When you ask IT Manager Uzma about her two daughters—who both happen to be pursuing advanced degrees in medicine—she lights up. Her oldest has started her residency in Texas while her youngest attended Harvard University and then Case Western Reserve University in Ohio. Their pursuits have no doubt been influenced by the passion Uzma has for learning and the importance she places on education. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that Uzma has created a fulfilling career for herself at Progressive where continued learning and a growth mindset are celebrated.
Uzma grew up in a middle-class family in Pakistan where a focus on women’s education wasn’t common. Fortunately for her and her two sisters, their parents instilled in them the importance of education and encouraged them to value it and family equally. That’s exactly what Uzma did once she became a young mother in the United States.
Uzma began her Progressive career as a developer shortly before Y2K. While she enjoyed the work and loved the company, she knew she wanted more. “Education is so important,” says Uzma. “It’s not the only thing, of course, but it opens avenues for you. I had an interest in and passion for pursuing higher education and a great support network which helped me balance school and family.”
With encouragement from her husband, she temporarily departed Progressive to pursue her MBA at Case Western Reserve University. Having attended many classes in the Peter B. Lewis building at Case—named after a former Progressive CEO—Uzma likes to joke that she never really left Progressive.
After completing her MBA and gaining more experience at a couple of other companies, Uzma returned to Progressive. “During my time away, it became so apparent to me how phenomenal Progressive really is. Here, if you want to do something and have the passion for it, there are resources to help you achieve your goal and people who are willing—even happy—to support you.”
When Uzma returned to Progressive, she picked up her career in IT. Bringing new knowledge and experience with her, she began her journey in leadership. She worked as a manager for the IT Service Desk team before moving into Corporate IT, leading a team of developers overseeing in-house and vendor applications.
After a couple years, she moved from Corporate IT to our Enterprise Technology Solutions team as a business relationship manager. Doing so enabled her to work with many other business areas such as Personal Lines, Commercial Lines, and Property IT. She was also able to work with senior leaders, assisting with strategy implementation.
These days, Uzma works as an IT manager for our Customer Relationship Management group. “I like to move around and explore new challenges. It’s important to me to continue learning, and to apply what I’ve learned and add value through my work,” she says. “The growth mindset aspect of Progressive’s culture has helped me do just that.”
Sharing her knowledge with team members at Progressive isn’t the only way Uzma gives back. She’s involved in several Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), currently serving as section leader for the Network for Empowering Women (NEW) ERG. This work means a great deal to her.
“I’ve encountered my share of challenges as a woman working in technology, and I’ve seen my daughters encounter them in the field of medicine as well. Working with NEW, I’ve met and gained diverse perspectives from so many women. Across our stories, there are differences, yes, but in many ways the challenges are the same. So we learn from each other and grow together. For me, this work is about allyship and taking action to help one another.”
Outside Progressive, Uzma gives back to her community. She served as president of her local Pakistan American League for four years. During that time, she helped increase membership by more than 60%, brought in leaders from across the country for educational events, and promoted Pakistani American identity in Northeast Ohio by organizing cultural events. No longer president these days, Uzma sits on the board of the organization. This move has allowed her to stay involved while helping to usher in fresh thinking from new leadership.
Pushing for improvement
“I feel I’m always looking to do what’s better—better for myself and for my team and the company. I believe that curiosity has helped propel my career here,” explains Uzma. “This push for improvement comes with challenges, too, of course…nothing is ever easy for long. But that’s what I enjoy because it pushes me to always learn and grow.”