In this special What'sOnYourRadar, we are delighted to hear from the incoming CEO of the PPA, Sajeeda Merali.
What led you to work in publishing?
To be honest I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I left uni. I was pretty good at the sciences at school, and read Chemistry with Physics at university, but the lack of real career guidance meant I finished uni a bit lost about what was next. I ended up working for VNU Business Publications after a recruitment agency friend convinced me to go for an interview. I got the job and loved it and the rest is history.
Chart your career from the start to where you are now.
I started off in recruitment sales and worked my way up the commercial and marketing career ladder to where I am today. I have been incredibly lucky to have had some amazing managers across a range of businesses who have seen my potential and given me a path to keep reaching it. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing; we all have to deal with career challenges and difficult situations, but I have always worked hard enough to get to the other side.
Outside of work, what are your passions?
I’m a keen badminton enthusiast who is still hoping that this sport will lose its geeky image and one day be cool. I absolutely love cooking new-found recipes for family and friends; Swahili inspired coconut chicken curry is a particularly popular dish and I have learnt all the family Kenyan recipes from my mum, who incidentally is hands-down the best cook in the world. I love travel and I’m a big fan of European city breaks – currently dreaming about a return trip to Rome, for the history but also the pasta and gelato.
What magazine would you stockpile?
I am currently renovating my house and am absolutely obsessed with getting inspiration from every home and décor magazine going on the supermarket shelves. I also adore Vogue. I still have the November 2017 edition, which was the first one edited by the amazing Edward Enninful. More recently, I was super excited (as was my network) to see the edition featuring Malala Yousafzai on the front cover. She is such an inspiration, and the photo was stunning. It was so uplifting to see a Muslim woman portrayed with such strength.
What’s on your radar? (something industry related that is keeping you awake at night)
It’s the big things that often feel like no matter how much you do, it’s never enough: Social Mobility; The need for a better inclusivity; More women in leadership; Less plastic in the sea. I try and remind myself often that it isn’t always about fixing the whole problem but making a difference to the small part of the world that you can affect.