Safina Amir: Re-defining Success and Challenging Status Quo in the Tech World

The 10 Most Inspiring Women Leaders in Business 2024

There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer.” – Rihanna, singer & businesswoman

Safina Amir embodies this sentiment perfectly. Coincidentally, it happens to be one of her favorite quotes as well. She has carved out a distinctive spot for herself in the competitive tech world, where women are still underrepresented in leadership positions, through her courage, high aspirations, and relentless pursuit of excellence. As Managing Director of speeqr Ltd, she is transforming the way online conferences and parties are held, thereby, revolutionizing an industry marked by fierce competition and rapid innovation. Safina transcends mere leadership, acting as a catalyst who is known to be igniting the ambitions of women in the technological realm. She is empowering them to forge their own narratives of success.

What Is Success?

Safina defines success beyond the conventional metrics of wealth and fame. She also does not view it as a singular mountain peak to conquer. For her, it is similar to a vast, uncharted landscape to explore. “Success is the thrill of discovery, the constant dance between vision and adaptation, and the satisfaction of leaving a trail of positive impact in their wake,” she explains.

For Safina, success is also not defined by corner offices or fancy cars, even though they are nice perks “It’s a wild. rollercoaster ride where the ultimate prize is the exhilarating scream of ‘we did it!’ at the top of a climb that most would never dare to take,” she says. Her dictionary also defines success as sleepless nights fueled by passion, the joy of watching one’s team turn from strangers into a ragtag band of warriors, conquering untrod territory. It is not a finite destination but a never-ending journey, according to her.

“For an entrepreneur, success is celebrating the process of becoming, the continuous act of learning and evolving,” Safina adds. “It allows for setbacks and detours, understanding that even failures can be valuable steppingstones that tell the story of a thrilling ride.”

Reaction to Challenges Is Very Human

Challenges and setbacks are an integral part of every successful leader’s journey. Safina, too, faced – and continues to face – them. How does she deal with them? She does not follow a set recipe to navigate through crises. Entrepreneurs are humans too, she points out, so their reactions to challenges are also going to be very much human.

When she encounters setbacks or a challenging situation, Safina tries to maintain her perspective as well as embrace vulnerability. She explains that this approach helps her to configure the setback and view the situation independently of external influences and biases. “My trick is to ensure maximum transparency and open communication to foster the sense of ownership,” adds. If nothing works, she prefers to just devour the crisis with oven-fresh molten lava cake and an iced caramel latte, and start afresh.

From a place of self-doubt, Safina has blossomed into a leader of unwavering self-confidence. She attributes this transformation to trajectory of achievement, a testament to her resilience. Having conquered imposter syndrome herself, Safina passionately champions the cause of women, urging them to confront negative thoughts and self-doubt head-on. She keenly recognizes how societal stereotypes and ingrained patriarchal biases can fuel these insecurities, but emphasizes that proactively challenging them is paramount for success.

Safina advocates for a paradigm shift in the perception of success. She urges individuals to move beyond the confines of a narrow definition solely reliant on external validation. She says “True fulfillment lies in a focus on personal growth, the enrichment one’s own from learning experiences, and the enduring impact one makes on the world.

Young Safina’s Life

Safina’s life before speeqr was centered on academics and curiosity-driven research. She would explore a plethora of business ideas – random thoughts that would pop up into her head. She describes her younger self as a “studious and wise kid” who knew that a “silver lining” separates being studious from being a bookworm.

As a young girl, Safina’s focus was on achieving her academic benchmarks and remaining at the top in everything. She remembers being fond of the limelight, wanting to be everywhere, and participating in every co-curricular and extra-curricular activity. “I was passionate about everything I did,” she says. Because of that, she was often called “bossy,” “KHALIFA”, “intimidating,” and “too much to handle”.

Now, when she looks back and recalls those words, she wants to remind her younger self to avoid two traps – caring about what others think and thinking that they care.

Influential and Inspirational Figures

Safina credits much of her drive and success to two influential figures in her life. Their influence has shaped her into a determined and visionary leader, poised to make her mark in the business world. In her family, her elder brother has had a significant impact on her life and choices. She emphasizes how his dedication and tireless pursuit of success fuel a friendly rivalry, pushing her to constantly improve and potentially even outperform him.

Outside of her family, she draws inspiration from Imran Khan Niazi, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan. “He has inspired me in ways unimaginable, Safina says. She admires his outlook towards the world, his conviction towards the morals and stances he believes in, his assertive life choices, and the intestinal fortitude he possesses. “All these are signs of a leader that happens to the world once in blue moons,” she says.

Safina wishes to have a round table meal with influential women from different fields and sections of history, including science, politics, business, and activism—those who defied centuries of tradition and rose against adversities. For this round table meal, she would love to invite Marie Curie, the physicist, and chemist who won two Nobel Prizes; Empress Wu Zetian, the only female emperor of China; Dr. Ruth Pfau, known as the “Mother Teresa of Pakistan”; Hazrat Khadijah (A.S), the first wife of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W) and a successful businesswoman; and Fatima Jinnah, a prominent leader of Pakistan’s independence movement. With them, she would love to discuss their resilience, fearlessness, ambition, and exemplary life journeys led with sheer strength, wisdom, and a quintessential peachy mindset.

“As someone who finds immense strength in the collective spirit of women, I have had the privilege to know some wonderful and talented women who have all inspired me in various ways,” Safina says. These women include her mother, aunt, grandmother, some teachers, and her girl-gang, whose resilience, passion, and empathy continue to inspire her every day. “My current goal is to perpetuate the positive wave of influence, empowering the next generation of women,” she says.

Two Greatest Achievements

In her stellar career, Safina has handled many projects successfully. She has also won multiple trophies and accolades. But she does not consider any of them her greatest achievement. She feels a sense of great achievement when she witnesses the moment a spark ignites in someone’s eyes.

“You know the look – that ‘aha!’ moment when a team member cracks a tough problem, their confidence soars, and they’re ready to conquer the world – or at least the next crash,” she says. It’s like raising a flock of brilliant, slightly sleep-deprived eagles – and who wouldn’t be proud of that?”

Another great achievement she talks about is navigating the delicate balance between being a fearless leader and occasionally realizing she has absolutely no idea what she is doing.

Balancing Success and Well-being

Although Safina does not glorify working around the clock, she is still learning to strike a balance between professional success and personal well-being and fulfillment “and for entrepreneurs it is a tricky job to find the sweet spot” she says. The rule of thumb she follows for that is – to be resilient enough, and never let professional success or failure get to one’s head.

Staying in touch with her roots, where she came from, also keeps Safina self-aware and in check. She shares that her grandfather was a carpenter, her father climbed to the top from humble beginnings, her mother mastered the art of balancing work and home, and her brother broke free from the generational loop of employment to make difficult yet successful choices. “I’ve realized everything is a result of a choice,” Safina says. Therefore, make the choices that one can be proud of.”

For personal well-being, Safina keeps her mental health in check, exercises regularly, laughs a lot with friends, and chats with her younger brother, who has the right recipe to keep her grounded. She also occasionally indulges in “the sweetness of doing nothing,” allowing herself to breathe in her skin.

Vision and Future Plans for speeqr   

speeqr, an ambitious venture, is being built and run by young people. As a modern-day start-up turned private limited company, it aims to revolutionize the world of audio/video conferencing and legacy communication to groundbreaking ways, all set to conquer the market.

Safina points out that almost every entrepreneur’s vision is to build a billion-dollar business and develop technology that disrupts the world. She, too, has similar aspirations, but she is aiming relentlessly beyond that. My paramount aspiration,” she reveals, “is to cultivate an organization that pulsates with passion, fosters equitable opportunities, and empowers every individual within it.”

Instead of having a team of sophisticated engineers who just create technology, Safina aspires to build a team of engineers-turned-entrepreneurs who will create not only technology but also a business that impacts the world. It will enable the building of an organization that “fosters resilience, houses woke individuals and holistic talent, and leaves a dent in the universe!”

Trends for the Next Five Years

In the next 5 years, Safina believes that the trends related to AI, big data, cloud computing, and phygital spaces are going to reach new heights, making intelligence critical for growth. However, a real challenge for businesses and entrepreneurs in the future, according to her, is the thrill of growth obscuring their roots.

Safina explains that while the rhapsody of business growth can be intoxicating, it’s crucial not to lose sight of the core values and vision that form the foundation of a business. These elements, she believes, are at the core of a company’s success trail. She also likens a company to a living organism, which is shaped and sustained by various elements working in harmony. “Disruptions can be attractive, but if not incorporated ‘rightly’, they can be quite ‘disruptive’,” Safina points out. She posits that adaptability, people strategy, and future proofing skills are going to be critical for businesses to thrive.

Women in the Tech Industry

The tech industry continues to be a challenging landscape for women in leadership, “it is not unsurmountable though,” Safina highlights.

It is 2024, but women in tech leadership continue to suffer due to unconscious biases, underrepresentation, work-life balance impediments, and the elephant in the room, the proverbial glass ceiling, according to her. Stereotypes such as women being less technical, or decisive or lacking the necessary leadership qualities are still pervasive. Safina points out that this bias makes it difficult for aspiring women to have their ideas heard and valued. In addition to that, she says that the presence of a glass ceiling further aggravates the problem for women where unequal opportunities, lack of pay parity, internalized notions against women empowerment, and behavioral patterns that are restrictive of women make mere survival a challenge, let alone thriving.

For every young aspiring woman who is trying to make her way up while navigating these multi-faceted, hostile, and detractive challenges, Safina is venturous to do everything in her capability to ease their way or at least share the struggles. To make that happen, she has begun by leading the change that she advocates for.  She leads by example, believing that actions speak louder than boardroom speeches.

At speeqr, Safina is ensuring pay parity. Along with that, she is promoting equitable growth by addressing work-life balance issues for women in her organization. She is doing that by managing workflow in a way that addresses work-life balance issues for her women employees, rather than relying on the delusion of equal growth. This inherently allows greater representation of women in leadership roles, resulting in substantial acceleration in the value of their opinions and decisions, Safina explains. “I intend to showcase what inclusive leadership looks like in practice,” she says. Driven by a clear vision, she champions the values she believes in on every platform, both nationally and internationally.  As a sought-after panelist and keynote speaker, she ignites conversations and fuels the movement for greater female representation in leadership roles, a goal she pursues until the day such positions are no longer considered a novelty.

Her focus extends beyond immediate change.  Recognizing the root causes of gender disparity, she actively promotes STEM education in schools and colleges, nurturing the potential of future generations.  Furthermore, her dedication is evident through her involvement in multiple projects aimed at empowering women, particularly in rural areas, by fostering their financial independence.

Safina also emphasizes the importance of letting young women see the human side of leadership – where vulnerability and strength co-exist. “Sometimes, a well-told, single story has the power to ignite the desire to break away from the infinite loop of suppression, dismantle the limitations, and conquer the obstacles imposed,” she underscores.

Safina believes that by empowering women, one can inspire an entire generation to rise. “This cycle is continuous and self-perpetuating,” she says. “I’m trying to be the living embodiment of the leadership style I want to see in the next generation.”

Sparking a Revolution for Women

An entrepreneur’s career is usually never planned or calculated. While Safina aims to continue growing as an entrepreneur and work on ideas she believes in, her ultimate aspiration is to create, drive, and impact a change that revolutionizes the world where women thrive, grow, and are heard.

“They are given their due representation, and for that to happen, the root causes shall be addressed, corrected, and mitigated at all levels in all influential spheres,” she explains. She also envisions a future where women are not just at the table but are shaping the very menu of success.

Furthermore, she aspires to redefine success. Success, she emphasizes, should not be a singular, monolithic peak; instead, she envisions celebrating the diverse paths women take. For example, a woman entrepreneur carving her own niche, the corporate leader shattering barriers, the working mother who balances it all, or a homemaker nurturing habitat in its glory. “All these women deserve recognition and respect,” she says. “Let’s redefine success stories to reflect the multifaceted brilliance of women.”

She does not see her impact being measured solely in terms of promotions or profits all the time. Instead, according to her, it will be measured in the fire she ignites in the hearts of women who can challenge the status quo. She likens this to the ripple effect of confidence, the audacious dreams taking flight, and the collective rise of a generation unafraid to claim their rightful place at the forefront of business.

“This is the revolution I hope to spark: a world where women not only grow but also redefine the very definition of success according to their stories,” she says.

Message to Aspiring Women Leaders

“To my dreamers, aspiring women, see the business world not as a climb, but as a summit you were born to reach,” she says. “Don’t let self-doubt dim your inner light.”

She encourages them to embrace their ambition and nurture their talents. In addition, she asks them to remember that the most difficult part of the path to success is gathering the courage to take the very first step!

“Believe in the power you hold, and watch the world move with you,” Safina adds.