Srinagar: There may be plenty of opportunities and skills as well, for a person to be in a specific field or profession, but for Saima, choosing event management as her profession was something she always yearned for.
Saima, who hails from Kulgam district, is the owner of Kashmir’s first online event management startup and she is its sole member.
She is a groundbreaker, blazing a way in this typically male-dominated field for other young ladies who want to pursue this profession.
There are a plethora of reasons but to be specific, event management involves some elements I’ve always yearned for, says a confident looking Saima.
For example travelling, she says, this job requires a lot of travelling and she always wished to travel as much as she can. “Another reason is the market, you see event management is very new to the Valley and I wanted to use this opportunity and become a part of this industry.”
She says the challenges were obvious, as there are stigmas related to working girls and being a girl she was very well aware of it. “Some people see you as competing with men while some see you as working for them. But it doesn’t work the way most people see it. You cannot create separate worlds for men and women, we have to work together,” she says.
Saima says event management may seem easy but it’s not, as this field is full of challenges and it pushes one to the edge, if not organised well.
“It demands a lot of patience and practice. I’ve been lucky because my family has been very supportive but still as I said we live in a society that’s yet to provide proper place to women and her dreams. The only known challenge for me is that I am the first girl in this field and I’ve got to stand against some big names alone,” she says.
Saima says being a woman is not a weakness, but when you are out venturing something like this you got to have support. “I think women are very less supported when it comes to owning a business. I do believe that patriarchy is still an issue and on top of that being a girl who has to work with men all the time comes with connotations and stigmas. I’ve never let my gender come in between me and my work.”
Like coronavirus pandemic affected all sectors of in 2020, from movie theatres and nail salons, to warehouses and meat processing facilities, her business also got affected.
“There was no revenue and when you rapidly lose all revenue you need to tighten up spending while also investing in tools that support recovery and get your people back to work. As more and more establishments keep coming and you find yourself in the competition you must think differently and that’s the only way that helps you survive,” she says.
She says for many people who are new to it, while survival might be a sufficient goal for year one, that can’t be the situation for long. “You need to think about where you want your business to be in five years and so on. Will you need a bigger space? Do you want a better location? Are you going to need to hire employees?”
She says you have to figure it out to see where you want your business to go and plot out your route to get there, step by step.
For Saima, setting goals every five years helps one measure his or her success as an entrepreneur and as a businessperson.
“I call it people skills because since event management involves dealing with a variety of stakeholders, you’ll need to be able to comfortably and confidently collaborate with a wide range of people. Industry knowledge is another important thing, if you’ve got specialist industry knowledge, skills, and experience in event management, it will put you in a strong position to build a solid reputation within the industry. Communication and organisation skills can be executed afterward,” she says.
For her, one of the most rewarding benefits of being an event planner is the opportunity to work as part of a team, in a live environment and onsite.
Saima further says patience is the key and most of the time, it is not about huge revenue, massive exits, and mountains of success. “Being patient and doing hard work every day is the key. Be patient to see it to the end, whatever that may be. It’s always an epic ride,” she says.