A licensed electrician herself, Irum Rashid-Jones co-founded Electrician On Call, a Dallas-based multi-million–dollar, award-winning home services, renovation, electrical contracting, HVAC and workforce development company. Rashid-Jones is also an author, philanthropist and volunteer. She spoke at the 2020 Women in Business Summit.
How has the business world changed since the start of your career?
Drastically! I started my career in Telecommunications as a NOC Technician all while learning the skilled trades and running my construction contracting company alongside my husband. Twenty-plus years ago, there weren’t many women in the roles or career paths that I’ve taken. Now, women and our achievements are celebrated and supported in every industry!
How have you changed since the start of your career?
I’ve become more flexible by holding myself accountable to very high standards when it comes to business and community-based solutions. For example, I align my time, talents and resources toward what I call the three Ps. I only support initiatives that improve the planet, empower people and are profitable.
What obstacles have you faced?
I had to find my voice in an industry in that I wasn’t comfortable voicing my opinions, views and even insight. I wore so many hats and had so many roles and responsibilities. It was almost like I was so busy juggling my tasks that I wasn’t able to come up for air to share the progress. There weren’t any platforms or spaces. A lot of my personal and professional growth involved a journey I had to take on my own. I missed having a community to lean on.
Did any of the obstacles surprise you?
I was surprised to learn there weren’t many platforms for women in my industry to connect for industry insights or even network.
What experiences, training or education best prepared you?
Attending industry events is very important — you have to show up. Training ranged from technical courses like understanding a product and an electrical coding standard to resources with project management to help manage priorities and projects. Most recently media training and public speaking have become essential skill sets for professionals and executives. As a founder of a non-profit, juggling my flagship business in the construction industry, and now as a business coach — the majority of my role is communicating! Concise, clear, action-driven interactions are key!
What’s your personal brand and how do you nurture it?
My brand is about living out your version of the American Dream, despite the challenges in life! As an immigrant from the Middle East with South Asian roots, a teen displaced in foster care with a less than 2% survival rate who ended up bootstrapping my way through college just to climb the corporate ladder, all while building my own multi-million-dollar electrical and HVAC firm while raising my children and being a supportive wife surrounded by friends and family, creating solutions for a better tomorrow is how I show up in the world. I’m excited to be alive and to have the opportunity to experience and feel joy in everything I do. I’m grateful for the opportunity to wake up every morning and make a difference in the lives of my employees, customers and community. I share this experience and the many hats I wear on every platform, ranging from women in business to women in the trades and women’s groups throughout the world.
What has helped you the most during your career?
Transparency! So often we’re pressured to show up in a state of perfection, but I’m not afraid to disclose the grit that takes place behind the scenes. I’ve always surrounded myself with mentors and inspiring people that helped coach me which is one of the very reasons I’m so passionate about helping others achieve their version of the American Dream!
What is the best advice you’ve received?
“Don’t take it personally!” I remember my manager at my very first corporate job in NYC telling me that! There were only three women that worked for the firm on State Street, and my manager sat me down and told me that for the rest of my life I can count on being the only woman, and most likely the minority in the room and that I shouldn’t be intimidated. I’m so thankful that she had that talk with me early on because I’m not afraid to provide feedback or take a stance.
What is the worst advice?
“Fake it til you make it!” In my field, you’ll hurt yourself! Can you imagine an electrician, HVAC tech or content creator attempting to fake their way through their profession? Or, “Blend in with the boys.” I’ve heard this all my life and when I finally embraced being the authentic me — it wasn’t just liberating, but it opened even more doors for me!
What advice would you give to others?
Be authentic. Be you. Stand up for what you believe in. If you see a need, fill it!
What do you wish you would have known earlier?
That there is always a tribe of women waiting to support you — you just have to find the right tribe!
Do you have any memories of Women in Business?
I’ve attended multiple years, and it feels like a family reunion every single time! I enjoy networking, learning how to support women in business and staying connected! I think many of us have formed a sisterhood, thanks to this amazing annual event!
What do you think the future holds for women in the business world?
DFW is a thriving market for women in business. Locally, nationally and globally, we are living in a new era that focuses on purpose, passion, imagination, critical thinking, foresight, and curiosity. I love seeing women enter into a space and create a solution-centered environment. I’m so incredibly excited to know that when we pass the baton to younger generations to finish the work we’ve started — that their trajectory will reach even further than what was possible for us.
What book had the most impact on you and your career?
The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone focuses on the mindset to push yourself further and break your own records! It’s transformational!
What is the biggest mistake you see women making when it comes to advancing their careers?
Dimming their SHINE! DO NOT DIM YOUR SHINE in any situation or circumstance! If others can’t handle how YOU sparkle and SHINE — hand out sunglasses!
What was one of the most interesting (or useful) things you learned this year?
I’ve learned to incorporate self-care into my daily routine and learned how to prioritize myself by using tools, positive affirmations and pacing myself so I can decompress. It’s an ongoing journey.
What’s a recurring hurdle for you? (time, money, attitude, location, knowledge, etc.) What strategies are you using to overcome that?
Right now I’m in a rediscovery phase for myself. I’ve spent my earlier years in survival mode working multiple jobs, while enrolled in school full time and growing up as a foster child my entire teenage years. I didn’t realize how much of an imprint that experience left me with, that 25-plus years later. I still function as if every decision I make leads to a life-threatening issue. By incorporating routine self-care, and focusing on myself I get to discover for the first time in my life — what I really like. If you asked me today what my favorite color, cuisine or vacation spot was, I couldn’t tell you! I’ve spent my entire life caring for the needs of others while juggling my survival — that I actually never slowed down to learn more about myself and my needs. I’m really excited about this next chapter of my life and grateful to have a circle of strong women that hold me accountable to put myself first. I’m excited to learn who I’ve become and this is a long-term process.
Local Profile‘s 21st annual Women in Business Summit will be held on September 30 at the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel. Click here for tickets.