Mazher Abidi Spotlight

Industry Spotlight: Mazher Abidi

Industry Spotlight is the name of a new series of weekly interviews dedicated to sharing the inspirational stories of key individuals within the entertainment industries.

Howdy peeps and welcome to another Industry Spotlight with me, your host, Luca. For the next 10 minutes I will allow you a sneak peak into the mind of another individual striving for success and the energy you gain from it will make you explode with energy for the rest of the day (true story).

Who read last week’s Spotlight? No? Ok, quickly go read it and come back, this one won’t go anywhere I promise.

Today it’s all about a young Marketing professional who over the years has seen the industry evolve and has firmly placed his grasp onto what he enjoys doing. I met this guy on Twitter, and his warm personality shines through in abundance which is why I reached out to him and I hope you will find the same outcome from reading this short spotlight interview.

Drum roll please….

Who are you and what do you do?

My name’s Mazher Abidi, and as of this month I’m working as a digital marketer for a creative marketing agency in Manchester called And Partners. I’ll be lending a digital element to the work the agency are doing, helping to come up with ideas and then putting them into play too working with a really talented team of developers, strategists and creatives.

I was born in Manchester and grew up here, but spent my teenage years in the Middle East (in Abu Dhabi). It’s a wonderful but unfortunately sometimes misunderstood part of the world that is now starting to make some massive waves on the world scene, which is great to see. I went to uni in London and worked there for a few years, before moving back to Manchester where I love being and where I call home. A citizen of the world, and love being one!

How did you get into this industry and why did you chose this path?

It sounds a bit weird but this path almost found me. When I was growing up in the 90’s, dotcom and IT was all the rage, but I realised that wasn’t for me. So my first job out of uni (almost 10 years ago now!) was marketing an online e-commerce system for a graphic design company in London. I suppose that started my interest and awareness of marketing/online/digital. Pretty much all my jobs since then have been in a similar vein. I specialised further, went back to uni, did my MSc and here I am. Now I’m on this path, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement to date?

Having hundreds of twitter followers and a nice Klout score of course!

Only joking!

I’m hoping that achievement is still to come, but as of now it is without a doubt my MSc, and more specifically my Consumer Behaviour research. It looked at behaviour that wasn’t considered ‘normal’ and I ended up extending a theory that was first published by some pretty smart people way back in 1999, and it got me a distinction. Now that research is being considered for publication in the Journal of Consumer Behaviour. That will be a really proud moment, but those submissions only have a 10% success rate, so it’s by no means certain! Even still, what I got out of it already, I’m really proud of.

Was this how you had planned things to go or are you capitalising on opportunities and simply rolling with it?

I always wanted to do something I loved, something interesting, something creative that would match my personality, but beyond that I couldn’t honestly say I’d planned it. I definitely never grew up thinking “one day I want to be a digital marketing guy”.

I wouldn’t have known what that was. But as things have moved on, I’ve had opportunities, and with more of a plan ahead of me now, I’ve made sure I’ve taken the right opportunities as opposed to just any that have come my way. So whilst there may have been an element of rolling with it at the start, I think now I’m definitely capitalising on the opportunities that my experience is letting me.

We’re in a new era where anyone can create opportunities for themselves. Do you agree?

Absolutely. I would this as an example. I look at how we met Luca – maybe our paths would have crossed at some point in the future, but how much easier that has been using digital technology? Now I’m answering questions for this great blog, that may open up other opportunities too…and that’s just one example. Magnify that a few hundred times for the hundreds of people I’ve also met digitally and it just shows you what opportunity really is, and the digital era makes them a lot easier to open up.

Is who you are in reality, the same persona you represent online?

Definitely. My public online presence I use more professionally than for personal use, but then I’ve met some really fantastic people and made some great friends from it which then mixes that personal/professional boundary. So if I wasn’t the real me online I wouldn’t be able to keep up that fake personality for long.

Essentially, I don’t have the time nor patience to be someone else – someone fake – online. And it’s not right either. So online, offline, it’s all me!

What one thing can you not live without?

Sadly, my computer. I rely on it for so much. Work, personal, keeping in touch with friends around the world. But put me on the spot, on a desert island, if I’m to take one thing with me it’d be me my guitar. Music is the one thing I would struggle to live without. Like most people, I can put a song next to most moments in my life (important ones at least), so my 6-string would probably come with me wherever I went.

If you wasn’t in this field, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t working in this industry, I’ve be doing everything I could to get into it!

Marketing in general, digital and social marketing in particular, it’s hard to imagine things any other way. I’ve not really known anything other than this, and because I’ve been so happy in it, I’ve never really considered any other career path for myself outside of marketing.

Maybe my school/uni band would have taken off and I’d have been a guitar god?

Name three people who have inspired you in your life.

  • My dad. For his years of constant great advice, and making the right decisions for me when I was younger – even though I didn’t agree at the time. As an example, moving to the Middle East. I hated that, and wanted to stay in England with all my friends, but he saw the opportunities there and the things I learnt there from a cultural perspective and appreciation of the wider world have shaped my personality today. He was a visionary in my eyes.
  • Richard Branson – the man is an entrepreneurial genius. We all know his exploits in the business world, but his charisma and the way he has shaped Virgin as a huge organisation to reflect that cool charisma is amazing.
  • Sport: Ryan Giggs. I love sport, and being a United fan the way Giggs has played the game with such skill and elegance has just been beautiful to watch. It might seem strange to list this as an inspiration, but growing up with United’s success, those years have always made me feel great about life. Such as United winning the European Cup in 1999, the night before my Physics A-level. I was buzzing that day, went in and got 90/90 in that module. Just great moments.

If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?

Batman. The dark knight. Who wouldn’t want to drive the batmobile?

The world is coming to an end and you have to take one celebrity into the safe bunker to live with forever. Who do you take?

Slash. My guitar hero. Can you imagine the stories? Those tales of drunken debauchery would last out a lifetime. And if not, we could grab the guitar that I took with me (ref earlier question) and jam together. Plus, I could wear his super cool top hat!

Author’s note: Hmm… he wants to take Slash into a bunker. No more questions.

Do you have any regrets about anything?

You can always wonder if decisions you’d taken differently would’ve made things work out differently. But I have the time and ability to shape things myself. So no point dwelling I don’t think. The past can’t be changed, only learnt from. The future is where it’s at.

What cool projects are you currently working on?

I feel as though I’m starting a bit of a new chapter in my work right now, so I’m at the start of things rather than in the middle of things. But when they work out, you’ll definitely hear about them through the grapevine!

What does the future have in store for you?

I’m really stoked about this new role I’ve started. I was really patient looking for a permanent role. I was lucky that I had freelance work to keep me going, and I didn’t want to just hit and hope and apply to every job out there. I think I’ve found the right role, and I’m hoping to really grow this role, build our presence by doing some really cool work and move onwards and upwards!

Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to young creative minds, what would it be?

Creatively, the only limits are the ones you put on yourself. Within reason with the platforms and technologies that exist now, if you can conceive it, you can probably do it.

So go and do it.

To stay in touch with Maz you can follow him on twitter and be sure to check out is super awesome marketing blog; Comms thoughts.

If you want to suggest somebody who you believe needs a spotlight shone on their head, drop me a line via the contact page or hit me up on Twitter. Thanks

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