Women in Leadership: Huda Idrees
Founder & CEO DotHealth
Dot Health allows you to own and control your health data. We believe you should be an active participant in your health, and we do all of the heavy lifting so you don’t have to.
Q: How do you like to start your day?
I’m not a very routine-specific person and love changing my morning routine around. Three essentials: meditation, exercise, nourishment. One example of this might be praying Fajr (dawn prayer), going for a run, and making myself a banana smoothie. I find this sets me up for the day with a clear mind.
Q: What drives you towards success?
I work in technology and find the pace at which it can bring about change in the world to be fascinating. Over the last few decades, women have been marginalized in the design of this technology. This has – in a lot of ways – resulted in a broken, toxic technology culture. The thing that drives me towards succeeding more than anything else is designing for the future I want to live in.
Q: What are some of the things that frustrate you while accomplishing tasks?
I love email as a form of communication and try to use written communication as much as possible. When people insist on calling instead, especially unscheduled, it’s really frustrating and takes me out of context of what I’m doing at that moment. Another, food-related one, I don’t drink coffee, so regulating the post-lunch lull is especially frustrating as well!
Q: What do you like/dislike about your industry?
I love that healthcare is so committed to providing care to everyone who needs it, and on some level is egalitarian in theory. However, I find the bureaucracy and red tape endlessly unnecessary and designed to keep innovation out of the industry as much as possible. Healthcare is the largest industry worldwide and one that impacts every single person and continues to be bogged down by inefficient processes and lots of waste.
Q: Your message to women entrepreneurs who are looking to start a new company? – 5 things to keep in mind
1) You will undoubtedly encounter Imposter Syndrome – where you feel like you’re a fraud and shouldn’t be where you are. Work through it. This is common in entrepreneurs and especially in female entrepreneurs. Reading about it will help. Surrounding yourself with people who will remind you that this is normal will also help.
2) Talk about your idea a lot. With everyone who will listen. Ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is not. Nobody is stealing your idea. Talk about it so you know how other people feel about it.
3) Research the sh*t out of your industry. Know it inside out. Especially if it’s an industry new to you. People will try to make you feel like you don’t know much. Be ready and be aware.
4) Practice just-in-time mentorship. If you find someone you feel has knowledge or experience you would like to learn from, reach out to them and ask. Try to ask questions over email. Short, contained questions. Build a rapport. This will be your mentorship ‘board’ moving forward. One mentor will not give you everything and anything you need. Spread it out. Find the people you think are best at [insert category] and reach out to them.
5) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This can be from your family, your team, your peers. We all need help, asking for it will not make you look stupid. It is normal, and you should do it!
Q: What’s your go to meal?
Ottolenghi’s one-pot chicken and rice. It’s infinitely easier than biryani, quick to make, and so tasty.
Q: Recent movie/book you read/watched and what you like about it?
Change Agent by Daniel Suarez. It’s a fictional novel where he depicts a dystopian future where biosynthesis is the technology of the era. Human beings’ DNA can be completely changed. It’s riveting and a very short read. Highly recommend it.
Also, Black Panther was so good on so many levels. The entire Dot Health team went to see it in theatres and it’s been a month and we still talk about the intricacies in that movie.
Q: Difficulties you had to face while starting your own company?
This is a loaded question 🙂 I happen to sit at the intersection of many minorities and somehow, raising venture for someone who looks like me and wants to change the face of a large industry is unfathomable to most VCs. We raised two rounds last year, and while I’m ultimately so happy with where we landed and that we got to pick our investors, we had to go through a lot of bad apples to get there!
Q: Why is the phrase “Women in Leadership” more important today than ever?
For as far back as history will go, women have been the oppressed gender in societies. We had to fight for everything. The right to vote, the right to work, the right to choose what to do with our bodies. Leadership is important because of the impact it can have on the lives of so many. It puts women in a position where they can influence entire generations. It’s important now, because it’s so close we can taste it, but so far because we continue to ignore the unspoken rules in corporate culture.
Q: How do you relax and unwind?
I listen to ambient music and French pop. And I read. A lot. I average 200 books a year and find nothing relaxes me more!
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