Zahra is the Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Seers – UK’s leading privacy and consent management platform for companies worldwide (https://www.seersco.com). She has a background in Management Consultancy with over a decade of experience at Accenture within the Financial Services – Capital Markets practice area. She helped global Investment Banking clients (such as: Credit Suisse, UBS, HSBC & RBS) on high impact, strategic projects to achieve compliance with various regulatory requirements including KYC, AML, Basel 3, MiFID, Cross Border Sanctions etc. by leveraging cutting-edge technological solutions amongst other areas. She has an MSc. in Analysis, Design & Management of Information Systems (ADMIS) from the London School of Economics (LSE) and an MBA (Essentials Certification) from the London School of Economics (LSE). She also led the British Pakistan Foundation as the CEO for a period of 3 years and now serves as a Trustee. Zahra was recently selected on the prestigious Google: Female Founders Program as 1 of 12 Female Founders of innovative technology ventures from across Europe.
How did you get started in your career?
I joined the Accenture graduate programme after completing my MSc. from the London School of Economics. I realised that I was passionate about working within the Management Consultancy sector whilst working at the consultancy arm of Chantrey Vellacott DFK during my undergraduate, post graduate and gap year. At Accenture, I worked primarily within the Financial Services – Capital Markets sector where I assisted global Investment Banking clients on high-impact projects to help them comply with various regulatory requirements through implementing technology based solutions as well as to help them solve complex business problems to deliver high performance and meet their business objectives.
It is challenging to balance a demanding career with my family life but I have been fortunate to have the unconditional love, support and encouragement of my husband and my family who have always encouraged me to pursue my passion and fulfil my talents. This is the legacy I would like to leave behind for my children and for other women, that one should always focus on fulfilling and utilizing one’s talents to the maximum, without being fearful of the struggle and aim to be the best version of yourself – the best that you can be! That is how you can make a valuable contribution to those around you and society in general.
What is a highlight of your career?
I really enjoyed my time as a Management Consultant at Accenture as I had the opportunity to work with some amazing and talented people from across the world in a very challenging and stimulating environment. I learnt so much from some of the best brains in the business! My time at Accenture inculcated a lifelong love for learning and innovation.
Whilst running BPF, I was able to fulfil a personal passion to help and serve the BAME community in the UK, particularly BAME women which was very fulfilling. As I really believe in empowering women, particularly BAME women since they often do not receive the opportunities, support and encouragement that they need. A key highlight while running BPF was the delivery of the Grand Trunk Project in partnership with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Faiths Forum for London, City Sikhs, Hindu Forum UK and Dervish Creative to bring together the South Asian community for a dialogue on the occasion on the 70th anniversary of the independence of the Indian sub-continent that resulted in generating greater dialogue and highly engaging cultural and community building events across 11 regions in the UK. For my contribution to the successful delivery of this nationwide programme, I was invited to meet the Queen
Another highlight during my time running BPF; was the successful delivery of a civic engagement programme for BAME women in Bradford in partnership with the Home Office, M&C Saatchi and the QED Foundation (Bradford) that enabled under-represented BAME women to understand the importance of actively taking part in civic life and exercising their right to vote. At BPF, I also led the delivery of a female entrepreneurship programme for BAME women in Birmingham in partnership with the Nishkam Civic Association in Birmingham which was a great success as it provided essential skills and inspired some of the women on the programme to set up their own ventures!
Currently, I am really excited to help build and grow Seers together with our amazing team. Also, I was recently selected by the prestigious Google: Female Founders Program as 1 of 12 Female Founders of innovative technology ventures from across 11 countries and hundreds of candidates across Europe – I am really excited to be working with, learning from and sharing my knowledge with such inspiring female leaders!
How would you describe the type of work that you do each day? Why is it important?
At Seers, we are helping people and companies to exercise their individual right to protect their privacy which is also a human right. This is becoming increasingly important as we continue to operate in a highly digitised world, particularly in the post Covid scenario. As more people work remotely, protecting data privacy has become even more important and companies must ensure that they implement the relevant processes, procedures and policies to protect themselves and their staff, customers, partners, vendors etc. by becoming compliant with data privacy regulations and avoid the risk of incurring hefty fines by the regulator (up to £18 million or 4% of annual turnover – whichever is higher) as well as reputational risk and loss of business.
What does an average workday look like to you?
An average work day involves me donning multiple hats and could cover business activities such as: client, investor, partner or team meetings, business development & client support activities, drafting or reviewing marketing, PR & SEO content, product reviews, webinars & events etc.
What has been the greatest hurdle for you to overcome in your career?
Breaking widely held stereotypes of women from British Asian heritage who can also succeed in the very male dominated fields of Technology, Management Consultancy and Finance.
An additional challenge has been balancing work and family life, which I have been able to do so with the help of my very supportive husband and family. I think it is very important for women to have the support of their partners and families since they often bear the brunt of greater responsibility for their families. People need to support and empower the girls and women in their families to fulfil their potential as an educated and empowered woman positively impacts her family through empowering her children and in this way positively impacts her entire community.
What is the best thing about your job?
No day is the same and being at the cutting edge of innovation by constantly coming up with new ideas and ways to help further data privacy compliance through the application of AI-based technological solutions.
What are your plans for the future?
To help build and grow Seers together with our amazing team into one of the world’s leading privacy and consent management platforms. Perhaps even becoming the UK’s first LegalTech unicorn!
How do you unwind?
I love spending time with my family, travelling, music, sports, fashion & wellbeing, arts and cultural activities. I really enjoy skiing, sailing, horse-riding, the theatre and travel to explore new regions, cuisines and cultures with my family. I also love design and fashion and enjoy designing interiors and clothes in my spare time. Keeping fit, mental wellbeing and following a healthy diet and lifestyle is also very important to me and my family.
If you have any questions and would like to contact Zahra Shah then you may connect with her at www.linkedin.com/in/zahra-shah