woman @ work
An entrepreneur and communications professional, Natasha Durrani is a woman to reckon with. Armed with an MBA degree in Marketing, she has more than a decade of experience in advertising, communication and digital and social media. “I started working during my Masters at an advertising agency. Took a break from full time work due to my family commitments and joined a business school as visiting faculty teaching. I ran a successful clothing business for about a decade which also piqued my interest in digital marketing. Eventually, I joined Media Matters Communications in 2014,” shares Durrani. Presently, she holds the position of Chief Operating Officer at Media Matters Communications (Pvt) Ltd. where she heads the agency and oversees strategic communication of the clients. A mother of two young adults, Durrani is an enthusiast traveller and an avid lifestyle blogger. In an exclusive interview with You! Natasha Durrani talks about her work that she immensely enjoys. Read on…
You! What do you like most about your work?
Natasha Durrani: I enjoy the fast pace of my work. There’s never a dull moment. Every day has a new set of challenges - from the excitement of winning a pitch to the stress of crisis management.
You! What has it been like to be a woman in a leadership position?
ND: It has been overwhelming. It’s not an easy job juggling two roles but women handle multiple tasks with grace and efficiency.
You! Being a woman at a senior position, what kinds of challenges do you encounter?
ND: Striking a balance between a demanding career and personal life can be especially challenging for women in senior roles. There’s often an added pressure to excel both at work and at home, which can be mentally and emotionally taxing.
You! What has been your most career-defining moment?
ND: When I joined, I revamped the agency by delving into the digital space with a focus on social media as well. Now, we are a full-service agency where we also manage influencer campaigns and digital advertising along with conventional work.
You! What’s the greatest risk you’ve taken as a professional?
ND: I came back to the corporate world in my thirties, a decision fraught with significant risk. The hiatus I took was driven by my commitment to nurturing my young children, a period during which I lacked a dependable support system. Initially, I commenced my professional journey with part-time engagements to accommodate their needs. As my children grew and became self-sufficient, I transitioned into full-time roles, and the trajectory has been a continuous ascent.
You! Does your organisation promote gender equality?
ND: I think times have changed and there is no difference between men and women at the workplace. Women should be confident enough to carve their own place so that no one is able to harass them. Being a woman lead company, I make sure that women are given equal opportunities. Also, the environment in our office is very conducive to females and their male colleagues respect and regard them.
You! What are the main issues, in your eyes, are being faced by Pakistani women today?
ND: Many Pakistani women face barriers in accessing economic opportunities. While there have been improvements, access to quality education remains a challenge for many Pakistani girls and women. This limits their personal and professional development and perpetuates gender disparities.
You! Who has been your biggest mentor in your career?
ND: When I restarted my career in public relations after a long gap, there was a lot to learn. My husband was my mentor who motivated me to join the company. I was hesitant initially but it took me a few years to reach where I am today. My peers and subordinates greatly helped me during this journey as well.
You! What is the most important advice you can give to women?
ND: Confidence is the foundation of success. Trust your skills, knowledge, and capabilities. Do not doubt your worth or your potential to excel in any role you aspire to. Self-belief is the first step toward breaking through barriers.
You! Could you name a woman who’s inspired you the most?
ND: My mother has been an inspiration for me. She was a full-time working mother but managed her household exceptionally well.
You! What’s a leadership lesson you’ve learnt that’s unique to being a female boss?
ND: I’m a very casual person and more of a friend to my team members rather than a boss. I hope my guidance and mentorship can make a difference in their lives and careers.
You! Do you think general mindset of our society is changing with regard to working women?
ND: Yes, for sure. Mindsets have changed a lot since the time when I was growing up. It is now the need of the hour that both men and women work due to inflation and economic instability over the years.
You! What does a typical day look like for you?
ND: I strongly believe that there should be a work-life balance, I don’t agree with the culture of staying back late in the office. First thing in the morning I scan through social media to get a glimpse of what’s happening, as it’s very important for my work. It is also crucial to catch any negative news before it becomes viral. The whole day goes by with meetings, calls and brainstorming sessions with my team. I give a lot of importance to health and fitness and go to the gym after work and then spend quality time with my family. Weekends, I believe, are for relaxing, eating out and watching Netflix!
You! Your philosophy of life:
ND: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
You! What is your most treasured possession?
ND: My kids! They are my lifeline.
You! What did you like to read when you were a little girl?
ND: Enid Blyton books. My favourite was the ‘Magic Faraway Tree’ series.
You! How do you keep balance between family life and work?
ND: I try to switch off work at home but it’s difficult as PR and digital work is not time bound. I try to give quality time to my kids, spouse and home on the weekends. I love eating out and travelling with my family which gave birth to my Instagram blog tashathefoodietraveller where I share food and travel reviews.
You! What are your future plans in terms of expansion of your work?
ND: We have already expanded to UAE and have a vision of going international.