Cannes Lions Roar - a series of events aimed to raise the bar of creativity in the Pakistani marketing industry - was recently held in Karachi, highlighting the achievements of girls and women who have made a mark in the industry. ‘When you can see it, you can be it’ was the message for aspiring young marketers by the brand consultants from Australia and Pakistan. Here goes...
“Very early in my career, I was in a meeting and somebody commented: ‘Oh you’ve come back from the US; you’ve got a degree. Why would you choose advertising?’ Before I could respond, somebody else in the room turned around and said: ‘Girls enter this field just to get married to some brand manager and that’s their happily ever after.’ That comment was so offensive, it made my blood boil! I spend years of education and come into the workforce to find a man to settle down with, who will pay my bills. I didn’t want to be perceived as someone who was out there to get a man. We shouldn’t have to self edit, we should not have to change who we are and how we think, how we act because of what somebody else might think. That was about 16 or 17 years ago and luckily we have moved beyond.
I recently took over the company as CEO. While some people have congratulated me, there are others who asked how I felt about this trend of women in leadership and that made my blood boil as well. The minute you call it a ‘trend’ you take away the efforts that women have put into it.
Beenish Umer Adil:
The first thing I would urge everybody to do is to talk about things that matter to you and not just accomplishments and picture-perfect instagrammable moments of our life but also about your losses and failures, to talk about where we are vulnerable and I think that really matters. As a society, we all need to start sharing our inhibitions. Also, it’s important to think about things around you that need to be changed.
I was doing a terrible job at selling myself so I took a new approach. Instead of saying ‘I’m sorry’, I started saying ‘thank you’. Rather than apologising for what you can’t do, appreciate what other people can. Instead of saying, ‘I’m sorry I can only do a few hours of work at a time’, I said, ‘thank you for your patience.’ Instead of saying ‘I’m sorry I was tired so my emails might not make sense’, I said, ‘thank you for understanding me.’
True learning comes from the most unexpected places but nothing teaches you more than the pain of finding yourself at rock bottom. Now we all know this voice inside our head that tells us that you are not good enough. We constantly try to shut it down by proving that we can be better. But just imagine if that voice was to change and it were to start telling that you are doing amazing, you are good enough. Now once that voice stops criticising you, would you strive just as hard to achieve your purpose?
Dr Zeelaf Munir:
You have to know when to seek help and who to seek help from. My message to the next generation of leaders in Pakistan is: believe in yourself even if you are not blessed to be in an environment where others make you believe in yourself.
There is something in you that’s worth believing in. Figure that out, follow that. Be mindful of the decisions you make.
Mariam Ali Baig:
The important lesson is do not work for a company where you feel that the culture is not correct. The culture comes from top down. And if you are not comfortable for any reason, then leave.
Focus on process when you do something. Don’t focus on the outcome. If you are going to say ‘Oh, I just want to get this done and finish it off,’ you are never going to move from the average to good or even excellent. I was taught the fundamentals of creative work and research.
Start off with any project saying I don’t know this and then go and find out. And don’t have an ego; don’t pretend to know it.
Be humble in that way because at the end of the day the more knowledge you acquire, the better you will be. You don’t need an ego to be effective.