Striking the balance between a demanding career and family life is an elusive goal for many professionals. Shahrzad Kouklan, a Senior Automation Test Engineer at Nintex, in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, seems to have cracked the code.
Shahrzad’s journey at Nintex began over a decade ago when she graduated from university in Iran and after several years in the workforce, moved to Australia. Since then, she’s journeyed through multiple roles – from being a developer, diving into support, spearheading the analytics team and now, helping drive the future of Nintex as a senior test automation engineer. “Nintex has always trusted me to explore new ways of doing things,” she said. “In both the work I do and how I do it, they encourage me to seek ways to do things better.”
Professionally, Shahrzad has grown along with Nintex. On a personal front, she’s a mother to two children, aged nine and five. Juggling these dual roles has been enabled by a strong culture of flexibility at Nintex, in supporting Shahrzad to do more of her work asynchronously and, thereby, have more control over her daily schedule. “My nine-to-five schedule was putting my career and parenting in direct conflict. I really wanted to be there for my kids’ firsts, their school events, and the smaller everyday moments,” she said.
Enabling work asynchronously
Shahrzad was on the forefront of changing workstyles and the transition to her new model wasn’t overnight. When she was pregnant, her then-manager suggested she work more from home. In those days, it was a rare privilege, and Shahrzad was not sure she would like it, let alone if it would be sustainable. That was a decade ago.
But it was Nintex’s work model and trust in its employees, leveraging the flexibility they need to show up for the things that matter most in their lives, that proved to be the game-changer. “Working like this is so liberating. I can drop my daughter off for her ice-skating class at 3 pm and
manage emails on the go. The trust Nintex affords me means no one has ever questioned my dedication. I am judged on my results, not on my day-to-day priorities or when I log my hours.”
Forging her own path
Shahrzad didn’t always know she wanted to work in technology, but she knew that she wanted to blaze her own path. Inspired by her mother back in Iran, who insisted on the importance of her daughter developing skills to ensure financial independence, Shahrzad sought a career that promised it. Engineering was her ticket to self-reliance.
“I am proud to say that I was raised to forge my own path as a woman. I consider myself fortunate to have had parents who were open-minded and supportive. The mothers in Iran who have nurtured a generation of young girls poised to shape their own destinies are true heroes of mine and I’m so proud of the progress that has been made in advocating for the rights and empowerment of women globally.”
Shahrzad is among that generation of girls who defied the odds – and has arguably continued to in the male-dominated field she works in. She was the first female developer on her floor at Nintex and the landscape has since shifted. Now she’s thrilled to see many more female engineers stepping up to join the ranks of Nintex’s product team.
Feeling valued beyond work
Shahrzad feels there’s a genuine sense of camaraderie at Nintex. Discussions about family, children, and interests beyond work are common. It’s a space where, in her experience, everyone feels valued.
“Be it celebrating the Holi festival or the Chinese New Year with a dragon dance, Nintex always cherishes the diverse cultures of its employees.” She remembers that even when the pandemic shifted those celebrations to Slack, the inclusive spirit remained intact.
The heart of my story isn’t just about integrating work and life,” Shahrzad asserts. “It’s about how an organization can place trust in its employees and mold its policies to prioritize their well-being. Along with their well-being comes their best work. Today, I can proudly say I’m not just contributing to Nintex’s growth but am staying present as my children grow too.
Shahrzad hopes the next generation of employers and parents embrace the type of trust Nintex affords her, to ensure more of us can prioritize the ebb and flow of the things that matter most.