You may have heard the story of Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old girl targeted and shot in the face by the Taliban for secretly blogging about her struggle to get an education in Pakistan. Shiza is the inspiring CEO of Malala’s foundation.
1. She left her home and watched helplessly as it crumbled under an oppressive regime
Like Malala, Shiza Shahid hails from Pakistan but had a very different experience in her education. Although Shiza grew up in Islamabad (just two hours north of Malala’s hometown), she left to attend Stanford University before the Taliban took power in 2007. From the safety of her California campus, Shiza watched helplessly as her home country – along with thousands of schools for girls and hundreds of other institutions – crumbled under the oppressive regime. In that time, Shiza learned about Malala through a New York Times documentary, and was determined to help – she reached out to Malala and asked what she could do to change things, and ended up organizing an educational summer camp in Islamabad for Malala and 26 other girls.
2. Shiza flew to Malala’s side after she was shot in the head
After graduation, Shiza was working as a business analyst for McKinsey & Co in the Middle East and learned that her friend Malala had been attacked. When Malala was in the hospital recovering from her gunshot wound, Shiza flew to London to be by her side. After Malala woke up, she told Shiza she wanted to continue her fight for the education of women – and wanted Shiza to be her strategist. It took some convincing, as Shiza felt Malala could benefit from someone with more experience – however, she eventually agreed.
3. She made it onto Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list
It turned out to be the best career move of Shiza’s life (not to mention for the lives of hundreds of women benefiting from her work): today, Shiza helps her young friend Malala navigate the fame and influence that followed her remarkable story by running the Malala Fund, a non-profit that helps women access education. Shiza and the Malala Fund are growing in reach and influence: Shiza’s been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, and she, Malala and the Fund have been profiled in many business publications including Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and the Huffington Post.
And it all started because Shiza heard about a problem and decided to do something about it. I’m excited to see how far she and the Malala Fund go in the future.
By Colleen Bordeaux