Friday, March 4, 2011
Ameena Saiyid, OBE, is Managing Director,
Oxford University Press, Pakistan.
She is the first woman in Pakistan to
become head of a multinational company.
In 2009, she was elected Vice President of
OICCI and will automatically become
President of OICCI in 2010. She is the first
woman in the 150 years’ history of OICCI to
become Vice President and President.
In 2005 Ameena was honoured by the
British Queen by the award of the Most
Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
for services for the promotion of AngloPakistan relations, democracy, women’s
rights, education, and intellectual property
Ameena received her primary education in the USA where her father was a
diplomat, followed by the Karachi Grammar School and the Karachi
University. She received training in Advanced Management from Templeton
College, Oxford University, and the Ashridge School of Management, UK.
She taught at the Lahore American School before joining Oxford University
Press, Pakistan, in 1979, where she worked in various capacities in sales,
marketing and editorial functions based in Lahore with responsibility for the
Punjab and NWFP regions and then later in Karachi. She left OUP Pakistan
in 1986 to set up her own publishing house under the name of Saiyid Books
which grew into a successful business. However, in 1988, she was invited by
OUP to rejoin as Chief Executive for Pakistan and moved back to OUP.
She rapidly built up OUP Pakistan’s publishing programme to such an extent
that it began publishing a book a week from the earlier days of a book a year.
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 by opening offices in Islamabad, Peshawar, Multan and
Faisalabad. She established a network of nine bookshops in Pakistan. She
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.
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 in different functional
The new office building is a celebration of Pakistani art, crafts and culture in
which the works of Pakistani artists and craftsmen is proudly showcased.
Ameena’s aims are to publish and sell as many books as possible, to develop
a large number of bilingual dictionaries on 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, to project a positive and soft image of Pakistan and
She has been working for the promotion and rights of Pakistan authors by
publishing and promoting their books in Pakistan and abroad and by ensuring
their intellectual property rights are asserted and protected and their books
are not pirated so that they get a fair benefit from the sales of their books. She
wants to make writing and authorship by Pakistani authors worth their while
so that they can contribute and grow the literary treasure and heritage of Pakistan.