Adventures Of Sadia Siddiqui; Producer, talk show host and Founder of Mustang Productions

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My background has always been in business. I did my MBA in Marketing from the University of London. My father was my early inspiration; he was an entrepreneur with his own international removal and freight forwarding business. When I was very young; at six or seven, I started accompanying him on business trips. He attended business conferences annually, each hosted in a different country. They lasted five days and he would take us in a big family group.

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Adventures Of Sadia Siddiqui; Producer, talk show host and Founder of Mustang Productions

  1. 1. Every week we will feature the adventures of one amazing woman. We aim to celebrate the varied and colourful roleswomen play within industry and business. Experience inspirational, real stories by real women; Interested in being featured?Please send your adventures to info@zarsmedia.com For previous adventures please click hereMy background has always been in business. I did my MBA in Marketing from the University of London. My father wasmy early inspiration; he was an entrepreneur with his own international removal and freight forwarding business. When Iwas very young; at six or seven, I started accompanying him on business trips. He attended business conferences annually,each hosted in a different country. They lasted five days and he would take us in a big family group.I genuinely think it was the best decision he ever made. My father passed away when I was only 16. I had amassed so muchexperience in the short period of time when he was a part of our lives. At the conferences there would be no young peoplejust adults, and he would say – “now go and make friends”. It was quite daunting; there were businesses from all over theworld – Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, to name a few – so we met people from different nationalities. When we started totalk to them our confidence grew, and we started to see a different side to the world – as children it was a big deal. I thinkthe business gene was passed on to me by my father. I wanted a degree in business but was always very interested in thecreative side of things as well. I loved doing sculpture and art. I was also interested in modelling and dramatics; I began toenter all Pakistan intercollegiate modelling competitions through my school and university. I always returned home withprizes for either drama or modelling! When I took over the marketing department of my father’s business – I was also leftwith the responsibility of running the business too. When you don’t have anyone to help, guide or supervise, and you are lefton your own, you learn a lot.When I got married I had great ambition for my father’s company and I really wanted to stay in Pakistan and continue togrow the business. It was my father’s legacy and I wanted to continue it, I felt very passionately about it. However aftermarriage I moved to England. My son was born here and after his first birthday I realised that the bug was back in me and Iwanted to do something interesting and work again.I considered working for an international removal business here in England – having met several through the conventions Iattended as a child and teenager but decided I wanted flexibility in my working life. I wanted to remain a significant part ofmy child’s upbringing and to do something that interests me at the same time. I had been modelling off and on and realisedthat there were not many opportunities for Asian girls to model in the UK. So with that interest I thought it would be a goodidea to have a platform to promote Asian models in the UK. I opened Caramel Management Ltd with a business partner, asan events and model management agency.The early days were challenging. Thankfully, we managed to secure investment from entrepreneur James Caan, and withhim as a mentor it presented an interesting business model. Contrary to common perceptions, the fashion industry wastough. People consider it to be glamorous and fun – the euphoria and the fun comes when you create an event and you seeyour creation on the catwalk. That’s when you really feel overjoyed – but working in the fashion industry and working withthe people who are involved in the fashion industry is difficult.As time went on we expanded Caramel and developed it into an events agency. We were doing lots of events, but in theeight years I was with Caramel, I realised that the business was quite seasonal. I wanted to crack into the mainstream ratherthan just Asian fashion, but we found that this wasn’t easy.Adventures Of Sadia SiddiquiProducer, talk show host andFounder of Mustang Productions
  2. 2. Over the years I realized that I had the potential to grow further than fashion. I wanted to broaden our horizons and workboth ends of the spectrum – the corporate world and the fashion and the media world. I decided to leave the business. In2010 my daughter was born. It’s surprising; sometimes having a child can completely change your perspective on life.In many ways; I changed so much after having my little girl. I had been realizing for some time that I am not reaching myfull potential.I started to explore other options. I used to present a programme called Talking Divas with my three friends and it was great.The show was about social issues in Pakistan like homosexuality, child sex abuse – serious issues. I really enjoyed doing itbut after a year we stopped filming and I went back to being busy with Caramel.Enter Achievers. I hired one of my own models who is also an events manager to be my guest coordinator and researcher forthe show, I also got an amazing guy to do the styling and make-up. I was very particular about what the background setshould look like. I didn’t want it to look low budget; I wanted the image to be very mainstream. It was the sponsor of theseries, Danmirr Consultants, who I owe a big debt to because they had faith in me. They trusted me with the show andbelieved in the concept. It is really very difficult to attract a, sponsor for a completely new concept, with a new presenterand producer, so they were very brave! I researched all my guests – we interviewedMark Ramprakash the cricketer, Saeed Jaffrey the actor, James Caan the entrepreneur, the former President of Pakistan(Gen.) Pervez Musharraf and renowned author and winner of Costa Book Prize Kishwar Desai. So we had people fromdifferent backgrounds and in different fields who have done amazingly well.From the concept to execution the show took around six months. This included developing the concept, getting a sponsorfor the show, getting the studio, finding the right time to film, getting the guests to agree to come on a certain date, andfilming. We finished shooting the first series of Achievers in just six days – the shooting wasn’t the tough part, thepreparation was.When the filming ended and went on air, people were surprised that I had my own talk show! Achievers was big news and Ifelt I had finally made my mark. The response was so amazing, I knew that I had to run with this programme and make itbigger and better. I opened my own production and event agency called Mustang Productions and decided to produce thesecond series under Mustang.I have learnt so much from producing this programme – it is a huge learning curve, I have always kept a critical eye on theediting, and would write instructions to the editors about how they had to re-edit the programme, never quite happy withsome technical aspect of the filming, I always had something or the other that I wanted to fix. I learnt so much during thefilming that I thought that, although I have not been to film school, I have an eye for it! I could hire the right people with theright technical expertise but actually tell them what I want to produce. This was when I thought it would be a great idea if Ihad my own production company. Then, maybe I could host my own talk show that my own production company hadproduced. The Achiever’s show was an idea generated with a dear friend Kevin Rego who is also the marketing head of thenetwork that produces my show; I thought it will be great to have Mustang involved in the production of the show.Mustang Productions is a young company, with some big ideas! Mustang has not only produced Achievers season 2, but iscurrently working on the 3rd season of Achievers. Mustang also celebrated its launch in April 2013 with a spectacularghazal evening it hosted at The Taj hotel in London. Mustang also event managed the 100 year century celebrations ofKinnaird College and Mustang Junior has created two fabulous kids parties. Mustang has had to face it share of challenges,but that is part and parcel of success, it is an uphill struggle and I am still climbing. My advice to budding entrepreneurs is,business partnerships can be very tricky, its best to try it on your own.I have been asked to be a guest speaker at the Women Empowerment event on the 17th of May, my career journey continuesto be exciting and challenging, and I hope you have enjoyed reading about it as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you.Sadia SiddiquiProducer, Talk Show Host andFounder of Mustang Productions

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