Breaking the Mold: An Inspiring Tale of Overcoming Adversity
Nerissa Thakurdas is a well-established leader in the IT industry, with over 15 years of experience in the field. She was born in Karachi, Pakistan, but grew up in Newbury, England, UK, where she faced challenges due to the lack of diversity in her community. “In my childhood years I suffered a lot of racist bullying. I was ‘different’ to other people in the area”, says Nerissa. Despite these challenges, Nerissa found solace in her studies.
What then followed in Nerissa’s journey was a difficult family event when she was 11 years old; “When my parents got divorced it was like my world fell apart”, says Nerissa. This led her to disconnect with her academic studies and motivated her to pursue a paid vocation.
Nerissa then discovered an IT Apprenticeship, given her natural talent for technology, she found the program to be a perfect fit and she put in her best effort to excel in the program. Over the years, Nerissa has developed both professionally and personally, and through her determination, she has risen through the ranks and now holds a management position in the IT industry.
Balancing work and home life can be challenging for any working woman, and Nerissa is no exception. “Being a woman, I feel you have to outshine your male counterparts 100 times more to be recognized to the same level,” says Nerissa. This often means sacrificing her personal time, but she is determined to succeed in her career.
Nerissa is aware of the challenges that women face, particularly in regards to gender stereotypes. She has experienced firsthand how women who exhibit positive behaviors, such as being helpful, nuturing, and friendly are often not recognized for their actions. On the other hand, she has noticed that when men exhibit similar behaviors are often praised and rewarded. Nerissa believes that companies should focus on an individual’s performance and quality of work when determining who should be receiving recognition.
Nerissa believes that today’s corporate culture still has room for improvement when it comes to accommodating the needs of working women. “Offices were initially designed by and for men, and times have significantly changed where there is a greater female presence,” she says. “Companies need to do more in terms of accessibility, inclusion, and collaboration to make these spaces a place that includes the needs of all who use them.” She acknowledged that for women in particular “I have heard of initiatives such as offices installing round tables in their meeting rooms rather than long rectangular ones. This removes the hierarchy of, generally males, to sit at the head of the table.” She also encourages workplaces to install Wellness Rooms for women to retreat to and allocating car parking spaces closer to the office for when women may be coping with menopause or severe period pains.
For women looking to achieve a more prominent role in their organizations, Nerissa mentions the importance of having role models, assigned mentors who are senior in the business and being inspired by those who have succeeded before you.
Nerissa’s role models are her two uncles, Ronnie Khan and Asif Dean, who built their lives from nothing. “They both demonstrated to me what can be accomplished through hard work and dedication,” says Nerissa. “As a child, I looked up to them and looked to them as role models.” Recently, Nerissa has been looking to other women working in the tech industry who have been breaking glass ceilings to reach senior management positions as her Role Models.
Nerissa has won numerous accolades and awards for her achievements, including the ‘Outstanding Transformation’ Award at the ‘Women in Tech Excellence Awards 2021’ in London and being named ‘Woman of the Year’ globally by PerceptivX in the ’10 Most Exceptional Women in Tech 2022’ and she was delighted to be selected as a Judge for the ‘Women in Tech Excellence Awards 2022’.
In her personal life, Nerissa is a social being who loves spending time with her family and friends. She enjoys travelling, fine food, fast cars, music festivals, movies, and Netflix series. She enjoys playing piano, guitar and listening to all sorts of music on long drives.
Nerissa has a passion for giving back and she says it’s because of the love and support she received as a child from her Grandparents, Albert & Julie Tinson, Nerissa states “I can’t wait for the day that I can provide love and support to children who desperately need it. That is one of my biggest goals in life”.
On a Saturday morning at 11 AM, you can find Nerissa either preparing for a healthy brunch after going for a run, socializing, working on her charity, or preparing content for her social media. Regardless of where she is or what she’s doing, Nerissa is always dedicated and enthusiastic about her life and her work.
Her message to the viewers is to embrace failures as they contribute to growth and improvement, and to not be afraid of making mistakes. This mindset, according to her, is a key to success.