Nominated by Sarah Curtis, co-founder
“Zainab Imichi Alhassan is the co-founder of POP Communications. I am nominating her because she is a badass PR specialist who takes no prisoners (think Olivia Pope). Zainab started her career in the UAE at the age of 22 and five years later, she now runs Pop Communications, which she and her partner Sarah Curtis have turned into a million-dollar business in only 20 months. They have built a team of 10, servicing more than 60 clients in just a little bit over a year, and catering to 20 retainer clients. They did all this with no external funding and a start-up cost of AED 20,000. Over the years, Zainab has been responsible for the PR strategies of several international and homegrown brands in the region. Some notable names are The Luxury Closet, Hilton Garden Inn, Tweezerman, RentSher Middle East, The Smash Room and much more. Zainab recently spearheaded The Smash Room Anti-Valentine’s campaign, which was all over the media last month and generated over more than $1,278,234 of PR value in earned media.”

Career path
“I’ve worked in the UAE PR industry for more than years now. I started out as an account executive and gradually progressed to senior account executive, manager, senior account manager and then went on to co-found my own PR agency, Pop Communications. I also dabbled in journalism, writing for the likes of Sayidaty, Hia Magazine, Vogue US, Bellanaija, etc., and founded homegrown beauty brand Reine Michi Beauty.”

Guiding principles
My number 1 career rule is: add value. I’ve always understood that a job is somewhere you go to add value and not just get a salary. If you get paid $10, how much of that in multiples am I generating for the company I’m working for? Another important principle I try to follow (which I learned from my first PR boss, Rahma Himid of Grace and Garbo) is: Do not burn bridges. It’s such a small industry and in PR everything is all about relationships. This is a rule I’ve struggled with but I cannot stress how important it is to nurture relationships.