Maliha Sheikh is our Pearls And Heels lady for today. Maliha Sheikh started out as a trained Kindergarten teacher and was in the teaching profession for 9 years. She changed careers 12 years ago when she became a single parent. She has a full time job as a Regional Marketing Manager for a dynamic software distribution company. She is also the CEO and Founder of Finda Mobile Application Limited. From the concept to the design of “Myfind’a” Mobile Application, she developed the product locally with a development team. “MyFind’a” is an interactive and user-friendly mobile application designed to create easy access to timely information. Maliha says that she loves her full time job and she has been with them for past 12 years, plus she is extremely passionate about her innovation “Myfind’a”. She says she loves all that she does.
1.Describe your typical day?
I have a pretty much setup a routine with my full time job and business running parallel which in no way interferes with my job. I am able to manage both diligently. My day starts with my morning prayers and I schedule and plan an entire day’s activity. Tasks are assigned early morning to my staff ensuring that my business needs are met, my clients are satisfied and attended to in an efficient manner. My evenings are spent with my family and I catch up and attend to paperwork late at night. I usually sleep for about 4 hours a day ensuring that nothing is neglected whether it’s my job, business or family.
2.What did you want to be when you grew up?
Whilst I was growing up; I wanted to be an architect. I wanted to design and build. Even though I did not pursue this field, I never gave up on the idea of designing, creating and building.
3.If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I believe things happen for a reason, in the way and order in which they were intended. I believe that I would not want to change the sequence of my past as it defines who I am today. I’m actually glad I cannot turn the clock back on my career however; I do wish that I had found my passion – “MyFind’a,” earlier. I am nevertheless quite content and I know that my maturity, experience, life lessons and skills needed to be at the place they are today for things to be working the way they do for me.
4.What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
I am generally a very people oriented person. In my opinion, people skills are needed to succeed not just at work, but if practiced throughout can bring great results both personally and professionally.
Having the ability to relate to others no matter their position or viewpoint is crucial.
If you’re patient with others and can keep a level head in stressful situations, it will definitely be perceived as a very strong asset.
Be a good listener and remain sensitive to the needs of others. These people skills can be practiced; and once honed, you’ll see the difference in the positive reaction of those around you.
5.As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Nairobi is advanced as compared to other cities in Africa. Embracing technology hasn’t been a big challenge however there is certainly room for improvement in customer service. I feel that small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurship needs to be promoted and equipped with better resources and accessibility to inexpensive marketing giving them a fair chance to rise.
What motivates you?
There is no love like the one shared between a parent and a child. I have a daughter and a son who are both at University. My daughter is studying Law and my son pursuing his Accounting and Finance Degree. My children mean the world to me. They both motivate me to experience the best that life has to offer! Being a full time single parent and simultaneously sustaining a full time job and running a business is no easy feat. I am always on call and never off duty! Even so, I believe that being a parent is the most rewarding feeling anyone can ever experience.
My children motivate me to take better care of my health so I can experience each moment of their lives. But, most of all, my children inspire me to become a better person. Seeing them looking up to me and them admiring me is priceless. It is a feeling that I hope to keep in my heart forever. In their eyes, I am a superhero, and I refuse to let them down! I thank my children for giving me the motivation to build a better life. They deserve the absolute best, so I do everything in my power to give them the best.
How do you define success?
If work is driving someone, demanding all their time, and giving them no balance between their work, well being, time with their family and other relationships, and time for spiritual growth, then the balance is off and would not be considered a successful life. From my point of view, the true meaning of success goes far beyond the common definitions of success of name, fame and wealth. True success in life cannot be measured by having a lot of money, being wealthy, having a lot of tangibles and earned degrees, but instead your contribution to other people’s lives. Success should be measured by the amount of people who are able to better and advance their lives because of what you created. This is the meaning of success “Gaining the Goal Without Losing Your Soul” as said by Dr. Linda Seger.
On a lighter note, I define my own success by when people search my name on Google instead of Facebook.
8.Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Undoubtedly my husband, my love, my partner and my best friend. We all go through some rough patches and I did too. He supported me, stood by my decisions. He always inspires me to make goals for myself and help me chase my dreams. I admire his intelligence and integrity. I respect the man that he is. Without the inspiration from my husband, and continuing to do things out of the kindness of his heart, I would not have been inspired to do the things I do and have done.
9.What is your favourite aspect of your job?
Seeing my customers satisfied and happy.
10.What would you say are the key elements to being successful?
Key elements to being successful are being sensitive to your surroundings, being disciplined, transparency in work, working smart and being able to think out of the box.
What advice would you give someone starting out in your line of work?
Pursue your dreams fearlessly and never allow setbacks to defeat you. Love what you do. Be disciplined and organized.
What has been your most satisfying moment in terms of career?
I give my 100% in whatever I do whether it was teaching or my current job in marketing or customer service. Also, developing “MyFind’a “and seeing the end product, has been a most satisfying moment.
13.What makes you happy?
Spending time with my family makes me happy. My mother, my sisters, my children and husband; having them around and seeing them happy and settled is very rewarding.
14.What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I love creating so whether it’s cooking or coming up with new ideas; that is what I do in my “me-time.”
Where you see yourself in around 10 years?
I am sure God must have a plan. Ten years is a long time however; I do wish to have a positive lasting impact through my contribution via innovations, bringing new ideas and initiatives. I see myself as a happy and a content person who wants to enjoy every moment by offering my experiences and products to better and improve lives.
If you would like to interact with Maliha Sheikh on Twitter you can find her at handle @MalsSheikh. You can also check out the twitter handle @MyFindaKenya.