Farzana Nasser of mBolden talks about her journey as a tech entrepreneur and the need to capitalise on current trends to drive real change.
“It’s hard to be the only woman at the table,” said Farzana Nasser when asked about her experience throughout her career journey.
As the co-president of Women in Wireless – which recently rebranded as mBolden – Nasser is a vocal advocate for women in the tech industry, and her personal experience within the sector paints an important picture.
“A lot of discussion is around how women need to get a seat at the table, but there needs to be more discussion on how to create a more inclusive environment once women are at the table,” she said. “I believe that if women continue to be persistent and vocal, the industry will have no choice but to change for the better.”
A global organisation that champions women in mobile and digital, mBolden is active in 10 cities with more than 10,000 members. Nasser oversees more than 200 volunteers to deliver programmes that provide a platform for women to thrive by connecting and inspiring them to progress in their careers. “We help women connect with like-minded professionals, and provide speaking opportunities through our speakers’ bureau,” she said.
The group has its origins in the Mobile Marketing Association’s Women in Wireless committee, originally founded by Laura Marriott and Connie Wong.
It was launched as an independent organisation by Veronika Sonsev and Charlotte Fors in 2011, with the aim of helping female leaders succeed in the male-dominated mobile industry.
‘It’s finally sexy to champion equality and we need to capitalise on this to create real change’
– FARZANA NASSER
Since mBolden’s inception, it has grown into a 12,000-strong community with partnerships with every major mobile and tech conference in the world.
Companies such as T-Mobile, Microsoft and Facebook have sponsored mBolden’s efforts to champion women in mobile and digital.
But how did Nasser’s career journey bring her here?
“I started my career at an interesting time,” she said. “I was a brand manager working on brands like Betty Crocker and Cheerios and was faced head-on with the dramatic changes technology was having on consumer behaviour.
“The iPhone had launched and Facebook was beginning to have significant traction with mainstream consumers. I wanted to be at the forefront of these changes and decided to get a master’s degree in digital marketing at NYU. I’ve been working in technology ever since.”
Pursuing her passion for entrepreneurship, Nasser co-founded Gallop, a mobile technology company that uses behavioural data to intelligently target and optimise marketing and user acquisition efforts.
‘Now is our time’
Nasser realises how lucky she is to have had two female managers who advocated for her early in her career. This is what spurred her on to volunteer with mBolden in 2015, and she was named co-president in 2017.
When asked about whether or not she believes things are really changing for women in tech, she said: “Now is our time. It’s finally sexy to champion equality and we need to capitalise on this to create real change. I’ve begun to see companies taking a strong stance on this issue and making positive changes.”
“I think more companies need to follow suit and make tangible progress on this issue,” said Nasser.
When it comes to sending the ladder back down, Nasser said she wishes she knew sooner in her career that it’s never too early to start building your brand. “It’s important for women to get visibility and look for opportunities to share their successes,” she said.
“Whether it’s speaking at conferences, attending networking events or sharing your knowledge internally and externally, you need to be your biggest champion and advocate for yourself.”