“There are no short cuts in life if you want to truly excel in whatever you do. Be honest to yourself and to your work and don’t be impatient to grab it all,” says Shanaz Ramzi. Shanaz is the CEO of Starlinks and is renowned for her ability to stay organized and work diligently. She asserts, “The key to success is in collaboration and not in working alone, so don’t hesitate to empower others. Together you can surmount mountains. ” Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between World’s Leaders and Shanaz Ramzi.
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader. What challenges you had to face to reach where you are today?
It feels strange to be referred to as a business leader, as I like to think of myself more as a hands-on-worker! I have to admit that my path leading me to where I am today was not strewn with challenges at all. In fact, I have been very blessed. I started my career as a freelance journalist, and my very first office job was offered to me by a person I interviewed for a newspaper, who was about to launch a television channel. As it turned out, that channel grew into the top entertainment television network in the country, and as one of its pioneer team members, I grew with it too, leaving it eventually, 11 years later, as GM Publications and Public Relations, to launch my own PR and event management company, Starlinks. In the 11 years that I was the face of the network, I hadn’t realized the goodwill I had garnered. Clients contacted me, rather than the other way round, the instant they heard that I had set up my own business. Within the first year of my company’s inception, we landed the launch of the biggest mall in South Asia – Lucky One Mall – and became recipients of international awards for three consecutive years. The one consistent factor throughout my journey, though, was hard work, and a lot of it.
Describe STARLINKS offerings that address the needs of your customers.
While Starlinks is basically an event management and PR company, we have been open to any and all challenges thrown our way, and have met our clients’ varied needs. Thus, from executing launches, premieres, press conferences, and wedding events, to doing celebrity management and research to identify heroes from all over the country, and coordinating their shoots, to lighting up the city in purple in order to create awareness about World Epilepsy Day, we have done it all. Our clients include the corporate sector, government departments, the private sector, educational institutions, health facilities, the showbiz sector, and more.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in this industry through your expertise in the industry.
I feel happy that a couple of initiatives I took when I launched Starlinks, and a little after, have had an impact on the industry that I can be proud of. To begin with, ours was the first PR company in the country to launch itself with a strong CSR component. We took on pro bono assignments to assist those working for the betterment of education, the environment, heritage, and health, and soon after, other PR companies followed suit and established their own CSR wings. What’s more, seeing that there is no one representative body in the country to give a voice to the growing number of PR, Event management, Digital and Activations companies now operating in Pakistan, I launched a platform – PREDA – with founding members from all the top companies in each of these sectors, and for the first time in Pakistan’s history, brought these giants on the same page. We discuss all our issues openly now and collectively seek to solve them. I have applied for its registration as a legal entity and, hopefully, in spite of all the red tape, will succeed in achieving it soon.
What people and what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
I think the working ethics of some of my mentors will remain with me forever. Beginning with my mother, who I never saw sitting idle for even a second, to my school teacher, Miss Fikree, who was a stickler for perfection, to my editor, Asif Noorani, who taught me the importance of the maxim ‘When in doubt, leave it out’, and finally to the living legend, Yasmeen Lari, who taught me that nothing is impossible.
Taking into consideration, the current pandemic, and its impact on global economies, how are you driving your organization to sustain operations and ensure the safety of your employees at the same time?
Initially, in the first six weeks of the pandemic, when the world was almost at a standstill, we operated strictly from home, holding zoom meetings with my team twice a day, every day. In the morning, assignments would be allocated, and in the evening, a report would be taken. Similarly, all client meetings were also held on Zoom. After six weeks, we resumed office, and since we are not a very big team to begin with, we maintained a safe distance at work. Although events were not taking place, mercifully our PR work, which is mostly on-line, continued, keeping the team motivated and busy. There were months when the income was not enough to meet our office expenses, but I decided that I would let the company take the hit rather than firing anyone, or resorting to pay-cuts. I am an eternal optimist, and pass through life’s travails firmly believing that ‘this too shall pass!’
Where do you envision yourself being in the long run and what are your future goals for STARLINKS?
I am happy that Starlinks is regarded as one of the industry’s leading firms in such a short span of time. At this point in my life, I would like to continue inspiring confidence in us, and would like to eventually see Starlinks grow and prosper under the much younger leadership of my son and daughter-in-law, who are part of the team.