1. Khizra, what inspired you to pursue a career in Advertising/Marketing?
We all grow up thinking we can make better ads than the ones we see on TV. We feel like we’ve got the insights and the approach that will lead to award winning work. I was that ‘kid’. I also had a passion for production, so while there was no film industry to get involved with (the revival is very recent), I did manage to work closely on many television commercials.
2. Can you tell us about CO Pakistan? What inspired the idea and what were the first few steps you took to launch it?
CoPakistan is a coworking space that aims to provide startups and entrepreneurs an inspiring space to work out of. Most people at the early stages of their startup/freelance job aren’t in a position to be able to afford an office. If that’s the case, we’re the place to go. With us, you get an office space without the hassle of everything else that goes into getting an office, like deposits, furniture, utilities management, security, electricity backup, etc.
CO was inspired by us, the people involved, always having wanted a go-to space like this when we quit our conventional desk jobs. We had to work out of cafes. There had to be more people like us who struggled to find a nice place to work where they could have a good cup of coffee and concentrate on their work. So we figured, when you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself.
3. What is the best part about running your own venture? Is there a particular aspect of being a CEO that excites you when you wake up every morning?
The most exciting part about running this venture is that I’m getting to learn something new every day, I’m getting to meet new people from different industries and getting to be involved in really interesting collaborations. This is all new to me. And it’s so inspiring.
4. What are some of the main challenges you have faced while pursuing your career goals in general as well as launching CO Pakistan? How have you dealt with these challenges?
I could say that I’ve struggled with being a woman in a male-dominated environment, but that would be a lie. I’ve been very lucky. Privileged is the right word. I’ve always been surrounded by very inspiring bosses who have served as enablers for me to grow and become who I am. Being a creative, you naturally set yourself up for uncertainty and constant hunger for more fulfilling projects. You’re not easily satisfied. I’ve gone through that too and tried different jobs to find my niche. The only way I’ve dealt with these challenges is to not give myself the chance to feel defeated and lost, sitting at home in self-pity. Not being productive has never been an option & I’ve even worked for free JUST so I don’t fall into the self-pitying unemployed trap. Even if said unemployment was because I quit a job I was unhappy with, without a backup plan.
5. Who or what has been your biggest source of support while launching CO Pakistan?
In launching CO my biggest support has been the partners/investors who asked no questions when I pitched this plan to them. They completely trusted the vision and idea and we were GET SET CO in months!
6. What are the top three skills that have been critical for your success in your professional and personal endeavours?
The three ‘skills’ I rely on are:
7. Are there any resources (online or offline) that you have used to plan and implement your venture that you would like to share with our readers?
Online resources: Facebook. Never underestimate the power of good content.
Offline: Friends. Never underestimate the power of ‘word of mouth’ and a genuine endorsement.
8. What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever received? Do you have any advice for our readers who are interested in launching their own initiatives?
I don’t think it counts as advice but the most impactful words I have heard are: “No one is indispensable!” It means never become so confident and sure of yourself that you think you’re irreplaceable or that someone else couldn’t do your job. It keeps me on my toes and I try to remain relevant.
I’m not really in a position to be giving out advice since I’m still ‘a work in progress’ but the above ‘words of wisdom’ are a good way to go.
A few short answers for our readers:
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Madiha Waris Qureshi, Consultant, World Bank
Arsla Jawaid, Foreign Policy and Counter-terrorism Guru
Sana Khan Niazi, Founder, Paimona
Sobia Sheikh, Finance Manager, Sodexo
Ruqayya Diwan Adamjee, Creative & Social Impact