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For International Women’s Day 2019, EY is considering the question – How can more women become architects of the future? I sat down with our D&I team to discuss this idea in the following interview:

As a child, Shafeen Mustaq could often be found at the library and fantasised about becoming the next Jana Wendt or Jane Austen. She graduated with a BA in Communications with a view to becoming a journalist, until a work experience role at KPMG convinced her to change direction to information management. Shafeen spent the next few years at KPMG, Deloitte and Nous Group, growing her skillset on whole of business transformations, large scale IT transformations and website management. Three years ago, she had a change of heart. “Having worked with management consultants all my life, I decided to become one. EY presented an opportunity for a second career as a Management Consultant on Customer Experience and Technology. I’ve since been on 12 engagements with government and private clients, as well as an EY Ripples international engagement”. Shafeen is currently working with the Australian Air Force on augmented intelligence, the legal and ethical considerations of AI, future of work considerations for human machine teaming, and AI augmented cognitive decision making. “We’re pushing the boundaries of current and future technologies.”

Gender has not been an obstacle in Shafeen’s professional life, though it’s something she’s seen other women in the digital/technology industry face. “I’ve witnessed many of my female colleagues deal with prejudice from male colleagues, vendors or clients with outdated perceptions of women in technology. Personally, I had an amusing moment few years ago when a vendor requested a meeting for their sales pitch. As the sales team of four men walked into the meeting room, I could see confusion on their faces. They didn’t expect a young woman of colour to be in charge of a technology acquisition decision with a large budget! The first few moments of pleasantries were awkward as they recalibrated their approach and the rest of the meeting went smoothly.”

For #IWD2019, Shafeen is focused on supporting women in digital/technology. “Women are behind in STEM education and careers due to years of inequality based on prejudice and unconscious bias. In Australia, only one in five women graduate from STEM education, fewer find a role in a related field. Only gender equality through systemic and structural change will provide the strength in numbers needed to close the gender gap and drive gender parity in representation and innovation.”

Shafeen is working with a core team to build an EY STEM initiative to create pathways for girls in STEM education in school, university and then into their careers. It requires working with government stakeholders and educational institutions to implement the right policies through sustainable programs. It also requires working with our clients to ensure their talent recruitment understands the importance of gender parity and the investment in formal learning, mentoring and networking for women in STEM.

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A quick tour of Hanoi impeded by rain!