My name is Shehnaz Jaffar and I work as the social media and communications coordinator at CSAE. I became a member when I was appointed as staff at CSAE in September 2018.
How do you stay connected to aspiring leaders in the association and not-for-profit sector?
The CSAE team has a proportionately high YP population – half of the team are under the age of 35. These people are strong and ambitious, and exhibit leadership qualities in their own ways. Working with them on a daily basis gives me the chance to collaborate with them on a variety of innovative and trailblazing projects.
How do you overcome the challenges you face at work?
Patience – it is very important to power through and remain resilient when faced with a challenge. Being patient doesn’t mean sitting and waiting for the situation to change or the problem to solve itself. It means staying calm and actively seeking solutions, new perspectives and, sometimes, external help.
Also, taking a step back to look at the bigger picture helps. This approach is particularly important in the case of short-term challenges. Sometimes, we can be so hung up on small roadblocks that we forget to move on.
What keeps you motivated?
Having goals to work towards and achieving results pushes me to my maximum. Getting to work on cool projects with other talented people also drives me.
What’s one piece of advice you would like to share with others?
Be yourself! It’s not important anymore to shed your individuality to become part of the mainstream. What is important is to be sincere, helpful and collaborative with your team. Further, leadership is a learned trait. This means that everybody who works in a fair environment has a shot at getting to the top, given that the person makes conscious efforts to instill leadership skills in themselves. No matter who you are, where you come from or what personality type you possess (not going to wield the whole “Type A or Type B personality” trope here), you have a leader in you.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully heading the communications department in a non-profit organization. Working in the non-profit sector makes me excited because it entails fulfilling a good cause. I enjoy solving the non-profit sector’s unique challenges, while ensuring that they don’t miss out on the expertise that only for-profits can afford. Being involved in communications (the big “C”) is such a gratifying experience that I can’t really see myself in any other role.
What are you reading right now?
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.