Q.1 Your name itself speaks a lot about you, tell us how your journey has been from being “Shabina Shaikh” to “Dr. Shabina Shaikh”?

My parents always motivated me to become a doctor, but I was unaware about the barriers that were destined to come my way, I got my admission done in Pune medical college but had to unfortunately step out because of the financial issues we had in our family, I had obtained for science as my main subject in junior college and I continued to obtain psychology as an additional subject looking at my deep interest in studying human behavior. I thought of making the most use of my qualifications to become a psychologist. 

The only objective I had was to add Dr. before my name, especially for my dear parents.  Amid all the hurdles, I started working in a banking sector in order to become independent first and assemble sufficient finance to achieve my dream. I slowly realised I was doing something that wasn’t at all associated with everything that I wanted to do and aspire. I did not give up on my hopes. I had a lot of experience but lacked education and so I completed that first, I also completed my post-graduation and finally chased my dream to become a doctor. I was also into a few social activities because of which I could obtain for becoming an honorary doctorate. And that’s how I finally accomplished my goal and I am now known as Dr. Shabina Shaikh.

Q.2 Elaborate about your experience in banking sector?

Just when I could not pursue my dreams in medical field, I thought of dropping the idea of seeking education and focused on doing a job, So the first job that came up to me was in a banking sector, I was unaware of where I was heading since it was never a plan and it differed from my educational background. Surprisingly, I was constantly rewarded for my work and that gave me a motivation and a path to work even harder. I started by doing finance management, business administration etc. Due to my positive performance, I got promoted very soon, I had started off from a very junior level but with the progress I reached a stage where I handled 10 cities pan India which included a lot of traveling, meeting different personalities with different mindsets. I wanted to inspire people by educating them with my vision.

Q.3 How would you like to describe your growth in banking sector?

 I started as a telephone officer where my work was to just communicate with my clients over a call, post that within 5-6 months’ time I was appointed with a team to work under me, it took me a while to adapt the drastic responsibility as there were team members who were also quite elder to me but I did manage by having a strong will power to work, It was a big task for me to manage a team of 5 people, each one of them had different point of views and I was accountable to them. Within a span of 6 months, looking at my potential I was promoted to become a team manager where I had team leaders working under me who managed separate teams as I did earlier. I learned to take reporting’s from the leaders, motivated them and also trained them until we did not have a trainer. I kept a constant watch on my manager and took notes on how he was working which inspired me to work in a same way as he did.

 “Sometimes you learn out of basics to reach the advance”

Q.4 With big responsibilities come bigger hurdles, tell us about the hardships you faced between your achievements? 

There were many difficulties that I had to come across and I will highlight few of them, I was just a performer when I started but I was fortunate enough as my national head knew me by my name. The hardship was to prove my capabilities in front of various other reporting managers and I used to have continual fear of being judged for my work by them, their attitude and ego towards me got my self esteem a little down but I kept moving forward. There is a lot of politics that happens in corporate sectors and when you don’t satisfy the ego of your head you might fail to avail your deserved promotion. There came a point when I had to make a choice between my work and education and both were equally important to me, but I made a wise choice by keeping education my top most priority, it became easier for me to resign immediately. Moving further I successfully managed to do a part time job along with continuing my studies.

Q.5 What is your focus along with the social work that you do?

I belonged from a place where people around me had 0 interest in seeking education, kids did not go to school and everyone was against educating a girl child. Everyone made fun of my potential and never took me seriously when I spoke about my ambitions.

There were helpless women around me who had no voice or a stand in their families and were often disrespected with physical violence which made me worry even more about my future, I used to find ways to move out of the toxic surrounding. I slowly started to realise that education is the only mean that can pull me out because with education one finds opportunities, with opportunities you get money and with money you can live your desired life. I obviously couldn’t make sufficient money at a very young age to have a house of my own in a better locality so I came off with an idea of taking an initiative of educating women that were uneducated and helpless around me, I made them understand their rights and told them how they deserved to live their lives independently and carefree. I also associated myself with an NGO (Pratham Sanstha) and started visiting several houses to provide education to the women and children there.

When I was in 9th grade I started participating actively, I used to myself visit slums to educate women who were in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. I also visited local politicians and requested them to grant me a slot to use their centers so I could conduct classes there for the women leaving nearby.

In aspects to teach them to earn some amount of money for themselves I started conducting vocational courses for women where they were taught to do jobs on a small scale like stitching and providing parlor services. I supervised all of it and made sure women understood the importance of their existence.

During the pandemic I arranged beds in our society for the homeless and old patients, it was easier for me as I am the secretary of my building. I provided them with food, medicines and all other necessities throughout the lockdown. My idea always has been to make the most use of my position and I will continue to do so.

I am currently associated with a well-known NGO that works to promote women empowerment and helps all the needy women.

Q.6 Leave a few words of encouragement for our readers and your views on women empowerment?

First of all, I would like to thank Priyanka and entire team of Iconic Shakti for giving me this platform to express myself and my thoughts and many congratulations for taking such a great initiative.

Speaking about woman empowerment, women today are already empowered, all that we need to concentrate on is to be a trouble shooter, analyze things, form correct strategies that might help us in achieving our motives. Always find solutions to overcome the obstacles, don’t just dream but act towards the goals that you have set and never give up.    

Aishwarya Bhatte Munagekar

Content writer and editor