Tania Aidrus has spent a significant part of her life outside Pakistan, studying at the world’s best schools and working in the vanguard of a global tech industry. Now, she has been given the formidable task of leading the country into the digital age.
Former Chief of Staff and Head of Strategic Initiatives on the Next Billion Users (NBU) team at Google, Tania Aidrus quit her position a few months ago to spearhead Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ‘Digital Pakistan’ Initiative. She claims she wants to “put Pakistan on the map” in the fields of innovation and technology.
It is unsurprising why Tania was chosen for the task of leading Pakistan’s digital transformation owing to her strong familiarity with the world of digital technology.
The former Google exec holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BSc from Brandeis University. She has co-founded a mobile health diagnosis company called ClickDiagnosis which connected rural patients in emerging markets to doctors around the world.
She also served as leader in the Global Business Organisation at Google in the US before going onto becoming Country Manager for South Asia Frontier Markets at Google in Singapore.
During her speech at the inauguration of the ‘Digital Pakistan’ initiative, Aidrus reminisced about how she had been contacted by the prime minister’s team to head the strenuous project. She said,
“A person I knew told the prime minister about me and he forwarded an email to his reform team to contact me,” she said. “Over the next course of months, I was in contact with Mr Jahangir Tareen and members of the federal cabinet. I even met the president before I met Prime Minister Imran and discussed the project.”
Aidrus pointed out that the Pakistani diaspora around the world wished to contribute their fullest to the nation.
“I spent 20 years outside Pakistan. I went abroad with a very strong message about Pakistan. People say that I am politically connected to some people. That is not the case, I don’t have a relationship with anyone in the government. My objective is simple — I just want Pakistan to succeed,” she added.Source: Geo
She noted five key spheres where the government needed to create ‘building blocks’ and centralized strategies from the highest order. The first among these spheres is the access and connectivity pillar, she observed.
“A soldier posted in Siachen gets one opportunity a week to speak to his family members,” she said. “I want to ensure that whenever he connects to his family via a video call, he is able to do so without any issues.”Source: Geo
She further spoke about the second key pillar – upgrading the country’s digital infrastructure.
“Just like you need the road infrastructure in a country, Pakistan needs a digital infrastructure,” she said. “To advance in the tech world, we need to have a digital infrastructure in place.”Source: Geo
Aidrus identified the third key pillar – E-governance. The incumbent government was elected on the guarantee of transparency.
“The best way to ensure transparency is to digitise government processes,” she said. “Nowadays people have a tremendous amount of difficulty when it comes to land documentation and other processes. We need to digitise these.”Source: Geo
PM Imran Khan recently launched the ‘Digital Pakistan’ campaign on Thursday as part of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s digitisation programme aimed at establishing the latest technologies for public welfare.
The inauguration ceremony was held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad.
“Digital Pakistan will be the government’s utmost priority. It will unleash the potential of the youth. Pakistan has the second biggest population of youth and it can be turned into strength through digital work,” said the PM.
“Women can contribute to this sector as well and gain jobs,” he added.
PM Imran Khan said that e-commerce and e-governance have the power to change the face of an institution.