board of a number of foundations.  She is the co-founder of “Stree Shakti” – a platform for women entrepreneurs in India.

As an eternal optimist, I have never viewed anything as a challenge. Only as an opportunity for growth. This mindset has stood me in good stead as it infuses in me a positive energy and a can-do attitude.

Tell us about any current projects you are involved in

Women empowerment and livelihood

Women empowered financially and contributing to nation building – this is close to my heart. Along with other women leaders I have co-founded Stree Shakti which means women power. This is a platform which enables women entrepreneurs in India to realise their potential. The platform helps women entrepreneurs who run mid-size businesses fine-tune their business plans, find mentors, receive formal training and education, and raise funds. Such a platform helps provide equal opportunities for women in India and helps build an ecosystem that allows women entrepreneurs to scale their businesses and empowers them to lead life on their own terms, and in so doing changes the dominant narrative in India. It also enables these women entrepreneurs from India reach out to global markets.

I am currently working on getting more women to become tech entrepreneurs. We have very few women in technology and that is something I am working on changing. I want to encourage more girls to pursue a STEM education and also establish enablers to help women become tech entrepreneurs. On a global scale I am working with various think tanks and forums to see how we can improve girl child education and get more women into the workforce

Women on Board positions and gender pay parity

My fundamental belief is that all companies should have equal representation on their boards. We need to have more women leaders at the helm of fortune 500 companies. We also need to have more women leaders driving global brands, running large VCs and getting involved with policy making. These will bring about a genuine change in the way we view and support women in the workforce. I am part of a global dialogue around Diversity and Inclusion on Boards – what Diversity means at the Board, how we promote inclusion, and what should companies and individuals do to get there?

What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?

None! As an eternal optimist, I have never viewed anything as a challenge. Only as an opportunity for growth. This mindset has stood me in good stead as it infuses in me a positive energy and a can-do attitude. The two people I look up to are my parents and they have instilled discipline in me. They have made me believe if you work hard with honesty, integrity and a gracious spirit there is no goal you cannot achieve. I am following in their footsteps. My parents have taught me to dream and more importantly work hard every day relentlessly towards making those dreams come true. I have truly never faced any challenge and every hurdle has appeared as an opportunity to strengthen myself further and has added to my courage.

I am blessed, as I married my hero. My husband fills my life with love and strength. Together we are creating a memorable journey and that for me is success in itself. Along the way we will make new milestones and hopefully make a positive impact.

Enjoy earnestly what you do and feel the empowerment. Your career is a marathon and not a sprint, so prepare with that mindset.

What has been your greatest achievement personally?

1. Creating a Platform for women entrepreneurs and furthering the cause of Women on Boards

True nation-building happens when all the citizens are able to contribute. Women need to get an equal playing field and be able to have their voice in how the world is shaped. I am lucky to be part of teams that have the power to make the changes, inspire and influence people.

2.  Becoming a Global Citizen.

By the age of 35 I had lived and worked across three continents. Global experience enriches you and helps you comprehend your world. This one aspect encapsulates and embodies how we learn, understand, execute and bring value to our businesses and customers. Living and working across various cultures helps you develop a world view. While staying true to your roots you develop a keen sense of the world and truly become a global citizen. This brings an innate understanding of what solutions would work in what markets. Learning best practises from around the world and applying it to what you do. Working in teams which are multi-generational and from various nationalities is a living example of innovation while harnessing the power of your teams across the globe is crowd-sourcing at its best. This richness of business experience and world view is hard to replicate elsewhere.

3. Representing my country and company on prestigious global forums, think tanks and platforms

I am blessed, as I married my hero. My husband fills my life with love and strength. Together we are creating a memorable journey and that for me is success in itself. Along the way we will make new milestones and hopefully make a positive impact.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?

My entire journey has been memorable. The learning curve from trainee to current role has been filled with amazing life experiences along the way. Working and living across the USA, Europe and Asia are all filled with memories. Making wonderful close friends. Knowing some of the best brains in business and management. Creating new markets. Working with some of the world’s best thinkers and innovators. Being at the vanguard of all the seminal changes that technology was bringing to the way we live and work today. Leading and enabling transformation in Businesses of Marquee global brands. Along the way these life situations have helped, me be a more mindful individual. Be a more connected leader. This is exactly what I want to be doing.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

Farhana Haque, my sister. A truly wonderful human being whose ability to live for others and help others leaves me awestruck. She lived in Peru to help design livelihood for the local communities there. She commits her time and money for development work in India – working in some of the most remote parts of the country. She does all this while managing a super successful corporate life and delivering a P&L for the world’s largest technology brand. She learns and practises new languages. She has trekked across Macchu Picchu and Ladakh. She travels extensively to new places. She is fiercely loyal and her friends will go to war for her. She is fearless and courageous. She is an infinite source of positive energy. She has rigour and passion for excellence. A topper and gold medallist throughout her academic career – school, Engineering and MBA – she is the most grounded and humble person you will meet. Her ability to laugh at herself and her grace under fire are exemplary. The way she takes care of and looks after our parents. Farhana inspires me to do more and be more in life.

Be the best you can be. Be brave and fight for your dreams.

What does the future hold for you?

Professionally, I am about to enter the most exciting phase of my career. I thoroughly enjoy my work and that gives me energy and passion. Taking my organisation to bigger heights on a global Scale.  Enabling Women Entrepreneurs to reach global dominance. Seeing women be equal partners in nation building and running global businesses groups.

Personally, I take time off every year for a month to travel the world with my family – to learn the culture, art, history, literature and cuisines of the country we visit. Farhana and I are also starting a foundation for higher education for girls in our home town.

Your message to young women

Contribute to building the organisation stronger and bigger. Contribute to developing your own potential. Enjoy earnestly what you do and feel the empowerment. Your career is a marathon and not a sprint, so prepare with that mindset. Your performance will determine how far you go so always keep performance central to whatever you do. Look after your health so you stay the course. Do more than your KRA. Build teams. The more you do the better you get. That is a simple philosophy of life. Be the best you can be. Be brave and fight for your dreams.

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