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Female Leader, Lutfiye Tahseen, Founder, Astara Creative

Lutfiye Tahseen, Founder of Astara Creative had a Biomedical Science Degree and post graduate qualifications in Psychology. When her husband became unwell, work flexibility was even more important. Lutfiye decided to transition her career, embarking on a third degree at Swinburne Online to study Marketing.

The course was online and flexible, so she was able to study and complete the requirements remotely. Lutfiye was also pleased to find that at Swinburne Online the majority of her units were credited from the subjects she completed in her previous degrees. The two academic excellence awards Lutfiye received while through Swinburne Online boosted her confidence, and confirmed to her she was on the right path. Now Lutfiye is passionate about helping other business women realise their dreams and potential, by helping them reach the right audience.

What were some of the challenges you experienced undertaking your first two degrees?

I had deferred my first degree as I had gotten married and we started building. I went to work and financially contributed to the construction process. Then I returned to complete that degree when I gave birth to our first child. When our daughter was born it suddenly seemed important that she understand that it’s important to complete what you start. And it’s not just Dads who graduate, but Mums do too. I completed my Biomedical Science degree part-time over the next 3 years.

I sat my final exam 10 days earlier than my classmates, as I was due to give birth to child number 2 the day of my final exam. Soon after giving birth to our son, I was offered a postgraduate position in Psychology. I was surrounded by wonderful women in that interview, who encouraged me to be comfortable with my baby and even breastfeed if I needed to. I spent the next few years studying my postgraduate degree part-time with an infant and a toddler. However, after successfully completing two degrees, I couldn’t find a job that worked within my family’s lifestyle.

What was the catalyst to study a third degree and how did this experience differ from your previous study experience?

When my husband became unwell, I knew I had to make changes because we didn’t know what the future held for us. I was sitting one night searching on SEEK and looking at jobs that were something completely different to the usual science and research roles. Over the years, I had been helping friends with marketing their businesses. I ended up on SEEK Learning and sent an enquiry about Swinburne Online’s Marketing Degrees.

The next morning, I received a call from a SEEK Learning representative. She was lovely. We talked about what I had been doing and why I was looking at marketing, and she suggested the Swinburne Online degree. I sent through my transcripts and they emailed me through an offer. They were crediting me 14 of the 24 units for a Bachelor of Business-Marketing degree, because I had so many units in psychology and statistics in my previous degrees. Suddenly things seemed possible. I was going to be able to use my previous degrees and I didn’t have to start from scratch.

As the course was online and flexible, I got lots of work done from my laptop or iPad while waiting at soccer training, or athletics competitions. I studied everywhere imaginable. Interestingly, I even made some amazing, lifelong friends through the online study group we formed. It was also made me realise that I could actually run a business from anywhere.

What awards did you receive in your third degree and how did this help build your confidence?

My Academic Achievement and Academic Excellence Awards gave me the boost I needed to believe I was finally on the right track. I was doing well, I was enjoying the content and I could see how I could actually apply everything I was learning in a workplace. This was very different to my experience studying the sciences.

Why are you passionate about helping other women in business?

I know so many women who are doing what they feel they have to. They have neglected their own interests for so long to be someone’s daughter, someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s employee. They don’t seem to remember who they are and what they enjoy anymore.

Often the women I speak to know their product or service, but don’t know how to monetise it. They don’t know how to set up their business and the thought of marketing it overwhelms them. So they shut down their idea before they give it a chance to flourish. I want to help those women realise their dreams and their potential.

What is imposter syndrome and how are you helping women navigate through challenges?

Imposter Syndrome is a phenomenon, mainly among women, who are usually high achievers and struggle to recognise their achievements. They feel like they will be called out for being a fake or a fraud. I recently created a Facebook group for others who suffer from Imposter Syndrome, called Imposter Me. It is simply where I openly discuss my own doubts and anxieties in my business, and discuss the various methods and resources I try along the way to help me deal with it.

It is also a platform where I invite everyone to reach out and express their self doubts so we can provide each other with support and accountability. I don’t want anyone to pass up amazing opportunities, because of a certain frame of mind they may be in.

Since finishing your Swinburne Online Degree you have been working full-time in your own marketing agency for about a year. Tell us about one business achievement during the last year.

I think my biggest achievement in my first year is being contacted by one of the largest Snap Printing franchises for a meeting with the Directors. They have since asked to subcontract my business and offer it to their customers.

What has been your greatest challenge?

I think my greatest challenge aside from the self doubt, has been learning how to price my services.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the fact that I have made my children proud. Both of my children now say they will be entrepreneurs one day. They will be their own bosses.

What’s one piece of advice for future female leaders?

It’s never too late to reset your path and follow your dreams. Just start somewhere.

Swinburne Online


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Posted by Alanna Bastin-Byrne - Femeconomy Director

CEO of the house, community builder and a globetrotting nomad. Background in Marketing and Communications leadership in the UK and Australia.