Raifa Basheer: Choosing the Road Less Taken

In a community, the pressure to succeed is only for boys, not for girls; here is an HR professional who wanted to switch this arena and be an active part change that she wants to see in the world around her.

The most exciting thing in the world for her is getting completely lost in her work. She loves connecting with new people, trying new ideas, expanding her knowledge and network, and collaborating to solve problems and be part of a bigger purpose in life. A curious soul who is passionately driven and committed to continuous learning, she strives for more. She loves experimenting with new techniques to improve my habits and happiness every day and share it with the world. 

In conversation with Raifa Basheer on her journey of finding her voice and her journey of pursuing what she loved, blocking off voices from outside that tried to stop her.

Brief us about yourself, your background, and your previous ventures. 

I’m Raifa Basheer, an HR by profession. Still, you can also find me garnering in different roles, including Career Guide, Resume Strategist, and Study Abroad Consultant, a soon-to-be Founder! I’ve been actively involved with global youth leadership organizations in helping youth realize their full potential. I’m also an active part of various social incubators and UAE- based social accelerators for promoting women leadership. 

As a passion project, I educate and empower youth to build a growth mindset and promote learning opportunities for all. I have trained 3500+ students through my workshops. I was also mentoring 40+ students under me and was invited as a speaker in colleges and corporates. I have also been featured on TEDx and Radio Sunio Qatar.

What are the few challenges that you faced while setting up a career in this field? 

So for me, everything was going well until it was my turn to choose a course for higher studies. While everyone around me was busy picking the best entrance coaching centers and preparing for the entrance examination, I was sitting at home making absolutely no move in that direction. And when my parents asked me what my plan was, I told them that I wanted to do Business Studies. I was determined that this is what I wanted for myself. And then that’s where the chaos started! My parents, relatives, and every other person around me tried to make me a Doctor, Which I was never ready for.

Later, when my parents agreed to my plan because all they wished was their daughter’s happiness, they were blamed for bad parenting, listening to me, and not changing my mind. All the girls I knew used to get married while studying or when they reached a particular age. Even, I had to face the pressure to get married early on; I didn’t give in as I was very clear about getting financially independent before getting married. I wanted to be that person who tells them why financial independence is important and how beautiful it is to control one’s own life. I didn’t want to preach but walk my talk, exactly why I share my journey and milestones on Instagram so that they get inspired. 

Could you talk about your story of becoming a TedX Speaker? Could you brief us about your topic of discussion and the tale behind it? 

One fine day when I opened my mail, I saw that the Osmania University team invited me to be part of their next TEDx event. They were impressed with the social impact I was making and wanted me to be a representative of a young change-maker. Surprisingly, this year’s theme was “ Breaking the Glass Ceiling,” and it is my all-time favorite topic! I guess the law of attraction just manifested in its own ways for me! I talked about women’s leadership and why girls must be taught not to settle, and that they should be encouraged to keep looking for things that deeply inspire them. 

Could you brief us about your passion and mission for creating a community of career-ready youth?

Having identified the unresolved issue of youth unemployability and a dearth of women in leadership roles, I’ve decided to educate and empower youth to build a growth mindset and promote learning opportunities for all. I have trained 3500+ students through my workshops and also mentored 50+ students under me. Hence, I’ve started to do career coaching as a side-hustle now. I feel so alive when I’m working on it, and it gives me a chance to work with people from all realms. It’s kind of perfect for me. 

For the longest time, I’ve been thinking to pay forward a little of what I can to the student community and women, in particular. I’ve been lucky enough to find my passion and purpose early in life, so now I’m looking forward to lighting up the lives of people I can reach out to. 

While education is an important ingredient in climbing professional ladders, it does not always translate into career success. And here I’m trying to empower youth by providing them with real-life career skills, a supportive ecosystem, and access to the right opportunities and networks. Sometimes all you need is a ‘push’ to get you in the right direction. I’m just trying to do that. To give you that HOPE, confidence, and reassurance that you’re looking for. One by one, I want to help you all sort it all out in this journey of self-discovery.

My goal is to create collaborative, nurturing, and confident professionals, supporting a socially inclusive and equitable story of India’s growth.

How do you manage the work-life balance? How does your day look like? What is your schedule like on a typical day? 

Honestly, I don’t think I’m the right person to ask that question; I’m still struggling to maintain a work-life balance. When I have too much work to do, I see myself consumed in work and prioritizing work over anything, but these days I’m trying to make a lifestyle change and training myself to set boundaries. My day starts with morning prayer followed by 10 minutes of Suriya Namaskar and Radio Taiso workout. Then I start preparing my To-do list for the day and setting my top 3 priorities to be achieved. I do not have any structured night routine; I mostly go with the flow and do what I feel I might enjoy that day (talking to my loved ones, watching movies or finishing a book, or even preparing a meal)

Do you have a role model? What are the qualities that you look up to from them? 

Yes, it’s Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. I find everything about him inspirational; his life itself was a dedication to the people of our country. I admire the visionary leader he is, his courage and grit to pursue an unexplored path considering his humble background, the way he handles successes, most importantly, the failures, he taught us never to give up no matter how hard the challenges are and the integrity and ethics in his work life. I adore the educator in him the most. His words and vision run through my blood, and it’s in my mission as India’s daughter to take it forward. Every other time I feel low, I read his quotes, and it’s been a motivation booster always. It was always my dream to meet him at least once, but unfortunately, that’s still unchecked on my bucket list, it will ever be, and I regret it the most. In the Business space, I’m a big admirer of Dr.MA Yusuff Ali, Managing Director of LuLu GroupInternational. The efficiency at which he maintains both his career and spirituality has always been inspirational.

Tell us about your support system. 

My family is my biggest support system. I’m sure mom and dad had difficulty raising me as I would not always adhere to societal standards or pressures. I’d always question things around me; I was a very opinionated and ambitious kid early on, less did I listen to noises around me. Because of which I can now proudly say I take most decisions in my life, but my parents have stood with me during my highs and lows no matter what. My happiness was always their priority, and they did hold me close with both my good and bad decisions. And now I have my super-supportive husband; he is my biggest cheerleader and critic. The times when I feel low, he is the one who reminds me of what I’ve accomplished so far and that I’m capable of doing more in life. He is my source of hope and reassurance. My friends have also played a crucial role in molding me and my mind decisions.

What are your hobbies? What else do you pursue outside of this? 

When I’m not at work or side-hustling, you can often find me watching Netflix (I’m a huge friends fan!), traveling, or making videos. I read books, mostly non-fiction (4-Hour work week & Atomic Habits are my favorites,) and I’m fairly diligent with yoga.

What are your plans for the next venture? Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Currently, I’m in the process of building my startup, GetSkilld. 

My mission is to bridge the unemployment gap between job-seekers and employers and help millennials find value in their careers. It will be a one-stop destination that allows students, graduates, young professionals, entrepreneurs, and “anyone with the curiosity to learn” to create an online learning ecosystem that fits their career & educational needs and industry demands. With the covid 19 situations happening, I’m unsure how a 5-year plan will work, especially in such a volatile space. My long-term goal is to transform the lives of 1 million students in helping them turn into confident and booming young professionals, who in turn support a socially inclusive and equitable story of the country’s growth.

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