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Meet our people: Raheela Baqai
04 March 2020
Raheela is the Marketing Director for OUP Pakistan
What does your job involve?
It is very varied but exciting, and every day is busy from start to finish. In the first instance I, and the team of 15 people in my department, have to work for the promotion and publicity of OUP Pakistan which has around 400 people working for it. That involves promoting the OUP product line, including school books, through various marketing initiatives and doing what we can to support sales. Another major part of the job is to maintain and ensure that OUP continues to be recognized as the most prestigious brand in the country.
How can people see that OUP is prestigious?
OUP has earned its reputation as the most trusted publisher in the country over the years by offering a high-quality, culturally appropriate product range with an outstanding service and in order to maintain this prestigious position, combined efforts from Sales, Marketing, and Editorial is required.
Marketing undertakes multiple activities to maintain and project this image and in this regard, one of our most sought after projects of the year is the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF). The KLF, which is in its 11th year, is held in February every year and takes a year to organize—no sooner do we shut down one festival than we start planning the next. It is an enormous but exciting part of my work. The first festival was organized in collaboration with British Council in 2010 and we were proud to see that it was attended by 50,000 people. After that it was no looking back and the festival grew enormously to the extent that last year 230,000 people attended over two-and-a-half days. We have authors from all over the world coming to speak. I have to make sure that at all times the OUP reputation is held in high esteem. The stakes are very high, so it is important to plan the event carefully.
Why did you choose to work at OUP?
The absolute truth is that at the time, 18 years ago, my children were young, and I needed to work somewhere close to home. It was a simple 10-minute journey to the office which meant I could pop home at lunchtime if needed. I started out as an Assistant Manager in Sales and gradually, as I became part of the team, realized how much it meant to me and how the mission of OUP was so important.
How key have the women you have worked with been in your success?
My first boss here at OUP was a woman and in fact many senior positions were held by women. At that time people thought OUP Pakistan was a female dominated environment which wasn’t actually true, it just seemed that way. It was remarkable though to have such wonderful women around me. It makes you realise that anything is possible. I have also had wonderful access to various training programmes including OUP’s Leadership in Practice and have been exposed to such amazing opportunities. Young women, new to the business, should have this opportunity too.
How are you able to support women in your work?
As well as supporting and mentoring the young women in my work environment, we as an organization in Pakistan work constantly to subtly shift perceptions of gender in the country. For instance, we always make sure that images in our books for children do not conform to stereotypes. Personally, I take all possible initiatives in my capacity for the personal and professional growth of my female colleagues by mentoring them, identifying new opportunities for them and by involving them in marketing projects such as literature festivals etc.
How will you mark International Women’s Day in the Karachi office?
Our plan is for the marketing team along with our HR colleagues and female colleagues from other departments, to sit down over a cup of tea and share thoughts for an hour or two to check in with each other to make sure we continue on the right track. I am mindful that every single day of the year is International Women’s Day, after all, we are achieving great things all the time and moving forward so rapidly.