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.
Last week the spotlight shone down on a marketing professional from Abu Dhabi working in Manchester for a digital agency. This week, we continue the international trend with another Gulf based entrepreneur.
This spotlight comes by way of recommendation from the one and only social media strategist, Reem ‘Silver Fox’.
This week’s individual has multiple accolades to her name. She has made a winning personal brand for herself from building up her own company and by networking across the globe.
It was to my delight that she opted into answers the 15 questions for my Industry Spotlight series and she did so brilliantly. Bravo
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement to date?
My name is Wafa Al Obaidat, and I, amongst other things, am the creative director of Obai & Hill.
How did you get into this industry and why did you chose this path?
Basically, my mom first introduced me to art and design by investing in classes, materials and events. I also did IB Art for two years in high school which was like a crash course into the fine arts for me.
After that, I went to Art School and for the next four years I explored the design industry in the UK. I chose to follow this path because it is after all the one I am most comfortable in, know about and truly enjoy – I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement to date?
Firstly, winning a branding competition at the age of 21 that was recognized by the University of the Arts. Launching Sketchbook Magazine with zero funding from my apartment in London was also a great achievement for me. Lastly, coming to Bahrain and starting something completely new is somewhat of an achievement too.
Was this how you had planned things to go or are you capitalising on opportunities and simply rolling with it?
I think it is a mixture of both really. I set myself overall goals and milestones in which I sort of roll a bit to achieve them. Although I roll with it, I do have a loose structure that I follow and then it also just depends on the circumstances.
We’re in a new era where anyone can create opportunities for themselves. Do you agree?
Absolutely, especially with the use of digital media. Everything I’ve build has been by creating opportunities for myself and making things happen.
Is who you are in reality, the same persona you represent online?
Definitely, yes. A big part of what I’m doing is trying to be as transparent as I can be in what I am doing and the direction I wish and plan to go on. A part of it is also revealing a step by step of what I am doing, where I am headed and sharing my experiences throughout.
What one thing can you not live without?
I cannot live without my blackberry. And yes, it’s embarrassing to admit but when it dies I have a small panic attack. I also walk around with my charger in my handbag at all times.
If you wasn’t in this field, what would you be doing?
I would have probably been a journalist, which I wanted to be at some point or be on T.V.
Name three people who have inspired you in your life.
- My Mother – Obviously she is like my best friend, my partner in crime and my biggest supporter. The reason why I am doing what I love is because of her.
- Liza Bruce – She gave me my first job in London and taught me the back end of running a fashion business.
- Susie Lau – For inspiring me with her fashion blog. She is a living example of showing and proving that pursing what you love will get you somewhere.
If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?
I guess Aquagirl. Simply because I love to snorkel.
If you could go on a road trip with any person, who would it be and where would you go?
I would go with Steve Jobs to Denver, Colorado. That’s a given!
Do you have any regrets about anything?
Yes, not taking a business course in university. If I need to sharpen on one thing it’s my finances and accounting skills, that’s for sure. But in general, I tend to live my life with a no regrets policy and take it one day at a time.
Author’s note: Completely understand this as I studied Music at University. I wonder if I had done business or marketing would things be different, then again if I had a little more guidance into choosing the right course, I probably wouldn’t be here networking with the elite. 🙂
What cool projects are you currently working on?
I have been working on the first shared studio space in the Gulf with the Ministry of Culture in Bahrain called Malja. We also customized a print that will be used in the F1 race track in Bahrain. There will be some photos uploaded soon on one of my clients website.
When I first came to Bahrain there was no sort of hub for artists to meet, gather and work like in London, and so I took up this initiative with the Ministry of Culture.
Malja is on track to provide the following:
- One-stop hub for the increasing number of creatives to temporarily work, network, and collaborate with peers from other creative fields.
- A simple streamlined process to aid the growing creative industry in Bahrain in finding, supporting, and promoting new artists.
- An inspiring venue that actively promotes work and ideas of all creative fields into one melting pot.
Author’s note: This sounds fascinating. I am a big fan of creative communities and networking groups. It’s great that in this case there is a partnership that builds a foundation for this to be a success. Look forward to hearing more about it.
What does the future have in store for you?
More work, more travel and more snorkeling.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to young creative minds, what would it be?
You need to explore and take advantage of all the online free resources in order to build your own brand and create your career. Visit every space, every supportive entity and know your options.
Figure out who can help you on the way and attend events in your industry to gain further awareness and understanding. Meet people in your industry or the desired industry on the way, even if it’s just for advice.
Don’t settle; at least try really hard not to. Constantly search for new and inspiring things and problem solve until you get what you want. Lastly, have a good support group.