Why did you decide to come back to Pakistan after having a successful career in Canada?
I graduated from DOW Medical College and got married the very next year, shortly afterward I relocated to Canada to be with my husband. As a new doctor in a foreign land, getting into the system to practice medicine was not an easy task but I believed in my education and started working in a hospital in downtown Toronto. My base hospital was St. Michaels hospital which was one of the best teaching hospitals of the University of Toronto. Here I got to work in General Ultrasound, CIBC BREAST CENTER, Vascular Labs and specialized in Feto-Maternal High-Risk pregnancy. I have worked at many major hospitals in Toronto, but my passion for teaching and training made me most suited to teaching hospitals. I worked for 12 years in Toronto in around 7 hospitals in the downtown area. I have also completed my Master’s in Clinical education and am now studying for my Ph.D. Being a spokesperson for the breast cancer program, maternal health, and women’s wellness, I discovered my passion to increase well-being and enhancing the skills of women, especially immigrants who find it hard to settle down into a new culture and environment.
In 2012 my husband who is a banking professional was offered a coveted position in Saudi Arabia where we moved shortly afterward. As I had recently had a newborn and a 2-year-old, I had decided to stay home but little did I know that one of my visiting Saudi students would float my resume at major hospitals there, due to which I started immediately received multiple job offers. I soon joined one of the largest Military hospitals in Riyadh where I headed the Ultrasound department and also the Diagnostic radiology program at the college. After working, teaching, and training for 2 years along, I joined the largest women’s university in the world, Princess Nourah University, where I worked for almost 4 years and trained over 300 graduates in various disciplines of Radiology.
In 2017, I moved to Karachi after seeing that my dad was ailing and upon my eldest brother’s insistence that the family enterprise, a chain of popular diagnostic centers needed another helping hand. I joined the business as the Director of radiology and corporate relations, looking after radiology and administration of I have around 10 branches right under my supervision. Unfortunately, my father passed away 3 months after my arrival, leaving a large void in my life.
How did Dr. Farah Essa Academy come into being?
After my arrival and joining the family business, I found that hiring skilled health care professionals was very challenging, as there was a huge gap between the local and international health training standards. Discovering this gap, I realized that skilled people in health care were acutely needed, ranging from radiology to allied health professions, as they are the first line of care. Intending to give the knowledge and training that I had received, back to my country and thereby putting a little ripple in improving health standards in Pakistan, my passion for teaching and training came into effect and I started my own training academy. Founded in 2019 September, just few months before COVID, we have been fortunate to have trained over 180 people in various health professions and have been adding multiple programs on an ongoing basis.
I feel giving back is one of the most effective ways to contribute to the community and the country at large. Involved in many charity organizations, I feel no amount of work is enough for a developing nation like Pakistan. As a chair of Maternal and Child health District 3271- Rotary International, I have held key training programs for Maternal and Child Health. I am fortunate to be the first elected woman president of OPEN Karachi, a much-coveted global organization for entrepreneurs.
How did you start singing professionally?
My singing talent is inherited from my beloved father. Both My parents discovered my talent at an early age and my mom encouraged me to try for TV. Once we got passes to Sohail Rana’s program. “Sang Sang Chalein” when I was 5-6 years old. Luckily, I got called on stage out of the audience to perform a song, and immediately, I was asked to join the show as a young talent. Each day after school, I would head over to PTV where we would rehearse and record children’s songs. I stayed with them for quite some time and even traveled around the world until the eighth grade when I decided to focus on my studies and become a doctor, which undoubtedly required my undivided attention.
As I came into a medical college and also till, I reached Toronto, Canada, with my singing talent, I represented Pakistan at various events. In 2004, we faced a big tragedy; I lost my first-born son after 2 years which was enough to break me emotionally. I stopped singing. Something that I did never think would happen, especially to a person whose life ran on music and whose soul was riddled with musical notes, I stopped singing completely. On one of my trips visiting Pakistan, my parents sensing the change in me sat me down and asked me why I wasn’t singing anymore I told them because the music made me an emotional wreck. My parents coaxed me to sing for them as they wanted to see me like I used to be before the incident. I do believe that it was my parent’s conviction that got started and back into signing.
I started professionally singing in 2019, my first song was released in October and I’ve launched about 5 songs since then.
What is your favorite thing about yourself?
The goodness of my soul! I know I am pure-hearted and a true well-wisher for everyone. I try to be always a good mother, wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, teacher, friend, and of course, a leader. I believe that I have been very fortunate to somehow be blessed with good people around me, who have always made me a better version of myself. Most of that credit obviously goes to my lovely, dynamic parents. I am also blessed to have an incredibly supportive husband, who has been beside me through the ups and downs in life. I am empowered further by my four brothers, who believe in me and support me in all my dreams and vision.
I like to have my own identity; I want to be unique, just like my father was. I don’t want to just be someone’s daughter, because I know I have credentials of my own. All of the jobs that I’ve gotten throughout my career were based on merit and even here at Essa Lab, I think I have proven myself in this position by increasing business and helping to expand post my arrival to Pakistan. I believe that I am a model of inspiration for not only my students but also for women out there, who have gathered courage and pursued their dreams after looking at me or reading my story.
Which person has influenced you most in your life?
My mom for supporting me, encouraging me that my talent was recognized, ensuring that I had completed my education and that I received equal opportunities as her four sons. I am incredibly grateful for all she’s done and above all to model me into a good, decent human being. Teaching me to be humble, gentle, kind, forgiving, and positive, and above all, grateful for all Allah has blessed me with.
My father, from whom I inherited not only singing but also his teaching skills. His dedication and exemplary devotion to his profession were truly admirable feat. For always giving me his unrelenting support, his vote of confidence that I cherish always that I will and find strength in, “My only daughter can do what my four sons can’t do combined!!”. His words have stuck by me through thick and thin.
What is your message for all the aspiring boss women out in the world?
My message for all women is to take charge of their lives and make their dreams come true. Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live. Once you get to the top, refocus on women out there, mentor and support them, stand up for each other, and ensure that each and every woman’s dream becomes a reality.