Emerging Leader Spotlight: Bushra Anjum

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her to share how she achieved her current position, what obstacles she encountered on her climb, as well as tips for how to be a rising woman of influence.

Bushra AnjumThis month we shine the Emerging Leader Spotlight on Dr. Bushra Anjum, Tech Lead – Amazon Prime with Amazon.

Favorite leadership quote:

Don’t let “I don’t know how yet” stop you from saying yes to an opportunity. – Dr. Bushra Anjum (it is something I wrote a while back)

Why did you choose your current career path?

Because of my wide-eyed fascination for technology! I was in Pakistan completing my undergraduate studies when computers made an appearance there back in the early 2000s. I was fascinated by the promise of the internet and the digital world, and ended up enrolling for BS in Computer Science and from there never left the field. After finishing PhD, I spent some time in academia and thoroughly enjoyed teaching. Then intrigued by the tremendous progress of the tech industry, I got pulled into the Silicon Valley.

As a tech lead for Amazon Prime, I work daily with diverse database technologies, asynchronized workflows, automation and reconciliation platforms. My work requires deep analysis on not only making various internal systems (owned by different teams) interact with each other smoothly but also troubleshooting operational issues and maintaining operational excellence. I like being the subject matter expert, I like knowing answers and I like having the ability to rephrase the issue in a way that is understood by both the engineers who eat, sleep and breathe code, and by the project managers and business decision makers. I believe having a PhD made me uniquely qualified for this role, for being the interface, the analyzer, and the translator.

I am happy to have a job with a healthy mix of programming and non-programming technical tasks.

What is the most important thing you have learned that has been critical to your career success?

Before answering that, let me share my thoughts on the concept of ‘success’ as I define it. No matter what you are doing or how much you are making or how many people are reporting to you or what decisions you are impacting, I think what makes you successful is that when you look at yourself in the mirror, you feel as if you are looking at a friend. By that standard, yes I do consider myself successful.

I have learned early in my life to care for people that I am around, to invest in them, listen to them and lift them up. Treating others with kindness and compassion gives me contentment and peace, enables me to build internal buffers that help me deal with everyday challenges with a positive frame of mind. It helps me to absorb any negativity that I may face and to not project it forward. It helps me to smile, internalize lessons but not failures and move on.

What steps are you currently taking to develop yourself, professionally?

This is where my PhD training comes in handy again i.e., the comfort with “the truth is out there” mentality (Yes I am a huge ‘The X-Files’ fan).

I read as much as my schedule allows me to. Not only things related to information technology, but leadership, life and experiences. In fact, this is how I spend most of my lunch time. The current book I am reading is “Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting It Wrong”, is a must-read.

Second, I try to keep a hand on the pulse of the tech field by being subscribed to a couple of focused newsletters and magazines. ACM publications are quite good in that context so are ABI resources.

Third, I participate in tech conferences, especially those focused on bringing more diverse workforce such as Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, Computing Research Association for Women Cohorts and other related events. They help me realize where the gaps are and not only shape myself to be a better fit, but also to lift others along with me in the process.

It’s an everyday subconscious effort. As I stated in the beginning, you have to be comfortable with the thought that there is more out there to know and explore. You don’t know everything, and it is ok. I know that I will never know everything there is to know, but I know tomorrow I will know more than what I know today. And that is a good thing to know!

What are some top tips you can recommend to other women who want to be recognized as high-potential emerging leaders?

1) Be very good at what you do. Read, volunteer, ask for coaching, spend extra hours learning, do whatever it takes to become a subject matter expert in your current task or project. Become the one that people come to with questions. That builds trust and rapport.

2) Be friendly and approachable.  Give value when and if you can without keeping scores. That builds camaraderie.

If you are aiming at being recognized, trust, rapport and camaraderie will be your key strengths that will provide you with the push that you need to move up.

Connect with Dr. Bushra Anjum on LinkedIn.

Angie Klein

As Operations and Marketing Manager, Angie Klein is responsible for maintaining the day to day operations of  Be Leaderly.com. Angie manages all aspects of training program logistics, registrations, SEO, financials,  monthly newsletter, social media engagement and customer service.

Follow @kleina2012 on Twitter.

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