Clarkston Consulting
Skip to content

Senior Consultant Shares the Importance of Advocating for Others and for Yourself

In celebrating Women’s History Month, Azmat Shah, senior consultant at Clarkston, shares her career story and her reflections for Women’s History Month. She discusses the importance advocating for others and yourself. She shares encouragement on “using your voice” and speaking up with confidence Read her full story below.

Women’s History Month 2024

1. What does Women’s History Month mean to you? 

Women’s History Month is important because it highlights the hard work and sacrifices of so many who came before us. It’s a time to be grateful for everything we have overcome while still recognizing the work that needs to be done. There was a time where women couldn’t vote, drive, have a credit card, or even go to school. In some parts of the world, women remain marginalized. Women’s History Month is a time where we can shed light on these inequalities and recognize that women have unlimited potential. As a south Asian woman, I take pride in helping other women break through barriers to achieve their full potential.

2. Tell us about your involvement with Clarkston’s Women’s Empowerment Network? And, how can women support other women in their organizations? 

The Women’s Empowerment Network is a wonderful organization that gives women in Clarkston the opportunity to be seen and heard. I joined the network shortly after I started working with Clarkston in 2022. I specifically enjoy the encouraging posts highlighting strong women who have faced and overcome adversity. To thrive, women must support other women in their organizations. Serving as advocates for each other is the most powerful tool we have to succeed.

3. What advice would you give to your younger self or young women entering a similar profession? 

Don’t be afraid to speak up. There have been many times in my career where I’ve been talked over or asked to remain quiet. I often felt embarrassed for even opening my mouth and attempting to speak in these situations but, I realized that I wouldn’t be invited to these discussions if my opinion didn’t matter. This led to me speaking up more and politely telling people not to interrupt until I’m finished making my point. I feel that women need to be empowered to use our voices, especially in times of adversity.

4. What industry sector do you work in mostly? Are there women trailblazers in your industry that you admire? Do different business sectors have varying gender diversity/women in leadership and if so, why? 

I work in the Life Sciences sector due to my previous experience working with pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies, primarily in Quality Assurance. I admire so many women trailblazers within Clarkston. Janel Firestein is not only my Partner Advisor but also the Life Sciences Industry Lead. In 2022, Janel was recognized as one of the Top Twenty-Five Women Leaders in Consulting. I feel very fortunate to have such a wonderful leader and mentor in the organization.

Different business sectors definitely have varying diversity in leadership. The armed forces immediately come to mind specifically because there was a time where West Point Military Academy didn’t accept women. This changed in 1976 when the first women started their Cadet Basic Training. It’s easy for certain business sectors to lack diversity when women are excluded from participating. Although women are now participating in training, they are still underrepresented at leadership levels.

Azmat’s Career Story

How long have you been with Clarkston?  

I started with Clarkston in April 2022 so I’m approaching my two-year anniversary. To say that I’m grateful for this time and the opportunity to work with such a wonderful group of people would be a huge understatement.

What is your role at Clarkston?  

I am a Senior Consultant with Clarkston and work primarily in the Life Sciences space. My previous experience in Quality Assurance/Quality Systems enables me to support projects for clients in the pharmaceutical industry. I’ve been fortunate to work with some great people during client engagements. I’ve also learned a lot about managing the nuances that come with working with different organizations.

Tell us about a new skill you’ve developed recently. 

Although I’ve been using Microsoft Teams for two years, I recently learned about some of it’s more useful capabilities such as the Tasks function. This was very beneficial in a project engagement where there many team members and several activities to monitor. I also learned that Teams has an audit trail which enables you to retrieve previous versions of documents. This is quite useful when you’re addressing comments and need to cross reference different versions of a document to ensure all updates have been captured.

If you had to choose, which of Clarkston’s core values do you feel resonates with you the most? 

Teamwork resonates with me the most. I recently rolled off a project in which we had several workstreams operating simultaneously. Being able to work in a collaborative environment and work towards the same goal is paramount to a team’s success. Communication between team members and across workstreams enabled us to work together cohesively to provide on-time deliverables.

What advice would you give to someone starting at Clarkston?  

Network and get to know as many people as possible. Clarkston is very different from any organization I’ve worked for in my career. People, including senior leadership, take the time to speak with you and offer support from your first day with the organization. When you’re assigned to a client, take the time to speak with colleagues who have experience with that client and learn from their past experiences.

In your experience, what qualities make someone a good consultant?

Listening and communicating with patience are simple tools that will take you far. It’s important to listen to a client’s concerns to fully address their needs. Misunderstandings are often the result of miscommunication. Learning to communicate effectively also requires a degree of patience. I believe these qualities are essential to being a good consultant.

What drove you to accept Clarkston’s employment offer?

I was impressed with Clarkston during the interview process. I found each person I spoke with to be very genuine and open about their appreciation for Clarkston. I also was impressed by the longevity associated with individuals working at Clarkston. I spoke with people who have been with Clarkston since graduating college which served as a glowing endorsement. Leadership seemed genuinely invested in helping individuals growing their careers so, I decided to take the leap and transition to consulting. It was the best decision I ever made.

Learn how you can develop your career at Clarkston here.