Meet Zeena Ismail, Regional Strategy Director - Health & Social at Memac Ogilvy
Zeena’s position at Ogilvy is a bit unique in that it’s a dual role that looks at social on one hand and health & wellness on the other – a hybrid that she pushed for because she strongly believes Ogilvy can play a pivotal role in moving healthcare effectively into the social space. Zeena is a huge believer in ritualized (early) mornings. She’s a history student at heart. She loves a good debate. And, last but not least, having grown up here professionally, Ogilvy is home and she’s grateful to be part of its incredible journey.
Why did you join this industry?
To change lives – I’m only joking (although we arguably can). I have a knack for psychology and this felt like a good place where I can study people’s behavior and not feel all too creepy about it.
How did you land your first job?
Straight out of my Masters, I heard of an opportunity at Ogilvy. I felt the name was a little out of reach in my marketing textbooks, only to find myself in the MD’s office, making a case for how I got marketing all figured out. I didn’t, but I surely had the fire in me that said: Trust me to figure it out and I won’t let you down.
Who do you look up to?
My 2.5 year old niece and nephew. They’re so uninhibited in their behavior.
What’s the best advice you have received so far?
If you look at the people around you and you don’t get inspired, you don’t have a circle; you have a cage.
What’s the best advice you have given so far?
You can’t control your environment but you can control how you react to it.
How do you feel about the stigma sometimes associated with Millennials and Gen Z?
I say it’s good to have an opinion but be open to changing it. These labels group a vast number of people that are widely diverse and complex.
What do you think you specifically bring to the organization you work for?
I’m responsible for health and social strategy; both fields that are changing extremely fast. Therefore, I like to question things and ask “what if.” I don’t take formats at face value and look to challenge the ‘how-to’ (how to do social; how to build social brands; how to speak to HCPs). Instead, I try to always evolve it, pave new ways, and make sure that what we do inherently adds value to people.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned at work?
Listen more than you speak. If you’re listening, there’s a chance you’ll learn something new. If you’re always talking, you’re just repeating what you already know.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
Presentation day after weeks of hard work. If you know me, you know I’m big on public speaking, and presentation day feels like I’m on Broadway – the one no one really watches but hey, you take what you get.
What’s the most frustrating thing about your job?
Sometimes, the solution for your client is a new venture, a new product; but you’re sought after from a comms lens [only] when what you offer is far greater.
If not this, what would you be doing?
I would be in health tech, working on a care model that really helps people heal rather than offer quick-fix solutions.
Would you start your own venture in the future?
Maybe. Watch this space.
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