Nahwa Irfan: A shining example for Muslim girlsWritten by Audrey Saparno
With a background in psychology and a PhD in neuroscience, management didn't initially figure among Nashwa Irfan's career goals.
“I would have never gone into management if it were not for my father's encouragement,” says Dr. Irfan.
Her father the late Dr. Muhammad Irfan, a professor in physics at St. John's University was certainly right about Dr. Irfan's talent as a manager. This year she received not one, but two prestigious awards for her work as Health Canada's Associate Director of its Marketed Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Bureau.
On May 31, Dr. Irfan was one of 13 individuals recognised for their valuable accomplishments and contributions to the Health Products and Food Branch of Health Canada. Two weeks later, she received the Deputy Minister's Award for management excellence.
Born in St. John's, Newfoundland to parents of Pakistani heritage, Dr. Irfan obtained a Bachelor's of Science (Honours) in Psychology from Memorial University in 1993. She went on to obtain a Master's of Science in Experimental Psychology in 1996. For her PhD work, she moved to Ottawa and completed her degree in Neuroscience at Carleton University in 2003. She first entered Health Canada as a scientific evaluator to later move into management in April, 2011.
The Ottawa resident received her awards as a tribute to her commitment, outstanding work ethic, and her ability to meet expectations. Dr. Irfan significantly contributed to the development of her directorate response to a pharmaceutical audit conducted in the past year. She has also been a very supportive manager promoting employee development and recognizing staff for their contributions.
According to her manager, “(Dr. Irfan) also fully integrates the values of the public service in her daily work, demonstrates an ability to delegate efficiently, and successfully engages staff to meet performance expectations by fostering an organizational culture focused on results.”
Dr. Irfan is an active member of the local Muslim community. In addition to her busy work schedule she also plays an active role in the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities.
Her awards and excellent performance is a source of pride for our community and a shining example to our young Muslim girls.
Among Dr. Irfan's favourite quotes:
“A given step, however small it may appear to one, may represent a great deal to another. Every hurdle one surpasses makes one grow. I am just glad I was given the opportunity, resources, and support to surpass the hurdles that came my way.”
- Julie Payette, Canadian astronaut
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