Communications Manager at Red Havas Middle East
Why did you choose this career path?
I like to think this career path found me. As a young student, I was keen on trends, art, and design. Being the oldest grandchild of a self-made conservative entrepreneur, it was just assumed I’d graduate school, study business, and get married. Controversially, I applied to fashion school, despite being enrolled in a business program, and tried every facet of fashion until I found PR – the perfect haven for my writing, my ability to make conversation “with a wall,” my desire to break cultural barriers and to have a career in a field I loved.
How did you land this job?
I moved back to Dubai after 10 years abroad and had no clue how I’d be received in the industry here. I looked for freelance work and started my own niche wedding planning business. One day, as I was at the supermarket, I got a call from Havas asking if I’d come in for an interview. Having worked with Havas in Toronto, I had to check it out. The rest is history!
How do you compare your work life vs what you imagined it would be?
Sometimes, I have to pinch myself. I’ve been lucky and blessed in my career and I’m honored to have had brilliant leaders teaching me along my path. I grew up in a family business filled with powerful, accomplished entrepreneurial men; where women, although brilliant, enjoyed being the homemakers. Today, like other women in my family, I’m breaking barriers, traveling the globe for large-scale events, working on meaningful projects, and doing so with inspirational people. In five years, I grew from PR assistant to coordinator, specialist, and now manager, and look for- ward to continuing my journey under the incredible leadership here!
What do you wish you had been told before you started working?
This being my first job in the region, I joined Havas with an open mind, eager to learn and absorb knowledge from those around me. I would’ve liked to know that you make your own opportunities, have to ask for what you want openly and clearly, and be your own advocate. I’ve also been learning through my career to believe in myself and that anything is possible.
What is the best thing someone could tell you about your work?
I love to create work that is meaningful, generates conversation, and [is] rooted in tangible strategy and objectives because, in a world where PR is all about conversation and relationships, I want to show, with my clients, that measurable success is achievable!
What is the worst thing someone could tell you about your work?
Hmm! Tough. I would say boring, unpurposeful, and old school.
What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned at work so far?
So many! As someone new to the region, I’ve learned to always absorb my surroundings and better acclimate to the industry in any way possible. I understood the importance of ideating with peers and mentors to take ideas to the next level. And I learned to always be agile, flexible, and not too committed with lots of ideas on the back-burner for rainy days!
Who’s your role model?
I’ve had incredible female role models, the first being my grandmother. She grew up in Pakistan and wasn’t allowed to go to school. The first time she ever did was when she dropped off my dad at school for the first time. She’s now self-taught in three languages, both reading, and writing, and has always told me to work, study, learn, and travel – all the things that only 55 years ago, she couldn’t even dream of.
If not this, what would you be doing?
After moving to Dubai, my life became extremely sedentary, and I got lost in the world of PR. A few months later, I decided to take control of my life and learn more about my internal health, with nutrition and balance, and surprisingly enough, I think I’d love to study foods and their effects on us.
What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
Our industry is so dynamic and multi-faceted that I can- not imagine what ten years from now will look like, but what I imagine is that I’ll still be working on projects that drive my passion and excitement. If that entails fashion and lifestyle, I’m not sure; but I know it would definitely be in a space where I’ll still be creating meaningful work, with a healthy work-life balance, in an industry that’s positive, affirming, and filled with growth and opportunity.
The 30 Under 30 ranking was first published in Communicate's Q1 2023 print issue.