“The growth opportunities and experience that we get as well as the working culture is what I value the most about Aspire.”
Meet Elham Nasir, our remote Quality Consultant Team Lead, mother of 3 and amateur chef. Keep reading to find out more tips about working from home, being productive and multitasking between working and being a supermom!
What is your role at Aspire?
I am a Quality Consultant Team Lead.
Why did you choose IT?
My major is in Information Technology. It was one of the fields that I had as an option when I applied to university and I found that it was the best one to go for. I studied at Al-Balqa Applied University in Salt and learned many different things such as hardware, software and multiple programming languages.
What are you particularly passionate about within your industry?
I am passionate about the continuous growth and learning opportunities that we get exposed to in IT. QA and Testing is an art and the key behind this art is to understand the application under analysis and the requirements. When you understand what you are testing, it becomes part of your daily thinking and comes naturally. Working in QA has also really affected my lifestyle, for example, when I cook I am very picky with the ingredients. My standards have become higher since I started working in QA. I recently joined a Scrum Master workshop and I was told that the way that I look at the details and link everything together is different. It affects me in a positive way.
What was the path to your current role?
I worked as a developer for the first 2 years after I graduated. I switched to Quality Assurance (QA) in one of the companies I worked for before Aspire. When I heard about Aspire, I decided to apply because I felt it was a company that I wanted to be in. I started as a Quality Supervisor in 2003. After 6 months of getting to know the business, I was sure that I wanted to follow my career in QA. With a lot of hard work, I got promoted every 2 years. From QA Supervisor to QA Lead, from QA Coordinator to QA Assistant Manager and finally to Quality Manager. When I started working remotely, my job title changed to Quality Consultant Team Lead. I find Aspire is a good company if you show talent and skills. Even if you don’t have the skills you need, you can always learn. If you spend time and effort learning, you will be rewarded, there is room for everyone to grow.
I joined Aspire because of the culture and the company reputation. However, why I stayed is a completely different story. Mr Kaushal, our Founder and Managing Director back in the days used to review our tickets. We created and updated our tickets manually and one day he told me that there was an extra space between the lines. I learned a lot from his comment! During the first few years, Mr Kaushal used to personally sit with every Analyst and review the test reports before they were sent to the client. He used to be punctilious about every word and every comma in every report and he made sure everyone followed this before sending it to the client. The biggest outcome that I learned was that when you do something, check it always and not just once but a couple of times. Make sure that you are satisfied with your output. If our Founder is such a perfectionist that he wants us to always give our best, I want to stay and grow in a company that thinks like that too.
How long have you been working remote?
I have been working remotely out of Canada since August 2012.
How is it for you working remotely?
The first positive point about working remotely is that I don’t have to worry so much about doing my makeup and commuting. It saves me a lot of money on cosmetics and fuel throughout the year. There are some challenges such as the time difference, or the different holidays, but overall I am able to manage. Sometimes, I feel isolated, especially during training meetings due to the time difference. Most happen at 3 AM or 5 AM my time and I can’t make it all the time. I try to be involved most of the time because learning opportunities are always very important. There is a huge learning experience in dealing with the team, and I also get to see things from a different perspective, like how the client would see things, which allows me to make suggestions and improvements.
What does your typical day look like?
The big difference with working remotely for me is that I start earlier. 2 PM Jordan time is when I start, which is 7 AM for me. The first thing I do when I wake up is to open my emails, look at Slack and Skype. I call one of my team members before I even start my day to get a quick summary of how the morning has progressed. The only less hectic day for me is Sunday, as there are no clients on that day. On Fridays, I cover the team in case there are any emergencies or meetings that we need to attend. My ultimate goal every day is to make sure that nothing is blocking the team from testing. I always make sure everything is stable before I start my day. In the afternoon, I continue working directly with the client on their releases and testing. My day mainly consists of: meetings, reviewing emails and continuing testing.
What has the impact of COVID-19 been on your work schedule?
In the morning, I try and finish all urgent and pending tasks before my kids wake up or after they are asleep at night so that I can focus completely. Currently, my work schedule has been busier than usual as we continue to support our customers through this tough period, however, my routine itself hasn’t changed that much as I have been working remotely for many years now. The difference is multitasking more and making sure my kids don’t get too bored. I try to take breaks between tasks which helps a lot. This kind of situation will definitely help push companies to accelerate their digital transformation efforts and to become more agile.
What are your top 5 tips for working remotely?
- Be prepared before your meetings, have your laptop, charger and notepad all beside you ahead of time. Write things down so that you don’t forget and work in sprints.
- Review your schedule daily, book in weekly meetings ahead of time. Arrange your schedule and create a to-do list first thing in the morning.
- Set-up a small office if you have the space, however, if you can’t, just have a spot that is quiet at home where you can focus and get things done.
- Take breaks in between completing tasks.
- Unwind by doing something you love, like spending time with your family or cooking (which I love doing).
What do you value the most about the company?
The growth opportunities and experience that we get as well as the working culture is what I value the most about Aspire.
How do you see yourself growing in the company?
Due to my experience and time in the company, I have had the chance to work with all of the directors. But by the time I am awake, they are busy. I know I have a lot more to give and I would like to do more but being remote makes it harder and makes the decision process take longer. It is definitely not the same when you are face-to-face with the team, especially since I have to manage a team. I have many things on my mind, such as using different tools. We shouldn’t wait for our client to give us or tell us what to use, we should be able to guide them. In the future, I hope to have more of a say and to give more input on how we can improve moving forward. Working remotely is a big part of most companies’ futures, we are agile and we are headed in the right direction.
What is your favorite movie/series?
I love all cooking channels or cooking competition TV shows. I am a huge fan of Masterchef. I like watching the show, learning new cooking techniques and then testing it out. See, I really am a tester in all aspects of my life!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Walk, walk and more walking! I like to walk and discover Canada through walking. I live in Toronto which is quite a big city and when I have free time, I love to walk as much as possible, discovering different areas that I haven’t been to before. I used to do this all the time before social isolation started in Canada due to COVID-19, but hopefully soon enough, I will be able to go back to my walking. In the meantime, I play with my kids at home, we build puzzles, bake and watch movies.
Where are you from?
I am originally from Jordan. Long story short, my husband used to live in the US. We got married in Jordan, however he is Syrian so we couldn’t live in Jordan because of government papers. We decided to move to Canada to be able to start our lives and give our kids a better opportunity. I really miss Jordan and the office environment and I want to start going back to every year, now that my kids have grown up a bit.
What is something that will surprise your colleagues?
When I was onsite, people were a bit afraid of me and I feel that now that I work remotely, I am kinder to people. The kindness was always there, but when you are a manager you don’t want to show how kind you truly are. As a manager you need to establish limits. New employees see a very kind side of me because they didn’t get to know the tougher side. I need to be kind in order to gain people’s trust and build relationships. I also really miss speaking arabic, so that might surprise my colleagues. I speak arabic as much as possible, it warms my days. Also I am very scared of dogs, but now I have started to get used to them and I even took a selfie with one, as seen below.
Elham and dog selfie.
If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
A Horse, they are elegant, strong and beautiful.
You have 10 seconds to impress someone. What do you tell them?
I am a multitasker, I work really well under pressure, I am very fast, creative and pay high attention to detail, are you impressed yet?
What’s your favorite song, singer, band or type of music?
I listen mainly to children’s songs because of my kids. Can’t get enough of Baby Shark. I think even people that don’t have kids know that song!
What is one thing you want to do before it is too late?
In terms of work, I feel there is a big opportunity in the Pharma QA field. I am very interested in learning more in the future, after my kids grow up a bit. When one of my kids got sick, I learned a lot about the pharmaceutical industry and I want to give back in this sense. In my personal life, I have always wanted to be a flight attendant, I would like to do it for one day at least. This has been a dream since I was 6/7 years old.
What are your ambitions for Aspire?
For Aspire, I would like to improve the standards for all Quality resources. Improve their skill sets and coach our resources in order to make them more passionate about QA. We tend to isolate manual testing or quality testing, I believe that they should learn both and be able to do both. A big dream is to start seeing ‘Tested by Aspire’ or ‘Certified by Aspire’ on the websites and applications that we test, kind of like those ‘powered by’ ads.
How do you manage being a mother and a manager at the same time?
I have 3 kids, a 13 year old girl, a 7 year old boy and a 3 year old baby girl. I always have my laptop with me, I have about 5 laptops around the house and I keep one with me wherever I go. While I am feeding my kids, I am typing emails, on public holidays they are off, but I am working, so I tell them to help me out. The mornings are the toughest, as I have to get them ready for school and also attend meetings, but we have a routine which helps and is very important. After 9 AM they are in school, which gives me the time to focus completely until 3:30 PM, when they come back. This was before COVID-19, now they are at home and my 13 year old really helps keep the little ones busy when I am on calls. It’s a challenge but I try to prepare everything the night before, so they can play in front of me and do their homework/online learning. While they are doing their tasks and playing, I am always connected and completing my tasks too. In times of social isolation, it is also important to follow or create a routine so that when things go back to normal and our kids go back to school, it won’t have too much of an impact on them.
Elham working remotely with her newborn.
What’s your biggest personal achievement?
There are many, but 2 stand out the most: being a mom in a foreign country and making sure that my kids get to know our culture and also learning how to ride a bike. I would love to ride professionally one day or even participate in a cycling competition.
Elham and her daughter, riding a bike.
What’s your biggest professional accomplishment?
When I became a QA Manager. At the time, the QA team was around 150-200 people, I was managing 2 floors of QA and overseeing all of the projects. It was a lot of hard work but I was really proud of myself and the team.
If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If a genie appeared and gave you 3 wishes, what would they be?
- The eradication of COVID-19
- Find a cure to help all sick kids
- Become a Head of State
What’s your life philosophy?
Start your day with a smile, be kind to others and be thankful! 🙂
Any tips for new graduates?
The new generation usually cares more about money rather than experience. Look for companies that can give you good experiences. Salary isn’t everything. If you have the experience, the salary will come; however, if you have just the salary, experience won’t come by itself. Look for a company that will guide you to grow, Aspire is that company. We have a lot of talent and skills in Jordan and we do things better a lot of the time. People all over the world underestimate the Middle East so let’s show them otherwise.