Mehreen Ahmed

A specialist of consumer financing and retail banking, Mehreen Ahmad holds an MBA degree from the Institute of Business Administration and has been a part of the banking industry of Karachi for over 20 years. Currently she is the Group Head of Retail South & New Initiatives at Bank Alfalah.
Mehreen is grateful that she did not have to face the challenges faced by an average Pakistani working woman. She was the only daughter, hence, the center of attention of her parents. “There was never any discrimination at home since I was the only child.” She considers herself very lucky as progression and opportunities constantly kept flowing at work helped her advance in her career. “There were periods when I felt I was stagnating and the boss was biased but I think it was important to keep my head down and focus on whatever role I was in. The key is to look at the bigger picture.”  With sound advice from senior bankers, she kept climbing the ladder of success. “I am an optimist. That is how I define myself. I believe if you are hard working and are competent, no one can stop your growth.”
While Mehreen would not propagate emotional independence, she believes financial independence for women is important. “I am not saying you become completely liberated. The idea is to have that as your plan B. It gives security to your inner self and is good for your partner too,” Mehreen stresses. Her advice to a young woman entering the workforce is to go out there with a lot of confidence, without worrying about gender inequality as an issue. “What is important is your skill set, your ambition, and how you approach life. When you step into the workplace with a positive mind set, success will follow automatically.”
As far as ageing is concerned, Mehreen admits that “I was bad with all these things until last year but then my life changed a bit. I went to a leadership development program in France where we had world class trainers coaching us. One of them said that if you are not physically and mentally healthy, you cannot be a good leader. That thought resonated with me. Since I have come back, I put in a special effort to adding more greens to my diet, trying to stick to a light dinner and going to the gym regularly. My new lifestyle does great things for my mind.” She also adds that to feel young, one must think young, spend more time with younger people and keep evolving. Spending time with members of her team who are in their early 30s helps Mehreen be a better manager and gives her the opportunity to keep reinventing herself. “If there is urge to learn, to adapt, to try out new things, you will stay young.”
Mehreen believes that she does not have a single, but a series of miracle moments. When people look up to her in the industry for her professional skills, it makes her feel proud. Her Miracle Journey shows that there is no substitute for hard work and when you are focused, nothing can come between you and your goals.  With women like her leading the way, young professional women in Pakistan have much to look forward to.
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