It's time for another in our series of posts introducing you to the people behind ProZ.com...
We’ve already met team members in Argentina, Colombia, Kenya, the USA, Spain, the Philippines and Ukraine – proof that ProZ.com is a company that crosses borders, whether national or cultural. The subject of today’s profile only adds to that already rich mix, because Fawad Aslam comes from Pakistan. Perhaps it’s not a country most people would immediately associate with snow, but no surprise to those who are familiar with its huge variations in topography, from river plains to desert and from plateau to mountainous highlands.
Fawad, who’s 34 this year, was born in a village near Sargodha in the country’s northeastern Punjab region – a part of the country where Urdu and Punjabi are both spoken. His father was a schoolteacher and so he and his four siblings were all encouraged to study hard at school. Fawad discovered a love of maths and physics and soon found his place among the top students, but English was a weak point – the language of home was exclusively Punjabi. He found it difficult to memorize the spellings and his marks were often at the lower end of the class.
As for the love of IT that would later develop, there were no internet cafes in the village and Fawad was 14 before he even touched a computer. There were rudimentary classes in what passed for the school’s computer lab, but given that the education system was more inclined towards theory than practice in general, preferring to get the students to define and memorize terms like “hardware” and “software” rather than hit the keyboards, there was very little hands-on application. Fawad clearly remembers not the day he learned that pressing ENTER took the cursor to the next line. It was all very confusing at first, and the presence of boys in the class who were much further ahead in their knowledge was also intimidating,
Still, the subject was interesting enough to inspire Fawad to opt for a Bachelors in Computer Science at the local university, and he bought his own desktop computer in the second semester – an expensive but necessary investment. Three years later, in his penultimate semester, his uncle gave him his first laptop as a present.
On graduating at 21, there were no immediate full-time jobs available, but Fawad managed to pick up some design “gigs”, which paid 200 rupees per day – back then the equivalent of about 3 US dollars. However, that was a decent amount in the local context and provided useful pocket money – besides which, the very fact of going into local offices and getting experience was worthwhile.
Still, for Fawad like so many young students, the glittering prize to aim for seemed to be a government job, with its promise of salary for life. His brother was already serving in the army. But the perennial problem with “government service” is that there are few jobs and many applicants, and despite studying for the exam for two years, his level of English remained an obstacle. He didn’t pass the exam and was forced to revise his options.
The Pakistani Government’s loss was the IT world’s gain, because this let-down forced Fawad into working on his PHP skills and gaining experience and expertise in web development – both front and back end. He landed a job at Netsol, seen by many of his contemporaries as a dream employer, which entailed moving to Islamabad, where there were much better facilities.
However, all good things come to an end, and a couple of years later, Fawad moved to a taxi hire start-up on the Uber model, financed by Chinese investors. He spent a few happy years there, growing in skill and confidence, and leading a sizeable team of people in the back-end team. The company’s success was heady – generating about 40,000 customers and drivers in six months That too initially appeared as a long-term solution, but once again the time finally came to move on.
Still based in Islamabad, Fawad began in 2019 to work for the Canadian Bank CITC. It was quite a step up from working for local clients, as these international projects required much clearer planning and processes. A few years on, having developed a taste for these improved ways of working, he kept scouring websites for better opportunities on the international scene, and last year came across an ad for ProZ.com. A whole series of interviews took place before he was finally appointed in October 2022. The language problems of his schooldays had long since disappeared, and Fawad was now perfectly able to function and work in English.
His current priorities revolve mostly around the load speed of pages, deleting obsolete code and aiming for quicker times, and thus a better user experience – the ultimate goal being to reduce it to less than 3 seconds. At his new employers, he finds the team responsive and cooperative and enjoys the atmosphere of mutual respect.
In his free time, Fawad, who says he has no interest whatsoever in music, likes to make shorts and reels for Instagram, travels and plays cricket and volleyball, as well as watching the odd Netflix series. When he gets time of course, because having two young children doesn’t leave much of that precious commodity!