TechWomen100 What happened next - 800x600 - Sara Hidayatullah

TechWomen100: What happened next for Sara Hidayatullah

What happened next for Sara Hidayatullah?

In this ongoing series, we speak to our winners about life after winning a TechWomen100 Award.

Now in their sixth year, the TechWomen100 Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of women in tech – the emerging tech talent and role models for the future.

We spoke with Sara Hidayatullah, who won a TechWomen100 Award in 2021.

Sara Hidayatullah

Originally from Karachi, Pakistan, Sara Hidayatullah studied economics at the University of California, Berkeley, before taking a job with Applied Predictive Technologies (now owned by Mastercard) that brought her to London.

Within Mastercard, Sara is an expert at optimising business innovation and experimentation for customers using the Test & Learn software. Sara leads teams of analytics consultants and data engineers to deliver short-term analytics projects and long-term software-as-a-service engagements to 20+ clients across multiple industries throughout Europe.

In her spare time, Sara partnered with Mastercard’s philanthropic hub, the Center for Inclusive Growth, to think about how the Center can use Mastercard’s assets to drive social impact. Through this partnership, Sara has led multiple pro bono projects with charities and developed tools for public sector decision making, like the Inclusive Growth Score, a measurement for objectively assessing communities and their needs, a particularly prescient tool as the UK implements their Levelling Up agenda to prioritise neighbourhoods in need of investment.

Starting this fall, Sara will be pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy at Georgetown University (in Washington, DC) where she has been chosen as a McCourt Scholar, and will receive a full merit scholarship based on her leadership potential and background in social impact.

How did you feel when it was announced that you’d won a TechWomen100 award?

I was elated! I felt very proud of myself and grateful to my wonderful manager who nominated me and encouraged me to apply. I felt especially proud to be nominated amongst such amazing and inspiring women in technology from all different backgrounds!

Please tell us what has happened in your career since winning the TechWomen100 award?

Winning the award inspired me to formally pursue my passion for social impact and apply for a Masters in Public Policy. I am excited to share that I will be starting a two-year MPP program at Georgetown University (in Washington, DC) this fall as a McCourt Scholar with a full merit scholarship.

The award encouraged me to apply for the scholarship and was called out as a big plus on my application!

What advice would you give to someone else going through the award’s process?

My advice would be to create a cohesive story and stick to it. As ambitious women, most of us are juggling many different activities (e.g. volunteering, leading organisations, blogging, courses) in addition to our day job that may not always have a common theme. Find the common thread and stitch together your experiences to create a strong personal story that effectively shows who you are to the judges!

What tips would you give to our other members to enhance their careers? 

My advice would be to figure out how you can use your skills/expertise outside of your day job. For e.g. if you’re a consultant, can you work on projects outside of your team to get more exposure to the company? Can you use the same skills to help charities further their mission? This will enhance your network and increase your exposure to new opportunities. Oftentimes we stay on the same career path because we haven’t tried anything different – this is your chance to do that in the safest way possible!

My other advice is to just go for it (easier said than done!). I hear so many women including myself saying no to exciting, new opportunities because they are outside of our comfort zone or aren’t “safe”. Over the years, I have found that the most fulfilling opportunities were the ones that seemed scariest.

Always repeat to yourself: someone’s going to do it, why shouldn’t it be you?

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TechWomen100

Nominations now open!

The TechWomen100 awards are the first of their kind to focus solely on the female tech talent pipeline and recognise the impact of champions, companies and networks that are leading the way. Nominations are open via the WeAreTechWomen website until 12 August 2022.

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Sara Hidayatullah

Sara Hidayatullah | Mastercard

Sara Hidayatullah

Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelors in Economics and Public Policy in 2016.

After graduating, I joined the San Francisco office of Applied Predictive Technologies, which had recently been acquired by Mastercard. In 2017, I relocated to Mastercard’s London office and have been a part of the European team ever since.

I am currently a Managing Consultant in Mastercard’s Data & Services group. Within Data & Services, I am an expert in optimising business innovation and experimentation for our customers, primarily using our Test & Learn software. Test & Learn is a cloud-based platform that enables businesses to accurately measure the profit impact of strategic pricing, merchandising, marketing, operations and capital expenditure initiatives, and to tailor those initiatives for maximum gain. On a day-to-day basis, I lead teams of analytics consultants and data engineers to deliver short-term projects and long-term software-as-a-service engagements to a broad range of clients across Europe.

Over the last two years, I have leveraged the skills I learned through my job to also pursue my passion for social impact; particularly through furthering the use of data science for social good and investing in social impact tech. At Mastercard, I am the UK’s Subject Matter Expert for the Government & Financial Inclusion vertical which involves mapping out how Mastercard can support local and national governments, public sector organisations and charities through its data assets, human capital, commercial partnerships and technologies.

I have run multiple projects aimed at understanding financial exclusion and improving financial inclusion in different parts of the UK and abroad. I have also led two data-thons (pro-bono hackathon-style consulting projects delivered by 10-15 consultants and engineers) with large charities, like the Big Issue Foundation and the Terrence Higgins Trust; helping them to understand their data, so they can tailor the right programs and actions for their community and go further with the resources they have. Most recently, I have led the development of the Inclusive Growth Score, which is a free to access, web-based platform that Mastercard has just launched in the UK. Sparked by the UK government’s levelling up agenda, we created the IGS tool to provide a credible and quantifiable socio-economic profile of each neighborhood in the UK that local planners, governments and impact investors can leverage to ensure that investments are made in communities that need them the most.