We had the pleasure to chat with Bushra who is the Social and Digital Marketing Manager for Lenovo. We explore the importance of mentorship and she explains why community marketing will grow going into 2021 and beyond. Welcome to this segment of Women In Marketing
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, BUSHRA. LET’S START ON A LIGHTER NOTE. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born in the UAE. I have been living here for more than 20 years. I am originally from Syria.
Growing up, I remember going to the beach every Friday; It was our family activity. I enjoyed a bicycle ride in different areas of the country. I remember having a lot of friends from various countries with diverse cultures.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
I was a mix between book smart and street smart. My grades were pretty good as I had a terrific short-term memory so I would study just before my exams to make sure I remember most of the material I went through.
During university, I started freelancing because I wanted to apply what I was studying and wanted to kick-start my career early. At one point, I had three freelance jobs along with Uni.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
A Husky; they are majestic, caring, fierce, and faithful.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
Mlokhie, it’s a Syrian dish. If you never tried it before, you need to.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
I’d give back to everyone who helped me, and anyone that I think money will make a difference in their lives.
I’d buy myself a car. Probably an Alfa Romeo Disco Volante. I would share some of the money with my family. I would invest in stock and real estate to make more money to achieve my goals.
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, DR. LIEZEL BYGATE SAID THAT SHE IS AN EXPERT HULA-HOOPER!
I am an automotive / aviation content creator. I can usually be found either on track, reviewing cars or behind the controls of a simulator.
I started five years ago. I’ve tested more than 50 vehicles and done more than 50 AutoX races and track days.
If you’re interested to know more about that side of me, you can check out my social media channels:
I also play the piano in my unique way, lol.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
My father worked in marketing for more than 30 years, with the same company. I remember as a kid, hearing him talking about Pepsi videos and Emirates billboards which I always found intriguing. When I used to visit him in the office, he used to let me help him put up mood boards for brainstorming.
My dad’s career influenced me, but what captivated me is the fact that with a 30 seconds video you can change someone’s mind about something and how much thought, emotion, intelligence, time and belief you have to put behind those 30 seconds.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
Neither, I drink a lot of herbs these days. Moringa, thyme, chamomile, you name it!
When I first wake up, I do a breathing exercise or, I go for a walk and then followed by watching videos on improving your growth mindset. Then I will finish up work since I am working from home.
I am watching Master Classes videos during lunch. The current one I am on is by Martin Scorsese, smart guy.
After work, it’s workout time. I usually play tennis, cycle, dance, yoga or do weights. I like to put in 20 mins of workout minimum every day.
HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I wouldn’t say I cracked this yet. I am a bit of a workaholic. However, I will spend a few minutes a day doing absolutely nothing, not even watching a video, nothing!! I recommend it. That’s what resets me.
Sometimes you have to do nothing, to do everything.
YOU HAVE A GREAT RESUME. YOU’VE WORKED FOR COMPANIES SUCH AS MICROSOFT, HUG DIGITAL AS WELL AS FP7. HOW IMPORTANT HAS LINKEDIN BEEN FOR YOU AND WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN LOOKING TO ESTABLISH THEIR PROFESSIONAL BRAND FOR NETWORKING PURPOSES?
A lot of people use LinkedIn as a job-hunting platform. Initially, it is but you can’t just set up a profile and expect to find a job in the same day, you might! If you do, then that’s good for you.
However, LinkedIn is just like any other face to face interaction. Meaning you have to be active, interact with people, network, share, comment and so on.
LinkedIn is way more than just an HR website. By being active, I’ve received a lot of opportunities of becoming a keynote speaker at an event, partnering with someone on a project or using LinkedIn Learning to polish my online marketing skills, and way more.
I received the request for this interview via LinkedIn!
SABRA MWAURA WAS A FEATURE FOR OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES. SHE MADE A FEW GOOD POINTS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTORSHIP FOR WOMEN. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MENTORSHIP?
I agree with Sabra.
People will always have mentors without them even noticing whether it’s in life or career. Any company you go to, ask for a mentor. Also, it would be better to get a mentor that you don’t get along with at work. I’ve learnt way more from mentors I thought won’t add value to my mindset than mentors who were in similar fields to me with similar frames of reference.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
Put in reasonable hours of work, and make your job fun. Don’t work overtime. You will benefit no one when you have burnt out.
JOB HOPPING IS A COMMON PHENOMENA ESPECIALLY IN THE DYNAMIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON JOB HOPPING? DOES IT HURT OR AID ONE’S CAREER?
It depends. There’s no right or wrong. It works for some in certain situations and doesn’t for others. Some people think long-term and others think short-term. For me, I need to grow and learn all the time. That’s what I did at the beginning of my career. I tried start-ups, corporations, local, international, etc.
Diversity feeds your creativity and helps clarify the bigger image and the path you want to move on.
FOR IT’S 2019 MOST INFLUENTIAL CMO’S REPORT, FORBES LISTED 31 WOMEN OUT OF 50 CANDIDATES (19 MEN). IT APPEARS THAT MORE WOMEN OCCUPY CMO ROLES COMPARED TO OTHER C-SUITE ROLES. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE CASE?
I think it’s just a step for more women to become CEOs, CFOs, presidents or anything they want.
REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN MARKETING, PARTICULARLY, IN SENIOR ROLES IS ON THE UP. IN YOUR OWN OPINION, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT WOMEN STILL FACE DESPITE THESE CHANGES AND HOW BEST SHOULD THESE BE ADDRESSED?
I think if we keep talking like this, we will have more challenges. If we keep saying women VS men, we will create more challenges.
If I face challenges in my role or my company, I face it as an employee, not as a woman.
ONE OF THE LEARNING CURVES FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC, IS THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURES TO FACILITATE REMOTE WORK. FOR TECH PLAYERS IN SILICON VALLEY THE TRANSITION WAS RELATIVELY SMOOTH WITH THE LIKES OF FACEBOOK AND TWITTER DESIGNING A FUTURE WHERE THEIR STAFF MAY POTENTIALLY WORK REMOTELY FOREVER. THE ARGUMENT THOUGH, IS THAT THIS IS LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE COMPANIES TAKEN SO LONG TO IMPLEMENT REMOTE WORK OPPORTUNITIES?
Comfort zone, trust issues, control challenges etc.
Some companies have had remote work environments for a long time, but, some managers still use the old school clock in clock out method. It is not easy to change the mindset of everyone about this at the same time. Some people take longer than others and require more convincing. It’s a movement.
WORKING FROM HOME IS AWESOME! MOST OF US CAN AGREE. HOWEVER, IT IS NOT WITHOUT IT’S SET OF CHALLENGES. EMPLOYEE WELLNESS HAS TAKEN A SIGNIFICANT STRAIN WITH PEOPLE WORKING LONGER HOURS AS A RESULT OF EMPLOYEES BEING ‘ALWAYS ON‘ AND NOT BEING ABLE TO SWITCH OFF. HOW CAN EMPLOYERS GUARD AGAINST EMPLOYEE BURNOUT OR IN THE WORST EVENT, LOSING THEIR BEST TALENT?
Companies need to maintain specific working hours for everyone, especially for managers and leaders. If the VP doesn’t call the director at 7:30 in the evening, then the director won’t call his/her reportees at 9 pm. Maintaining healthy working hours is crucial, and it’s everyone’s responsibility.
I noticed after working from home, the small pantry or coffee chats have reduced significantly. I miss those. As individuals, we can still ask others via Teams or Zoom “how was the weekend”, “how are you feeling?” or “Is your family back at home OK?”
BCG PUBLISHED ITS INNOVATION REPORT FOR 2020 AND AT THE CORE OF ITS SELECTION CRITERIA ARE COMPANIES THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MARRIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT MAKES SOMETHING INNOVATIVE?
A need. A solution for a challenge or improvement.
HEMAL THAKKAR, BRAND MANAGER FOR BURGER KING INDIA IS A RECENT WOMEN IN MARKETING FEATURE. ONE OF THE KEY AREAS SHE IDENTIFIED FOR CONTINUED GROWTH IS THAT OF INFLUENCER MARKETING. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF MARKETING LOOK LIKE ACCORDING TO YOU?
I have two theories for the future of Marketing.
One is AI Marketing. It will happen sooner than we think and, it will revamp the way we do Marketing.
The other is Community Marketing. Influencer Marketing is no doubt one of the best strategies as it builds upon word of mouth. Despite this, you can buy word of mouth these days. That’s where community Marketing comes in. To influence a group of individuals who have their blogs, WhatsApp groups or monthly gatherings (even if virtual) to partner with them as a group and increase their influence as a community. In my opinion, this is the future of Marketing.
I used to work at Microsoft in a group called DX, Developer Experience and Evangelism. My job was to win the mindset and hearts of students, to get them to adopt Microsoft technologies so that when they go to university they still want to use Microsoft technologies and after they graduate and so on. It was successful.
2020 AND BEYOND
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Have fun and take breaks.
WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PAIN POINTS YOU ARE TRYING TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE WHETHER PROFESSIONALLY, PERSONALLY OR BOTH?
Professionally, to be bolder in my marketing strategy. Sometimes working in corporate organisations for a long time and following people’s corporate mindset can eliminate your creativity. I miss being utterly creative and bold.
Personally, to let go.
I am the problem solver, the warrior. If I see someone who needs help, I will have to help even if they are not committed to helping themselves. What I’ve learnt is that change comes from within, you can influence but, you can’t change anything but yourself and the way you see and react to things.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
The main one is to be content with everything that I am doing and to have fun.
I would like to have a small airport to operate domestic flights and to film a car show in it.
I also would like to have a partner to grow and to have fun with them.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
My mother and her mother. Strong and inspiring ladies.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I still enjoy holding a book in my hand and flipping through the pages. I do read some eBooks from time to time.
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
A musician or a singer. Like Adele or Rihanna.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
Get ready for this. I don’t have Netflix. I recently bought a TV just for when the family is visiting.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AMAZING WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO GET IN TOUCH WITH?
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
People, pixels, and data. Focus on all three together. You will make a masterpiece. And, be patient and ALWAYS be true to yourself
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME BUSHRA. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Thank you! Your questions made me rethink a thing or two.
Here are my social media channels:
These are Lenovo’s social media channels: