Subscribe to our fortnightly Women at Work newsletter to get inspiring stories, career building resources and exclusive network invites delivered to your inbox.
Saying goodbye to her family in India as a young woman, Nazia Khan followed her dream of moving to the UK to start a new life. For another six years, she found herself trekking a career path she knew she would eventually abandon to follow a calling for a career marketing. Last year, Nazia took the dive and joined Poly as their Marketing Development Representative. Poly and Nazia haven’t looked back since.
Hand held tight in the grip of her mother’s palm, 11-year-old Nazia skips along the concrete on the way home from school in the west of India. Her wide eyes look up to a shiny new building towering above, dominating the long road. “I’m going to work there one day, Mum.” Her mother laughs warmly, throwing back her hair, “Come on Nazia, keep up!”
Years later, Nazia would become the first in her family to graduate university, and true to her word, she would take the first steps of her professional life in the tower she had gazed upon as a little girl. This early exchange between mother and daughter proved a premonition for how Nazia would approach all her dreams in her life; head-on and uncompromising.
As a student studying an economics degree at her local university in Pune, India, Nazia had her mind set on moving to the UK. After building the foundations of her career in India for two years and welcoming her first child into the world, Nazia booked her tickets and set off half-way across the world.
From a dream to reality
I don’t know what it was. I had this fascination about the UK. It was always on my vision board. I still remember my first day here ten years ago - it wasn’t anything new to me. I had thought about the UK so much, that I felt I had already experienced it. Everyone was excited about the autumn leaves and the colours of trees. I thought, ‘I’ve seen this before. I’ve lived this in my dreams. It was an incredible moment.
But a longing to stroll another path
My family held traditional beliefs and wanted me to stay close, I attended the local university where genders were separated. This meant the study options were limited. And so, even though I had always wanted to do marketing, I found myself working in Telecoms and succeeding - so I ran with it. But it didn’t feel like a choice. Although I did the best job I could, I always knew marketing was what I wanted.
Continuing Telecoms for another six years in the UK, Nazia kept one eye out for the right opportunity to dive into a career in marketing. During this time, she kept coming across Poly as a company while still working at BT.
From a distance, Poly always seemed like a great company to work for, and when I felt it was time to move on - I applied for an entry-level marketing position. And I got the job!
Nazia is responsible for identifying business opportunities for Poly. She engages existing and potential customers with a view to understand the challenges they face each day. Then she helps them understand how Poly can bring solutions to their businesses. When we ask Nazia to describe her work, she’s beaming.
I genuinely love it. The last twelve months have gone so fast because I’ve been able to achieve so much.
Energised with a new passion and empowered with flexibility, Nazia has achieved above and beyond her targets - every single quarter.
At Poly, life does not have to be a choice between success at work and being there for my family. When I need to work flexibly, my manager Farah is always accommodating. It’s amazing. I can be at my son’s football game on a Friday afternoon, and catch up on my work in the evening. Farah trusts me to manage my time, and this gives me the freedom and motivation to always bring my ‘A game’ at Poly.
In addition to the flexibility, Nazia feels grateful for the world of opportunities now at her feet - from travel to study.
I recently spent a week in Dubai attending Gitex; one of the largest technology events in the Middle East. I spoke to hundreds of customers and demonstrated to them how Poly could bring value to their businesses.
Nazia says that if she has an idea that will add value to the business or customers, she can be sure her idea will get support.
Recently, Farah heard I was considering studying for a part-time marketing degree. She was fully supportive of this and has even discussed how I can apply my degree to different aspects of my role. There is no compromise on anything here. Empathy and empowerment are in Poly’s DNA.
Here, Nazia shares her advice to others seeking to change their career later in life.
1) Identify the way you learn best
Everyone has their own method in which they learn best. While I learn by doing, others may find that it’s more effective to understand the theory first. This could mean they study first, and then apply for work. Either way, it’s important to start in an entry-level position. For me, marketing development is a starting role in the marketing domain, but I have the room to grow.
2) Follow your gut
It can be scary to change your career later in life. You don’t know if it’s even possible, or if you can return to your old career if things don’t work out. But if you are still thinking ‘What if,’ if you have to do it. I see so many people stuck in their jobs because they don’t think they could do anything else. I wish I could call out to everyone and say, ‘Come to Poly!’ - there are so many opportunities here.
3) Live your passion and you will succeed
For many, starting out in a new career means you may start at the bottom of the salary bandwidth. Yet, you have to start somewhere - and you won’t know until you try. Passion begets success. For me, I’m earning more at Poly than my previous role even though I’m in an entry-level position because I have the opportunity to earn incentives.
Looking to the future, Nazia has her sights set on becoming Poly’s Channel Marketing Manager to support all departments and partners in their marketing needs. In true Nazia style, she adds, “But once I achieve that, I know I’ll be focused on my next goal!”
About the author
WORK180 is a jobs board with a difference! We pre-screen employers on paid-parent leave, pay equity, flexible working arrangements and more. Find your dream job here.