I am a Lecturer of Software Engineering at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in The University of Auckland. My prime area of research is Agile software development and my doctoral thesis was on the topic of “self-organizing Agile teams“.
I am also a mother of two lovely kids and a poet and writer in my free time.
How can I add anything to that?
What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
On a very personal front, that’d have to be a lady – Mrs. Qamrun Nisa Begam – an academic par excellence, a social worker, winner of the President’s National Award for her life-long contribution to the cause of girl’s education in India, and most importantly, my grandmother and first teacher. Dadi amma as I lovingly called her, continues to influence and inspire me in my personal and professional life. Her never ending love for learning and selfless acts of kindness to people – known and strange – is something I aspire to emulate.
If you would not have been in IT, what would have become of you?
I’d probably have been in another creative field such as interior decoration, fashion designing, or writing. Right before heading to university I stood at cross-roads – one which led to a prospective career in Computer Science and another into fashion designing. I chose my first love – Computer Science – leaving designing, painting, and writing as hobbies which I still pursue as time permits.
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
In Agile terms, I’d say managing cross-functionality. As researchers (or practitioners), colleagues, parents, children, spouses, friends, and so on, we play multiple roles in our lives. Balancing these roles efficiently is not always easy and is one of the biggest challenges I face on an everyday basis. However, it is the variety of these roles what keeps life interesting. I continue to work on prioritizing the various roles I play at different points in life.
What drives you?
In one word: Passion. Passion to excel in whatever I do, passion for life. This is why I like to be careful about agreeing to sign-up for something because if I know I won’t be able to give it a 100% I should probably not take it on at all. I know several others who live by this principle. I like to share this passion with the people around me, be it in the form of sharing my research work via publications with the wider community, collaborating on organizing Agile events, or in the form of interactions with the students I teach and supervise. Sometimes this takes a toll on my personal front affecting my health which is something I need to be more careful about. Again, balancing is important!
What is your biggest achievement?
On the professional front, I’d have to say organizing the recently concluded Agile India 2012 conference as Research and Academic chair. It was *a lot* of work and it was also *a lot* of fun!
I got the opportunity to contribute to the making and running of a conference right from its inception to its execution. As Research Chair, particularly, I got to experience the entire research publishing life-cycle first hand. I have published in conferences before but here I was organizing and running the whole affair right from inviting the Program Committee members, to posting Call for Papers, managing the submission system (thank God for EasyChair!, assigning reviews, taking a final call on accepts/rejects, all sorts of notifications and communication via emails, liaising with IEEE on the publishing process, to running the Research Stage on the day at the conference. All this, of course, was possible with the support of a great team of stage producers, reviewers, authors, and editors. Seeing the conference come to life at Bengaluru and people attending Research sessions with enthusiasm was truly satisfying. What a rich experience!
What is the last book you have read?
Tea with Awra from Arwa El Masri – an Australian Muslim immigrant’s story of finding a sense of home. I connected with this story on many levels. In today’s day and age where our personal lives are easily affected by world events, finding a sense of home is something everyone desires. As global citizens, travelling far and wide, engaging with people from various continents, cultures, and societies, we still like to come back to somewhere we can call home. I thought the author made an honest effort to share this feeling – often, struggle – through her life’s experiences in this book. By the way, it also has some amazing middle-eastern recipes to try out!
Which reminds me I need to get back to the books Im writing: one on the use of Grounded Theory in Software Engineering research and another with a co-author on an Agile topic.
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
Why do you wear that scarf, Rashina?
Why, I thought you’d never ask! 🙂 Wearing the scarf (commonly called the Hijab) is something I chose to do some 14 years ( back as I was about to start my Bachelors studies in the USA. (Yes, I said I chose to 🙂 ) At the most fundamental level, it is in direct response to God’s command in the Holy Quran recommending men and women to display modesty which I imbibed as I read more about Islam. On a practical level, it gives me a great sense of freedom as a working woman – freedom to highlight
my intellectual self which I greatly value.
The Hijab is not just a scarf, but includes dressing norms such as clothes that should cover the body properly, not be transparent or too body-hugging, etc. However, almost like Agile is more than just a bunch of practices, the Hijab is more than just a set of dressing norms – it is a state of mind. What do I mean? I mean the Hijab embodies modesty both in appearance and behaviour. And hello, its not just for the ladies! Muslim men are recommended to display modesty in their dressing and behaviour too.
The Hijab is an important part of my personality. It is a physical symbol of my faith as well as a great liberator of my intellectual being and as I like to put it, it covers my body and frees my mind 🙂
Who do you think I should ask next?
- Naresh Jain: Naresh has been an important driving force behind the rise of the Agile community in India. His honest approach and tireless efforts have earned him tremendous respect in the community.
- James Noble – James has been a great inspiration as my PhD supervisor. His love for learning, research, and achievement is something I admire and share.
- Helen Sharp– Helen has done some amazing work in the area of Agile methods and is one of the pioneers of research on the human aspects of software engineering.
If you like these answers, I think you will love the book: who is agile.
Rashina has also answered Elisabeths Question: How is the book coming along? in that book. We have decided to raise the minimum price of the “Who is agile” book every week with 0.5 dollar. (When you buy it now, you will get weekly free updates.)