Atikah
Amalina
Zaini

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program Manager, Google

“As a Malay-Muslim woman wearing the hijab, it is rare that I come across someone who looks like me in the corporate workplace, or in the wider tech industry. This results in an added layer of needing to navigate new social environments above the demanding cognitive demands of the job, while not having someone who truly understands some of the challenges that I face as a minority and what could help make things better. Nonetheless, I’ve learnt to identify and lean on allies and mentors who believe in me and actively sponsor me, to leverage the differences that I bring to add richness to the groups I’m in, to challenge the expectation of perfection to embrace progress instead, and to take ownership of my achievements and abilities.”

I live according to the following principle: “The best among you are those who bring greatest benefits to the rest of mankind” – Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]. Success in my professional life therefore takes the form of having the ability to create high value and benefit at scale, and the ability to remove barriers for myself and others to succeed.
I have always dreamt of having a positive social impact at a global scale. My earliest well-formed career aspiration was to work at the United Nations. In today’s context of tech-based economic engines driving global growth, I naturally had a strong attraction to work in tech since it allowed for impact at scale. I am deeply passionate and excited about driving transformational change via driving greater diversity, equity and inclusion in tech. Ensuring that the creators of tech are diverse results in better products that serve the needs of its users. Additionally, I also believe generational socioeconomic change can be influenced by participation in tech, something I am experiencing myself. Access to careers in tech and STEM education are valuable because of that. With more awareness and opportunities available today, I am excited for the change that is possible.
As someone who has struggled with mental health issues since my university days, managing my mental health is a daily task. Some days are more challenging than others. Ever since the pandemic hit and situations became more volatile and uncertain, my mental health too took a harder hit and I’ve needed to be a lot more intentional in ensuring my well-being while also ensuring that I fulfil my work demands.

I’ve learnt that asking for help is a sign of strength, so I value and get help from professionals and my support networks. I see my therapist regularly and have honest conversations with my manager and loved ones about the support I need. I have established routines around starting and ending work daily, and work with a flexible plan to ensure that my work is done to the best of my ability. I’ve also found meaning and purpose in the challenge by sharing my story of managing mental health with others to help them feel less alone and share available resources.
Professionally, I often struggle with the lack of diverse representation within the tech industry and the lack of role models who look like me or have gone through similar paths to me. These have resulted in both imposter syndrome and a sense of isolation and loneliness. I lead diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs in Google as the first and one of two Singaporean DEI Program Managers. Furthermore, as a Malay-Muslim women wearing the hijab, it is rare that I come across someone who looks like me in the corporate workplace, or in the wider tech industry. This results in an added layer of needing to navigate new social environments above the demanding cognitive demands of the job, while not having someone who truly understands some of the challenges that I face as a minority and what could help make things better. Nonetheless, I’ve learnt to identify and lean on allies and mentors who believe in me and actively sponsor me, to leverage the differences that I bring to add richness to the groups I’m in, to challenge the expectation of perfection to embrace progress instead, and to take ownership of my achievements and abilities. I’m also taking it on as an opportunity to motivate others like me to pursue careers in tech and providing pathways for them by showing them it can be done
You deserve to be here and you are needed here. Take ownership of the opportunity you’ve been given and go out and make connections with others. You don’t have to be perfect to apply. A lot of people think they need to have everything in their job description to be perfect. Identify who your allies are, but also make sure to advocate for yourself.

As a Malay-Muslim women wearing the hijab, it is rare that I come across someone who looks like me in the corporate workplace, or in the wider tech industry. This results in an added layer of needing to navigate new social environments above the demanding cognitive demands of the job, while not having someone who truly understands some of the challenges that I face as a minority and what could help make things better. Nonetheless, I’ve learnt to identify.

As a Malay-Muslim women wearing the hijab, it is rare that I come across someone who looks like me in the corporate workplace, or in the wider tech industry. This results in an added layer of needing to navigate new social environments above the demanding cognitive demands of the job, while not having someone who truly understands some of the challenges that I face as a minority and what could help make things better. Nonetheless, I’ve learnt to identify.

As a Malay-Muslim women wearing the hijab, it is rare that I come across someone who looks like me in the corporate workplace, or in the wider tech industry. This results in an added layer of needing to navigate new social environments above the demanding cognitive demands of the job, while not having someone who truly understands some of the challenges that I face as a minority and what could help make things better. Nonetheless, I’ve learnt to identify.