The founder of The Codette Project, a non-profit organisation that gives Muslim and other minority women a chance to upskill through technology, Nurul Jihadah Hussain wants to create more diverse definitions of success.
WHAT DOES THE TERM “GAME CHANGER” MEAN TO YOU?
It’s someone with skin in the game and who is committed to turning things around for their team.
WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES YOU FEEL ARE VITAL TO BE A GAME CHANGER?
The ability to creatively and compassionately think long term for more than just themselves.
HOW WOULD YOU SAY YOU’VE PLAYED YOUR PART TO BE A GAME CHANGER IN YOUR INDUSTRY?
I do still sometimes doubt if I am one, to be honest, but I can say that I am still as passionate as ever about creating better long-term economic outcomes for minority/Muslim women since I started The Codette Project. The Codette Project has helped people to challenge whom they see as being successful and creates wider and more diverse definitions of success.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS AND MAJOR CHALLENGES OF YOUR JOURNEY?
There have been people who haven’t understood or believed in us at every step of the way but I’ve always had my team, sisters and husband behind me. I’ve moved away from convincing people about the cause to only working with people who already believe that all communities are equal in terms of intelligence and capability and all they need are access and an opportunity. Also, funding is always an issue for us because The Codette Project is a non-profit organisation with no paid staff (but we pay our interns) and which always only had free events.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF, YOUR MOTIVATIONS AND YOUR FIELD THROUGH THAT PROCESS?
I learnt that I can’t do this alone. My team is far more talented than I am, and I’m surrounded by a great support system. This has never been a story about me.
WHAT ARE SOME CHANGES YOU’D LIKE TO SEE IN YOUR INDUSTRY AND HOW WOULD YOU SEE YOUR ROLE IN INFLUENCING IT?
I’d love to see more large corporates in Asia publicising their hiring data for us to
better understand and address their diversity issues. I’d also like for more organisations to commit long-term to non-profits like The Codette Project because we’re all struggling post-pandemic to keep afloat and plan for the long term. I’m not sure if I can influence this but I can definitely talk about it!
HOW DO YOU DEFINE YOUR PURPOSE?
I want minority/Muslim women to know that they deserve better. Also, I want Aaron, my son, to know that he is my why.
WHAT SHOULD THE NEXT GENERATION OF GAME CHANGERS ASPIRE TO BE?
Be angry and stay angry. The moment you just accept injustice, inequality and issues that are just plain wrong like the climate crisis is the moment you should fear the most because it means you’ve moved away from why you should do the work. Don’t work on changing a lot of things for a lot of people. Make one long-term change for one thing for one person—that’s more than most people will ever make.
PHOTOGRAPHY ZANTZ HAN
STYLING GREGORY WOO
ART DIRECTION MARISA XIN
HAIR SHA SHAMSI, USING KMS
MAKEUP WEE MING, USING DIOR BEAUTY
STYLING ASSISTANTS YULIA SEE AND VANESSA GRACE NG
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