Anam Zubair, 34, was brought up to become a doctor, thanks to her two older siblings who had studied medicine before her. Despite the conditioning, Zubair took the call to let go of her seat in a dental course in favour of engineering first, and much later, an MBA.
“My eldest brother who is 12 years older than I am is like a father figure for me," Zubair says. "He was supportive of my decision to not study medicine to begin with and has been instrumental in shaping my career. He had a lot more faith in me and saw better prospects for me than where I thought I would be,” Zubair, now the head of marketing at WeddingWire India, which is part of The Knot Worldwide, says as she sits wrapped up in a fleece jacket at her home office in Gurugram.
After finishing her MBA from IIM Calcutta in 2015, Zubair joined Aditya Birla Group’s leadership programme and spent four years in Mumbai, which had a significant impact on her. “The amount of freedom you get to enjoy in Mumbai is infectious,” says Zubair who grew up in Uttar Pradesh. After four years at in the organisation, she moved to the luxury designer brand Ritu Kumar, where she found herself understanding the luxury market.
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Always up for an adventure, when the Wedding Wire offer came to her, she just couldn’t pass up the new challenge of working for the first time with “a brand that wasn’t already established in India.” Wedding Wire is a wed-tech company that is present in 16 geographies and it provides a platform to discover various wedding services and vendors to plan and facilitate weddings.
Zubair, a new mother who is enjoying bringing up her 18-month-old daughter, speaks to Lounge about the importance of assessing the impact of any action in both personal and professional spaces, learning from her team and why she loves gardening.
Who do you consider your mentor?
‘The team’ I’m working with has always been my biggest mentor and critic. The senior team members always point to new possibilities, peers share their experiences and learnings and the junior members’ reactions are the biggest criticism of the kind of manager one is.
One major insight you worked on with your mentor's guidance?
I always like to evaluate the impact an action has, not just in the professional space but also in the personal space. I use this to balance my own personal and professional life. My work is an integral part of my life but it is not my whole life and I have slowly and steadily integrated that into my life to find more balance.
What does being a mentor mean to you?
A mentor is someone who tells you the good and the bad and has the ability to lead and guide in the most effortless manner. I strongly believe that a mentor leads by example and walks the talk. I look up to my mentors for guidance and I am the same way with my colleagues. My previous mentors have taught me well about the balance of working with different individuals and how to mould your ways to ensure the best results are delivered by each individual. Also, you can only guide but never force anyone to adopt certain notions… this is the best way to describe my mentorship.
Describe your morning schedule?
I like to wake up early. The first thing I do is pray, then go to the gym for an hour, come back home to spend quality time with my daughter, usually in my home garden surrounded by my plants. After that it’s a very standard routine of freshening up, breakfast and work.
What's the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
The balance between personal and professional life when the boundaries for the two were very blurry for most people. I have ensured I do not take any time away from my family time yet never let work suffer. The balance is the most positive thing I developed during the pandemic.
Any book/podcast you would recommend about mentorship and growth?
I recommend Mentoring 101 by John Maxwell to anyone and everyone who wants to learn mentorship. The book sets the perfect foundations for mentoring and understanding people. The idea of success in the workplace is when everyone succeeds.
How do you unwind? Do you pursue any serious hobbies?
I love the work I do but change in the monotony is always exciting. I love gardening, thanks to my ammi who gave me a green thumb. I have more than 150 plants at home. My team members adorably call me “Paudha Pari.”
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What are some of the productivity principles you follow that have improved your professional and personal lives?
One of the best productivity principles that I follow is to have a task list in order of priority so that I can focus and allocate my time better. This helps me in time management and allows me to balance my work, family, and personal time in an easier manner. I am still working on getting better at this though.
What is the next big trend in the wedding space in India?
The Indian wedding industry is so huge that there is space for OTT Bollywood-style multi-day weddings as well as minimalist weddings and destination weddings alike. It is completely the couple’s choice as to what is their dream for this important celebration. This I feel is the biggest trend — couples openly expressing their vision of their dream wedding where they can actually enjoy the functions rather than a certain societal vision for a perfect wedding.
What is the most difficult and thrilling bit in the business of weddings?
Wed tech is the future of weddings and to be in this business which is growing at a rapid scale is extremely exciting as it gives you the opportunity to keep experimenting and learning. Since this industry is still at a nascent stage in India, the opportunity lies not only in growing the brand but the category altogether. The thrill of making couples’ dream weddings a reality and concurrently, helping our vendor partners grow their businesses is what keeps us on our toes every single day as they are at the heart of everything we do.
Monday Motivation is a series featuring founders, business leaders and creative individuals who tell us about the people they look up to and their work ethics.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness