Here’s the third in the series Moms Uninhibited, (for intro read here), and what a fabulous lady. My friend Saad’s mother, she has really accomplished it all. I was told my series focused too much on a particular generation, so this interview will fix that. This lady fought to break the glass ceiling when we were in our diapers. 38 years dedicated to an organization! Talk about loyalty! Hope you all enjoy the answers as much as I did; so candid and endearing:
Asma Yusoof has worked in Marketing & Sales department at the nation’s carrier, Pakistan International Airline (P.I.A), for the last 38 plus years. Mother to two accomplished children, Synara and Saad and grandmother to Talha, 9, and Aaziah, 5, she recently called it a day and has retired as Ticket Office Manager. Her spouse Syed Pervez Yusoof works as Head of Trading at Hascol Petroleum and has been supportive of her working career in every way. There is so much to learn from this dynamic individual. A trailblazer for our generation and for the many women who followed suit, she managed it all back when many women did not venture into the corporate world. She has served as hope and inspiration to many who, like Asma, have dared to go after their dreams. It seems she has the locker combination to the elusive work-life balance. Let’s try to get her to share the secret…
Tell us how you applied to PIA and what you remember about your initial experience.
When I was in Metric I was offered a job as an air hostess. When I mentioned this to my father he got annoyed and asked me to never again bring up the topic till I was married and then seek permission from my husband if I wanted to work. When I got married I saw a few vacancies in the newspaper for ground staff requirement, took permission from my husband and in-laws and that’s when I applied, qualified and got the job. Initially my senior officers gave me quite a hard time and I wanted to quit within the week but then I met this lady Ms. Rahat who took me under her wings and tutored me.
Did your family support your decision to work at a time when it was not a norm for women to be working?
I was blessed that way. My father, mother, brothers, my husband, in-laws and my youngest khala were immensely supportive and motivated me a great deal. Now I try to support my daughter and daughter-in law the same way.
If you had one piece of advice for someone just starting out, what would it be?
Stay strong and determined
It is not easy to break the glass ceiling, especially in Pakistan. Describe any challenging experiences?
Perpetual hurdles in getting promoted to a higher grade and not being sent for any foreign posting in my 38 years career.
How many hours a day did you work (on average) at the job?
8 hours daily. We had three shifts running (8am to 4.00pm, 1.00pm to 9.00pm OR 10.00am to 6pm) and the management could put us in wherever needed.
What is that one thing you find to be true that most people would disagree with?
Actually Three things: 1. Work with honesty – There are no shortcuts. 2. Be straight forward – in the long run it has its rewards. 3. Women of all ages should work.
Tell us about that one big lesson you learnt that has impacted the way you work. (Ideally a ‘before and after’ scenario)
Credit of my work was always taken by others. I had to mend myself accordingly and be more assertive in my approach.
If you were to do it all again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I would do this all over again
Was there ever a time in your career that you felt like quitting? If yes, what made you stay?
Yes many a times but with Allah’s blessings and family’s support I kept going with the drive to give my children & family a comfortable life without the hardships and challenges that I had experienced.
Describe the most satisfying moment you had at work.
Every day when a passenger would come and say ‘Thank you for helping us out.’
How has your routine changed after retirement and how do you deal with it?
It has become more relaxing but still busy. I get up in the morning, make breakfast for my husband and do the daily chores. Have recently retired so honestly, I did not get the time to chalk out a routine for myself but will definitely be keeping myself occupied. Probably start a small private catering business which I was always wanted to do.
Name two things you can’t leave home without.
My extra chappals and purse.
Name a movie that, whenever you watch it, takes you back to the good old days?
The Guns of Navarone.
What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?
My surprise birthday. It was more like embarrassingly funny. I came home from work wearing my tired look, opened the door, my son greeted me at the entrance, told me that someone was waiting in the drawing room to meet me. When I walked in, I saw family and friends who I hadn’t seen in years, all present. For a moment, I really didn’t know what was happening then I just burst out laughing with excitement. It was a very special birthday hosted by my family.