Turing’s Women-In-Tech Interview Series: Hufsa Munawar, Community Manager, Developer Relations at Google
Welcome to Turing’s Women In Tech interview series. In our very first session, we conversed with Hufsa Munawar, Community Manager, Developer Relations at Google.
Hufsa has mentored hundreds of developers and has worked to scale developer communities all over SAF regions! She is currently the Community Manager, Developer Relations at Google, her role is to provide tech opportunities to developers and access to community networks, android/ cloud educational resources, etc.
Read our conversation with Hufsa, hosted by Swathi Dharshna, Program Manager at Turing, below
Hi Hufsa! I’m really interested in exploring all the great work you’re doing in building developer communities and the experiences you’ve had in scaling them, so let’s get started!
Before we dive into the expansive topic of communities, I’d love to get to know your story and really understand what drives you. How did you first find yourself involved with developer communities, and what drove you to go all-in on this? Also, what shaped you to be the community leader you’ve become?
My experience with community building started as a desire to help women in the tech ecosystem. I had just returned to Pakistan and felt a gap in the industry arising due to a lack of diversity. I was one of the few females working in a male dominant company at that time and felt how the lack of support stifled my voice.
A friend was recruiting for GDG Islamabad at that time, and I saw this as an opportunity to help the community through my little efforts and an abundance of ideas I had gathered over the years.
Once I was a part of the team, I quickly realized the impact that my work was creating in the industry and developed a deep love for community building, my incredible team, and the work I did in this domain. The rest is history.
What development process did you find particularly interesting? Particularly difficult? Particularly fulfilling to overcome?
Starting as a woman in tech, with no technical background, it was difficult for me to establish my name in the industry.
To ensure that the work I did was heard and reciprocated by the audience, I had to plan my narrative and stick to it to ensure my story was consistent and caught the attention of the audience. My story originated from my initial goal to help women in tech, with each of the efforts laid out around highlighting women’s stories and showcasing their work to the world.
Once these women started seeing the difference this created in their lives, the rest of the story was easy to sell. With my educational background focusing on data analytics, I always use numbers to tell my story, and that made my voice louder and more confident. This was very fulfilling and probably will be the biggest achievement of my professional career.
That sounds like such a fulfilling experience, more power to you for going through with it. On the topic of changing lives, let’s dive into Community Building for Developers, a shared passion.
Could you give us a glimpse of your journey from running a GDG community as a volunteer to getting a full-time gig at Google?
Every community manager has a very different story of how they got there.
For me, I think it was due to a combination of my deep love for the work I did with GDG and pure luck. I had been an active GDG lead for 4 years before I heard of an opening that I applied to.
My fellow community members and mentors were kind enough to guide me through the process and now I am glad to be contributing to this overall vision through my work in a full-time capacity.
That sounds great! How would you describe your style of community-building in your own words? How important are developer communities for the tech ecosystem?
Developer communities are the backbone of the tech ecosystem in my opinion. In recent years, we have heard this term more frequently, the true reason being the impact that these communities can create.
At Google, the developer communities work with the objective of empowering the tech community via training, learning opportunities, mentoring, and celebrating stories. These form the basics of the tech talent we have in any country. With our work, we have the potential of unlocking a country’s true digital potential and bridging the gaps that exist in the industries.
The community building style is another interesting aspect you have touched upon. Every community builder brings in a different passion and way of doing things. My narrative, which I briefly touched upon earlier, always originated from my will to help the women in tech and the marketer in me always pushed me to add the “jazz” effect to everything we do, which people tend to enjoy. It’s not just about learning, it’s about the experience.
Wonderful. What was your biggest challenge in doing this during the pandemic outbreak? What were the challenges in bringing the community – from in-person to online meetups?
The essence of community building lies in networking and meeting one another. That is the fuel for running any community successfully and with COVID-19, we had to shift to an online world.
Initially, this was a challenge for us as the right infrastructure had to be laid out to ensure our users could migrate easily. However, we came out stronger.
In the South Asian Frontier region, we were able to reach a much wider audience thanks to all our Google Developer Group Leads and Google Developer Student Club leads, who worked tirelessly to be there for their communities.
Online engagement did prove to be a challenge initially but with innovating our online efforts and combining it with offline rewards, we were able to sustain our communities and reach to masses we had never tapped before.
I’d also love to get your perspective on Women in Tech in general and the disparity in the current ecosystem. Have you seen any progress over the years through community? What are the most encouraging aspects of the tech industry for women today?
A topic super close to my heart. During the last five years since I returned to Pakistan, I have seen massive improvements in the industry in terms of diversity and inclusion.
The progress we have seen dominantly comes from celebrating women in the ecosystem that not only creates a platform for newer women to pop up but also provides that comfort for them to do so.
With industry leaders such as Jehan Ara and Kulsoom Lakhani, the growth in women in tech has been phenomenal. As the industry continues to be more progressive, so do our communities.
Currently, 85 percent of our chapters have women lead core team members and 35 percent of our overall efforts are led by women. This is a remarkable number.
In my opinion, consistent work to provide safe workplaces for women with equal opportunities along with a focus on soft skill development programs will continue to improve the numbers and make Pakistan more diverse.
Before coming to an end, I’d like to get to know your vision and plans for the future. What are you building at the moment? How far have the initiatives come in the recent past, and what’s the next big step or evolution you see in the community?
Community building is all about providing our people with the opportunities they need.
With our campaigns such as #AndroidSeekho and #CloudSeekho being so well received by the industry, we plan on building upon these and continue making efforts to bridge the gaps that exist in the country.
In 2022, our entire narrative for Pakistan is to unlock the digital potential of the country and we hope to partner with companies like Turing to achieve this mission together.
Glad to hear it! Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us today— we would love to collaborate with you in events and expert sessions in the future as well.
Tell us the skills you need and we'll find the best developer for you in days, not weeks.