Nousheen Zakaria (PhD 2014)

Nousheen Zakaria

Finalist - Entrepreneurial Award, British Council Alumni Awards Pakistan, 2016 and 2017 

Nousheen studied at the Business School, after gaining her MSc in Management at the University of Sheffield. As Co-Founder and CEO of Out of the Box Ltd, U.K and The Code It Company, Pakistan, she is responsible for releasing some of the newest and most innovative apps and websites to support the local industry as well as global clients. 

Nousheen successfully reached the final of the prestigious British Council Alumni Awards, celebrating outstanding achievements of the UK's international alumni. Nousheen was shortlisted for the Entrepreneurial Award in 2016 and 2017. She was announced as first runner up of the Award in 2016.

She commented: "I feel very honoured and humbled to be one of the finalists. I think it is largely accredited to my training at the Business School - and to my supervisors Chris Forde and Andrew Robinson for their mentorship and support during my PhD." 

Tell us about your degree - why did you choose it? 
I always wanted to do a research-led degree. Working on a specific project for 4 years - doing intensive research, critical thinking and developing theories was the best part of the process. 

What was the best part of your studies here? 
I really enjoyed the diversity at the Business School. I made so many friends from around the world. Doing the PhD shaped the way I think - my supervisors really encouraged me throughout the process to think creatively and analytically. They provided me enough support and encouragement to take on more research projects, attend conferences and think outside the box. I also enjoyed the teaching opportunities I was given.

What were your career aspirations when you arrived? Do you think the experience and skills you gained here will help you in your future career plans?
I always wanted to stay in the academia as well as the industry. My PhD journey helped me develop my research skills - it changed the way I see the world, adopt new approaches, develop ideas that are missing in both the literature and the industry. It has built a constant need to look for something different, adopt a new perspective and improve the existing one. This has had a great influence on me - in the way I manage my company - innovate new products and manage my team.

How has your career progressed since leaving the Business School? Have there been any notable highlights?
Since leaving the business school, I have taught at one of the best management universities in Pakistan. I have also started my own IT business and now run a team of over 25 employees. I have conceptualised ideas for over 7 apps and 15 websites - running both nationally and internationally.

Where are you currently working, and what is your role?
I run my own business - The Code It Company in Karachi and Out Of Box Designs - a UK based company.

What are your ambitions for the future?
I want to develop opportunities for others to work in a conducive environment - achieving their goals and objectives. I also want to build new and improved apps and websites to help others.

Do you think your experience and skills gained here will help you in your future career plans? 
I was a part of so many extra-curricular activities when I was at Leeds. I was also representing Doctoral students at various committees and was an equality and diversity representative as well. All this has really helped me solve key problems at work and create equal opportunities for people working in my firm. My training in Leeds has helped me understand and solve key problems at work, introduce flexible working hours and offer opportunities to people with special needs. We have employees with disabilities and have a thriving female presence in the company (which is not very common for Pakistan).

What was your impression/experience of the facilities, the staff, your peers, the student union, the City of Leeds and the region itself? What would you recommend to future students?
Leeds is one of the best places to study. My supervisors - Professor Chris Forde and Professor Andrew Robinson were so supportive throughout the PhD process and even after that. I have learned some of the best life lessons from my supervisors. I got a lot of opportunities to teach and research at the University which has really helped me polish my skills and experience. I have such fond memories of the Uni - I would highly recommend coming to Leeds!

What would you say is your defining memory of studying here? 
My experience at Leeds was great! I made so many friends, organised events, represented Doctoral students at various committees as well as teaching and studying for my PhD has helped me be where I am. Leeds is a home away from home for me - I miss it and my colleagues!