Always ready for a challenge. “Bring it on”, says Nazaneen Jalaludheen
This story is part of the Mia Women Series, sponsored by Tanishq, where we showcase bold, beautiful and colourful stories of inspiring women. (HerStory exercises full editorial control over all the posts)
Nazaneen Jalaludheen exudes confidence and calm. She is a beautiful and confident woman who likes to do her own thing. She is open to new ideas and fearlessly treads on roads unknown.
An IIM Bangalore alumnus with a vast exposure and experience in the corporate sector, Nazaneen is currently involved with two startups in different capacities. The startup space is a demanding field and handling two startups at a go can be nothing less than proportionally difficult. But Nazaneen seems to love every bit of it – be it handling operations, working on technology roadmaps, tackling design parameters or be it defining product releases.
Nazneen completed most of her schooling from Libiya in North Africa. Most of her childhood memories are from Libya. She says, “As we were away from India, the Indian community in Libya was very active and high on culture. We had some great get togethers there.”
Her graduation from Chennai University was followed by MBA from IIM, Bangalore. Prior to entering the startup ecosystem, she has worked with Infosys and spent a year working in the US too. She has worked in the information technology space dabbling in several domains, including retail and telecom. She also has some experience with product development. She worked with SAP in Bangalore for a few years before setting out to be a part of the startup ecosystem.
Currently, one of the hats she dons is that of the Chief Technology Officer with Applied Robotics, a young robotics startup with the big dream of becoming a dominant player in the global consumer robotics market by creating a range of interactive robots supported by a world class developer community.
Her other role is that of the Chief Innovation Officer at Thoughtapult. She says, “We want to bring crowdfunding to India in a big way with Thoughapult. We are developing this platform from scratch. I am involved in all aspects of the business here from strategy, business development, operations to marketing.”
From a strong and steady stint in corporate jobs to two exciting roles in the startup world come with its own joys and jitters. She says,
The ups and downs are synonymous to a startup. Every day is so different. One day is filled with a mad rush of optimism and the next day feels like everything is going down the drain. Dealing with the instability and maintaining a positive attitude is tougher than I expected it to be, but it is also more fun than I ever thought.
Nazaneen says that life is about being motivated and spreading your wings to explore the world. She draws motivation from another woman — her grandmother. She says, “My grandmother is a strong and resilient lady, who in spite of all the odds, always manages to do a lot. She set up her own cottage industry, wrote several cook books and continues to consult with businesses in her area of expertise. To this day, she stays optimistic and cheerful in spite of whatever life throws at her.”
Given that technology is a field where few women are to be seen, Nazaneen says, “Who would not be excited about working with a technology as exciting as robotics?” She adds, “It took me a while to get used to this new ecosystem and figuring out innovative ways to get things done. One of the earliest things I learnt about a start up was how you can’t take anything for granted and the importance of a brand name especially what to expect in terms of vendor behaviour if you were working at a startup.”
Nazaneen is always up for learning something new and given her exposure to different cultures is multi-lingual. She plans to add a new language to her plethora of languages very soon. She loves to take up different activities to unwind like — gardening, playing a musical instrument or oil painting.
Nazaneen confesses that she writes but that is a personal part of her life and is not for public consumption. She writes about varied topics — whatever stirs her finds its expression in words. If there is one thing that compares her passion for her work, it is her love for long form journalism.
Nazaneen is a calm and composed individual and associates with the colour blue. Blue dominate her wardrobe too. Her favourite piece of clothing is a crisp white salwaar kameez – a comfortable attire that she feels suits her personality well. She adorns western formals with same grace as she does Indian wear. Nazaneen pairs her work wear mostly with simple and minimal gold jewellry.
All that she has achieved in life would not have come without her hard work. As a woman how does she balance her life and work demands. For Nazaneen, a strong support system (both at home and work) is critical to managing the work-life balance. “A partner who understands or at least tries to understand some of this madness, and colleagues who understand my responsibilities at home, which has especially become important now that I have a six-month-old baby. And I can gladly say that I have been lucky in all these respects,” she shares.
On of the major turning point in her life was a speech by Abdul Kalam. She says, “His speech was truly an inspirational one and I realised that the reason I felt that way was because he spoke from the heart. He spoke of team effort and how a strong team can influence or even overcome management decisions to achieve the impossible. He spoke of his own experience and when I heard him, I realised how much further one can go if one just manages to persevere with a positive attitude. That was a turning point in some sense and post that I do try to apply that in all aspects of my life.”
Nazaneen signs off by saying, “Women have a tendency of donning too many roles and trying to balance all these different roles in their personal and professional lives. In a startup, the rate of failure is so much more compared to other fields and that makes life even more daunting sometimes. I firmly believe that one can overcome all impediments in her path and do all that she wants. There already are and soon there will be more super women in the world.”
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