Thursday, April 21, 2016

The 'bits' Tributes


was how
Beyond Information Technology Solutions (Pvt) Limited
was known by its members and clients.
Although founded by Beaconhouse and myself,
BSS soon left their IT business
and concentrated more on their Education Field.
I took over the company, with Sabeen and a few others.
Sab's efforts and workmanship were always amazing.
Soon I 'gifted' half of 'bits' to her.
Sabeen and I were Co-Directors.


 These were some people who were close to Sabeen
and sent me these tributes for her
for her death anniversary.


Mina Siddique

Mina says,
she's better off putting her images online
than writing.
So here is the lovely image
she made for me soon after Sabeen's death.
It hangs on my sitting room wall and captures
Sab brilliantly.

And now to the writings!

Rubab Hasan

Hey Sabeen - will talk to you like I find myself doing in my head from time to time, as if you never really left. You taught a very scattered fresh grad how to be an unapologetic strong women with opinions.

With time you became a dear friend. We would talk design, passion, and ideologies. I would secretly hang on to every bit of validation you would give me on my work ;)

It took your absence for me to realise what a mentor is and that you were pretty much it for me :)

Rest in power dear friend - until we talk design again.


Amber Jabeen

I have so many memories of Sabeen from the time I was at b.i.t.s. but I feel so lost when I start writing something. It still doesn’t feel like a year.

I feel it is important to start with b.i.t.s. if I am going to say anything about Sabeen. After all that’s how I met her.

I remember that day so clearly. Zak and Sabeen (the founders of b.i.t.s.) were sitting in Zak’s living room. Someone told me that Zak was calling me. When I entered the room, he said, ‘Amber! Sabeen and I are starting a new company. Do you want to join us?’. I wasn’t really expecting the question, I was very nervous. By that time, I’d already grown so fond of Zak but I barely knew Sabeen. So I automatically looked up at Sabeen, feeling somewhat unsure. She was smiling, her usual charming smile that everyone talks about. I immediately said ‘Yes, I do.’ Of course, I didn’t know at that time, that this was going to be one of the best decisions of my life.

Sabeen and Zak started b.i.t.s. in the year 2000. b.i.t.s. was no ordinary company and neither were they. The five years that I spent with Sabeen and Zak were so extraordinary that they altered my life forever. It was like tasting the ‘Rainbow Fizz’ from the ‘Solitaire Mystery’. Your whole body tastes it, not just your tongue.

As soon as I joined, I got a chance to directly work with Sabeen and that’s how I began my journey towards becoming what I am today. I was always very impressed and inspired by Sabeen’s unmatchable ability to not give up on ANYTHING or ANYONE. Be it a design or coding challenge, a tricky client or a tough business decision with no possible solution in sight, she would always approach it with a positive attitude and try to find a solution, even when everyone else had given up. I didn’t see her giving up on even the most stubborn ones of us, including myself. :-)

Sabeen not only had some great leadership qualities but she had her own special way of leading people, in the most human and warm manner. She could judge exactly when her team needed her to stand by them. I remember one such occasion when my team and I had worked several days and nights to deliver a multimedia presentation for a famous Unilever tea brand called Brooke Bond. The project was delivered and was a great success. We got showered with praise from everywhere including the client. Obviously, we all felt very proud of ourselves and super over-confident. It was the next morning when Zak came in and casually asked me to show him the presentation. I played it. About a minute passed. He looked quite happy. I wish I had showed him just that much that day. ;-) Because next came the screen with the brand name ‘Brook Bond’ (instead of Brooke Bond). Zak picked the typo in an instant. Now a typo was a sin at b.i.t.s., but this one was even more special. I not only got ‘Zakked’ but also had to hear something like ‘how could you miss this one Amber, you’ve grown with this brand?’ And it was killing to hear that. I was heart-broken and I needed a shoulder to cry on. I went straight to Sabeen and told her the whole story. She knew very well how big the mistake was but it was more important for her to support us at that time, even if it meant to overlook a big mistake. She consoled me saying ‘I know ... Zak could be harsh sometimes. But he’ll be fine. You’ve done a good job. Maybe you guys were too tired.’ It was funny how many times I went to her after getting ‘Zakked’ and always got full support. :-) This episode taught all of us a great life changing lesson. If there were a thousand people who saw your work and even if there was only one who noticed a mistake, your work was not good enough. I still live by this rule and always check my work with a hawk’s eye.

Despite the fact that Sabeen was very tough in the face of all sorts challenges, she had an equally soft side of her personality when it came to connecting with her team on a personal level. Almost all of us could confide into her. She could spend hours counselling and consoling, investing her personal and family time in her colleagues, many times even after having a tough day herself and well past 6 O clock. We left her room feeling hopeful, positive and strong.

It was b.i.t.s and with Sabeen and Zak where I first learnt that it didn’t matter where you came from, what you were and whether you went to a big school or college. What matters is how big your dream is and how stubborn you are at making it real. b.i.t.s. had a unique vision. They said, ‘our vision is that every one of you grow at b.i.t.s. and one day make your own b.i.t.s.’. Today I run my own company in Dubai. I’ve been successfully running it for the past 10 years now. I owe my success to THIS vision and Sabeen who invested her time, efforts and trust in me for 5 years, to help me reach where I am today.

In just 5 years, Sabeen managed to touch my life in so many ways and passed on to me an invaluable treasure of values, knowledge, passion, work ethics, affection, and confidence. I cherish each and every memory of working, arguing, crying, laughing, learning, getting mentored and counseled by her at b.i.t.s. I always will. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for everything, Sabeen. You will live forever in our hearts.



Ziad Asim

Sabeen was my mentor and like a sister. 

Whenever I think about Sabeen; it reminds me as how she was gentle, loving, caring but yet tough to me at the same time. I may not have understood it then but did get it very soon once I left b.i.t.s.

Whatever I am today professionally and how I conduct myself doing my job is if not all but most of it is taught to me directly or indirectly during my tenure at b.i.t.s. and there specifically but Sabeen.

I remember when we were working on National  Foods project one day during our meeting with client there someone from client team was very rude and said few things in moment of heat which really unsettled me. Once back in office I went to my cube to work and started writing an email to the same person; while I was writing the email Sabeen came to my desk and said do not send this email and write it at least 5 times keeping in mind what you are really trying to convey and keeping your anger in check.
I did what Sabeen asked me to do and really when I read my emails first version vs the fifth version I myself was amazed to see the difference in writing.

After so many years a similar incident happened at my current job here in USA in 2014. I did the same exercise and my manager in time was amazed to see my email and asked me about it and I narrated the same to him and he was all praises for the method.
This and so many other small and big learnings will remain with me due to Sabeen’s mentorship and I will always be thankful to Allah for blessing me to get in touch with her and all other amazing people at b.i.t.s. who all have made difference in my life.

Sabeen we miss you and we will love you till we are alive may Allah bless you my mentor and sister.

Bey Naam Saa Yeh Dard Thaher Kyooñ Naheeñ Jaata
Jo Beet Gayaa Hay Voh Güzar Kyooñ Naheeñ Jaata


Salman Azeem

A few words about Sabeen Mahmud from my heart:

My best friend Zubair introduced me to Sabeen and got me to join b.i.t.s. Through Zubair I had learned a bit of HTML and CSS, at that time. When Sabeen hired me, I wasn't quite ready for the job - didn’t even have a graduate degree. But none of this mattered to Sabeen, she put her full trust in me and got me on board. I worked with her for almost 5 years, I learnt so much professionally that it is impossible to put in words.

I admire Sabeen not just as a boss or colleague or my mentor, she was so much more than that to me. I remember our first Qavvali evening from b.i.t.s. at the KTN studio. I have always been very fond of Qavvali and I enjoyed the evening very much. There were also some Farsi Qavvalis sung that evening. We didn’t understand a word and we were talking about it. After a few days, Sabeen was distributing small booklets of Farsi Qavvalis with Urdu and English translations in office. Next time, when I went to another Qavvali evening, I had my booklet and I enjoyed it thoroughly. This was just one occasion among many many more when this amazing and extraordinary boss of ours was looking out for us in ways that still warm my heart. I can never forget that she introduced me to her aunt Ghazala Khala and I got invited to so many Qavvali evenings in her house. That was also through Sabeen.

On another occasion, when I was worried about a personal problem in my life, Sabeen invited me to her home after work to discuss it and gave me so many ideas about how I can make things better. She often spent hours counseling me not just on a professional level but also personal, including my career counseling.

Sabeen was not someone who compromised on the quality of the work that went out of her company. I learnt from Sabeen, to be strict with myself and criticise my own work until it is pixel-perfect. It has always paid off in my life, especially now that I run my own business. Damn serious about work, on the other hand, Sabeen was full of ‘moj masti’ when it came to having fun with her team. No one could have guessed that Bitsians were with their boss the evening when Sabeen got us all together at Clifton rides. She wanted everyone to unwind after all the hard labour we had done on a project. And that evening is one of the many memorable ones. We all enjoyed so much and actually felt like children - careless and full of joy. It was a happy and dizzy b.i.t.s. returning home in the evening.

When I got the news about Sabeen on 24th April last year, I went numb. I am still in that state of disbelief. For me she is alive and will always be, with all the amazing things she has done, especially for me on a personal level. Love for you, Sabeen. May you rest in peace and joy, forever.


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