Have You Met Her? Maleeha Qazi

By Elaine Kwok.

Let’s get to know each other a little bit better, shall we?

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection…the lovers, the dreamers, and me.”

Source: The Muppet Mindset, by Ryan Dosier

Growing Up with Women in Big Data: Q&A with Maleeha Qazi

When Kermit the Frog first sang “Rainbow Connection” before leaving the swamp at the beginning of The Muppet Movie in 1979, he sang about finding himself and following his dreams, which was very similar in concept to, and inspired by, Disney’s Jiminy Cricket singing “When you Wish Upon a Star.” (Source: MuppetMindset, thebluegrasssituation.com)

One of the lines he sings is: “Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection…the lovers, the dreamers, and me.”
(Listen to Kermit the Frog sing the song here.)

And that is the quote Maleeha Qazi did a spotlight on when we interviewed her for the WiBD Q1’20 newsletter edition. Meet our very own WiBD MidWest region lead and Wisconsin Chapter Director, Maleeha Qazi. Here is what she has to share:

1. What inspires you?

Many things, such as the aspect of helping people, hearing from friends, or reading inspiring stories. Sometimes ideas pop up when taking a walk or going for a scenic drive. I love dancing, and often just moving to the beat helps me come up with new ideas.

Sometimes you can be just hammering away at a programming task and start beating yourself up over a trivial aspect. It’s best to step away and not think about it for a while, and your brain will come up with solutions. You have to remove yourself from that one track thought, and often that won’t happen until you step away.  In life, sometimes you need to stop thinking about an issue and the solution will present itself. Beating your head against a proverbial wall doesn’t always get the results you want.

2. What tips would you like to share in light of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month?

Keep persevering and find those women who inspire you. They are out there. Just everyday folks who have done things for their families, friends, or communities. In particular for women, it doesn’t matter what country or culture; there are always folks who put women down. It’s up to us women to step up for ourselves. Fortunately, a lot of men will often realize this when they have their own daughters, and the epiphany is the love factor. Everyone is someone’s loved one. A daughter, sister, mother, or grandmother. It could be their wife. Bolster your fellow women!

3. What got you to start your Mid-West WiBD chapter?

I had the coincidence of meeting Shala Arshi and a few others in NY at one of the Strata conference lunches. Back then, the East Coast WiBD Chapter was just starting, and it had women like me interested in tech and data. Though there are higher populations on the West coast and on the East coast, I was in the middle of the country and wanted to change the perception that folks were sleepy in the Midwest with some Wisconsin representation! Shala asked if I was willing to start it, and I was up for it.

I am very lucky to work for American Family Insurance, a company that supports women’s issues and diversity. I found a number of women at my company and nearby (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) who were also in the big data tech world. It’s been very fulfilling to “find my tribe”.  My manager and his VP, both male, were fully supportive of the group. They recognize women are very under-represented, and want to have more diversity in the company and the field in general.

4.What are ways we can actually become more connected in light of Shelter-in-Place?

Well, it depends on what kind of person you are. I grew up as an only child, so finding my own entertainment (sometime with the family dog) is something I have been used to. Being an introvert, I’ve always found lots of things to do by myself. Some people don’t feel comfortable being by themselves. Some have never lived alone or actually done something just for themselves. So, when it comes to Shelter-in-Place, they may not know how to do without external supplements and end up with a feeling of loneliness.

But you know what, now’s the time to learn about what makes you happy, and what makes you tick. I love crafts, puzzles, and a variety of entertainment if you need more inspiration, just go out and get some sun. And you can always pick up the phone to “reach out and touch someone,” without having to actually “touch”. Call family and friends to fulfill your sense of interaction.

A lot of families are doing mass online calls. I love that idea, and am going to do my first one this evening. I can’t wait! If it takes a pandemic to slow things down to realize what’s important, then so be it. Take this time to connect with those you love. And also those who you haven’t spoken to in years. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Zoom, Whatsapp, or Facetime, there are so many ways to reach out to others. The old fashioned phone works too.

You can also go for nice scenic drives. Or take a hint from your pets, who can usually find joy in pretty much anything: taking a nap in the sun, watching nature, or snuggling with their humans. There’s a lot of joy to be had you just have to find it.

Often we say to ourselves: “One of these days when I have time, I’m going to try….” Well guess what, “one of these days is HERE! Go try it!”

I love animated characters, and one of the songs that hits home for me is “Rainbow Connection” sung by Kermit the Frog:

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection…the lovers, the dreamers, and me.”

(Listen to Kermit the Frog sing the song here.)

Because this can also be a time for us to find ourselves and follow our dreams.

 

 

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