Rayhana Rahman | Neighbourly
She's here for women in tech, she's here for the BAME community in tech, she's here to talk about how the menopause can have a huge impact on women's careers and what companies can do to support and empower the team throughout this period of their lives.
Rayhana shows up for all these things and we can all learn a thing or two from her!
Read her story today and have a think about what you can do to help make the tech industry more inclusive and diverse - it could just be sharing Rayhana's amazing Women Rock blog post!
HEY RAYHANA CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF…
I have always worked in IT, it was something I was interested in when I was studying my O levels. That slightly gives away my age! At the time the idea of being a Systems Analyst interested me as I liked the idea of talking to people to understand what they wanted and then making that happen.
My first manager said what caught his eye when looking at my CV was the degree I had completed. I started as a report writer and then within a few months became a project manager. It was so empowering to deliver a system that supported numerous training providers who were submitting returns to the Regional Government Office for funding. That a system we implemented could collate all the individual details from each provider into one submission. This is where my desire to improve systems and make users lives easier came about.
From that I did a variety of management roles to understand the needs of business and implement change. I have realised through my career that alongside this I enjoy building teams and coaching individuals to be the best they can be even if they don’t see their strengths at the beginning. That is how I found my current role as I wanted to continue to build a team by coaching and mentoring.
SOMETIMES IT CAN BE DAUNTING TO TAKE THE LEAP AND CHANGE YOUR ROLE AFTER BEING IN THE SAME ORGANISATION FOR A LONG TIME. HAVING RECENTLY TAKEN UP A NEW ROLE IN A NEW COMPANY, WHAT WOULD YOUR ADVICE BE TO ANYONE CONSIDERING A CHANGE?
I would say that the market has changed so much and there is so much opportunity out there. You will be surprised how much you match your wants to a job. Maybe you want to work remotely, maybe you want to work 4 days a week, maybe you want to work for a social impact company. They are out there, but first find the right recruitment company (like SR2), that makes a great difference!
YOU HAVE RECENTLY EXPERIENCED THE MENOPAUSE AND THE EFFECT THAT IT CAN HAVE ON WOMEN'S CAREERS. WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE? WHAT MORE DO YOU THINK CAN BE DONE BY EMPLOYERS TO SUPPORT WOMEN GOING THROUGH THE MENOPAUSE?
My first symptom was pain suddenly in my left shoulder that I thought was repetitive strain injury for which I was given very strong painkillers, but I didn’t know it was the start of the menopause. I was naïve, I thought I’d gone through all the symptoms, and it was plain sailing. Actually I had put many of the signs down to too many meetings, maybe overworking myself. It was actually after an interview when I found I was still upset. I thought something was wrong. I then was told it was the menopause.
It wasn’t until I went through it that I realised that actually the solution is individual to each woman, and it takes time to find the right solution for you. There is much more awareness out there, but I think all managers need to be more understanding as there so many symptoms (not just having a hot flush) that have an impact on our working lives.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE, HOW IMPORTANT IS DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE?
As an Asian woman in IT, much of my career has been in a mostly male environment. Over the years I have built teams who are diverse and have seen the beauty of different thoughts as well as different working practices. It’s about giving people the space to air their views and work towards a solution. Once you see the benefits you never look back! The best part of a team is when they respect each other even if their views are different as they recognise each of them are working towards the same goal.
WHAT MORE DO YOU THINK CAN BE DONE TO GET MORE UNDERREPRESENTED MINORITIES AND WOMEN INTO TECH?
I recognise as an individual every person I come in contact with has an opportunity to see the strength of me being in my role and think I’d like to do that, and I can do that. It’s finding ways to get to communities and schools to show the young that this is interesting as well as exciting and it makes a difference.
LASTLY, DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE QUOTE THAT YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY?
It’s not a quote as such but my own belief - Be kind, you don’t know what someone else is going through, be there for them and listen to what they have to say.
Thanks Rayhana you rock! 🤘
Interview by Rosie Fearnley