Nageen Riffat, senior manager, Marketing, Global Commercial Projects, isn’t phased by adversity. There is no “no” for Nageen. Equipped with a strong internal compass, Nageen is guided by her will to succeed, both in and out of the workplace. Breaking down barriers as a professional woman in South Asia and the Middle East, Nageen would not label her career as an easy one. “We are challenged to accept women as leaders…you’re looked upon on whether or not you can do it.”
But that only fueled her to work harder and push farther. After going through a divorce, Nageen worked for a better, independent life, which she’s transformed into action with her involvement in Single Mom Movement, a support group based in Texas.
But she always had the self-described “blessing” of Avery Dennison. Nageen began her career here in 2009 as a customer service manager in Pakistan and grew from there. She later became the Commercial lead for the site. Now in her new role, Nageen is excitedly “running around,” working with the cross functional Global Technology Solutions (GTS) Team out of Dubai.
As we enter Women’s History Month, we’re profiling the strength Nageen embodies and represents for thousands of women at Avery Dennison. RBIS Communications sat down to hear her moving story.
Describe your development as a woman in Pakistan.
I’ve worked the entire supply chain of garment manufacturing sourcing to production to end product. As I grew as a leader in my roles, I realized my education was a strong support for me.
Not every woman in Pakistan has the blessing of financial independence. If a girl gets married, society tells her to leave work and take care of the family. If she goes through a divorce or experiences a broken marriage, she’s dependent on her family.
If these women have access to better education, or the will to start their own businesses, they’re in a better position to excel in life. That’s why I started to look for opportunities outside of Avery Dennison to reach out to women and help them. I know how lonely it is to be on your own – divorce was the most shattering thing that happened to me in my life so I really wanted to help these ladies.
I joined the Single Mom Movement and became a chapter leader of the group for Pakistan initially, and now represent South Asia and the Middle East to support single mothers in legal processes, gaining custody of their children, and as well as providing economic empowerment.
In 2012, I worked to formalize the South Asia Awards at Avery Dennison Pakistan for International Women’s Day on March 8 it was an overnight success. The female employees in South Asia went crazy for this. We gave out various awards and we built a program for women in this region with events from health checks to community engagement and mentorship. I feel really good about it, and it still exists today.
In December, you were invited to speak as a keynote on women’s leadership at the Second Annual International Women Conference in Pakistan. Could you describe that experience?
I was representing both Avery Dennison and the Single Mom Movement, speaking on women in leadership and economic empowerment for nations who are still struggling with access to health care, child marriages, equality. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous. It was a great platform to empower and share ideas on global issues relating to women. In Pakistan alone, more than 13 million girls have never been inside a classroom. This isn’t an easy issue to address, but we’re working on it.
In my time at Avery Dennison in Pakistan, there were 180 employees and just four were women. I attend these sorts of conferences because there are many women who really want to do something in life: they want to excel and grow. There is an inferiority that holds them back. This is where I want people like myself to show them the way…that you will win.
What advice do you have for women facing adversity?
- Price yourself at premium – you have to be the best you can be.
- Don’t get carried away with the negativity.
- Take charge of your life by accepting your uniqueness.
- Let go of everything that is holding you back from living your dreams.
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Professionally, the opportunity to lead as a woman in Pakistan during a difficult business time 2013- 2014 and yielding results.
Now, it’s my duty to give back to the people who need support. Avery Dennison RBIS as an organization their goal of diversity wants women to go to the next level of leadership. This helps me to build my career and pave the way for other women. It’s up to you whether you want to take this opportunity or not the organization wants you to excel.
My life’s greatest accomplishment is winning the custody of my sons. It wasn’t an easy journey and having my two adorable sons brings me unsurmountable joy.
Who are your mentors at RBIS?
While I worked in South Asia, Rishi Pardal, vice president/general manager, North Asia, empowered me to enter the room to lead. Deepak Martin, senior director, Global Learning and Opportunity Development, helped to set the stage to support the women around me at Avery Dennison. He taught me to think, how can I help others in their professional careers?
Jill Pergande, vice president, Human Resources, Materials Group, and Kim Schneider, senior director, Technology Solutions, came into my life and tried to help me keep the balance between my passion, my career, and my family life.
Whatever I am today is because of them; they continue to believe in me.
What RBIS guiding principle resonates with you?
We should put the customer first; it has a positive impact on the entire organization. The confidence we build in this work has a ripple effect.