Interview with a PR Giant: Shanaz Ramzi — CEO Starlinks PR & Event Management
Shanaz Ramzi is the CEO at Starlinks PR and Event Management. She has a decade of diverse experiences in organizing mammoth events, over two decades of experience in journalism and over ten years of experience in PR with one of the biggest entertainment Network in the country, HUM Network.
I happened to get a chance to speak about her journey, from being a freelancer to running one of the most successful PR services in the country.
Q) Do you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur or a business person? And Why?
A) There is a very fine between business person and an entrepreneur. In my opinion what differentiates the two is the attitude of the individual. If you are a business person and you are starting an enterprise, everything boils down to the economics and financials of the business, whereas being an entrepreneur widens your scope within the organization.
I believe I belong to the latter group; financials are important, but my passion has been to make a positive difference for the country, to educate, to create jobs.
Q) For how many years did you continue with your career as a professional before deciding to start your own thing?
A) I started my career as a freelance journalist, though I remember I had more work and I was more organized compared to someone who had a 9 to 5 job. I was producing an article a day, and I did that for 20 years. I took on a fulltime career only for a decade. So to answer your question, from the time I started freelancing, to the time and started a career and till when I started Starlinks, it took me a pretty long time. It was during the last 3 years of my career where I started to think of not working anymore; I had never intended to start my own thing.
Q) So how long did it take you from the time you had the idea to start your own thing, till the time you executed?
A) It was immediate. The moment I thought of doing this, it took me less than a minute to decide. In fact, rather than taking time myself, I gave my family time to think because I didn’t want to do this on my own completely. I wanted my son and my daughter-in-law to join; I knew I needed fresh blood for this sort of a job, and in any business, you need a team that you can trust. Had they said no, I would probably have never started Starlinks PR & Event Management. They took two weeks to decide, and my employer took 3 months to accept my resignation.
Q) What was the driving force behind this decision?
A) Well, my biggest motivation was my son; I knew he had it in him to really do great in this field and I had already been part of this industry for quite some time. But another key factor was my status at the current job back then; I had reached the pinnacle of my career there and I couldn’t see myself growing any further. I wanted to do something more challenging, something that would diversify my role.
Q) While starting your own enterprise, did you ever feel that maybe you could do something other than PR?
A) I jotted down my strengths and weaknesses. The resources I had included the reputation of being very well connected with socialites of the country, my family as my team, an office space located in the prime area of Karachi, and most importantly 11 years worth of experience of handling a major network’s public relation. This did not require a lot of starting capital, which worked in my advantage.
Q) Do you get more time off from work now or before starting your own business?
A) I am giving the same amount of time to work now as I was before, but now I get more joy out of the work knowing it is mine. The dedication has remained the same. However, when I was working for someone else, I always found myself feeling guilty for taking the leaves that I had rightfully earned, constantly worrying if I was doing enough. But now that I am my own boss, my conscience doesn’t prick me all the time. And yes, I get more time off now.
Q) When you were starting, was there ever a time when you thought this will not work?
A) Not once, Alhamdulillah. There were a couple of months where it did get tough as didn’t do any events, but mashallah we have been able to get clients on board as retainers from the beginning. On the whole, we have been in profits from day one, which is a huge thing for a startup.
Q) How do you relate your decision to start Starlinks with your experience of working for someone else?
A) I think the lack of job diversity acted as a catalyst in my decision making. Had I gotten all that I needed from my job, it is fair to say that I probably would have not been able to make this decision.
Q) Do you feel that anyone can start their own business if they tried?
A) There are some people who will never work for anyone, and there are some people who would never take the risk of starting their own thing. It has to do with every individual’s nature. Though circumstances do play a major role in what they chose, and maybe for someone who is stuck at a job, a little nudge can do wonders. But again, not everyone does it, even for some people who have this opportunity served in a plate.
Q) Final Question: Do you have any advice for people who are very passionate about starting their own businesses instead of choosing a career?
A) Firstly, make sure your final objective is not money; it should be a driving force rather than a final destination. Whatever you chose to do, it should have some value to either yourself, or to the society. Secondly, don’t jump into your own thing without getting some experience working as a professional. Job teaches you a lot of things, and at the least, it may teach you things never to do.