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RadioHer: UTSC Women in Business Association’s pandemic-inspired podcast

President Parsa Mahmud on giving you a “dose of girl power” in your life
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From top-left clockwise: guest speakers Faiza Naeem, Rahaf El-Anzy, Manasi Sarin, Elya Djaffar, Anika Lee, and Tarraiz M. COURTESY OF WOMEN IN BUSINESS ASSOCIATION
From top-left clockwise: guest speakers Faiza Naeem, Rahaf El-Anzy, Manasi Sarin, Elya Djaffar, Anika Lee, and Tarraiz M. COURTESY OF WOMEN IN BUSINESS ASSOCIATION

Featuring businesswomen from across U of T’s business world, RadioHer is a podcast created by the Women In Business Association (WIBA) at UTSC. It tackles a variety of topics, such as career development, wellness, student entrepreneurship, and job hunting tips. The project stems from the WIBA’s desire to create a podcast featuring extraordinary women in business.

The Varsity checked in with WIBA President Parsa Mahmud on the origins and intentions of RadioHer.

Successful season

The podcast’s trailer aired on October 17 and its final episode was released on February 8. In each 15–20-minute episode, listeners can expect to hear the advice and personal experiences of a new guest, each with their own unique perspective. 

The members of the WIBA have been working hard through the school year to produce inspiring content by women for anyone interested in pursuing business. In an email to The Varsity, Mahmud wrote that the goal of the podcast is to represent women studying different specializations in management including Marketing, HR, Strategy, International Business, Finance, Economics and Accounting.” 

Each guest on RadioHer is either a current student or a recent alum currently working in one of these fields. “They were all inspiring on their own terms, with diverse backgrounds, stories and insights to share,” Mahmud continued.

Creating COVID-19 connections 

The idea for a podcast first came to Mahmud at the beginning of the school year. “I began to brainstorm digital initiatives that could continue to engage and interest the student population amidst the pandemic,” she wrote. “Since in person events were no longer possible, I wanted to generate other ideas that would be equally meaningful and unique.” 

The WIBA’s events director, Freni Jivani, took care of the logistics and brainstormed ideas for how to market RadioHer. Through the course of the pandemic, Mahmud wrote that the WIBA discovered “the importance of growing [its] online presence and including more unique initiatives to empower and engage other women at UTSC.” According to Mahmud, the podcast was “a perfect creative medium” for them to do so.

Mentorship through your earbuds  

One of the main goals of RadioHer is to share the experiences of upper-year students and alumni with younger students. “With everything being virtual, many first-years have lost the opportunity to network and learn about the challenges and successes of other students in their program,” Mahmud explained.

Through the podcast, students have the opportunity to listen to guests such as Anika Lee — a fourth-year management and marketing student — and Faiza Naeem — a recent UTSC bachelor’s of business administration graduate who specialized in management and economics. 

“This podcast allows students to gain insight in different fields, whether it be how to excel in specific courses or seeking co-op placements, helps students plan for their career and find their niche,” Mahmud continued. 

The topic of co-op placements is a recurring theme throughout RadioHer. “The co-op process is challenging; from securing a position to stepping into the workplace to eventually wrapping up on a good note,” she wrote. “Listening to others’ experiences can be both insightful and encouraging.” Mahmud hopes that this advice will help students become more confident and proactive, therefore allowing them to make the best of their co-op experience. 

Destigmatizing conversations about mental health

Another recurring theme in RadioHer is mental health. The podcast deals with subjects that include anxiety brought on by coursework and the importance of taking time off work for your mental health. 

Dialogue gives us opportunities to correct stigma first and foremost,” Mahmud wrote. “These conversations that include tips or information on how to boost or care for our mental health and well-being can benefit everyone, whether we struggle with occasional mental health issues or more severe ones.” 

COVID-19 has added to the mental health challenges of many students who are working from home and living with disconnection and uncertainty. “I felt it was important to include this theme in the podcast episodes to remind everyone that elevated feelings of grief, anxiety and stress are normal responses,” she continued. “We are in it together and there are ways to make our days a little better.”

“If she can’t see it, she can’t be it”

The WIBA’s objective is “enabling women beginning their business career.” According to the podcast’s trailer, RadioHer lives up to this goal by giving listeners “a solid dose of girl power” by “featuring bold, driven, and compassionate women.” 

When asked about the importance of seeing yourself represented in your field, Mahmud responded, “Women become more independent and confident when they see so many successful women thrive in their careers. When there is greater visibility… in the industry, it is truly empowering and inspiring for girls and women, particularly those succeeding in fields long dominated by men.”

“In short, role models are key to diversity,” Mahmud continued. “There’s a saying, ‘If she can’t see it, she can’t be it,’ that pretty much summarizes the importance.”

You can listen to RadioHer on Spotify, Anchor, or Google Podcasts.