With over a decade of experience in the communications industry in Pakistan, Andleeb Uroos Ahmed is a Communications Specialist who is experienced in developing and implementing effective communications strategies for external and internal stakeholders.
Uroos began her career in 2007 as a reporter with a prominent English publication. Following this, she joined a public relations company as a Senior Account Executive and began her journey in the field of public relations and communications. In 2018, Uroos joined the British Deputy High Commission as Head of Communications after a brief stint at the Aman Foundation as Senior Manager Marcomms.
Today, as Head of Communications – Philip Morris Pakistan Limited, she has established herself as a crisis communications strategist with training and hands-on experience with firefighting, strategic stealth communication and crisis simulation drills training. She is also a founding member of the Communications Association of Pakistan and is on the Board of Directors.
In an exclusive interview with You! magazine Uroos talks about her work and shares her views…
You! What skills do you think are important for women to excel in the field of public relations and communications?
Andleeb Uroos Ahmed: Communications is an evolving industry, so anyone who wants to be a part of it must stay up to speed with trends, get creative, be well informed, always stick to a well thought out narrative and conduct themselves with integrity.
You! What are your current areas of focus?
AUA: We at PMI all over the world are on a transformation journey; we are transforming our company and staking our future on replacing cigarettes with smoke-free alternatives. You see more than 1 billion people worldwide smoke cigarettes and, according to the World Health Organization, there will still be more than 1 billion smokers in 2025. We want to provide those, who do not quit, with better options than continuing to smoke. Our main goal is to communicate the importance of harm reduction – not just in relation to tobacco but as a lifestyle change.
You! What do you like most about your job?
AUA: I love being part of a fair and forward-leaning organisation. PMI was the first international company to obtain the EQUAL-SALARY label in Switzerland in 2015. In doing so, we set ourselves apart as a top employer where principles of fairness, diversity, and inclusion are the foundation for our success and since then we continue to practice equal opportunities throughout the PMI networks.
You! Being a woman, what kinds of challenges do you encounter?
AUA: The biggest challenge is always to keep meeting certain expectations society has from us. We have a bigger mandate on our hands to never let anyone see us slip professionally or personally. It is a lot of weight to carry around all the time. For me, I have come across a lot of different people and mindsets in my career and have been made to prove myself over and over again. Now, I have learnt to pick and choose my battles. I have learnt that if you are in the right and conducting yourself and your business with honestly and integrity, the challenges also start to give in.
You! What are the main issues that are being faced by Pakistani women today?
AUA: We just don’t feel safe. Every day you hear of the injustice being done to women. There is always a fear of being judged, attacked, and punished for very basic rights. The gender bias is inculcated deep into our society. There are stigmas; not fair-skinned, overweight, not married, married but no children, married with children and have a career so clearly she isn’t a good mother/wife/daughter-in-law. And the list goes on. Women are generally made to feel lesser in every way, every day.
You! What is your most treasured possession?
AUA: I am an emotional hoarder and hold on to things like I do to memories. But I think my collection of elephant memorabilia that I have been collecting since a young age from all over the world is what I treasure most.
You! What are the positive points of being economically independent for women?
AUA: Financial independence provides one with a sense of accomplishment and confidence. I have also observed that women with financial independence are given more of a say in decision making and they make better choices for their families and the future as well.
You! What is the most important advice you can give to women?
AUA: Women are super strong! But they often don’t believe this or even if they do, they are made to believe otherwise. So, I urge all women to find their inner strength and believe in themselves in every aspect of their lives.
You! What is the biggest relationship lesson you have learnt so far?
AUA: Be honest and converse are the best ways to keep a healthy relationship.
You! Has general mind set of our society changed with regard to working women?
AUA: I feel women have always been working, may it be as maids, cooks, seamstresses and of course, teachers. In the corporate world however, there was a detriment which is now steadily coming up to par. Since I started working, the acceptability has grown.
You! What’s your take on feminist movements like #MeToo?
AUA: I feel awareness and education of one’s rights and responsibilities are very important. And such movements do help shake people up. But I feel it needs to go deeper, take a more structured approach for a greater impact.
You! What does a typical day look like for you?
AUA: We are early risers, so the morning is usually dedicated to a morning walk, feeding the cats, getting the house in order and getting ready for the day. Workday flies by and then evenings are usually spent cooking and unwinding from the day together as a family.
You! How do you keep balance between family life and work?
AUA: I feel it’s a constant balancing act. So long as you have your priorities sorted out, everything falls into place. I have also been fortunate enough to work with organisations that are big on work-life balance.
You! Can you name some of your favourite books?
AUA: I was introduced to Ibn-e-Safi by my father at an early age. Some of my favourite books since have been mysteries. But to name a few; Ibn-e-Safi’s Jasoosi Dunya series, Imran Series, Harry Potter Series and my ultimate favourite has been Jostein Garder’s Solitaire Mystery.
You! If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
AUA: Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter Series. I always resonated strongly with her as she truly channelled the strength of being a strong female lead.
You! What did you like to read when you were a little girl?
AUA: Since I was a child, my father always told us to read a page or two before going to bed. I loved reading Dawn and Jang. Especially Urdu newspapers and their layout would fascinate me. Felt like an accomplishment reading some very big words back then and then consulting the dictionary.
You! How do you unwind?
AUA: I enjoy going home to our cats. They sit with my husband and I every evening while we catch up on our respective days and help as the best relaxant to any day.
You! What are your future plans in terms of your work?
AUA: I want to excel further in communications and contribute towards shaping the local communications industry. As part of the Communications Association of Pakistan, I am hopeful that the current professionals will also help take the industry to global standards.