Sister act: flying the flag for diversity in tech

Having driven her IT firm Xalient to No 40 on The Sunday Times 100 list – of which Vodafone Business is an event sponsor – founder Sherry Vaswani is now hoping her success will inspire other women to join the industry.

Sherry Vaswani had been thinking about Xalient, a developer of software that enables staff based anywhere to securely access systems and collaborative working tools, for three years before she was able to turn her vision into reality.

Vaswani, above, was restricted from starting a new business under a non-compete clause imposed after selling her previous company. She waited less than a day after it expired before incorporating Xalient in 2015.

“During that period, although I was working in a non-competitive sector, I stayed in tech,” says Vaswani, 49. “I spotted a trend for companies moving their applications to the cloud, and more people working remotely, both of which needed to be done securely. Network security is my area and I could see it would be transformative.”

She wasn’t wrong. The surging demand for greater digital security amid the growing threat of cyberattacks and the rise of home working has pushed Xalient to annual sales growth of 84.45 per cent over the past three years. Coupled with revenue of £26.3 million in 2021, that growth saw Xalient ranked 40th in The Sunday Times 100 list of Britain’s fastest-growing private companies, of which Vodafone Business is an event sponsor.

‘This was a chance to build a business that’s a really credible alternative to the sector’s big boys’

Vodafone Business also helps companies grow, and recently launched Vodafone Pulse Connect. It’s a flexible mobile, broadband and cloud calling package with just one bill that lets you add or remove users and tailor services to each employee, so you only pay for what you need.*

And Vodafone Pulse Connect also helps protect companies. Its plans include Lookout Security for Small Business**, providing mobile security and identity protection. The broadband package includes Cisco Meraki’s security and wi-fi device, which updates automatically to ensure you’ve got the latest protection, prevents unauthorised employees from accessing your network, and protects against malicious files; as well as Cisco Meraki Smart Cameras to deter criminal activity, detect threats and provide useful insights into on-site behaviour.

Xalient now employs 180 people in four countries – Britain, the United States, India and Romania – and continues to expand its workforce, with a particular eye on the US, where Vaswani sees the greatest potential for growth. Xalient caters for large global corporations that need to connect their network users and devices to apps and data, securely and efficiently.

“These companies were all very frustrated with the large outsourcers and traditional players who were dominating the network security market but were not very agile and not very focused on the customer,” Vaswani says. “So I thought, this is a chance to build a business that is completely going to challenge that norm and be a really credible alternative to those big boys.”

‘Showing that women can be leaders in the tech business can have a huge impact’

And with hybrid working becoming the norm, companies will need to continue to secure their networks to accommodate remote workers while remaining resilient to cyberattacks.

“Network security approaches used to assume users sit in offices and that you firewall the office, or that you’re logged on through a VPN tunnel and therefore you’re secure,” says Vaswani. “Even pre-Covid, that was an issue. There were big high-profile malware security incidents that proved this approach was not robust enough.”

Xalient takes what it calls a “zero trust” verification approach to securing a user’s devices, which reduces the risk of hackers penetrating a company’s systems. Covid accelerated a trend for home working that was already gathering momentum, increasing an already pressing need for businesses to ensure they have their cyberdefences in good shape.

“Businesses should be very concerned about cyberthreats, especially those companies that are a bit behind on carrying out their assessments,” says Vaswani. “I think large businesses have been concerned for a while, but medium sized businesses are realising they are targets just as much as the large ones. Every business knows there is a threat there.”

As well as focusing on the US market, which accounted for around half of Xalient’s revenue in 2021, Vaswani is looking to invest in more talent and innovation to ensure the business remains at the forefront of network security.

All Xalient’s new products are given female names such as Wanda, Iris, Sona and Martina, reflecting Vaswani’s belief in the importance of increasing diversity – especially the representation of women – in the technology industry.

“I have more of a stage than I realised,” she says. “I recognise there’s an opportunity to help with bringing more women into tech and creating a more diverse society.

“I didn’t used to think that was something I could affect, but I now realise I can. This helps bring the best people into your business. Showing that women can be leaders can have a huge impact.”

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we met with one of our Programme Managers, Martin Burke, to learn a little more about him and his role at Xalient.

To kick things off, could you tell us about your career background? 

I have over 25 years of experience working in technology and professional services and have had the great privilege to work for some large managed providers in the public and private sectors.

My early career started as a Technical Consultant, where I was an SQL DBA and Microsoft Certified Engineer. I then moved into Networking Solutions and, over time, to Project Management – where I honed my skills in Customer Delivery.

I have since managed various projects, programmes, and professional service teams, that have enabled me to develop my skills and knowledge, I pride myself on my ability to work with any customer to achieve the best possible outcomes.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient? 

I heard of Xalient in its earlier days through close colleagues as a young, ambitious, forward-thinking organisation willing to take risks to win in the market against the larger MSPs, Putting Xalient on my radar for a possible future career move, and luckily that opportunity came up this year – which I jumped at the chance!

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

I’m very privileged to work from home, allowing me to have a good work/life balance most of the time. Usually, I start my day with a pot of coffee, a quick walk with the dog, check my emails, and then see my daughter off to school. I then sit down at my home office, ready to start the day.

I think it’s important to maintain some boundaries when working from home, so I ensure I have my dedicated work area, which helps me switch off at the end of the day.

And what does the average day look like for you? 

As a Programme Manager, much of my time is spent managing customer expectations. It takes the form of many communication channels to continuously try and maintain good communication with our internal teams and customer stakeholders, intending to finish the day having made steps forward in delivering our objectives and ensuring that everybody is informed and working on the same priorities.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I would think a lot of people would describe me as a self-starter, strong, independent, who knows what is required to get decisions made quickly. I hope my colleagues appreciate my role as the conduit to our customers, trying to get the best outcomes at all times to deliver on time and budget for their desired quality outcomes.

What do you like most about your job?

I am proud to be part of the Xalient team. Xalient does an excellent job of delivering quality outcomes, and I enjoy our ability to support our customers through change. I feel I have the right level of autonomy to get the job done.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I spend most evenings on our sofa or out at the cinema watching the latest horror movie with my wife, Helen. On weekends I enjoy getting out and spending time with my family doing various sports, including scuba diving, canoeing, mountain biking and archery.

In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Over the past 12 months, I realised happiness and a good work-life balance is key. It’s important to enjoy doing the job you do and doing it well and waking up on a Monday morning raring to go! Since joining Xalient 5 months ago, I have had a real passion for working again.

Are there any products, gadgets or apps you can’t live without?

I think I’ve been privileged to have lived in the technology era and seen the birth of the Internet and mobile phones. It’s incredible to see where we are now with everything you need on a smartphone or on a watch! I’ve always enjoyed being at the forefront of gadgets and tech. However, I’d have to say I think I could live without social media. Talking to people is an art we are losing as time goes on. That said, I don’t think I could live without my sporting equipment either. Not being able to get out for a mountain bike ride or go canoeing would be challenging for me.

Who/what inspires you (work, personal or historical)?

Entrepreneurs fascinate me by being bold and brave enough to risk and gamble their own money on their ideas and sometimes win and sometimes lose, but learn from it and do it again. I can think of a number of these people that most of us would probably quote as inspiring Gates, Branson, Musk etc. and our very own CEO, Sherry Vaswani.

What’s a fun fact about you many people might not know?

I frown a lot, not because I am cross but thinking!

Tell us something people might not know about you. 

I’m dyslexic, and whilst I find it very frustrating sometimes, it’s also been a bit of a superpower.

In my earlier career, I hid it a lot from people, but now I have a different perspective, as it gives me a different perspective that adds colour to the team.

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we met with one of our HR Officers, Jarah, to learn a little more about her and her role at Xalient.

To kick things off, could you tell us about your career background and current role at Xalient? 

I started working in the Hospitality industry when I was a teenager. I studied hospitality management and worked in hotels for several years before moving to the UK. When I was approached by a recruiter about an HR position four years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. However, I am thrilled I made the jump. 

I started at Xalient on a temporary contract to cover paternity leave, and luckily they could offer me a permanent role as an HR officer. My primary responsibilities are improving our companies’ policies and procedures and ensuring we remain compliant. I also really enjoy working on projects like our Culture and Inclusion Program, the Green Team and being on the CSR committee.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient? 

What attracted me to Xalient was the culture and the people. It was really important for me to work for a company that values its employees, especially as someone working in HR.  

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

It’s pretty much a shower, breakfast, and out the door. I do enjoy listening to a podcast on the way to work.  

What do you like most about your job?

My head is always full of ideas. I like that at Xalient, I get the opportunity to explore new ways of working and improving the workplace. 

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?

I would start a doggy daycare and be surrounded by dogs all day. Or, more realistically, I would probably work in a hotel or do something in events. 

In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Like many others, I can spend hours mindlessly scrolling through social media. So, I try to take regular breaks by deleting the apps for a few weeks or months. That way, I can be more present and focus on doing things I actually enjoy. 

Who/what inspires you (work, personal or historical)?

My parents always encouraged me to find a job I love and not focus on money or status. It took a few tries, but I think I’m doing pretty well.

What’s a fun fact about you many people might not know?

A picture of me was once displayed in a museum as part of an art exhibition.  

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we met with one of our Security Support Engineers, Marius Dinu, to learn a little more about him and his role at Xalient.

To kick things off, could you tell us about your career background and current role at Xalient?

Before Xalient, I worked with Okta Support for around four years, so it naturally made sense to work within a Cloud Security Engineer role here at Xalient.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient?

The Xalient culture and the people working here are fantastic, making the role more appealing.

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

I ensure I have a big cup of coffee next to me throughout the morning.

And what does a day in life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I usually start the day by organising the tasks for the day, selecting the top 3 most important, and focusing on those before getting to anything else.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I think they would say I’m outgoing, sociable and very funny (my words, they wouldn’t probably admit it)

What do you like most about your job?

The relaxed environment allows me to thrive and be productive every day.

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?

Probably caring for otters at the zoo!

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I like going for a swim, watching or playing football or playing video games.

Are there any products, gadgets or apps you can’t live without?

It has to be my AirPods. I can’t go anywhere without my music.

Who/what inspires you (work, personal and/or historical)?

I’m trying my best to take inspiration from everything around me, not just from a particular source.

What’s a fun fact about you many people might not know?

I can understand different languages (more or less) without knowing or speaking them.

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we met with one of our Solutions Architects, Paul Orange, to learn a little more about him and his role at Xalient.

To kick things off, could you tell us about your career background and current role at Xalient? 

I left university and started working at the Co-Op in Manchester analysing utility bills for the Co-Op estates. This led me to a different job as a telecoms analyst at another company before I started to work for ‘Thus’ in Scotland as part of the telecoms and networking pricing team. Thus was purchased by Cable and Wireless (now part of Vodafone), and I took a job there as a Trainee Sales Engineer. From there, I went to Orange Business Services via a few years at Global Crossing (which became Level 3, now part of Lumen). I was at OBS for ten years.

I’m a Solutions Architect here at Xalient, it’s a home-based role, but I enjoy coming into the Leeds office.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient? 

Having come from a huge Tier 1 global network and telecoms provider, I like that Xalient is a young, agile company. I see being ‘born in the cloud’ as a significant benefit when competing against some legacy providers in the market. We don’t have old infrastructure, such as an MPLS network, to keep supporting and paying for.

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

Coffee and porridge. Check my diary to see what the day has in store. Stop the kids fighting. I might try and go for a run or cycle if it’s dry and I’m in the right mood.

And what does a day in life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent work day?

If I’m working on a live bid, my day will include:

  • Scoping and creating a Bill of Materials (BOM) for the prospective customer.
  • Completing RFP response questions.
  • Joining bid team calls.
  • Preparing internal sign-off documentation.

Once a bid is ‘won,’ I’ll work on Statement of Work (SoW) docs. Plus, there’s constantly training to do. I’m currently working towards the CISSP qualification.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I don’t know – you’ll have to ask them 😊

What do you like most about your job?

The best thing about this job is how varied the role is – I get to work on different opportunities, each unique. It’s essential to keep on top of technical developments, and training is key.

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this? 

Honestly, not got a clue! 

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I’m a season card holder at Manchester City, so every other weekend, I’m at the Etihad Stadium plus, I try and get to as many away games as I can. I also enjoy mountain biking and try to get out on my bike a few times 

a week.

In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits that have changed your life?

I’ve been trying to reduce my carbon footprint by travelling less by car – with my old role, I was away a lot flying and driving, so I’m glad that has reduced. 

Are there any products, gadgets, or apps you can’t live without?

I use a great app – ‘Komoot’ – for finding and following cycle trails and routes – I’d be (literally) lost without it.

Who/what inspires you (work, personal or historical)?

I always looked up to my Grandad – he fought for his country in the 2nd most dangerous role in the second world war – he was a pilot in bomber command (most dangerous: submariner on a U-boat). He worked hard so his family could have a good life, was great fun to be around, was always positive, and was a great human.

What’s a fun fact about you many people might not know?

My dad has a racehorse named after him (Mr Orange).

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we met with our Talent and Development Manager, Zoe Donnelly. Zoe is responsible for implementing the complete talent acquisition strategy for all roles; attraction and selection, internal mobility and talent management, innovation, and continuous improvement of process and recruitment tools. Zoe also looks after employee development and is currently scoping out a self-service L&D model for all employees. We caught up with Zoe to learn a little more about her and what makes her tick.

Could you tell us about your career background to kick things off? 

I’m a bit of a mixed bag in that I left Uni with a History/English degree, fell into the finance world, studied and passed my CIMA and worked in finance for a bit, and then decided to try the IT recruitment world. 

What is it that attracted you to Xalient?

The people! I wasn’t looking when I was first approached, but after meeting Annie Davies (my boss), I knew I wanted to work for her. This was further cemented when I met the rest of the team – I knew I wanted to be part of this company. The energy, speed, innovation, and tech blew me away!

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

The day starts at 7 am with either a  PT session  (I like the boxing ones) or a dog walk. Then coffee (strong), check emails and reply to anything urgent while shooing my girls out the door for school (husband does the drop-offs). Then more coffee and plan my day.

And what does a day in the life of Zoe look like? Can you take us through a recent work day?

There is never a typical day in recruitment. I’m usually headhunting and sourcing candidates for roles, which can be anywhere (the UK, US or India), writing adverts, replying and arranging calls with candidates, and catching up with the HR team on changing priorities and arranging interviews and liaising with outside L&D providers to understand if their offer would fit Xalient for our employees. I am currently scoping out the L&D offering, what we have in the house, what to buy in, etc.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Good question. Hopefully, a team player and someone they can come to for support.

What do you like most about your job?

I really get a buzz out of finding the right candidate for our roles and making that offer. For some, it can be life-changing, and I often get people crying with happiness.  Can’t beat that! I also like my role’s speed, pace, and autonomy to look for solutions and make changes for the better.

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?

Probably own a bar, somewhere hot!

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Being with my girls (6 & 11), watching them play cricket, football, and squash. My oldest beats me at squash now. And drinking very nice wine with friends and family.

In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I started more frequent PT sessions. It sets me up for the day if I can fit it in early.

Are there any products, gadgets, or apps that you can’t live without?

I like Insta, Tik Tok (sorry), Uber, and Deliveroo! (I don’t cook).

Who/what inspires you (work, personal or historical)?

My girls inspire me to be better every day and try to change the workforce for women. So when hopefully they enter the workforce, they won’t have to deal with archaic attitudes!

What’s a fun fact about you that many people might not know?

I used to do competitive swimming for Wales 😊

Our meet the team blog series highlights the amazing people behind Xalient. This week we caught up with one of our Security Support Analyst’s, Cristian Corbu to find out a bit more about him and his role here at Xalient…

To kick things off, could you tell us a bit about your career background and current role here at Xalient?   

I started as a customer service representative in an outsourcing company here in Romania. Within this role, I was able to learn all about Okta.

From there, I saw the opportunity to work at Xalient as a Service Desk Analyst Engineer, where I am now responsible for handling Okta service desk requests such as, application assignments, MFA resets and everything that might arise.

What is it that attracted you to Xalient?

I was looking for a job where I could work and further advance my knowledge with Okta and when I heard about Xalient it was a perfect match. I immediately went to the Xalient website and read all about Xalient and their portfolio and I knew I had to apply.

What’s the first thing you do when you start your working day?

My routine really depends on the shift that I am working on, but typically it starts with coffee and browsing the internet to catch up on the latest news and events.

And what does a day in the life look like for you? Can  you take us through a recent work day?

A recent work day will be a night shift. I usually wake up at around 19:00 PM so I have time to go to the store. When my shift starts at 22:00 PM I check with my colleagues if anything major happened on the previous shift, then I check my e-mails. If the night shift is not that busy, I tend to focus on catching up on different training.

How would your colleagues describe you?

I think my colleagues would describe me as a hardworking, trustworthy person who works well under pressure and with the team.

What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy everything about my role. I especially like the team; we work really well together and it makes my working day enjoyable.

What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?

I always wanted a career within the tech industry so you could say, I am living the dream, but if I wasn’t in the tech I would love to open a bakery.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

When I am not working I like to relax by watching movies, listening to audio books and playing video games with friends. One of my all-time favourite movies is the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Are there any products, gadgets, or apps that you can’t live without?

Like many others, I wouldn’t be able to live without my phone.

Who/what inspires you (work, personal and/or historical)?

The person who inspires me is my mum. She always works hard and finishes every task that she starts and truly enjoys the work that she does. I want to work just as hard as she does and progress in my career. I think my role at Xalient is a place where I can work hard and gain the experience I need to achieve my goal.

What’s a fun fact about you many people might not know?

Not many people know this about me, but I really enjoy doing karaoke.

After six months of training and working within the Xalient HR team as part of the government’s Kickstart Scheme, we’re thrilled to welcome Megan Underwood, in to a permanent role in the Xalient team.

Before starting at Xalient, Megan had some extended time off after her maternity leave and was considering returning to work but looking to start a new career journey. Liking the idea of working and supporting people, HR seemed like a natural fit, and she was keen to start work within an office environment to gain a good understanding of “office life”. We caught up with Megan to find out about her Kickstart experience.

What made you apply for the Kickstarter Scheme that led to your role here at Xalient?

I was at home with my little one during the pandemic, and in truth, it was difficult. I think I lost part of my identity and it made me realise that I wanted to opt for a career change when the time was right to return to work. I’ve always had a passion for working with people, so a role in HR seemed like a good path to follow. When I heard about the Kickstarter Scheme, I felt it would enable me to get the work experience I needed, and, as it turns out, it has been the gateway to a new and exciting future for me here at Xalient!

Can you talk us through what your experience has been like working for Xalient so far?

I’ve been here for over six months now and it’s flown by! I’m really enjoying the role and I feel like I’ve learnt so much in such a short space of time. I cannot stress how many invaluable skills I’ve learnt that I not only implement my career, but in my daily life too.

Lucy Brewer, Xalient’s HR Manager, along with the wider HR team, offered me guidance and support throughout my placement and I had regular 1:1s to discuss any concerns or queries and reflect on what’s worked well and areas to improve. I can honestly say through my experience working at Xalient, I have become ‘Megan’ again. My confidence has grown so much, and I feel excited to see where my future career will go.

What have you enjoyed the most out of your experience?

The people! Everyone at Xalient made me feel so welcome and made the whole experience around me even better.

What has been the biggest skill you’ve learned in this role?

That’s a tough one as I’ve learnt so much! But I’d probably say conflict management – the importance of listening to others and helping to resolve issues in a respectfully, and appropriate way.

What has been your biggest learning curve starting in the HR?

Getting to grips with the structure of the organisation, how all the departments work together and the specifics of every person’s different role.

What advice would you give for anyone considering a Kickstarter role?

To anyone considering applying, I’d certainly encourage them to do so as it’s probably one of the best opportunities you’re going to get to start out your career. For those just starting a Kickstart apprenticeship –  make sure you use every opportunity to learn as much as you can, take advantage of all the support on offer and enjoy the experience – you never know where it might lead!

The Kickstart Scheme, which was rolled out in September last year, is a government-led program that aims “to kickstart the careers of thousands of young people who could otherwise be left behind as a result of the pandemic”. The focus of the scheme is providing 6-month placements to out-of-work young people.

Here at Xalient, we know how important it is to look after our employees. The importance of not only enjoying work but how having a balance is key.

A holistic approach to staff well-being underpins our employee engagement strategy. Employees are encouraged and supported to thrive at Xalient and fulfil their full potential. When we talk about thriving, we refer to within and outside the workplace and have a duty to support our employees’ mental health and well-being.

So what do we offer?

As part of our Employee Assistant Programme, all our employees have access to the ‘My Healthy Advantage’ app. The service works on two levels: first, to aid anyone seeking general information or advice on areas such as sleep, stress, nutrition, exercise, mood, etc. and second, to access 24/7, 365 days a year access to Counselling, CBT, legal, financial and medical support – on the same day as a referral. It’s a free resource for employees, as and when they choose and is completely confidential.

We also have employees who have been trained and accredited in Mental Health First Aid. They are on hand to better support our teams, offering knowledgeable help and advice, and can be contacted during work hours to talk about anything that might be causing staff a concern. They can also help to point them in the right direction for further support as appropriate.

Our Culture and Inclusion Programme has been designed to sustain the Xalient culture across every professional discipline and all geographies, to be truly immersive and benefit all team members. It’s a programme for our people to recognise and appreciate their great value, provide a work environment they enjoy and where they will thrive and open a continual channel to communicate easily with others. It ensures the delivery of our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equality, gives sharp focus to our Team Members’ well-being and enables participation for all to influence and evolve our business as it grows.

We also continue to roll out our frequent mindful workshops, self-help videos and support, access to NLP coaching, and regular office social events. We find these social events give our team a break away from the working environment and the opportunity to reconnect (finally!) with face-to-face interactions in a social environment.

Xalient is proud to offer many mental health and well-being tools to everyone in our team, irrespective of location, to ensure they have access to the proper support if and when they need it.

With the holy month of Ramadan starting this week, we caught up with Imran Hussain, Tier 2 Network Engineer at Xalient, to find out what Ramadan means to him and tips to support colleagues who are fasting.

What do you enjoy the most about Ramadan?

I find Ramadan is a time to reset both mentally and physically and I like to use fasting as a means to detox from all the naughty foods I’ve eaten along the way 😊

It’s also a chance to think about myself -it’s a spiritual event as much as it’s about fasting, so I like to take the opportunity to reflect and continue with good practices taken from the month into the whole year.

What do you find challenging?

I find  caffeine withdrawal really hard as I choose to give that up as part of Ramadan and go cold turkey! It’s difficult at first, but after Ramadan, that first sip is like liquid gold!

How do you cope with going without food or drink at work all day?

Personally, I can switch off the feeling of hunger in Ramadan as I’ve been doing it for so long, I’m used to it! But one thing I do struggle with is being cold on an empty stomach – so sometimes you might find me in the office with my coat on, even if it’s a really warm and sunny day!

What’s your go to meal and drink of choice after a day’s fasting?

That amazing Yorkshire delicacy that is a ‘Chippy tea’ with a glass of coke! Whatever it is, it’s enjoyable as we’ve fasted all day so we’re ready for it!

Can you explain what a typical fasting day is like for you?

It’s traditional to wake up and have an early morning meal, which is usually an hour before dawn. So around 4am this year! I personally have a normal breakfast and make sure I’m hydrated for the day ahead – yes its true, we don’t drink anything at all during the sunlight hours, which can sometimes be hard, especially if it is warm. From here, it’s a normal day at work or whatever I’m doing at the weekend (minus cutting the lawn 😉) all the way up to early evening, where I like to have a light work-out just to help pass the time before the sun sets and it’s time for us to eat again. There are special prayers every night through the month too, and this is something all people who are fasting will partake in as part of Ramadan.

Could you share a few tips to help your colleagues support you, and others who are participating in Ramadan?

  1. Don’t worry about eating in front of those participating in Ramadan – we’ll opt out of sitting at the lunch table if needed, so don’te feel you have to apologise about eating in front of those fasting. We enjoy the fact that we are fasting and look forward to it!
  2. It’s always better to ask about each person’s experience rather than make assumptions. Of course it’s hard, it’s not meant to be easy! It’s a time for Muslims to reflect on their lives, the privileges they hold, and to think deeply about what changes we can make to make the world a better place, etc.
  3. Sometimes we don’t fast – there’s no need to pry. If you notice a Muslim colleague or friend isn’t fasting, it’s best just to leave them to it rather than pry. Lots of Muslims don’t fast and it could be for a number of reasons (including pregnancy, illness, old age, etc.).
  4. Where possible, be conscious of scheduling meetings and calls in the evening, as this is a time where the person fasting is eating and enjoying time to reflect. It’s a time for spending with families and friends and enjoying communal meals, so be mindful of this as well as time zones.
  5. Show solidarity – as part of Ramadan we like to think and reflect on those who are less fortunate than us, and we do what we can to help out in our local communities and charities. You may not want to fast, but you might want to help out with charity work, or support a friend or colleague this way instead.