Pakistan Learning Festival

Ameena Saiyid OBE

Ameena SaiyidAmeena Saiyid joined OUP in 1979 in Lahore, working in sales and editorial, with responsibility for the Punjab and NWFP, and later moved to Karachi. She left OUP in 1986 to set up her ownpublishing house, Saiyid Books, which grew into a successful business. In 1988, she was invited byOUP to rejoin as head of OUP Pakistan becoming the first woman to head a multinational company in Pakistan. In 2005, Ameena became the first woman in Pakistan to be awarded the Order of the British Empire. The OBE was awarded in recognition of her services to women’s rights, education, democracy, intellectual property rights and Anglo-Pakistan relations. In April 2010, she became the first woman elected to be president of the 150-year-old Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI).

Taking over as head of OUP Pakistan in 1988, Ameena rapidly built OUP Pakistan’s publishing programme to the extent that they started publishing a book a week, instead of a book a year in earlier days. She recruited and trained editors, designers and illustrators, sales and marketing staff, and expanded OUP operations from Karachi and Lahore to the rest of the country, opening offices in Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan and Faisalabad. She established a network of nine bookshops in Pakistan, and organized the first nationwide book fair held simultaneously in twenty towns and cities in Pakistan. Today there is no school in the private sector in Pakistan which is not using an Oxford book. Ameena grew theUrdu publishing programme exponentially. In 1997, OUP Pakistan published 37 books in the Jubilee Series to celebrate 50 years of Pakistan’s independence.

Cramped by the small size of a residential house in Karachi from which OUP Pakistan was operating, Ameena bought a two-acre plot in the Korangi Industrial Area and built an office of 40,000 sq ft and a warehouse of 20,000 sq ft. She equipped the new office with SAP, an integrated software solution that revolutionised its business practices in areas such as budget, liquidity control, supply and material management, distribution, customer services and royalties. She put in place global best practices and benchmarks to enable OUP Pakistan to operate at a high level of efficiency. The new office building is a celebration of Pakistani art, crafts and culture in which the works of Pakistani artists andcraftsmen are proudly showcased.

Ameena’s aims are to publish and sell as many books as possible, to develop a large number of bilingual dictionaries in Pakistan’s national and regional languages, to set the standards for school textbooks and children’s books, to employ the best possible people, to manage the business in an ethical manner, to be a good employer, to continue publishing textbooks for schools, colleges, and universities, to contribute to the academic community, to promote readership, and to project a positive and soft image of Pakistan and Pakistani authorsAmeena has been working to promote Pakistani authors by publishing and promoting their books in Pakistan and abroad, and by ensuring that their intellectual property rights are protected. Ameena wants to make writing by Pakistani authors worth their while so that they continue to write and grow the literary treasure and heritage of Pakistan.

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