Getting Candid with our favourite Sidra Iqbal

Interview

Social Diary’s correspondent Nudrat Mustafa spoke to this multi-talented personality Sidra Iqbal, she had a lot to say on different aspects of her life, let’s get to read and know her better….

So tell us a little about yourself…
I have held many titles; internationally celebrated speaker, broadcast journalist, media strategist, PR practitioner, development activist and change consultant to name a few. Honestly I find them all to be quiet stifling. I would like to imagine myself as a creative dreamer. I would like to discover the opportunity in every challenge, a new way of finding answers to questions and above all continue this exhilarating journey called life. I solemnly believe each day is a new beginning.
I completed my MBA and also won a scholarship to pursue the Oxford University International relations Summer Program. Last year I became the first Pakistani to be invited to the International Leadership Program 2016, an initiative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of UK.

Tell us more about the ‘corporate trainer’ side of yours. How did you become one? And what is required to be a corporate trainer.
I was still in college when I started to design and lead communication skills trainings. I genuinely enjoyed the workshops and saw the learning to be two way. Of course the business and communication landscape continued to evolve and we had the massive social media thrust to lead the conversations. Moreover, the environment was very dynamic. Uncertainty is the only certainty, especially in the corporate world. I believe adapting to this changing environment is key for both, personal and organizational experience. With almost 10 years of diverse experience in the aforementioned multiple roles and industries, I honed my expertise in advising brands, teams and organizations to adapt better, to cut through to the critical insight and earn competitive advantage. My focus areas for training include change management and media and communication strategy, in other words talking and managing the stakeholders better. At the heart of my trainings is the art of understanding and communicating.

You joined this industry many years ago. Was your family supportive of the decision of you joining the showbiz?
Showbiz was a pure accident yet when I look back, it’s one of the best things that happened to me. I feel it was a natural progression from being an enthusiastic debater, an internationally acclaimed speaker to appearing before camera. I still remember my first ever show was a week before the earthquake of 2005. In a blink of an eye that changed the much rehearsed fun morning show to a thought-provoking, meaningful, powerful transmission marathon. I don’t think I would have taken TV seriously or realized the impact my words can have. Everything changed and I fell in love with the sense of purpose and impact it gave me. I am grateful for the appreciation and responsibility that comes with this powerful medium.

Back in 2000s, when it was not easy making it to television, how did you enter the field?

I think life is just as hard or easy you make it to be. Nothing is difficult, and nothing is easy, but television (showbiz) especially is a labour of love. You have to be absolutely mad and passionate about it to endure it and perform. Everything that I have done, I have genuinely enjoyed, life is too short to invest in things that don’t bring you joy and growth. It been a beautiful journey and I loved every minute of it.

So who and what was an influence to become a host?

Not just in hosting, but I think in life I have been very inspired by four women of substance. Women who to me represent courage, compassion and a lot of grit. First is of course my mother, who is the strongest influence in my life, the shaper and believer of my dreams. The other three are; Oprah Winfrey, Princess Diana and Benazir Bhutto, each truly remarkable and brave in their own rite.

What do you enjoy most about hosting events?

I love the interaction with live audience, the palpable energy and spark in the room. You can feel the affect you are having on them, when u can make them smile or ponder. When u can get an applause or a reaction from them. I love that process.

Don’t you get afraid, nervous about things getting wrong on the stage? For example pronouncing a wrong word or tongue twisting in front of live audience?

One of the best things you learn with time is that we take ourselves way too seriously. We must learn to laugh at our mistakes and not beat ourselves up. Yes it’s important to deliver as per expectation (of others and of course your own to excel), that requires you to be better prepared. I always try to do my very best, but also that little bit of nervousness is actually good, It makes you feel human, vulnerable, it propels you to keep learning and not stagnate. It’s not the kind of nervousness that weakens your performance but actually keeps you interested and excited about the job at hand.

How do you cope with all the stress then?
De-stressing is critical especially because you gather so much of it subconsciously. My favourite stressing busting methods are working out (yes hit the gym), spending time with my nephew and niece (kids are the coolest and are instant mood lifters) and try and meditate 15 min a day just to center myself and bring my focus to the present moment. Also investing time in a hobby works wonders; for me that would have to be baking or cooking.
Any fun fact about you that people are not aware of?

I am a thriller movie buff and a Harry Potter fan(atic).

Are you going to step into acting?

I had several opportunities but I don’t think I have the patience for acting. But I would want to direct a movie one day, just looking for that perfect beautiful love story.

Share with us any bad experience of working with any of the brands?

I can’t say I have ever had a ‘bad experience’ with a brand, I mean sometimes logistics get messed up but I don’t think that qualifies as bad. I do remember once we were driving to an on ground activity location, which was somewhere on the outskirts of Karachi. I think we were a bit lost and it was an ungodly 7:30am drive for a midday activity, and the car tracker company called to inquire, “aap khud jarahay hain ya aap ko lay jaya jaa raha hai?”
(Are you driving yourself or are you being abducted!). We were in stitches laughing about this.

Any fan encounter that made you very happy or angry?

Fans always make me happy, they are always courteous and respectful. Of course sometimes we all encounter the acid tongue types on social media. But personally the thing that makes me most awkward is the selfie syndrome. I don’t mind the professional group photos but I feel it trespasses the personal space and boundary when men request for a one on one selfie, I just politely turn these requests down. We as society need to learn that such settings are suitable for people you are friends with or know personally.

Is there anything that you want to but have not attained so far?

My ideal body weight and upper body strength! Cannot do push ups  (LOL)

What one thing about Pakistan you would like to change on emergency basis?

Nothing about Pakistan. A lot about Pakistani’s. We as a nation need to have our priorities right. We all suffer from lack of depth in our understanding and reflection of life and try to make it up by avoiding failure and mistakes like a plague. This in turn has made us fearful of alternative thinking and we are prone to strong reaction of disapproval to all things different. The hypocrisy stemming from this fear must end.

Any message you would like to give to the readers of Social Diary Magazine?

Be foolishly in love, because love is all there is ~ Rumi. For anybody stuck in a life situation that they would like to get unstuck from, just free your mind and the rest will follow. Love and Peace!

Quick choose round:
• Celebrity crush: Dwayane the Rock Johnson
• Favourite go-to shop: Mango & Zara
• Addicted to: House of Cards, Fitlicious Chia Flax Almond Brittle and Pane & Amore Cinnamon Tea Cake
• BFF: Anem, Tooba, Tughral & Tehreem
• Music is: a reason to dance
• Biggest regret: Not being sporty
• Love over friendship or friendship over love? Friendly Love and Loving Friendships 