Sharina
Khan

Senior Consultant (Experience Design), ThoughtWorks

"My biggest hurdle was coming into tech. I already had a family with two children so I couldn’t just make a sudden change without much consideration. It took me 2 years to tell myself that it was okay to leave a comfortable job that is stable and pursue something that I really liked. That’s when the struggle began. When I decided to pick up a job in UX, I got rejected quite a number of times. Emotionally, it was quite painful and it took me a while to tell myself that it was going to be okay."

Success can be defined in many ways. Different people have different definitions. I think I can’t really define success because to me, it’s something continuous. Success to me means being able to continue learning. Having that bandwidth, having that opportunity to keep learning – to me, that’s success. You are always striving for excellence. A lot of people tend to associate time with success. But to me, it is not. There is no barrier when it comes to success. You can be successful at the age of 80.

My biggest hurdle was coming into tech. I already had a family with two children so I couldn’t just make a sudden change without much consideration. It took me 2 years to tell myself that it was okay to leave a comfortable job that is stable and pursue something that I really liked. That’s when the struggle began. When I decided to pick up a job in UX, I got rejected quite a number of times. Emotionally, it was quite painful and it took me a while to tell myself that it was going to be okay.

I have grown up in an environment where I have always been a minority. In secondary school, I chose design and tech over food and nutrition, which all my friends chose. I had to choose between following my peers and following my passion. I decided to follow my passion. I was the only girl in the class but that did not stop me from topping it.

Being a minority gives you that added energy and rigor. You always bring that rigor throughout your journey. I think it should not stop, it should continue no matter where you are. When you are talking about a minority, you could be the minority among a pool of male-dominated industry or you are a Muslim amidst non-Muslims.

Even when I was in university, I was a minority. I was the only one wearing a hijab. So, I have always grown up being a minority but that has never stopped me from excelling or pursuing what I have always wanted to do.
There is never a perfect time. If you don’t try, you will never know. Keep it a go! How much can you lose?
It is not about planning, it is about being adaptable and prepared. Looking out for the things that are needed and equipping oneself. That’s what I am trying to do. What are the complementary skills for UX and what value can I bring? For example, I introduced service design to my clients. If they manage to look at it from a service perspective, they do not need to design everything within the system. That is cost-saving for them and there are certain things they can do by reviewing the services. So, that brings in a lot of value. Not only service design but there is also data – which is huge! On projects that I work on, privacy and data ownership are very important. Ethical data is something I am interested in so I shall be exploring more of that.
Being stuck with two children at home during a pandemic can be quite daunting. They are very inquisitive at those ages and they always have to be occupied. We try to do sports or bake together. That keeps me sane as well. Whenever I have a project, I always take a pause in between to watch some Netlfix!